The Liebster Award

liebster-awardIt started off as just an average day when I woke up. I crawled out of bed and snuggled with my grandparents poodles and logged on to what has since taken over my life: WordPress.

I saw the bright orange icon at the top of the screen and smiled because it always means good news. I clicked it and realized that it was greater than I expected because it notified me that the lovely Kayla @ The Thousand Lives had nominated me for the Liebster Award. Suddenly, my day didn’t seem so average.

Thank you so much Kayla, it means so much to me that people even read my blog let alone enjoy it. Congratulations yourself on being nominated as you most certainly deserved it!

First for those that are unaware the Liebster Award is supposed to recognize those blogs that are of the up-and-coming sort. (So imagine my blush when I found out that Kayla nominated me)!

Now, the rules are as follows:

  1. Link back the blogger that tagged you
  2. Nominate ten others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you
  3. Ask ten questions for the bloggers you nominate
  4. Let your nominees know of their award

The Questions from Kayla

1. How long did it take you to settle in to your blog (how you wanted to write, how you wanted to lay out your posts, what sort of graphics you wanted to use, what theme to use, etc.)?

I would say it took me about two months to finally find my groove. I finally started organizing my blog, planning out what I wanted to write and designing my blog to better suit my tastes. That in no way means that I don’t need improvements, there are still things that I’m constantly tweaking.

2. How long have you been blogging, and what made you start blogging?

I am fairly new to the blogging world having started May 22nd of this year. It was my mom that said I should blog about books as I’m always finishing books and bugging people to read them too so I can discuss them.

3. Give me a profile of yourself (age, location, job, school, some favorites, etc)?

Alright! I’m 21, I live in Central California (farming county), I work as a Food Service Aide for a high school. Some of my favorite things include: Runts– favorite candy; Pineapple– favorite fruit; Christmas– favorite holiday; Mrs. May– favorite English teacher; Joey– favorite F.R.I.E.N.D.S. character; Newsroom– currently favorite show.

4. What was your best memory in high school?

Performing in the high school play, Blithe Spirit. I played Edith, the maid (but I stole the show) 😉

5. Who inspires you, and why?

My sister Hayley, she is younger than me but so much stronger even though she doesn’t believe it. She enjoys life and I know she will get all that she wants out of it.

6. What are your three favorite books?

This is an unbelievably hard question, but at the top of my head: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Ella Enchanted.

7. What book has influenced you the most in your life?

To Kill a Mockingbird, it taught me to always look at things with a new perspective.

8. Which character would be your best friend, if they were in the flesh?

Hmmm…probably Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia as I’m so ready to believe in magic.

9. What is your favorite book to movie adaptation?

The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, it was so well done!

10. If you could say one thing to your favorite author, what would it be and who would it be to?

Thank you, because no other words could do justice.

My 10 nominees include:

  1. Dewey Decimal’s Butler
  2. Classy Cat Books
  3. Blogs-of-a-Bookaholic
  4. Revolution for Breakfast
  5. The Knee Deep Life
  6. Storytime With Buffy
  7. Jann Lee
  8. NutFreeNerd
  9. The Chronicles of Radiya
  10. Book Adoration

My Questions for my nominees include:

1. What is something you are determined to do before you die?

2. What is a memory that makes you smile?

3. Where do you prefer to read?

4. Do you have a hero or heroine? Why are they so?

5. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

6. How do you fight writer’s block?

7. What is your favorite thing about blogging?

8. Do you have any recommendations for other bloggers?

9. Do you like it when it’s a sunny day or a cloudy day?

10. Are a fast reader or slow reader?

Thank you again Kayla for the nomination and I look forward to seeing all of my nominee’s posts. Happy reading everybody!

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 10

picsart_1375358545585Good evening fellow readers! So of course I found a new challenge to participate in the hopes of proving myself better than the last. I picked up this challenge from The Chronicles of Radiya and very much look forward to 30 consecutive (hopefully, gulp) days of blogging.

Day 10: Favorite Classic Book

This can be said without any hesitation, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Let’s face it, they don’t call it the novel of the century for nothing! In case you don’t know what the novel is about, here is the blurb on the back of the book:

Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”– A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel– a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man’s struggle for justice– but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

I think that what I love most about his novel is the fact that it’s told from 6-year-old Scout’s point of view. For some reason, a child’s perspective paints an accurate picture of reality in way that an adult’s perspective can’t. It’s because a child is still innocent and not yet swayed by adult notions. The best example of this is the scene where a group of men are on the verge of hurting Atticus and Scout stops them by asking after their children. She doesn’t see the danger and it is because of this that she was able to save him.

