It’s Monday What Are You Reading?

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Well Monday is almost over but I did read two graphic novels this weekend! Yay me!

I started reading Drama by Raina Telgemeier and finished up with Displacement by Lucy Knisley. Both are great books with beautiful illustrations but Drama disappointed just a little bit.

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The book was full of drama so it lived up to its name but I just didn’t like the ending. Call me a hopeless romantic but I really wish Callie would have ended up with Jesse.

Drama is the story of Callie and her adventures designing a set for her middle school play. Callie loves theatre but cannot sing at all so she finds herself behind the scenes, building canons, moving stage props, and doing all the wonderful things stage hands do that isn’t appreciated enough. The drama all starts when Callie’s crush, Greg, goes on a date with her but is soon seen with her rival Bonnie. Callie must learn to balance the drama on and off stage as the tensions run between the cast and crew and a cute set of twins arrive on the scene.

The problem for me with this novel is not the fact that Jesse’s brother Justin is gay it’s that I feel like Telgemeier tried too hard to represent LGBTQ characters. To me it felt like Telgemeier was like “ope, better make this other kid gay at the end so there is enough representation”. It felt forced and honestly for me it didn’t flow very well at all. I liked the over all story and felt like it was a good representation of middle school students and middle school overall but the ending felt forced.

 

I also read Displacement by Lucy Knisley who I just found out has an adorable chubby son (according to her but I am assuming he is cute and chubby). I love Knisley and I love her books. She writes about herself but I would recommend reading them in the order she wrote them considering she writes about her life experiences as they happen. 61xvWU4fSdL._SX365_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Displacement is the story of the cruise that Lucy went on with her elderly grandparents. The whole trip sounded miserable but I think there were some good times mixed in the with the bad.

Lucy not only is still dealing with her breakup from John, but she is trying to come to terms with her grandparents mortality and the aging process. She is frustrated and disgusted and there were times I was disgusted along with her (like the time a man yelled at her grandparents for sitting down in supposedly reserved seats while her grandpa was having an asthma attack, honestly the nerve of some people).

It was a delightful read like all of Knisley’s books and I highly recommend reading it.

 

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Empty Bookshelves

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“Empty Bookshelves

Are just another reminder of change

The first to go up

The first to come down

When will empty bookshelves

Stop meaning that I’m leaving

And start meaning,

I’m staying”

When most people see this picture all they see is an empty bookshelf but for me it signifies another move. The first thing I unpack is my books and they are the first thing to put away in boxes. I came to Chadron with five totes of books and am leaving with two extra.

I have moved seven times and this will be my eighth move. I don’t think I am done moving but it makes me sad seeing that empty bookshelf. I’m putting another chapter of my life behind me and it’s really tough. I have loved my two years here at Chadron and I wouldn’t change my experience for anything.

It certainly hasn’t been easy because by the time I transferred all I needed to take were English courses and let me tell you taking five English courses in one semester is insane. I made it through and am currently making it through four extremely hard English courses right now but again I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else. I have met a lot of people, learned so much about teaching English I didn’t realize before, and have become very active in Sigma Tau Delta. I started a blog, which people outside of my classes read :).

I’m really going to miss Chadron. I’m going to miss being surrounded by people who have the same teaching philosophy as me, love books as much as I do, and people I can just complain to and they’ll say “same”. I’m super excited to start student teaching but I hate moving. I hate leaving a place I’ve come to call home, behind.

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Evelina by Frances Burney

The plot of this novel reminds me of a lot of Love in Excess because it is dramatic, full of intrigue, mistaken identity, incest (?), and ultimately true love prevails at the end.

I love the epistolary style of this novel because I liked hearing from the different characters. The first part of the novel introduces the back story. Basically Evelina comes from a long line of failed marriages (her grandparents and parents had unhappy marriages that ended in early deaths) and even though she could be heiress to two fortunes technically she’s not because her father doesn’t claim her and there is no evidence of a marriage between her parents (her father burned the marriage certificate). Evelina though is said to a proper, happy, all-round good girl and so the people she goes to stay with when she turns eighteen are happy to have her come stay with them. This is Evelina’s first entrance into the world.

Evelina is amazed and made a bit stupefied by London culture because she was brought up in the country in seclusion because of her guardian and the nature surrounding her birth and legitimacy. She turns out to be a pretty independent young woman and that is really interesting because Burney is creating a character, a young woman who can decide for herself. Evelina turns down one man, simply because she doesn’t like him, and selects another based on appearance. This might not seem so out there but considering when this novel was written and the expected meek attitudes of young women Evelina is seen as rather independent. She is not used to these social conventions and while some people may attribute that to her being raised not in society, I almost wonder if this was Burney’s sneaky way of creating an independent, bold, mind of her own young woman.

