Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined. 

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

So I decided I needed a fun book to read. After reading so many books about the Holocaust and such I thought I would try to lighten the mood just a little bit. Apparently that was a good idea seeing as my life has decided to be a mess of chaotic events lately too. Perfect time for a fun read, and this was a very fun read.

It was really fun to get into Jane's head. I am not going to lie, I thought she was absolutely pathetic. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love Pride and Prejudice and I think Austen is a great author, but she got so into the stories and so obsessed that she felt that the Colin Firth Mr. Darcy was all that there was. Barf. I just want to say it's nauseating that someone would get that obsessed with something and make it so that they could not live their own life. That's kind of what happened with Jane, but she had this goal of letting these thoughts go by letting herself become full on Austen.

Now I saw a huge flaw in her logic. Why try to rid yourself of all of this by putting yourself in Austen's world and finding Mr. Darcy? I felt like that would make it worse, but it made the story that much more entertaining. It was really interesting to see all the work that someone would have to go through in order to pretend to be of that time. She had to dress from the time period, talk like the time period, and every single activity that she involved herself in had to be of that time period. I found that I could not handle it. I guess that could be because it is currently 2012 and we have some advanced technology that I seem to have become accustomed to. No cell phone. No computer. No television. I do not think I could completely handle it at all, and Jane had a rough time with it.

Shannon Hale did an excellent job in getting me as a reader wrapped up in the story. The actors became super convincing even to me, to the point where I could not always tell who was acting and who was not. I loved trying to pick out what was and was not real, and was surprised to find that many of the things I thought were real were actually not and vice versa.  It was an easy read, and definitely lightened the mood from what I have read within the last few weeks. Nice job Shannon Hale. ha

Well, now I'm in that place where I do not know what to read next. I have really started to enjoy reading before bed, but I also cannot wait to get my hands on that new JK Rowling book which comes out tomorrow. Oh dear.

Monday, September 24, 2012

That Darn Dream Job is Not Helping Me.

Oh the joys of being unemployed. It's like this: I am starting to get a picture in mind of what sort of thing I would like to do but I am pretty clueless as to where to get started. I don't know who to talk to at all or where to begin (and, might I add, Craigslist job ads are sketchy and I really don't wanna post an ad on there that would seem to be associated with the creepy "Mancave Tourguide" one I saw the other day. Yes, that was what it was called). Alright, so here's kind of what I am thinking my "dream job" would be. Granted, I'm sure there are issues with my "vision" and all but that could all be worked out later on.

I know I have spent the last 5 years preparing to graduate to become a teacher. I knew that the classroom was what I wanted to work in, and I am not saying that my education is going to be wasted or that I will never teach a classroom of students, but I want something a little different right now. This may mean more schooling, or just getting my name out there somehow. I noticed throughout my field experiences and student teaching that I loved teaching Language Arts and Reading. I think part of the reason is that I feel it is so important to be able to read for fun and to identify parts of speech, etc. I also have noticed a HUGE lacking in the grammar area of school with many students, and I honestly find that shocking. I mean I can't say that I love to look at work sheets and sentences and pick out each part of speech, but I think it is good to have knowledge of some of these things (when I was student teaching in 4th grade the students could not tell me what a noun was, even though when I was teaching nouns it was their 2nd or 3rd time through it that school year, and that could definitely be the students). I feel like some of these things are getting overlooked because we are getting to be all about science and math and trying to excel in those areas. Not that I feel we should not do well in those areas, but I feel like we have a difficult time concentrating on all of the areas. So I think I would mostly like to work in the Language Arts area of it all, and I almost want to tutor groups of students or individual students on their own on various things such as grammar, spelling, writing, etc. I want to work with small groups, because I feel it is most valuable to students, and I want to work in that one content area. I want to be able to offer these things to homeschooled students. Now, I do not want to say that the mothers that are homeschooling have no idea what they are doing, because I think they do a pretty good job. I was homeschooled from 3rd-5th grade. I think my mom did a really good job, even though she and I definitely butted heads constantly. I do feel that there are some things that are tested in standardized tests and eventually ACTs that I was not excelling in though, and I feel like that it would have been beneficial to learn from someone else. Grammar was fine for me, but I never really worked hard on the writing piece and I never worked on finding various things within in a story. When I worked with the 4th graders we worked on identifying different traits of characters and we worked on finding themes within the writing. I never worked on that until I went to school in 6th grade. I want to offer some sort of tutoring/instructional service to those that homeschool as to help students with those things. I think that sometimes it's really beneficial to work with someone not your family, and I know that when I was in various homeschool groups that was one of the best parts. I got to learn all kinds of things from other moms and it was really interesting. I want to be that.

