Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Bottom of the Pile

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book on the bottom of my to read pile. Since I’ve been doing this challenge, my list of books to read has narrowed and narrowed. I don’t have many books from which to choose for this category anymore. Ultimately, I decided upon Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood. This book was published this year and hasn’t been on my list long. However, since I’ve started this book challenge, I’ve bumped this novel from many other categories it could have fallen into. I was going to read it for the crime novel but decided against it. Then I was going to read In a Dark, Dark Wood as an author I’ve never read before and bumped it again.

Finally I bumped the novel to this category, a perfect fit. From the back, this novel sounds like it’s going to be a nice cozy type mystery. Women get together after many years for a hen party that goes tragically awry. I can’t wait to see what twist awaits me in this mystery.

Stay tuned for the full review of In a Dark, Dark Wood. Happy reading!

Happy Halloween

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel with more than 500 pages. In the spirit of October I decided to change my first choice and pick a spookier book. I found The Little Stranger on Pinterest under the top 50 scariest books. I adore scary stories, even if it means a night of restless sleep. The books I like the most are the unsettling ones. I’m not much of a slasher gore fan, but I do like psychological thrillers and paranormal novels. The Little Stranger fell perfectly in my category.

The back of the novel describes it as very similar to The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which is just the kind of scary novel I like. The movie based on James’s work, The Innocents, remains one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen.

The Little Stranger, like The Turn of the Screw, deals with the unknown paranormal realm and the people that try to make sense of it. I can’t wait to see what scares The Little Stranger has in store.

Stay tuned for the ghostly review. Happy reading!

Freestyle Writing Challenge

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The lovely Babbleworthy tagged me to be in an entirely new kind of challenge. A writing challenge. As a lover of the written word how could I refuse?

The Rules for the Freestyle Writing Challenge:

1. Open an MS Word document.
–2. Set a stop watch or your mobile to 5 minutes or 10 minutes whichever challenge you think you can beat.
–3. You topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.
4. Fill the word doc with as many words as you want.
5. Once you began writing do not stop even to turn.
6. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in MS WORD (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules)
7. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and CAPITALS.
8. However if you do, it would be best. At the end of your post write down No. of words =_____’ so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
9. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new Topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nominations (at least 3 bloggers).

I went for the five minute challenge, and it still felt like a long time. 🙂 The word I was given was impulse.

impulse

When did being impulsive become a bad thing? It’s just another word for spontaneity but yet it has such negative connotations. The definition of impulsive is thinking without forethought. But isn’t that what out of the box thinkers do? Don’t we all want to just be able to do something without being wrapped up and trapped in our own mind? We have impulses for a reason and should listen to them. Whether for good or for bad they do inform our own choices. I’ve made many impulsive decisions and those decisions have lead to some of my greatest achievements. On impulse I took German in high school which lead me to take it in college. Another impulse told me to study abroad for an entire year in Germany and immerse myself in the language, culture, and literature. I love to write. Writing is very much about impulse. I’m a seat of my pants writer and just like to make things up as I go along, just like I used to do when I was a kid and was making up games for my friends and me to play. I like to follow those impulses and see where they go to. I see impulses more as opening your mind to the possible. Letting you see what you can do without being limited by the thoughts of what you can’t. that’s not to say that impulses will always lead you to good places, but how do you know if you don’t try? You have to just grab the reins and go for it. Follow those impulses and those dreams. Who wants to live with regrets? If I didn’t follow my impulses I would probably never have travelled to Europe and experienced all of the beautiful European cities I saw there. I always dreamt about going to the Globe Theater in London and because of my impulse I as able to go there. Without impulses I don’t know where I’d be.

No. of words= 328

My nominees are:

Caffeine and Books

Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Books and Cleverness

Jewish Books Are Awesome

And if you’d like to participate please do. The more the merrier!

Your word is fantasy. 

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I am so excited and humbled to say I’ve been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. A big thank you to Erika from Erika the Bibliophile for the nomination. My whole blogging experience so far has been a whirlwind of excitement. I am so happy that people are not only reading my reviews but enjoying them. Thank you everyone for your support and lovely literary comments.

Without further ado, the rules of the award:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.

  2. Put the Award logo on your blog.

  3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.

  4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.

  5. Nominate ten blogs.

Questions Answered:

1. Did you have a book that meant a lot to you as a child? 

The book that immediately comes to mind is Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust. This is a novel, told entirely in prose poetry, about a young girl’s struggles growing up in the Dust Bowl. This novel really hit home for me because my grandmother grew up in the Dust Bowl in Texas. The Dust Bowl was the reason her family moved to California looking for more opportunities. Reading the novel was like listening to my grandmother and great grandmother tell me stories about dust storms and the thick coating of dust on everything in the house that you just couldn’t get rid of.