Evelina has a rough next couple of days because she feels she had made a fool of herself in front of Sir Orville (her love interest) and desperately wants to go back to the country. The rules and conventions of London life have left her feeling isolated and alone and this kind of woman, raised to be an independent thinker, reminds me of a lot of YA novels I have been reading lately where the protagonist is a young woman.

Evelina later encounters her grandmother, who I think just wanted Evelina’s inheritance which of course her guardian Mr. Villars refuses to give her.

Evelina encounters a young man who after dueling a man for the woman he loves found out he dueled his father and the woman he loved was in fact his sister. To me at least, this is some interesting foreshadowing for events that happen later in the novel.

During this whole time Evelina is trying to pursue and stay in Sir Orville’s good graces but she has many other men, whom she despises, courting her as well. This is discouraging to Evelina because every time she blunders, she thinks her chances with Sir Orville are over. She declines in health and is sent to live in Bristol, where she does regain her health. She runs into Sir Orville and he ends up declaring his love for her.

While in Bristol she runs into the same young man who was in love with his sister and it is discovered that Evelina and Mr. McCartney are siblings. Which complicates things because according to Evelina’s father he raised his daughter Evelina. However, when Evelina’s father sees her he realizes she is his true daughter and the facts come out. A servant upon hearing that Sir Belmont was indeed going to raise his daughter she switched out her baby daughter for Evelina and this whole time Sir Belmont was raising a servants daughter. Mr. McCartney and the fake Evelina were able to married then and Evelina marries Sir Orville.

To me this story reads like a Shakespearian comedy and I really enjoyed the story. It brings up some interesting ideas about conduct but it also has a really intriguing storyline. It reminds me a lot of Love in Excess and I know I already said that but it really does.

Are these stories dramatic because the authors want to entice the reader into reading? Was it because these stories were written for women and what women can resist a spicy romance?

Sunny Side Up, Swing It Sunny, and An Age of License

Ugh…this last week I have been in somewhat of a reading slump and I think it had to with the fact I didn’t have to read for my novels course. All of a sudden I had all this free time (it might also have something to do with Stranger Things 2 coming out but I don’t think so) and I didn’t know what to do with it ;). I did manage to read Sunny Side Up and the sequel Swing It Sunny.

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I loved Sunny Side Up. It was cute, fun and featured a huge alligator, which after that alligator that walked across the Florida golf course that looked like a dinosaur, I think they are totally awesome. Sunny Side Up is the story of Sunny, who is eleven ;), and has been sent to live with her grandpa in Florida for the summer. Sunny thinks it will be amazing because it is Florida but it turns out her grandpa lives in a retirement community and she has to get a pass to stay there because no kids are allowed. Sunny thinks her summer is going to be terrible until she meets, Buzz, Old Al, and starts rescuing runaway cats. However, there is a looming question that haunts this book, why is Sunny in Florida in the first place?

This is a great book that looks at addiction, family dynamics, and what it is like to have a family member going through a rough time. This story is set in the 70’s so it’s a great throwback for those who grew up in the 70’s. My mom read this graphic novel and said she remembered a lot of the things Sunny was doing, like the bicentennial, the clothes depicted, and other events throughout the book. It really is a great, easy, quick read.

Of course I had to read the sequel and I’m not going to lie I was a little disappointed.

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In the sequel you find out about Sunny’s brother Dale and why she ended up going to Florida. It focuses more on Dale, his problems, and how his family is dealing with them. Near the end of the book Sunny gets a new neighbor and starts hanging out with her and that is where the title of the book comes from but it lacked the fun enthusiasm of the first book. The content is much heavier as well but it did end on a positive note so that was really good. Overall I enjoyed the first book better but there is going to be a third one so it can only get better from here, right?

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The last book I read, which I actually read first is another Lucy Knisley. An Age of License  was written in between Relish and her Makeshift Bride book. Knisley was invited to a graphic novel convention in Scandinavia, all expenses paid, so she decided to make a European tour of it. This was right after John broke up with her and she needed some new scenery. She visited several friends throughout her travels and met up with her Swedish boyfriend. It obviously didn’t last, she married John, but it was a really interesting book because Knisley writes as events happen. She wrote this travelogue as she was traveling throughout Europe and I just love that style of writing. She of course edits it before it is published but it is still somewhat in the style of present tense. She also talks about the fact she writes about herself a lot and even though that might annoy some people she’s still going to do it.

