Showing posts from August, 2011

Painting, Birthdays, and All of that Stuff

I am a bit out of it right now! Yesterday was my birthday and I actually took the day off!! YAY!

Also, I am working from home this week, because the office is being, I am trying to adjust to that right now. Anyway, will try to post soon!

"Revolution" by Jennifer Donnelly: My Review


As I said, I read Revolution for a book club selection. Our meeting is tonight, and I am still trying to figure out how to describe this one in a couple of sentences. This is the first time in a while that I am thinking back to my YA lit class in library school, where we were trained to give a two-three sentence summary of a book that would hold a teen's interest. It isn't easy.

But I digress.

If I wasn't speaking to a teen, and if I only had one sentence to describe this book, I would say: This book was really busy. So much was happening. When I began to read it, I fell in love with the ideas swirling around in the plot. The protagonist, Andi, was tortured and dark in a believable way--not the predictable, angst-driven way. She is going through a really hard time following the death of her brother. When he died, her mother fell further from reality and her father flew further from the home (he wasn't there much to begin with). Andi…

Do you have "Cover Crushes"??

I admit it. Sometimes, I buy a book if it has a gorgeous cover. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that a gorgeous man must be on the cover (though I have been known to buy those, as well). No, I just like beautiful or interesting cover art.

I have mentioned this one before, but I LOVE it. It is my new "Cover Crush":

The Clockwork Prince
By Cassandra Clare
Release: December 2011 (YAY!!)

What I am reading before I tackle the TBR pile: "Revolution" by Jennifer Donnelly

By Jennifer Donnelly

So, along with everything else that I am doing, I am also helping one of my former students with a book club. It is a lot of fun, but this month has been so crazy that I just didn't have time to begin the novel I selected for the book club until this weekend. We all had to choose a teen novel that had something to do with history and mystery. So, I chose Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution.

I will write a full review of it later this week, but for now let's just say that I really like it...but it is VERY dark. Most books don't make me cry, but this one has (and I am not even 1/3 of the way into it). I don't have it figured out yet, but there is plenty of mystery and the history tie-in has to do with the French Revolution.

More to come later...

Another great recipe from


Vegetarian option. You must try them. Soooooo good.

Vicky Dreiling Commented On My Blog!!!

I am super excited right now!!!!

Thanks, Vicky!

The To-Be-Read pile photo:

No, this isn't the extent of my TBR pile! I just decided that, because all of this is pleasure reading, I am only going to do small groups of books at a time. I don't need to be overwhelmed in my life any more than I already am. :)

So, this is it. I will post my responses to these books as I read them...but they will be slow coming, because I am also reading so much for the dissertation/conference/magazine/ (and you would have to go to MVF to read those reviews, anyway!). Actually, the Becoming Jane Eyre book is for the online class, but I consider it pleasure reading! Well...most of it is pleasure reading when you get right down to it. With the exception of literary criticism, I like it all!

Must

...Ellen Gilchrist. I love her. I first encountered her work after reading a review of Net of Jewels in Sassy magazine. (Now I am nostalgic--again--for Sassy.)


Favorite Ellen Gilchrist novel: The Annunciation. Wow.

The Ominous To-Be-Read Pile

It haunts my room, my office, my bookshelves, my extra storage space: the "To-Be-Read Pile!" is the definition of American instant gratification: see a book I love and buy it right away. Never mind that I have five hundred others (an exaggeration, thank goodness) that I need to read. I always feel guilty, because I have some really wonderful novels just waiting for me to crack them open! I love books, though, and frequently can't stop myself.

I have taken a note from a fellow blogger. Amy, over at I Ponder the Page, had a great idea. She has taken her books and categorized them, placing them on shelves at eye level so that she will begin working her way through books that she has always wanted to read. Excellent idea, I say. I plan to do this over the weekend...when I am not reading the book for my next review at, or finishing up some reading for the online class I am participating in this semester, or working on my conference paper, or wo…

This is why I don't watch the news...

