Thursday, January 26, 2012

52 Books in 52 Weeks

The last year or two I have participated in an online reading challenge called 52 Books in 52 Weeks.  Basically, it's a challenge to read a book a week.  I have always loved to read.  In fact, I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading.  I remember Wacky Wednesday and Fox in Sox (poor, mom, she remembers these all too well *grin*).  I remember not being able to sleep at night and using the moon to read Baby Island.  I remember countless hours spent in Narnia with all the Chronicles of Narnia books and my love of fantasy began there.  I remember finding a kindred spirit while reading all of the Anne of Green Gables books.  I remember lazy days of summer reading Mary Higgins Clark on a blanket next to our pond.  I remember reading Gone with the Wind and memorizing the first line of the novel.  I remember getting bored in Government or Honor's English and reading romance novels instead.  I remember Dan introducing me to the Dragonlance Chronicles. I remember my cousin Willie introducing me to The Belgariad and The Wheel of Time fantasy series.  My favorite fantasy series of all time.  In fact the first book club edition of The Belgariad that Willie gave me is now missing both the front and back covers I've reread them so many times. As I type I am anxiously awaiting the final novel (#14) in The Wheel of Time series.  

My books are my friends.  I collect my favorites and reread them time and time again.  In fact, there have been some years that I have barely read any new books because I wanted to spend time with my favorites.  Last year I tried to make an effort to read some new books.  I read 34 new books and only 16 of my old favorites.  As you can see, I didn't make it to 52 books last year, but 50 wasn't too bad!  

Last year I listed the books I read in the sidebar of the blog.  I'm doing the same this year, but since Skyeler is posting her reads on her blog, I thought I would post about mine here.  Both Skyeler and Aly are doing the challenge this year, just to see how many books they do read.  

One of the reason's that I don't like to try new books is because you never know what the content is going to be.  I don't purposely read any "R" rated books anymore.   It is really hard to tell what you will get when you pick up a new book.  I try hard to read reviews and get a feel for a book but sometimes they leave you with some unpleasant surprises.  Because I really like to know what I'm getting into with a book, I'm going to try and give a fair rating when I do my review.  

I didn't decide till just today to post about the books I read, so today is a summary of what I've read so far this year.

The Eyre Affair was the first book I read this year.  Skyeler had finished Jane Eyre in December and we had just watched the movie when I stumbled across this book.  The snippet at Amazon sounded intriguing and I was anxious to get to it. 

 From Amazon:
"In Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë's novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career. Fforde's ingenious fantasy-enhanced by a Web site that re-creates the world of the novel--unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix."

That all sounds well and good but much of it happens in the last quarter of the book.  It took a long time getting there.  Once the writer got around to Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, the plot moved quickly and kept me reading more.  I found this part to be exactly what I had expected and watching it unfold was clever.  If only the rest had been so good!  I did enjoy all the literary banter throughout the books, there were many fun references to Shakespeare.  I doubt I will read any more of the series.

374 pages
Rating - "R" for language, only because of multiple f-bombs in one small section three to four pages long (which was so unnecessary!).  The rest of the book had a lot of mild swearing and was otherwise clean.

Our January Shakespeare Study read was Henry V.  I went into this particular Shakespeare play with a little bit of dread.  Of all the plays I picked for our study, I was sure that this history one would drag.  To my surprise, I really enjoyed it.  The lines that Shakespeare wrote for the Chorus were some of the most beautiful we've read yet (in my opinion).  Though I didn't care for the parts with Nym, Bardolph, and Pistol, I found myself reading easily through the rest of the play.  I also enjoyed the history behind Henry V and the war between France and England.  

352 pages (though only a portion of this is the actual play)
Rating -  pretty much PG though there are plenty of innuendos and sometimes the footnotes get a little too explicit in their explanations!

I asked Aly what she would like me to read this year and The Lost Hero was her choice.  This is a whole new series from the author of the Percy Jackson books.  She received the second book in the series, The Son of Neptune for Christmas and was chomping at the bit for someone to discuss it with her.  First, though, I had to read The Lost Hero. I really liked that this book was a bit more original.  I felt that some of the Percy Jackson stories were just a Greek myth retold.  This story had a bit of mystery about it, and I like the direction it is headed.  The characters (Jason, Piper, and Leo) also had a little more depth at the start.  I found myself liking them better than I started out liking Percy.  I will definitely read the second book when Aly is finished.  

576 pages
Rating - PG for some battle scenes and teen crushes.  Also avoid if you don't like reading about the Greek gods, goddesses, and demigods.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Art Class

I teach Art  to five amazing girls at co-op every other Monday.  They are extremely creative girls who are (usually) excited about anything I come up with  for them to do.  This is the fourth year I've been teaching this class.  Before the co-op year began, I found the coolest blog by a real Art teacher, Deep Space Sparkle.  Her projects are inspiring to me!  And I am finding that the girls' art is improving.  

Robin has been doing a Magic Tree House unit study in co-op.  They are currently studying the Afternoon on the Amazon book with an emphasis on the Amazon rainforest.  I found an art project to coincide with their unit study and we did chalk pastels of rainforest animals.  This was our first time with chalk pastels at co-op.  It was messy art but working with them on the black construction paper made for a bright and beautiful picture!  

 Chalk pastels

The process

 The hands

 All of the hands

 Nina's toucan

 Skyler's toucan

 Hannah's crocodile

 Aly's chameleon

Priscilla's red eyed tree frog

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just a Little Catch-Up

Well it has been a while since I've posted.  I would say it has been crazy but it seems like that is always my excuse.  :)  Let's see, the last time I posted was pretty much before Thanksgiving.  We spent Thanksgiving with my parents and Cheryl, Glen, and the boys.  I was coming down with bronchitis so I was under the weather.  It turns out I would be sick till almost Christmas!  See, craziness!  Christmas was good with my parents but we lost my Aunt Nell Christmas Eve and my Aunt Pat a few days later.  After having Christmas with Dan's family on the 26th, the girls and I headed south for the funeral.  New Year's Eve was spent with our friends.  Since the year began I feel like I've been playing catch-up (again, something I feel like I always say).  So much kind of got pushed to the side while I was sick and with the holidays.  I started a new blog to chronicle my Project 365 - taking a picture every day of the year.  You can click on the Photogenic link in the left side bar to get there.  Skyeler also created a Project 365 blog.  You can find hers here.  I'm currently trying to organize my house and Dan and I are trying our hand at painting our master bath counter top.  (That will be a post of its own - if it all turns out!)  I was going to post some pictures I took of Skyeler but she went and posted them on her blog so I will just link to it.  She sewed herself a cape (think Medieval/Elvish cape) and we took some pictures.  It turned out very pretty.  You can see it here.  

Here are a few pics from the end of 2011.  

Bryce, Aly, Carter, and Skyeler at Papa and Granny's
 Papa, Skyeler, Aly, and Granny on Christmas morning

 Skyeler and Aly dressed up for church on Christmas morning.

Zac and Skyeler.  I need to find a picture of them when they were just little rugrats.  Now they are all growed up :)