Now, I know there are probably a million flaws in that vision of mine. I am sure there are so many things to tweak and change, but that is what I'm thinking. I really find these skills to be incredibly useful, and I want to help people out and help them make these skills stronger. But now I have no clue how to get started. Who do I talk to? Is there someone to even talk to about something like this? How do I get started?

As of now I am not really working. I do not know where to apply because I have no clue how long I can commit to anything. So I am sure me being a tutor of some sort sounds terrible because I may not be able to see it all the way through. But, the good thing about being a tutor is that it is something you CAN do online via skype. It's actually kind of cool. I was looking into some things with online tutoring and there are programs for you as an instructor to create notes that the student can use and add to and such. Really cool. I am patiently (haha, right... patiently) awaiting that darn teaching license. There are like no para subbing jobs, at all. I did recently accept one, but that one is not until October 12th. Lovely, right? So I guess any job suggestions would be fabulous. I would love to not have to work retail because I honestly do not know who would hire me due to lack of retail experience. The downside to being a lifeguard since high school is that no one will give me any experience anywhere else. I am getting really frustrated with all of this. I feel like I am not helping out in any sort of way financially and that I am really becoming kind of worthless. I have also noticed that everything I have thought about doing or dreamt of doing lately involves promoting reading and good reading habits. I want to show students that you can have fun reading, but it's a little hard to do that from my basement. I should probably just suck it up and look for something else. I have no clue how to even begin to accomplish what I want.

Any suggestions, help, or leads of any sort about anything job related that applies to me is much appreciated.  For now I will continue to read books and ponder life from my mother's basement.

On an unrelated note....ADAM LEVINE!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Week in My Youtube Viewing History

Due to unemployment I tend to have a lot of time on my hands and love to look at youtube. And here's a list of the videos I LOVE, and think you should too (some of them I know are super old, but just pretend like I'm a cool kid for once. Thanks).

(If you seriously thought this would not be on the list you are seriously ridiculous. I dance along...)
(Have you SEEN Gale?????)
(I feel that you have to find this funny. It's just necessary)
(I really feel like this would make the movie less awkward)
(This cover is AWESOME. And I think she's adorable)
(This video is truth)
(I actually walked around the house singing this today. My brother was slightly disturbed at first)
(sorry, i'm dying laughing right now)

So, thats a huge chunk of my youtube history from the last week actually. Pathetic, meh not really. I find it awesome and all, but I suppose I should form some sort of hobby eh? Oh, and for those that are wondering, yes I did skip over quite a few in my history because Jake uses my account too apparently and watches a lot of political type videos. No need for that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

I finished it! I don't know why it took me as long as it did, but I finally finished Sarah's Key. I was definitely not disappointed.

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

When I started this book I knew it was Holocaust related. I knew it was set in that time, but the events of the story were unfamiliar to me.  I had never once heard of the Vel' d'Hiv roundup. I recently googled it just to see what I could learn, and what a terrible, terrible tragedy. This book seems to give a good picture of what it was like, and showed that there were some, but not many, survivors.

When I started this book I wasn't sure what I thought about having two different viewpoints. The view of Sarah in  1942 was what I wanted the most. I wasn't sure what to think of Julia in 2002, but I grew to love it. It was interesting to see both because it showed just how tragic and hidden this event was. To Sarah it was her life. There was no way to move past the events and the incredibly terrible tragedies that came with the roundup. Julia had never heard of it, and realized that the family she married into as well as almost all of her French friends and co-workers had absolutely no idea that this had happened and some were in denial of it's happening. Her husband thought that whats in the past should stay there and never be brought back. Her research changed her life though, and that was very interesting to see.

The stories of these two intertwine and fit together beautifully. In some ways it was kind of obvious to see how they would fit together, but other parts of the story came as a surprise. This book is not just about the roundup. This story talks about so many other issues such as divorce, abortion, and more obviously tragic, secret pasts. 

I really enjoyed this book. I've been on a historical fiction kind of kick lately. I've noticed that I've been particularly interested in Holocaust related stories. The stories are all so similar, yet so different and I feel like I will never truly understand what happened then. The only way for me to understand and sympathize is for me to read, so that is what I do. This particular book definitely fit in and gave me insight to an event in history that I did not even know about. It was shocking, and haunting. I definitely recommend anyone read this book. It was very good.