While the story ends sadly for a few characters it also provides a good amount of laughs (like when Jem was proud of the fact that he knew the Egyptians invented toilet paper). The reader gets to follow Jem and Scout on their adventures and watch as their innocence is stripped away when an innocent black man goes to trial for rape.

It’s truly a novel that everyone should read for anyone can take something away from it. “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” This novel is the back bone of American literature and I definitely recommend it!

Reading for Fun vs. Reading for School

school

Reading for school

fun

Reading for fun

I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird and it got me thinking of my old high school days (all of three years ago).

I was remembering reading To Kill a Mockingbird my sophomore year as a class. I remember laughing at the obvious funny parts in the story but I didn’t really read the book. I read it just enough to write a paper but I didn’t really get into the novel.

I found that this time round with To Kill a Mockingbird, I actually read it… and thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me sad that I could have read this five years ago and felt the way I do now.

Then I got to thinking, this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened.

I ‘read’ Pride and Prejudice my senior year– I didn’t get past the first page. I just wasn’t interested in even giving the novel a chance. However last summer my mom bought this gigantic book that contained all of Jane Austen’s works. It was so pretty that I found myself wanting to read it. I picked it up and have been in love with Pride and Prejudice ever since.

Let’s get something clear. It’s not like I didn’t love to read when I was in high school. Oh no, I was constantly reading in those days (especially Harry Potter). But give me a book that a teacher says I MUST read and suddenly my interest in reading disappears.

I have a couple of theories on this. My thoughts are maybe we automatically associate school with boring, so our mind tells us that the book is uninteresting even when it is, but I’m not sure about this one.

I think this one is more likely, when we are given a book by a teacher, we know we are going to have to pick it dry. We are not reading it for entertainment’s sake but to delve some hidden meaning of why the author made the curtains blue.

If they gave us a novel and said, “I just want you to enjoy it” then maybe we would actually read the novel. When I read for enjoyment, my curiosity starts to peak and I automatically start picking at the novel without even realizing it. If teachers went along with this I guarantee many more students would actually read the book.

What about you guys? Did you struggle with this in school? Do you have any theories as to why it happens? Let me know by commenting below and happy reading!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

mockingbirdNovel Facts:

    • Published: July 11th, 1960
    • Publisher: J.B. Lippincott & Co.
    • Genre: Coming-of-age story, social drama, courtroom drama, southern drama
    • Pages in hardback (The 40th Anniversary Edition): 323
    • Quotes: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” 
    • Goodreads
    • Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Book Depository
  • four

 

Plot:

Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”– A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel– a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man’s struggle for justice– but the weight of history will only tolerate so much. 

Review of the Characters: 

Scout– Easily the best protagonist I have ever read. She describes the dramatic events that take place in little Maycomb, all the while sounding exactly like the child she is, keeping the reader laughing at her simple logic. There are so many aspects that make this novel great but I believe it was Harper Lee deciding to use the point of view of a child that MADE this novel what is continues to be today. Scout is not yet tainted by an adult’s judgement and as so sees things more clearly than any adult would. For example, she more or less brings to light her teacher’s hypocrisy when her teacher says that Hitler is wrong for discriminating against Jews when the teacher in fact indulges in her own prejudices against blacks. What I love is that we truly grow with Scout; through her innocent, easy days to the days where she realized that humanity has a great capacity for evil, however she never once loses her spirit and through this we see that humanity can combat evils with simple kindness. (There are countless great scenes with Scout but my favorite would have to be when she stops a mob of men intending to hurt her father simply by showing them kindness).

Atticus– I consider Atticus the main character of the novel even though it is not told from his point of view, proof of this is Lee who was originally going to title the novel Atticus but then changed her mind. We needed Scout’s perspective to give us child’s logic, but it was Atticus that showed us the depths of humanity. We saw a good man struggle but all the while trying the best that he could. He is the type of man who actually lives by his morals instead of just saying that he does, “he acts the same way he does out in public as he does in his home.” We watch as Atticus does only right, his friends (and even certain family members) turn on him. Everything he does, he does with the intent of making his children proud. “Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I’ve tried to live so I can look squarely back at him.” It’s because of Atticus that Jem and Scout grew up with clarity and compassion. Oddly enough his children don’t idolize him in the beginning of the novel because he is different from other fathers, but by the end they realize that it is this difference that makes him heroic. Atticus is the person we all strive to be.