2. Is there any author of book that you collect and will always welcome multiple editions of the same title? 

Since about the age of 6 I’ve been collecting Nancy Drew novels. It was my lifelong goal, at 8, to possess all the Nancy Drew novels ever writing, including spin offs. I currently have all of the yellow hard backed books and a few of the Nancy Drew files but would always love more. Especially original Nancy Drews from the 1930s.

3. Say that you find yourself judging a book by its cover (not that we ever do that!); what sort of covers do you go for? Are there any that are an absolute turn off? 

I guess I would say I really like the more minimalist covers. The covers that have one or two images that somehow relate and connect to the novel but you have to read the book in order to find out what that connection is. For example, the cover of Ghost Story, at the least the edition I have, is just the title and then next to that is a picture of a wasp pin/broach. I love that the image is simple yet powerful, and if you read the novel, you will know that it’s an extremely important image. The covers I like the least are the ones where there is just too much going on and then the novel cover is a bit cheesy.

4. If you could pick any imaginary animal to bring home to mom with an earnest, “Can we keep him??”, what animal would it be? 

dog dragon

A dragon all the way! I would love to ride the dragon around the world and see the sights. Like the kid in Neverending Story rides his dog dragon thing.

5. Is there any book to movie adaptation that you simply refuse to watch? No way, no how, you’re not even giving them the opportunity to mess it up?

Not that I can think of. I honestly love watching how screenwriter’s adapt a novel from page to screen and to see the novels come to life in the movie theater.

6. What is the most unusual book you’ve ever read? (Plot, writing style, chapter layout, etc?)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. I love that the novel is like reading a silent motion picture from the 1920s. The illustrations interspersed with the text are absolutely breathtaking.

7. Is there any book or series that you’ve read that is so totally outside of your normal genre, but you loved it and would recommend it to others as a “take a risk!” type of book?

This novel isn’t exactly outside of my reading genre but it is a novel that almost no one I know has read or even heard of. My take a risk recommendation would be We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Many know her as the author of the short story The Lottery and the classic ghost story The Haunting of Hill House, but in my personal opinion We Have Always Lived in the Castle is one of her best works. It’s so terrifying and human all at the same time.

8. Do you have any bookish collections, or anything you covet and hope to someday collect? Candles, artwork, bookcases?

I don’t really have anything I collect that’s super bookish. I can always use another bookcase but that’s more a practical need than anything else. I do have some bookish book bags that I wouldn’t mind owning more of. I recently got a lithograph bag of Pride and Prejudice and also have a bag of Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun. Both of which are amazingly beautiful.

9. What book has been on your TBR pile the longest, but you just can’t convince yourself to pick it up?

I would say either Elizabeth Kostova’s novel The Swan Thieves or Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina have been on my TBR pile the longest. The first because I’m so afraid this novel will not be nearly as good as The Historian, which I loved so much, and the latter because every time I pick it up I just feel like I’m not in the right frame of mind. I don’t know about you guys, but when I read certain books I have to be in the right mood for them. Every time I pick up Anna Karenina I just feel like if I’m not in the perfect frame of mind I won’t do the book justice. But both will make an appearance on my Book Battle to get them off my TBR pile!

10. You get a $500 gift card for all things bookish-do you run to your nearest bookstore and spend like a fiend? Or do you create pro/con lists (a la Rory Gilmore) to make sure you get just the right and perfect and wonderful bookish things? Or are you eyeing a particularly expensive bookcase somewhere? 

If I’m going to be honest, I am the person that would immediately take that gift card, go to a used bookstore, and search the bargain dollar books for finds so that my money will stretch the farthest and I can buy the most books, which I have no room for. I would probably get so caught up in buying the bargain books I would forget about the books I originally came to buy.

I’m not sure who has and who hasn’t received this award in the past, if you haven’t and are not on the list please feel free to join in, and if you have received the award and groan at the mere sight of the questions feel free to disregard the nomination. I’m also going to use the same questions as are on here. I think it would be fun to see what other people have to say about each question to get a good literary type conversation going.

Nominations: 

Lynn @ Lynn’s Book Blog

The Bookish God

Kimberly @ Come Hither Books 

Coffee n’ Notes

Stephanie @ Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Away in Neverland

Book Snacks 

Books and Cleverness 

Story and Somnomancy 

Jewish Books Are Awesome

Have an amazing day. Happy reading!

Liebster Award

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Hi blogoverse! I want to thank everyone who has followed me and read my blog posts. When I first started blogging it was just a fun way for me to write down what I thought about the books I was reading but it quickly turned into more of a conversation about books. Recently, I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award. I can’t believe it. A big thanks to Erika the Bibliophile for nominating me for this award. If you are not following her go check out her blog!

The Rules: 

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.