Now, onto what to read next. I'm not even sure where to start. I think I took a picture of my stack that does not even cover the few books in my room that I have not tackled yet or the books that are on my nook. It is so hard to choose, but I'm thinking something a little lighter in content than the dark times of the Holocaust. We shall see what I pick next. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The First Monday I Loved

I realize that I had started this blog with one intention. I intended to read, and to write what about what I read. That is one of the things that I miss from school. I miss taking the literature classes. I miss reading and then writing my thoughts and feelings down about that particular book. Yes, I sucked at participating in those particular discussions in the class. I guess it's safe to say I'm a really shy person and I tend to kind of hide back and observe, but I learned so much from observing in these classes and I long to do that some more. Unfortunately, I graduated. I moved on, or so I thought. I had hoped this blog would help me fill the odd empty days that I have. But the further into this whole unemployment thing I go, the more I realize that I kind of enjoy not having a particular plan for every single day.

Since I've been little every single day has been planned for me. This sounds super cheesy, great. I was really hoping to avoid the cheesiness. I mean you get into school and your days are shot. You follow the daily schedule and that is that. I then would have those summers where I "enjoyed freedom" and then would long for the daily school schedule by like the day before school (until I realized that I was back in school and then I wanted that "freedom"). It's a constant battle of wanting that "freedom" and wanting that order. Since graduating my life has seemed less scheduled. Yes, I worked a part time summer job that is definitely meant for people younger than me. Yes, that part time job actually consumed a minimum of 40 hours a week for me. Then, the pool closed. People keep telling me that I'm going to go stir-crazy, but I haven't. Not completely, anyway. I guess there are things I wish I was doing. Do I wish that I was spending a full day teaching the same class every single day? At this particular moment in my life I can honestly say that no, I do not want that. Not for this school year anyway. Do I wish I had more plans from time to time? Yes, but I am also working on that aspect. I am working on finding the whole answer to the question, "what do I want to do when I grow up?" That is a question that I can honestly not answer with 100% certainty right now, but I'm looking for the answer.

Now you are probably wondering what in the world I do all day. If you are like my mother (because yes, I still live in my mother's house. Praying Jake finds a unit soon so we can move out. Preferably before Thanksgiving....) you probably think I sit in front of the computer all day and watch tv shows until I am way too excited for the new season to start. Yes, that is part of what I do (but who can HONESTLY say they are not the least bit excited for How I Met Your Mother? I mean honestly, Barney and Robin end up together, so let's just end the whole Quinn joke and move on. Sorry, I do think about these things a lot), but it is not all of what I do each and every day. I spend my day reading, writing a bit (though not on here a lot, but I hope that changes), looking for jobs (not necessarily because I want them at this exact moment but because I am looking for types of jobs that I want and it's always good to know what's available), and just trying to keep up with everything that goes on in this world. I find that I can finally, mostly, relax. I can't remember the last time I felt that I could honestly relax. I am stressed about stuff, yes. I mean I'd like to move out, I'd like to know where we are moving to as well as many other situations, but at the same time I am suddenly oddly calm.

This honestly just happened today. And I think this is how it all happened. I applied for two jobs. Yes, two jobs. Will I get them? I honestly don't know. They are not necessarily full time and permanent, but I think they are a start in finding what I want to do. After I applied for the second job I stopped and realized that I needed to wait. I felt that I was being told to wait and see, because if these do not happen then something else is going to. I have been praying and praying to have some sort of answer, and today that answer came to me. Patience. I know He is telling me to be patient because He is going to take care of me. I have had so many examples of ways that I am blessed because he is taking care of me this last week, and after I found those jobs and applied I knew I could relax. God is going to get me where I need to be, and I strongly and firmly believe that. He is going to get Jake and I to the right place, and right now the right place is my mother's basement while Jake works tons of hours at Vertical. It will all come together, and then new issues will come up. But I know I am not facing them alone.

So at the moment, I am going to sit and wait. I am going to practice patience. I am going to enjoy finally being able to fully relax, for the most part.

So I realize that my original intentions were for this to be like a book review, I love books and you should too sort of blog. But now I'm not sure what it will be. Though I definitely will be throwing some books on here, because books are awesome.

So you might care (or not care) to know what I'm currently reading and why this Monday has been an excellent Monday:

1. I'm reading Sarah's Key. I'm halfway through it and SO in love with it. I would try to describe it to you right now at this exact second but I think you should just look it up because it fabulous. I am really loving historical fiction right now. 

