Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This last fall, I finally had the opportunity to read Shirley Jackson's classic, The Haunting of Hill House.  I have been meaning to read this one for years and when Estella's Society hosted a readalong in honor of the RIP Challenge, I knew I was in.  Sadly, it has taken me a while to write about it here on the blog.  BUT, here it is now!!

Jackson hooks the reader early with the first line of the book . . .
"No live organism cam continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality . . ."
This sentence alone grabbed my attention, begging for me to read more.  Jackson then immediately jumped into the action, introducing us to her complex characters, foreshadowing the story that is yet to come.  Her four supporting characters (Dr. Montague, Theodora, Eleanor, and Luke), however, pale in comparison to the ultimate character -- Hill House.  She humanizes the house, creating an eerie atmosphere and daunting story.  To top it off, she ends the tale with a big bang.

The Haunting of Hill House is a short, quick read that I had a hard time putting down.  It had my full attention from that first sentence until the very end.  In only a little over 200 pages, she developed a tale that will stay with me for a long time and one that every fan of horror should have on their shelves.

Have you been haunted by Jackson's Hill House?  What are your opinions of this classic?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Two-Story Outhouse!

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

Today, I've got a fun one for you!  Allow me to introduce you to the two-story outhouse found in Nevada City, Montana.  Do not ask me how it works.  I'm still trying to figure it out.  My advice:  always use the second floor.

For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the dedicated blog.

What caption would you give this one?!?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday Maunder: February in Review

Can you believe another month has gone by in 2015?  I cannot believe how fast this year is going so far!  With another month gone, it is time to look at February in review here on the blog and beyond.  Let's get with it!

The TOP POST for the month, both in comments and hits is Wordless Wednesday:  Hiking Beauty.  At first, this took me a bit by surprise, but then I realized that I didn't write as much as I had originally planned for the blog.  That is all changing though!  At this very moment, I can tell you that I have already scheduled twelve (12!) book reviews/discussions through the beginning of April.

The TOP PIC for the month over on Instagram was this beauty from my first snowshoe adventure.  I have not yet had the chance to get back out there, but I am hoping to one more time before the snow disappears.  Once again, I did not have many pictures posted this month.  I'm going to be working to post more pictures this month.

As for the BOOKS READ . . . I definitely did not read as much this month as I did last month.  I had a total of three reads completed this month, making a total of thirteen (13) reads for the year so far.  I will admit though that I am very close to finishing another three books at the moment (one print book, one audio book, and one writing book).  Here is the list of books completed:
  1. The Secrets of Droon #1:  The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet by Tony Abbott
  2. The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
  3. X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz

My FAVORITE READ of the month goes to X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz.  

I'm looking forward to lots of things in March, including a great stack of books (not all of which have been determined yet), some fun adventures that I will be sharing pics of on Instagram, writing projects, and more.  I am also taking on movies over at Book Bloggers International this month with Movie Madness March, featuring some great pieces from book bloggers about movies with a literary twist.  I think I am even going to jump in on at least two different events happening this month -- DWJ March and Bloggiesta.  LOTS of great stuff coming!

How was your February?  What are you most looking forward to in March?

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

In The Arrival, Shaun Tan brings us a beautiful story without using a single word.  Instead, gorgeous sepia illustrations tell the story of a man leaving his family in the hopes of making a better life for all of them.  An immigrant in a new, strange land, experiencing new cultures, learning new routines, having to make sacrifices, and all for a goal that is not guaranteed.

Tan's wordless novel allows the reader a peek into the immigrant's world.  In a world where no one speaks the same language, one has to rely on non-verbal cues and images alone, allowing us to truly step into their shoes.  And, Tan's images are invaluable in understanding the story.  Each image is detailed and mesmerizing, and deeply profound, providing the reader/viewer a story unlike any other.  In short, it's a work of art that needs to be visited again and again.

Have you read The Arrival?  What did you take away from it?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Literary Link Love: February 2015

It's time for another wrap-up of all the literary links I shared on social media this month, and let me tell you that there is a number of good ones here!!  Let's get to it . . .

Panels published a list of The Top 9 Comics That Got You Hooked.  I definitely recommend Saga, Y:  The Last Man, and Fables!  Those are some of my faves!  But, I do admit that I need to read more superheroes.

Here's a great list of 33 Thoughts on Reading.  I agree with a good chunk of them, but not all of them.  Each to their own.

A list of Stephen King's Top 10 All-Time Favorite Books.  At first, I thought I had not yet read a single one on the list, but now I'm wondering if I have read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I had better just (re)read it to be safe, along with so many others on this list.

Flavorwire highlighted 50 Writers to See Read Live.  I think there are some notable authors that are missing, particularly Gregory Maguire.

Have you seen these Vintage Ads for Libraries and Reading?!?  I seriously want a bunch of these framed in my own home library (when I get one)!

Book Riot highlighted some literary tourism in my home state!  I need to visit these jewels soon.  I do have to add, however, that they are missing a big author that lives in that area.  Christopher Paolini, author of the Inheritance Saga, used these homelands as his inspiration for Alageasia.

Since my own household has had cookies on the brain, this fun post on book and Girl Scout cookie pairings was very timely!

Can you believe that these books are turning 10 this year?!?  I can't believe it!!

For the Harry Potter fans out there, I shared a number of fun pieces ...