It isn’t in color which disappoints me a little but there are color drawings throughout and they were obviously sketches she made of people or things she saw as she traveled. I liked this one because it gives some perspective on Makeshift Bride but it is also an important story about being in your twenties and not really having life figured out yet.

-A

Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland

I hated this book. Plainly put this book is PWP (porn without plot). It’s the story of a young girl who loses her virginity to the love of her life, loses of the love of her life, uses her body to survive and ends up being reunited with the love of her life.

I read this book over the summer and it was a struggle. First of all there is no plot. Second of all there was a lot of rape in this book and there was a lot of people justifying that rape which made me so angry. I kept an angry journal which I will now include some of those thoughts with you, my audience.

May 20, 2017

“I’m curious to see how explicit this novel will be considering it is about a prostitute and is the most famous banned book of all time according to the cover on my copy.”

“Can men write about women’s sexuality?”

“Can a man accurately represent a woman, or vice versa?”

“Can I as a woman trust Cleeland’s interpretation of Fanny Hill?” (Basically can I trust him to write an accurate account of the life of a prostitute)
May 24, 2017

To give this a little context I was thinking of the novel Memoirs of a Geisha and how it too was written by a man and was not an actual memoir.

“What is it about prostitutes or women of pleasure that entitles men to write stories about them? What do they know of female sexuality?”

“Even my brother thinks that it’s weird that a man wrote a book about a prostitute.”

“They [the people in the brothel] are literally making Fanny feel as if she wants to be a prostitute and join this little club of theirs. That is their job but when you think about it, it sounds so evil. She’s so young and easily manipulated. She’s being bullied into accepting this life because she’s afraid of being turned out. She doesn’t know any better because her parents never expected this kind of life for her. Prostitution for some girls is a way to survive. That’s not the case for all girls especially those tricked or forced into prostitution. It’s awful but a fact of life.”

“If you make the prison comfortable enough why would anyone want to leave? She was content and happy. She was cared for and she really had no idea of what was in store for her. The book almost makes it seem as if being a prostitute is a happy life full of pleasure and while these girls may have got some pleasure from sex, I just don’t see that kind of life as being happy.”

May 25, 2017

“This man took her virginity so of course she is looking at him like he is a Greek god.” I was questioning the reliability of Fanny as a narrator in the way she described her first lover simply because he was the man who not only took her virginity but showed her love and care.

May 28, 2017

“Mrs. Jones is evil. She saw an opportunity and took it but how evil do you have to be to take advantage of a poor girl who lost her lover, and her baby and promise her to another man?”

“The female version of Casanova.” (I don’t know if I quite agree with that statement now)

May 30, 2017

pg. 80 of my version “Was the maid really resisting or did she just give up in the end because she knew it was pointless to fight? Did she resign herself to being raped because he was the master of the house or did she want him to have sex with her? It’s hard to tell what she was feeling because from Fanny’s perspective it didn’t seem like she was putting up much of a fight but that could be because the girl didn’t feel as if she could put up a fight.”

June 1, 2017

“It’s interesting to read a book about a woman that seduces a young man. It’s almost always the other way around even when the author is female. This Cleland man is an interesting character to have written such a book. It’s also interesting to read about a man who loses his virginity. These just aren’t topics brought up very often.”

June 5, 2017

“These girls are giving accounts of losing their virginity and all of them sound ridiculous and not at all normal experiences. They are overly sexualized and so far the first thing I have come across in this novel that sounds like it was written specifically for a erotica novel.” (I don’t necessarily know if I agree with that now either)

“Harriet was raped by a man and because she felt it was her fault that she put herself in this position she forgives him! (rape culture). It’s crazy to think this kind of thinking has been going on this long. I am sure some people who read this novel when it first cam actually listened to and believed this. She put herself in that situation by FAINTING and the man took advantage of that and chose to rape her. I cannot for the life of me imagine a woman reading this and agreeing with it and be happy that Harriet forgave her rapist and claimed to love him.”

“His passions overcame him and clearly she must have been asking for it. BS!”

July 4, 2017

“This book makes my skin crawl because of everyone’s attitudes about sex. He is pleased he hurt her in the act of taking her virginity and that shouldn’t be the case. I really do not like this book to because of the content, I admit I have read worse, but because of the attitude towards women, sex, virginity, and even rape. No one falls in love with their rapist unless they are seriously mentally unstable.”

 

I didn’t write any notes over the last part of the novel but honestly by that point I was so frustrated and angry I’m not surprised I didn’t keep any notes.