2. I am currently in LOVE with The Voice. I think it's just the most clever reality singing show EVER. I may think that some singers aren't the best, but I don't have to sit through any William Hung type of performances. The indie cover of Toxic tonight blew me away (look up Melanie Martinez please on youtube!). She also picked Team Adam right away, and since I'm a bit of a sucker for Adam I was hooked just a little bit more on her. There were some other awesome people on tonight as well!

ohhhh look. Melanie Martinez. I think she is adorable. Amazing girl and only 17!

3. DOWNTON ABBEY. Ok, so I started watching this while the husband was at LDAC. Most addicting British drama EVER. I highly suggest you watch it. Well I was all sad because my mother-in-law had informed me that it had just started in the UK but would be released in the US in like march or something lame like that. Well, I found it on the internet! Go unemployment! I watched it and was so pumped. Seriously, one of the greatest shows ever. Check it out!

4. Did I mention how relaxed I've suddenly become? Who knew that applying for two jobs, the most random jobs at that, would calm me down. I am not 100% confident in getting the job, but I am 100% confident that what I will be doing will find me soon. Maybe now isn't the time. Maybe I will move out to Wyoming and have to start all over. Maybe that would be an awesome thing. I've just come to remind myself today that I need to see what is happening now and look at those blessings. Because I have been blessed, and I know that there is a plan. I'm not just forgotten about. I know that my life is following that plan right at this instant. It is starting to finally make me excited about what is going to come.

I love to end with a song. Lately, I've been obsessed with Ellie Goulding. You can ask Jake. I constantly am jamming to her excellent music, but he loves it and will honestly admit it. But tonight, I'm going to post a song that I've recently fallen in love with (and I'm proud to say I stumbled upon it while NOT listening to the radio). I feel like it's completely relevant with everything that is going on in my life right now. Enjoy.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm so Indecisive

I have a problem. What do I read next? Can I read them all at the same time? oh boy.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

So begins this interesting story by John Boyne. Now the first thing I had to remember when I started was that this was, in fact, a story. These two boys were not real. The situations they were in could have been (obviously the camp was for many, many people) but the boys themselves were not real. They were believable  mostly, and were enjoyable to read about. 

The hardest thing for me while reading this was just how naive and clueless Bruno truly was. I realize that there were many people living in Germany and other Germans at this time period that were completely clueless as to what was going on. They were told many different things about the internment camps and believed that those camps were honestly keeping them safe. Bruno did not believe that the camp was keeping him safe, but he didn't believe anything really. He believed that the people on the other side of the fence were good people, once he got to know his friends Schmuel. 

The clueless-ness got to be a little hard for me to read. As a reader we all have heard stories about what has happened in those camps. We can't say we all know what goes on, because we were not there. Only the survivors know what went on in those camps and there aren't many of those left today. Bruno had absolutely no clue what was going on. He had all of the clues and hints about what could be happening right in front of him, but he either chose to ignore it or he is just super oblivious to his surroundings. Everyone around him knew what was going on. His sister caught on pretty quickly, but he did not. Sometimes I just really wanted someone to explain to Bruno what was happening, because when he and Schmuel talked he sounded completely rude. But every single time I got a little annoyed with it I remember that there were so many people who were just as clueless as Bruno, even with all the information in front of them.

Was this book good? Yes. I think it was pretty good. It was really interesting and not a terribly difficult read. I found that I read over half the book in one night. It is short, so it's a nice low-commitment read. It wasn't something that I obsessed over reading, but it was enjoyable. I do recommend that people read this book.

Wish me luck as I select what to read next. I should really take a picture of my stack of books, though you wouldn't get to full effect of the 5-8 books on my nook. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

So I Get Easily Distracted.

I so wanted to have another book to write about, and I am almost finished I swear. I tend to get a little distracted by life and all the crazy things that are happening around me. I was on a small weekend getaway this past weekend and just haven't had the time to pick up my book. Though I know that as soon as I pick it up I will finish it, because it is so good. Here's what I'm currently reading:
It is so incredibly good I can hardly stand it. I wish I was not so easily distracted. But I plan on picking it up and finishing it within the next 12-24 hours. So incredibly good so far.

What else am I doing. Well I am still a bit obsessed with Ellie Goulding. My goodness she is amazing. Her newest song and video, crazy good.
She is so talented.

Well, I will continue on with my night. Life is crazy, and I am trusting that God gets me through this craziness and to where I am supposed to get in my life. It's hard to remember that sometimes. Tonight is one of those nights that I find remember that to be difficult.