top 9 of '09

Top 9 reads of the year... in no particular order:

1. The Quiet Room by Lori Schiller
2. The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog by Bruce D. Perry, PhD
3. Love In The Asylum by Lisa Carey
4. The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton
5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
6. Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy
7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
8. The Center Will Not Hold by Elyn Saks
9. The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


2010 Challenges

I am not much a challenge person, mainly because I start them and never finish.  So I am planning on starting the year off on the right foot- joining 2 challenges that I know I can do.  I figure this will encourage me, and maybe I will join others as the year progresses.

The first challenge I want to introduce is the Buy One Book and Read It Challenge hosted by Amy.  The challenge started when Amy heard that 50% of Americans did not read a book in a single year - her hope was to inspire people to READ.  I agree that the statistic is shocking (especially to a book lover and a teacher)... but I realize that American households are flooded with technology (TV, playstations, Wii, etc etc) and therefore reading sits on the backburner.  Unfortunately I also see it first hand - I teach adolescents between 10 - 13 and they aren't exactly the biggest readers... however, every day I am working on it!
I apologize, I have side tracked... I will step off of the soapbox now.
The challenge has 3 levels, and since I am an avid book buyer, I am going to pick Level 3.  Level 3 consists of buying 12 books and reading them before 12.31.10.  Last night I picked up 2 books, so I am already on my way!

The second challenge that I am going to join is the Memorable Memoir Reading Challenge hosted by Melissa.  I picked this challenge because memoirs are one of my favorite genres- therefore it just fits!  The goal is to read at least 4 memoirs between 1.1.10 and 12.31.10.  I just got a great memoir from Joe for Christmas, so I am going to begin with that.  The rules are very chill, to allow more readers to find a love in memoir reading.  The books can overlap with other challenges, the description of memoir is loose, both audio and e-books are allowed.

There you have it!  Here is to ringing in 2010 and making some goals for myself with these reading challenges!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Shakespeare Sunday & some catching up

Hello blog world!  I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays... I spent mine visitng with family & friends and driving all around the great state of New York.  It was a wonderful holiday and I was spoiled with lots of goodness and was able to share my own gifts and love with those closest to me.  I made homemade gifts (which, I never took pictures of because I was so damn busy) - hot cocoa jars and candles. 

Also, I gave my nephews books of course!  Kiernan is almost a year and Anthony will be a year in 2 weeks.  I gave them both books that they can bring to church - one each of Ezra Jack Keats Snowy Day (the board book version).  I also got them both "finger puppet" books - Kiernan got Little Reindeer and Anthony got Little Polar Bear.  The finger puppets were a hit!

Speaking of books... I got some under my tree!  Plus, a B&N gift card, which of course is my favorite gift ever.  I also had a happy surprise this morning when I was reconnecting with the blog world- Susan over at Bloggin Bout Books announced the winners of The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere and I was one of the lucky winners!  I am so excited to get this book and gobble it up.

I finished some books, and I will be writing reviews ASAP!

And now, some Shakespeare:

"Nature teaches beasts to know their friends"

Act II, Scene I


write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Shakespeare Sunday

"My love's more richer than my tounge"

King Lear
Act I, Scene I

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


A Non Review: Let It Snow

Last night I just updated my "I'm Reading" sidebar with a new book- Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.  I figured from the blurb on the back that it was going to be an interesting and sweet romantic novel with some Christmas spirit.  Also, I did enjoy reading the young adult novel, TTYL and the other 'Internet Girl Series' by one of the authors (Lauren Myracle) when some of my students were reading them.  However, I was BEYOND disappointed within the first 40 pages.  I rarely ever put a book away after starting, but this was one of those books.  I was immediately bored and the writing was sub-par.  There was no hook to pull me in, and even by page 5, I was ready to give up.  I stuck it out until page 40ish and then just decided that it wasn't worth my time.

Has anyone else read this book?  I would love to hear other opinions if you have... maybe it would make me want to give it another try...

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Mini Review: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

Okay, so I picked this book up because I've read Tucker Max on the internet... he blogs and shares all sorts of raunchy stories about his bachelor life. First let me say that I let my boyfriend read it before me (I was busy reading another book) and his first reaction was "Jenna, this is hilarious but it is completely disgusting and I don't want you to read it". Of course, I read it anyways. And let me tell you- it IS awful. Not awful like it is the worst book ever written, but awful because it is so incredibly dirty and demeaning towards women. Basically, I would ONLY recommend this book to my friends that I know VERY well and who I KNOW could handle the topics. The book is so X-rated with its content that I can't really share more than that. In short, only read this if you hate men and want some justification for that or you have the greatest man in your life and want to be reminded of how great he is. Or of course, read this if you just want to torture yourself.... or, if there are any men out there who read this blog, go ahead and read it and remind yourself that Tucker Max is totally disgraceful (and insanely funny)... :)