-A

Something New: Tales From A Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

This last couple of weeks has been rough and I have been slacking in the graphic novel department or reading at for that matter. I did read Thornhill by Pam Smy the other day in under an hour but I feel like if I wrote a review it would spoil it. Seriously though it is an amazing book and you all should find it and read it.

I love Lucy Knisley and that’s pretty serious only after having read two of her books but I have her other two awaiting me. She is fun, quirky, and it is really fun reading about her life.

I loved this graphic novel because it tells the story of Lucy getting married and honestly I have no idea how she did it. She literally wrote this graphic novel and planned out the graphics all the while planning her actual wedding. I seriously have no idea how she did it. I don’t have a boyfriend nor I am even thinking about marriage but I know when it happens I will beyond stressed out so kudos to you Lucy!

Lucy not only draws fun pictures to illustrate her wedding planning adventures but she includes real pictures including her dress, which spoiler alert has POCKETS!!! I own two dresses that have pockets and if I could find more I would. Sometimes the only reason I will wear a cardigan is so I can have some pockets. I’m also really tempted to sew my own wedding dress just so I can sew in pockets.

Lucy highlights some really important social issues surrounding marriage, questions some of the more traditional stuff and reached back in her family and John’s family roots as well to bring in some of their traditions. It’s just so neat to read about what Lucy and John chose to do for their wedding and how they made it their own. I love the idea of making your wedding your own.

This book made me burst out in laughter and giggle all the while reading about Lucy’s antics as a stressed out bride ,some of the crazy things she did in the name of love (stealing a cat), and her ultimate realization about marriage.

-A

Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

First off Mom if you are reading this, don’t cry.

It’s the most unexpected books that you end up loving the most. I didn’t know what to expect when I pulled a 500 page graphic novel off the shelf at Barnes and Noble but I knew I wanted it. I really didn’t know what to expect other than it was a memoir about a girl who dealt with anorexia. That is not the only thing Katie Green dealt with and my heart broke again and again as I read her book. Not only because of what Katie dealt with but because I saw myself many times in her drawings and it breaks my heart to think I will have students like me, like Katie, like countless other students who never got the help they needed.

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My anxiety started around the 8th grade and Facebook has been so kind to remind me of that dark phase of my life. In a way though it is reminding me of how far I have come and how even though that scared little girl is still part of me she no longer defines me.

Katie doesn’t know exactly when her eating disorder started but she thinks it was around middle school. Middle school is a rough time and for me that is when it all started as well. She was looking for control and sometimes eating is the only thing people have control over. She controlled how she ate, how many calories she ate and what she ate. Sometimes she just didn’t eat because she had already eaten too much for the day. This continued for a long time until her parents found out and after several failed attempts with doctors, specialists, dietitians her father took her to a rather unconventional therapist.

It would take Katie years and one incident to reach into her subconscious to remember what was really happening during those sessions but that is when her road to recovery really started. She experienced new problems along the way including binge eating, attempted suicide and depression but she never let those stop her from recovering.

I love the pictures in this book and how Katie depicts her illness like a black cloud hanging over her. It’s a hard book to read but one that is worth it because mental health isn’t something people talk about. So many people have mental health issues that it should be talked about more but sadly it isn’t. I know for me at least I never wanted to burden people with my problems, especially my parents. I would just hide myself in my room and cry for no reason at all. I constantly compared myself to my friends and asked myself why I couldn’t get my life together like them, be more outgoing; be more outside myself.

Being an introvert with anxiety can be extremely difficult sometimes.

Katie constantly looked in the mirror and saw herself as fat, disgusting and spinning out of control.

The road to recovery is long and hard and full of a lot of setbacks but don’t let your problems define you because they are not you. You are not your problems, they may be a part of you but they are not you.

It took me a long time to figure out who I am as a person but the minute I started accepting that I am introvert with anxiety who hates the sun, snow and would love to live in Seattle because of all the rain I started to accept the not so parts about myself as well. I started to notice when anxiety was preventing me from doing something and I started to notice I stop letting anxiety run my life.

I’ve been writing poetry about my anxiety and being able to see it in words and on the page helps. It makes it real and not just in my head. Katie Green drew. She went to Art College and then she wrote a graphic novel. She admits she isn’t perfect either, but she doesn’t have to be. We all have demons we deal with everyday. For Katie Green it was an eating disorder that lead to other problems ( I just don’t want to spoil the book) and for me it is anxiety and insomnia.  We just have to learn to not let them define us.

-A

P.S. If you haven’t watched To The Bone on Netflix yet you need to.

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