2. Give your readers 11 random facts about yourself.

3. Answer the 11 questions from the blog who nominated you.

4. Nominate 11 bloggers to receive this award.

5. Come up with 11 questions for your nominees.

11 Random Facts About Me:

1. Morning is my favorite time of the day.

2. I love dark chocolate, the darker the better!

3. I currently have a BA in English Literature and have been thinking about going back to school to get my MFA in creative writing.

4. I love to write and make up stories. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember.

5. Rocky Road is my favorite ice cream flavor.

6. I’m addicted to coffee, though I did recently read that 5 cups of coffee a day are good for you.

7. I’ve never been skiing but would love to try it.

8. I speak German and spent a year studying abroad in Goettingen.

9. I love to hike and be outside.

10. Unfortunately, I had knee surgery and can’t do as much hiking as I would like.

11. I’ve recently become addicted to the podcast Serial. Go check it out!

Now for the questions:

1. What is your worst bookish habit?

When I start to read a book I pretty much become dead to the world and get stuck in my own little universe. I also like to stop reading on even chapters. So weird.

2. Which fictional character would you have actually dated in high school?

This is a great question. Hm, I’d say Mr. Darcy because who doesn’t love a brooder with a heart of gold but it probably would have been more like Ron from Harry Potter.

3. What is your favorite movie/tv series adaptation of a book?

Definitely To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck. A true classic!

4. What book genre/types of books do you absolutely refuse to read?

I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the full on romance novel type books.

5. Which author have you read the most books from?

This is a hard one. I would say it’s probably a mix of Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and J.K. Rowling.

6. Do you prefer a physical book or an e-book? Or both?

I prefer the actual physical book. I like the whole reading experience and turning of the pages though I will read on my Kindle, especially while traveling.

7. What book could you not finish and why?

The only book I’ve ever not finished and never picked up again was Izzy Willy Nilly by Cynthia Voight. I was pretty young when I read this book and I just couldn’t connect with the main character in any way.

8. What book do you believe it highly overrated?

I have to say The Catcher in the Rye. I read this in high school and just could not get into it or understand the negativity of the main character. Though I would like to read it again to see if my opinions have changed from high school.

9. What are your least favorite/hated characters and which books are they from?

I didn’t like Kitty in Pride and Prejudice. She’s just always riding the coat tails of the other sisters and is then upset when she doesn’t get what she wants. I love to hate Umbridge from Harry Potter. She’s such a great villain.

10. If you read Young Adult books what are some of the common tropes in these books that you are tired of seeing?

I guess the poor misunderstood character who then feels the need to assimilate in order to be understood. And the Romeo and Juliet high school romance.

11. This one is non-book related but I am a huge fan of Disney so I’d like to know who is your favorite Disney princess? 

My favorite Disney princess is Belle because she reads and doesn’t judge a book by it’s cover. A close second is Ariel, Little Mermaid was my favorite as a kid.

My nominations:

Jewish Books Are Awesome

Blue Chicken Ninja 

Story and Somnomancy

Come Hither Books

A Bit to Read

101 Books

Book Guy Reviews

Nut Free Herd

Blogging For A Good Book

Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Lynn’s Book Blog

If you’re not on this list and see this post, and you like accepting these types of rewards, please jump right on in. If not, or you’ve already received this award, that’s cool too.

Questions for my nominees: 

1. What are you reading right now?

2. What character from a book would you have been best friends with in high school?

3. Do you like to read inside of outside?

4. What was the last book to make you cry?

5. What book would you like to see made into a movie/TV Series?

6. If you could live in any book world, what would it by and why?

7. What is your biggest reading pet peeve?

8. What was your favorite childhood book or author?

9. Would you rather visit a fictional world from your favorite book or have the characters come into your world?

10. What’s the book genre you read the most?

11. If you could change the ending of any book would you? And what book would that be?

I hope you guys have fun with this post. I had a great time coming up with these questions!

Online Learning and the Idealization of Team

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Throughout this particular module a few words have been mentioned again and again; culpability, organization, preparation, and motivation. The essence of it all is that in order to be successful in your endeavors as both an online student and a member of a team you must accept personal responsibility for all of your tasks no matter how big or small. The goal is to mold yourself into a well oiled machine.

Now of course that doesn’t happen over night. You have to work at it. In almost everything I read, including the online readiness assessment sponsored by SDCC, being an online student takes plenty of dedication and will constantly test your time management skills. Which was in a way surprising to me. I think that many people assume that taking an online class will be so much easier than attending a lecture. Online is on your own time, you’re not required to attend any session, and most assignments are done asynchronously with your fellow students. But the more I read the more I realized that online learning is the complete opposite. In the Tips for Success section on D2L, a survey conducted of SLIS students found that they actually spent more time working on online classes than they had while attending traditional lecture based classes.