On the way to work today, I made the mistake of tuning my XM radio to CNN. I wish I had stuck with the CD I was playing before I made that decision. There was yet another segment about America's failing schools. The emphasis in this report was on the fact that only 35% of American students are college-ready for science and only 45% of them are ready for college math. The rest of the conversation revolved around how poorly teachers perform and how we have to get a better system in place from which we can evaluate these teachers.

This is insane.

The problem isn't something you can boil down to one issue. All kinds of things come into play (family situations, economic situations, students, teachers, ability, etc.). What I hear NOTHING about is the fact that we as Americans might just have it all backwards. Yes, there are some bad teachers out there. But many of them are working like crazy and doing the best they can. There are good students out there, but there are also many laz…

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë


I am participating in an online class taught in another class by a former professor of mine. I am experimenting with his new web technology and also using the class as a sounding board for ideas related to my dissertation. This is easily done, by the way, because the course is about the Brontë sisters and identity.

I have read nearly all of the novels by the Brontë sisters...

By Charlotte Brontë I have read:
-- The Professor
-- Jane Eyre
-- Villette

By Emily Brontë I have read:
-- Wuthering Heights (her only novel)

By Anne Brontë I have read:
-- Agnes Grey
-- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

In other words, the only novel I haven't read is Charlotte Brontë's Shirley. Oh, well. One day.

I have read the others multiple times, and I can say that Wuthering Heights is the book of genius. I love Jane Eyre, but when you consider the intricacies of Emily's story and the sheer depth of emotion and character of everyone in that book...well, in my opinion it is the better…


So, the weekday themes did it for me for a while (to get me out of my slump) but things are getting so busy that I just don't see that working out well anymore! So, as usual, because this is my blog...and because it isn't as if I am trying to make any money off of here...I am going back to my old format of posts and book reviews/discussions. The old plan was nice for a while...but I am sick of it. :)

So, once I get over being sick in actuality, I will be back on the blog. Have a great day!


I never got a chance to come back and update because I have been under the weather. As soon as this passes, I will be back!

Fan Friday is coming...but it will be tonight!

Today is a writing day! Am deep in article writing (another for the magazine...this time about a pirate). So, I will post later this evening. Cheers, everyone!

Tasty Thursday: Better late than never!

So, I am postponing the majority of this post until the weekend. I plan to make this:

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

It is a top-rated recipe on So...I will update when I actually make it!

I hope everyone is having a great day!

The Death of Handwriting: This makes me sad.

Awesome!!! Emma Watson is going to Oxford for a year!

Emma Watson to attend Worcester College, Oxford!!!

We were at Worcester during for the UA at Oxford program! It is a gorgeous campus. In the photo on the link, you will see a building I walked through every day!

In defense of a genre: Yes. I read romance novels.

I am always amused by the raging debates about romance novels. No other genre receives such disparaging criticism as does the romance genre...and, yet, it accounts for a huge percentage of book sales and printings. I constantly hear people making fun of romances, see women sneaking glances around the aisles to make sure no one sees them pick up a new release, and read countless arguments as to why romances are bad for women and that they are written by ignorant housewives who have nothing else better to do. Well, from my experience, not many housewives qualify as ignorant. That is completely anti-feminist. And, most of them have plenty to do. That being said, romance novelists--just like romance readers--can't be stereotyped.
Guess what? I am a really smart woman. I am not a wallflower. I am not obsessed with finding Prince Charming, nor do I have a desire to get married (never have). I am college educated (um, several times over and with multiple advanced degrees). And...Yet, …

Travel Tuesdays: Godstow Abbey


Calling all Alice in Wonderland lovers!

If you ever make it to Oxford, England, the place where Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) lived and worked, you must make sure to experience all of the "Alice" related sites.