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The sweetest giveaway ever

This evening I happened upon a really cool blog called Park Avenue Princess.  Not only an AMAZING book blog with fabulous books to look into, but also plenty of out-of-this world contests.  Im posting this to let everyone know that Park Avenus Princess is giving away an eBook reader.. of YOUR choice!  How cool is that?!  Check our the links to learn more!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Review: The Professors' Wives' Club

I just finished reading The Professors' Wives' Club by Joanne Rendell and must admit that I enjoyed it. It started out like a "typical" chick-lit novel (or so I thought) with its small introductions into the lives of four women who were battling their own demons. However, it quickly turned into a fast-paced mystery/scandal with a literary theme running strong throughout that kept me on the edge of my seat. Very rarely does fiction of this sort hold me captivated.

The novel opens up in a beautiful garden nestled in between faculty housing at Manhattan University (basically, a fictional NYU) where we begin meeting the four strong women in the novel. All four are tied to the University through their partners and live in the faculty housing, allowing them access to the garden. As we meet the women, we learn that each is battling some sort of demon in her life, and all seem to be strikingly different. It is the bond that the garden forms that holds these women together and produces a friendship between them.

The women learn of a project set to demolish their beloved garden- where they come to think and just be themselves. Each independently decides that this is a terrible idea and before you know it, waves and courteous 'hellos' become heartwarming conversations that lead to the unanimous decision that the garden demolition must stop. As the story unfolds and the reader becomes invested in the garden and the women themselves, a literary plot begins to shimmer in the light of the novel. Edgar Allen Poe becomes a central part of the novel, the garden, Manhattan U, and the women. Will they be able to stop the demolition? Will Poe become a great player in Manhattan U's decision? Will the women triumph over their personal battles?

The Professors' Wives' Club offers humor, resistance, resilience, friendships, bonds, and a little bit of scandal and mystery- there really is a bit of everything for every type of reader. While the book is fiction, there are striking resemblances to NYU, historical Poe, and academia as a whole.

This novel put an interesting spin on the "female friendships" that so often show up in chick-lit. I say interesting because the friendships are not what you see normally portrayed. Normally we see women as backstabbing catty bitches (not only in literature), but in The Professors' Wives' Club we see women who are all at very different points in their lives but find a common bond to connect them. They do not back-stab, they do not bitch and whine, and they certainly aren't catty with one another. Instead we see female friendships as they should be- caring, supportive, and judgment free.

Overall, I found this book to be a good read. I would recommend it as a light read in-between classics or mind benders. Personally, I wouldn't offer it up to a book club- as interesting as it was, I think it would be talked-out very quickly. It may be a good read, but it isn't exactly what I would consider "deep". Many women can relate, and there are things worth discussing (cheating, abuse, unaccepted relationships, and unrequited love) but Rendell didn't take them as deep as she could have.

In short: drink some coffee and read the book, but don't expect it to change your life.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Shakespeare Sunday

So here begins a new Sunday ritual... every Sunday will be deemed 'Shakespeare Sunday' with a quote from one of his works.  Maybe I will discuss it, maybe I won't.  Maybe I will add a picture to it, maybe I won't... but I will faithfully add a Shakespearean quote every Sunday from here on out.

"if you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh?
if you poison us, do we not die?
and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"

The Merchant of Venice
Act III, Scene I

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


I'm back!

Well, after a few month hiatus, I am officially back to the blogging world.  Balancing life and work has been difficult lately, which is why I took a break from blogging.  I didn't stop reading though.  Nor did I stop taking photographs.  I have a few books I would like to share, some new photography, and a new book club I am running at my school.  There is a lot to update on, and I will get to all that eventually.  Knwoing me, it will be a slow dip back into blogging- hopefully I will get back to posting daily.  I may start a "weekly" format type thing- Im thinking of rekindling my romance with Shakespeare... so maybe "Shakespeare Sunday" and another one focused on my photography.  Books are not being reading near as fast as they were before- work is VERY demanding right now.  I also have a book club to run with high schoolers.  Slowly but surely, I plan to get back to sharing my ramblings with the world.

You may notice I deleted most of my posts- I kept only the ones that were strictly reviews.  I also changed my blog look, and added some snow since it IS December (and upstate NY hasn't had any snow yet!!)  How do you like it??

I will be updating soon!  xoxo



I love making bread.  I made 3 mini zucchini bread loaves - all made with applesauce to replace the oil.  The last one is infused with chocolate and topped with chocolate chips.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow