Showing posts from October, 2011

Moving into the future: Girls can now inherit the throne!

One of the most amazing "Dear Sugar" letter responses yet:

From the Oct. 21, 2011, column:

"Countless people have been devastated for reasons that cannot be explained or justified in spiritual terms. To do as you are doing in asking if there were a God why would he let my little girl have to have possibly life threatening surgery?—understandable as that question is—creates a false hierarchy of the blessed and the damned. To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion. It implies a pious quid pro quo that defies history, reality, ethics, and reason. It fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising—the very half that makes rising necessary—is having first been nailed to the cross.....What if you allowed your God to exist in the simple words of compassion others offer to you? What if faith is the way it feels to lay your hand on your daughter’s sacred body? What if the greatest beauty of the day is the shaft of…

Dickens Overload: I am such a nerd. :)

I finally broke down and purchased my subscription to the Dickens Society...which means I get the Dickens Quarterly...and I am so happy. :) The price really isn't bad at all--only $25. I used to subscribe to Victorian Studies and that one cost $75/year. So, I am getting concentrated material on an author I love for a third of the cost of VS! :)

Days of Dickens

Yesterday, I returned from the Charles Dickens conference I attended in Myrtle Beach. We left on Thursday of last week ("we" meaning my dissertation director and I). Even though I became very sick on the trip (yes, this is getting old), I still had a good time and learned a lot. I presented my paper on Saturday, and it went really well. If I had just been feeling better (i.e. not curled up under mountains of covers trying to avoid chills/able to eat without being sick/able to sit through presentations without aching all over), it would have been fantastic. I met some great people and enjoyed what I could.

We stayed at Ocean Creek Resort. It was a nice place, in general, but without a car it was a bit inconvenient. Also, the staff recommended that we try Bennett's Calabash restaurant for fresh This is probably the worst restaurant I have ever been to in my life. It was a buffet, and after my recent food poisoning experience, I don't like those very …

What I am reading now...

I have finished the "pleasure reading" for the month (see earlier post), and I am still reading the stuff for the dissertation. When I was in the bookstore this weekend, however, I found a $3.97 copy of Her Fearful Symmetry. I've been wanting to read this one for a long time. I know a lot of people didn't like it, but that is fine. I didn't read The Time Traveler's Wife, but so far I really like this book. I'll keep you posted!

"Witch's Sister" movie (based on book by P. R. Naylor)

When I was a little kid, this was my most favorite movie EVER. I loved it. I still have the VHS tape of it. (My parents taped it for me off of Showtime, I think.) Anyway, my tape is in horrible shape, and I have searched for it for years. Well, someone finally uploaded it to YouTube!!! It is cheesy and very late 70s/early 80s...but it is just something bizarre from my childhood. Watching it was such an imaginative experience for me, for some reason. The best part of this movie is just that there really is no resolution. And it is just downright creepy. The girl who plays the older sister (Judith) is great at creating mystery. Here is Part 1...


Oh, CRAZY!! Here is a homemade trailer for my other favorite movie as a kid: the movie version of Anna to the Infinite Power!! It was also so creepy and about cloning!! Again: super cheese. But I loved it.

Both of these movies are based on books:

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Witch's Sister and Mildred Ames's Anna to the Infinite…

Thank you, Lisa!

A big thanks to my former student, Lisa, for making me some Halloween cookies! They are so cute and taste wonderful!! Thanks, Lisa!

The rest of the cookies are on a great plate, too...No, my display here isn't so great, but that is only because I am sharing the rest of the plate with my coworkers!

MyVampFiction: Beyond Retro Column

Hi, everyone. My column and review of Le Fanu's Carmilla is up on

Click here, if you want to read it.

For my previous blog post about it, see here.

PS: Yes, my pen name is "Victorian Vamp." I sort of love it.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs


A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
The summary above …

Carmilla, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

(Source: Wikipedia commons)

Want a great Halloween read? Check out Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla. Written in 1872, this short book is a gem that many people don't read very often. It combines many of the predictable aspects of vampire stories as we know them today, but there are some surprising twists. Though we are never in doubt about what is going on or who the vampire is, Carmilla lets us see origins of the modern vampire story that stretch from Bram Stoker's Dracula to Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and many more. I have a full review of the novella coming up on Tuesday in my new column, "Beyond Retro," at The goal of the column is to look at nineteenth century (sometimes older) stories of vampires, werewolves, and any other paranormal event.

Oh, yes. I am completely plugging my column and the site. :)

But, anyway, you really should give Carmilla a read. I was not expecting to be as drawn into this story as I was. I always knew …

I am so tired!!! And my heart rate is crazy!

This morning, I had to take a long walk across campus. It is the first significant exercise I have had since the food poisoning event. When I checked my heart rate upon returning to my office, it was really high but dropped rapidly (it wasn't in a danger zone or anything, but still). I have been sitting at my desk for over an hour now and my heart rate is still a bit high. I hate this. Ugh. So, I am drinking lots of water, just in case I am a bit dehydrated. I am also going to do some meditation breathing tonight and see if that helps, should my heart rate continue to be high.

This is so frustrating!!!! Thank you, food poisoning, for making my body go nuts.

Books for October

I had a great time catching up on all of the blog time I missed while I was sick, and I especially enjoyed looking around Amy's I Ponder the Page. Her blog is much more focused than mine, and I love seeing all of the things she is reading. So, Amy mentioned all of the books she read for the "Southern Belle Challenge" and then mentioned that she was embarking on another reading challenge-- "Fall into Reading 2011." I hope to participate in these one day, but until the dissertation is complete...well, pleasure reading comes and goes.

Inspired by her blog and lists, however, I have decided that I am going to try to list the books I hope to read each month. So, for this month, I am reading (or rereading) the following for the dissertation:

For, I am reviewing:

And, for the book club:

Yes. I spend a huge amount of time reading. But it is fun!

Back to myself...nearly

Hi, everyone! Finally, I am feeling a bit like my old self again. The big change happened on Friday afternoon, around 1:00 (yes, I remember don't forget the ending of days-on-end nausea!). The dizziness remained fairly strong until yesterday. Though it isn't completely gone, it is livable! Thank you for all of your well wishes and support. I really appreciate it. I especially appreciate and love my parents, who were so wonderful through it all, and my cousin Jessica and Uncle Ron, who came to the hospital and stayed with me on Monday evening to give my mom a break. And thank you to everyone else who called or visited. I love you!

So, now that I am feeling better, I am reminded of how much work I have missed and how far behind I am on my dissertation! I missed my book club meeting, and with everything that has happened over the last few weeks, I also didn't finish the book for the book club (the book was The Palace of Illusions). It is a great book, but I am going …