Of course, the easiest ones to find are in the city--Alice's Shop, Christ Church College, etc. These locations are where the real Alice lived and spent time with Dodgson. There are, however, many other places you can see. They are a bit out of the way and you need to make sure you have your walking shoes on (and check the weather, too), but it is totally worth it to venture out of the Oxford city center and wander throughout the surrounding countryside to see some of the other places associated with the story. The walk was long (though we stopped at two pubs along the way), but it is still one of my very best memories of the whole trip! Just walking in the quiet, green count…

Mystery Monday: A Personal Mystery Solved

From kindergarten through fourth grade, I attended a private school--called West End Christian--here in Tuscaloosa. I have very mixed feelings about my time there. On the one hand, I had (well, excluding the crazy woman who taught me in second grade) excellent teachers. The school in the early 1980s was one of the best in the state, and its academic programs were rigorous--at least at the elementary level. I credit my teachers with instilling in me the essential basic skills that helped me excel in English courses and for allowing me the luxury of reading. I also learned hard work at an early age. I will never forget the fourth-grade Alabama history project that kept me working for weeks from six o'clock at night until well past eleven. It was excessive and difficult, and even my parents objected to it. But, in the end, I learned about sticking to something to make it good.

I got an A+.

Other good things I remember: we had a close-knit community there. In the afterschool program,…

Fan/Fandom Friday: Why Charles Dickens and I Share an Angry Bed

"Sad but true" fact about me: I have spent more time with this man than with any of my boyfriends/male companions...

(Charles Dickens. Source: Wikipedia)

Charles Dickens and I have a love/hate relationship. I love his writing (hence the reason for including him the fan/fandom post), but I could never have sustained a real-life relationship with the man. He is the centering focus of my dissertation, so we spend hours together on a regular basis...and I think we have had some serious knock-down, drag-out fights, too.

I hate to admit to this, but other than reading and watching A Christmas Carol, I didn't have much to do with Dickens until graduate school. In high school, the only British Victorian author I was assigned to read was George Eliot (Silas Marner...I loved it). When I went to college, I was never assigned Dickens as an undergraduate my first time around. And, now that I think about it, I find that strange, because I took many English courses. (Note: I was not an…

My Vamp Fiction: Original Fiction Contest

Calling all aspiring writers!!!

As some of you know, I have just started reviewing books for a great site called My Vamp Fiction. The site is holding a contest for best Original Fiction.

Here are the details:

1. We will be accepting pieces that adhere to a Fantasy, Paranormal or Dystopian theme, or a combination of these genres. All sub-genres and ratings welcome.

2. Minimum word count of 5,000 words, with a maximum of 25,000 words.

3. If a submitted piece does not follow the word count guidelines, it will be disqualified.

4. All pieces must be edited for grammar and punctuation before being submitted. Judges will be very strict when it comes to grammar guidelines, so please make sure you have taken the time to have your piece properly edited.

5. Each story must be original. Fan fiction or re-worked fan fiction will not be eligible.

6. All characters must be original, however the use of historical figures is permitted.

7. Limit two entries per author

8. Collaborations are allowed, but the pri…

Tasty Thursday: Check out this blog!

A great friend of mine from high school has a spectacular food blog. Now, granted, she hasn't had a lot of time to update, recently....because she just had a baby boy! But, you should check out her blog because it is so awesome.

You Are What You Eat...Or Reheat

If you scroll down, you will start seeing recipes. You can also look at other pages on the blog or the archives for some excellent meal ideas.

Plus, Katie is an amazing photographer, so the blog is just really pretty to look at as well. :)

Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem Monday??

Yeah...not that much to say about any of those three topics right now, but I did use the word "murder" at least once today.

Back in April, I was supposed to travel to Mobile for an event about Augusta Evans Wilson. I wrote an article about her, and Robert Clem, a great documentary director, has a new project centered around Wilson. He asked me to come to Mobile to discuss the author and her books, but it was the weekend right after the tornado hit Tuscaloosa. We had a tree on the house and our lives were in, needless to say, I couldn't go. Bob was nice enough to come to me today, and we filmed my segment (yes, I am a talking head, now!) at the Gorgas house, here on campus.

I hope he got something useful.

Honestly, after everything that has happened recently (esp. about Casey's death), I still feel a little spaced out. And, it has been so long since I researched the, I hope I didn't screw up too badly! It was a lot of fun and Bob is so nice…