Jem— Scout being too young to fully absorb the injustice that plays through this novel, Jem reveals the heart-break of childhood when one discovers that justice does not always prevail. In the beginning of the novel Jem’s world is innocent and fun but as the trial plays out evil is introduced into his world and he is forced to face that sometimes you can’t win against it. It’s a tough lesson to learn and Jem changes because of it, stopping Scout from killing a roly poly because it has done nothing to harm her. He is starting to cling to the mockingbird theory, trying to stop evil when he can. The hardest part for me to read was the trial because Jem was so sure and excited for justice to prevail and when it didn’t (even though we saw this through Scout’s eyes) the reader’s heart broke with Jem’s.

Review of the Story:

The story is… well, it’s so much more than a story. It is a window to humanity. It paints a portrait of the stark reality of our world in the point of view of a child, which is nothing but accurate. Lee’s story is timeless. It’s a tale that all can connect too because the ugly truth about humans is we NEED social outcasts. There will always be discrimination whether it be based on race, sexual orientation or gender but Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, shows us that we must do our best in spite of this downfall of humanity. We must fight these evils even if we can’t beat them. To Kill a Mockingbird can be described in so many words: quiet, truthful and genius.

Review of the Writing:

Harper Lee’s writing is one than any could take in, chew and stir around. She writes so that her meaning is clear though in the context many complex devices lie. For example, symbolism. I found three mockingbird (please tell me if you found more).

  • Tom Robinson— He was innocent and not only that but he bestowed acts of kindness on his accuser on a regular basis  
  • Boo Radley– An intelligent child broken (but not all the way) by a cruel father
  • Jem Finch– An innocent who had his world shatter because of the injustice of the trial.

She is a brilliant writer adding to her talented aura by not publishing another novel.

Rating:

People don’t call To Kill a Mockingbird the novel of the century for nothing. Harper Lee wrote the novel that can sum up humanity in three hundred or so pages. She talked about harsh truths and good morals all the while keeping us laughing. (I love the part where Jem claims the Egyptians gave us a whole lot of important stuff– like toilet paper). My only wish is that Harper Lee had published another novel.

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Overall Rating:

four

P.S.– My next read is The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (so excited)!

Sidetracked

tracksSo if you don’t already know, I am reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which by the way has been keeping me laughing (can we all have a child narrate our lives?) but I must say that today I got sidetracked and then sidetracked some more. This is how my day went.

I woke up and did the usual, fumbled for a bowl, spoon and cereal. Waited until my sister was finished pouring a glass of milk, fixed up my cereal and sat at the table staring mindlessly while spooning myself substance.

My mind started wandering, I began thinking how awful it is that I have to get my own cereal (mornings are not my best moments) and how great it would be if I had a maid…and how I would make a HORRIBLE maid. Which led me to think of The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It sounded so good at the moment but I was conflicted because I was already duty bound to read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee…but would it hurt to read The Help if I did it fast? I decided to make a mental note dig up that novel later.

After breakfast I join the rest of the family in the living room still trying to wake up enough to decide what I’m going to do for the rest of the day. A couple of hours passed in this manner. Finally I realize I’m watching a commercial for The Ringley Brothers which suddenly gave me a hankering for Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. But then I think I really shouldn’t, I need to read To Kill a Mockingbird which I am enjoying! I’ll just get through Night Circus really fast and nobody will know the difference. With a nod at no one in particular (which some family members found odd) I set off to my room.

I make straight for my book shelf (which holds more than just books) and take out Night Circus. But now there’s the matter of where I’m going to read it, I look around my room and think I found a spot, when my eyes stop on my mickey mouse ears I got from Disneyland last year. I smile and put the book back as I make my way over to the ears as if touching them will bring back that day. It reminds me of my love for amusement parks.

What’s better than an amusement park? Why, a park full of dinosaurs that’s what.

Immediately I scour my room for Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton when I remember it’s not in my room, I leant it to my sister Hayley. Well, now she’s done with it I decided.

Are you still keeping up?

I head to Hayley’s room, trying not to glance at anything for fear of getting further sidetracked, when I walk in and Hayley has Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone playing.

Well, flip!

I tell Hayley I’ll be right back (who didn’t even realize I had entered the room) head back to my room (because I lend my Harry Potter books to no one) and come to a full stop. My dad is standing in front of me holding my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird saying I left it in the living room.

Then I remember the part I left off at; it was the part where it snows in Maycomb for the first time in years and Scout thinks the world is ending. I smile and realize I want nothing more than to read To Kill a Mockingbird.

So I came in full circle, but I guess that’s why they call it “the circle of life” oh wait, I don’t think that means the same thing.

Have you ever had any days like this? Where multiple books are tugging at your hearts strings and you’re cursing the fact you were born with only one set of eyes? Let me know and in the meantime happy reading!