Needless to say my mind was somewhat blown. But when you stop to think about it, it makes sense. Everything is on your own time. You don’t have a professor lecturing to you while you take down notes. You must read it and take notes on your own reading. You must complete and remember your own assignments instead of TA’s breathing down your neck asking you when you’re finally going to turn in that paper.

The Is Online Right for You? article said it perfectly, online learning is not for those who don’t want a challenge. In order to succeed you not only have to be self-motivated, you have to be disciplined, outgoing, and your own advocate in everything you do. No one is going to hold your hand here. You’re going to have to plan your own lecture series instead of just anonymously attending one. Adopt some of those Strategies for Success. Make a calendar for yourself, log on the same days every week, create folders. Do whatever you need to do to remember when things need to be done even if you have to paste sticky notes to your face. Just be engaged, communicate effectively, and enjoy yourself. If you do there’s nothing that can stop you succeeding.

Now for the scary about. Group work. I know, your first inclination is to run away as fast as you possibly can. I can’t say that I blame you. Working in teams is hard. There’s no way to get around it. As Ken Haycock put it group work is”the bane of every students existence.” The “monster” in every library school in Irwin’s words.

In my experience, working in a team usually goes down somewhat like this.

At first everyone in the team shows up to the meeting with some sense of dread. There’s always a period of silence when no one knows what to say and people talk to their friends instead of the group as a whole. Finally, some brave person speaks up and basically says: so what does everyone think about the project? Usually they get a few grunts in reply. This is the person that usually becomes the famed team leader of Haycock’s presentation. Then little projects get divided up, something Irwin says you shouldn’t do and is probably right, everyone takes something, and the team leaves feeling somewhat pleased with how things went. Then comes the work period. Now in my experience, there are always two or three people that work religiously on the task they’ve been given and when the group meets again are totally prepared. And then there’s the one person that lost their notes, forgot what their role was, and in essence has nothing to contribute and aims to get someone to take over their part so they don’t have to do anything. So the other two or three take over that person’s role as well and work themselves frazzled.

Jaded, perhaps, but that’s widely been what I’ve experienced. In light of this, Dr. Haycock’s version of team seems at best idealized. His “team leader” more like a den mother than anything else. What kind of consequences can you establish for someone who doesn’t care at all about the team, the project, or the school?

I’m not saying teams aren’t important. If they work as they’re supposed to, as Haycock and Irwin state they should, everything would work splendidly. As Haycock and Irwin advise, setting the tone of the project and evaluating everyone’s strengths is the key. There are few groups I’ve ever been in that can follow Haycock and Irwin’s keys to success. But when Haycock’s four stages of team growth are fluidly gone through it’s a beautiful process. When everyone participates, sets group goals in advance, and communicates with each other at each stage of the project it’s sure to succeed. A project is more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s a living, breathing organism and needs to be treated as such.

Just as online learning needs your full attention and motivation, so does working in a team. Neither can be treated lightly and if you accept the various challenges both offer you’re sure to learn a thing or two you might not of know before.

Is Distance Learning Right for You?

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Online learning is a whole new world for me. It’s difficult to know when/if you’re ready to approach a new learning environment and even harder to tell if it’s going to work for you. It doesn’t matter how great your operating system is or how technologically literate you are. It all depends upon your motivation and organization.

In almost everything I read, including the online readiness assessment sponsored by SDCC, being an online student takes plenty of dedication and will constantly test your time management skills. Which was in a way surprising to me. I think that many people assume that taking an online class will be so much easier than attending a lecture. Online is on your own time, you’re not required to attend any session, and most assignments are done asynchronously with your fellow students. But the more I read the more I realized that online learning is the complete opposite. In the Tips for Success section on D2L, a survey conducted of SLIS students found that they actually spent more time working on online classes than they had while attending traditional lecture based classes.

Needless to say my mind was somewhat blown. But when you stop to think about it, it makes sense. Everything is on your own time. You don’t have a professor lecturing to you while you take down notes. You must read it and take notes on your own reading. You must complete and remember your own assignments instead of TA’s breathing down your neck asking you when you’re finally going to turn in that paper.

The Is Online Right for You? article said it perfectly, online learning is not for those who don’t want a challenge. In order to succeed you not only have to be self-motivated, you have to be disciplined, outgoing, and your own advocate in everything you do. No one is going to hold your hand here. You’re going to have to plan your own lecture series instead of just anonymously attending one. Adopt some of those Strategies for Success. Make a calendar for yourself, log on the same days every week, create folders. Do whatever you need to do to remember when things need to be done even if you have to paste sticky notes to your face. Just be engaged, communicate effectively, and enjoy yourself. If you do there’s nothing that can stop you succeeding.