And, last but not least, I shared this clever little image!  Am I right?!?

What were some of your favorite links this month, whether on this list or not?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: The Streets of a Ghost Town

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

Last week, I went (sorta) wordless with some old school rules for teachers.  This week, I thought I would share with you all a picture of the main street where that school stood -- Bannack, MT.  Enjoy!

Have you had the pleasure of walking the streets of a ghost town?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

This is a book that I have been eyeing for a while now.  I can be a sucker for books set during World War II and when I discovered that this was a nonfiction book, I knew I had to read it.  It was perfect timing when one of my book clubs selected this as our next read.

The Zookeeper's Wife follows the life of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, the zookeepers of the Warsaw Zoo.  The two fall in love, take over the zoo, and build it with great success.  Then, the zoo was bombed and many of the animals lost.  The Germans came to "save" some of the remaining animals, to preserve the pure breeds, leaving the Zabinskis with a home in shambles.  Yet, they stay to care for those that remain.  In truth, the zoo is a cover for Jan's secret activities and becomes a home for their ever-expanding family, both their own children as well as their "guests" that come to visit and those that hide in the cages with secret animal names.

The Zookeeper's Wife was an absolutely fascinating read that made me ponder so much and created great discussion in my online book group.  I marked a number of pages in this story, noting certain passages that I needed to revisit.  My only downside is that it initially took me a while to get accustomed to the writing.  The author is known for her poetry and her writing reflects that even in this nonfiction.  Her descriptions of some items were extensive and seemed to be unimportant (though not always the case).  In the end, it is a book that I would recommend, especially if you are looking to expand your list of reads pertaining to World War II.  You need to know the Zabinski's.

Are you familiar with the Zabinski's story?  What are your thoughts on The Zookeeper's Wife?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Maunder: A Never-Ending List

Welcome to another Monday Maunder!

Let me tell you ... this last week was so much better than the week before!  I have now written all the reviews for books that I plan on highlighting here on the blog.  I got in some good reading (be sure to check out my review of X: A Novel).  And, I checked off a number of other things on my list of things to do.  Woohoo!

BUT, have you ever noticed how when you keep a list of things to do, it just seems to grow rather than shrink?!?  I think I end up adding more items to my list than I cross off.  Why?!?  How am I ever to feel productive when the list keeps on getting longer and longer?!?

For example, this last week I got all those reviews written that I have been delaying.  Then, I added taxes, finalizing a family book that I am compiling, and getting registered for another Out of the Darkness Walk this summer.  All things that I really HAVE to get done!

And, to make matters worse, I found myself feeling like I have to cross off a certain number of items on this big ol' list before I can spend time on my different fun writing projects.  Or, spending time reading a good book.

Forget it!  Let's change that this week.  I still need to work on the items on this never-ending list, but I am promising myself a certain amount of time each day this week to work on my fun stuff.  Afterall, don't we all deserve a little fun each day?!?  Or, should I just add the fun stuff to my list, so I remember to make this time for myself?!?  ARGH!!!!

How do you manage your never-ending list of things to do?!?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz

Fifty years ago today, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (aka Malcolm Little and most notably, Malcolm X) was gunned down prior to speaking to the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  He was an influential man in America's history, serving as a human rights activist, in particular for the rights of Black Americans.  Most of what we know of this man begins after he was released from prison and became the leader that he was known for.  What led up to his time in prison can sometimes be a mystery, but can also be a window into the man that he would become.  He daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz attempts to shine a light onto her father's memory by providing readers with X:  A Novel.  Though her story is fictionalized, it also rings in large part of fact and biography, creating quite an unique read.

Malcolm was the fourth child born to Early and Louise Little.  At the young age of six, his father died under very suspicious circumstances.  At thirteen, his mother was committed to a mental institution.  Even before being separated from his mother, Malcolm was moved into foster homes.  At school, he was popular and smart, but he was prone to trouble.  He soon moved to Boston with his half-sister, hoping a change in scenery would be good for him.  It was here that the trouble grew, involving drugs, hustling, sex, and more.  The trouble moved with him to Harlem, and finally back to Boston before he landed himself into too much trouble.

Malcolm's story is not an easy one to read.  It reflects the difficult times that people faced during his lifetime, particularly African Americans.  However, I think it is a story that needs to be heard.  We need to step into Malcolm's shoes for a moment to get a better understanding of his life and times.

At the end of the book, Shabazz details the information that she fictionalized and that she took liberties with.  My interpretation is that the bones and much of the meat of Malcolm's story is still very much present.  And, it can be very eye-opening, both for Malcolm's own history in creating the man that he would become as well as the history of our own nation.

The end of the novel also includes a number of additional extras for the reader, all of which must be read to better understand the story.  One section is a list of additional recommended reads.  X has served as my gatekeeper and I cannot wait to dive into many of the suggestions, both fiction and nonfiction alike.

Have you had the opportunity to meet the young Malcolm in X?  What other reading suggestions might you have on Malcolm X and/or the civil rights movement?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Old School Rules for Teachers

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

This is more of a Wordy Wednesday, but the words are all in the pictures!  I took these pictures in the old mining town of Bannack, Montana last summer.  I think we have come quite a ways since 1872 and 1912.

For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the devoted blog.

What are your thoughts on these old school rules for teachers?