Thursday, November 1, 2018

Book Review: Shakespeare's Sonnets, Retold: Classic Love Poems with a Modern Twist by William Shakespeare and James Anthony

Ahhhh the Bard. His words are still studied and read today and it makes my big literary heart happy. When I received this galley -- my heart jumped for joy as I feel everyone should read Shakespeare as well as classic literature. While I love the poetic language of Shakespeare, it's nice to have a modern translation side-by-side with it; that way you get both the poetry and the meaning. I can understand the trepidation of reading the original work as his words can be hard to understand so when modern retellings are brought forth into the world -- people should scoop them up. I studied Shakespeare while in college and while it is rare that a remake or a retelling will be better than original; the use of current language in this book makes the Sonnets much easier to read and understand. This was a great read and I could see this text being used in classrooms and for teaching tools, especially in mine. Thank you James Anthony and Penguin First To Read for giving me the gift of this book!

Here is the book description. This book is set to be released on November 13, 2018 to major and independent booksellers. James Anthony has long enjoyed poetry with a strict adherence to beat, rhythm, and rhyming patterns, which he likens to the very best pop songs. This drew him to the rewarding 14-line structure of Shakespeare’s sonnets, yet he often found their abstract language frustratingly unintelligible. One day, out of curiosity, he rewrote Sonnet 18—Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day—line-by-line, in the strict five-beat iambic pentameter and rhyming patterns of the original, but in a contemporary language a modern reader could easily understand. The meaning and sentiment—difficult to spot, initially—came to life, revealing new intricacies in the workings of Shakespeare's heart.And so, James embarked on a full-time, year-long project to rewrite all 154 of the Bard's eternal verses creating SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS, RETOLD. This collection of masterful reinterpretations brilliantly demystifies and breathes new life into Shakespeare's work, demonstrating the continued resonance of a playwright whose popularity remains over 400 years after his death. Now, the passion, heartbreak, deception, reconciliation, and mortality of Shakespeare’s originals can be understood by all, without the need to cross reference to an enjoyment-sapping study-guide. Coming with a foreword by Stephen Fry, this is a stunning collection of beautiful love poems made new.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Book Review: Choosing Me -- Love Letters from a Poet by Bill Weber

I am pleasantly surprised at the power of Instagram. It has brought forth to me some amazing people -- two life coaches, vivacious bookworms like myself, and inspiring authors. As most of you know I am going through a period of growth that is filled with positivity and that energy has manifested in my Instagram account.

When I was contacted by Bill Weber about his book Choosing Me -- Love Letters from a Poet, I felt this calling. I had to read this book. I had to HAVE this book. An opportunity arose for me to read it before everyone else. The universe is giving me all of this great energy and positivity and is sharing it with the world. This book is available for pre-order on Amazon and it goes on sale to the general public on December 1, 2018.

Here is the book description: Every time we make love is another opportunity to recognize how the spiritual principles of Yin and Yang represent themselves through the design of our bodies and the pleasures of the experience. It is another opportunity to experience the joy of transcending the illusion of duality, and another step along the spiritual journey of awakening to the true nature of our being. Making love is a physical expression of the interplay of Yin and Yang energy, , a joyous celebration of the human body, a sensual fountain of pleasures, a regenerating process of sacred energetic potential, and a hint of the joy of the heaven of enlightenment. Savor the sacredness of the being you are with. Savor the intimacy of the connection. Savor the ebb and flow of energy. Savor every sensation. Savor the sacredness.

Now I will admit -- when I started to read this book it made me blush a lot due to the content. There is an element of eroticism in these poems. I will admit -- the genre of eroticism/romance I normally do not read. I am happy and grateful that this book took me out of my comfort zone of reading. I am also happy and grateful that there are people out there who yearn to keep the spark of love alive in their relationships. It is the ultimate life force and my main priority is feeling good as much as I can. So when I started reading this book I felt happy. I felt good. That is what it is all about. It was also refreshing to see a man step out of his comfort zone of romance. His words just flow onto the page creating a myriad of images in my head; filling my soul with warmth. Plus the fact that this man is essentially honoring women, in particular his partner, it is a glorious sight to read and makes me wish to have a man in my life who is so expressive with his words.

If you are a fan of poetry, romance, love, eroticism, and feeling good as much as you possible can -- GET THIS BOOK. I highly recommend.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Book Review: This Is a Whoopsie! by Andrew Cangelose and Josh Shipley

As most people are aware -- my career is in education. I am constantly on the look out for inspiring childrens books that I can bring into the classroom; age appropriate content with a real life connection and how my students can relate to the story. Currently I am working in Kindergarten so building that foundation of literacy as well as social development is crucial at such a young age. When I saw this book available on Net Galley I immediately jumped on it. I mean, how can you say no to a cute moose on the cover? This book was released on October 16, 2018 and is by the same author of This is a Taco, which features a cameo of Taco.

Here is the book description: This is supposed to be a book about all the different things moose can do, like leaping and jumping and being really tall. But maybe Whoopsie isn't the right moose for the job. You might want to pick a different moose for this book. Maybe instead we can do a book about falling down a lot? Yeah! Whoopsie would be great at that.This hilarious book about a clumsy moose shows that sometimes being a little different can make one great story.

What I loved about this book is the message it provides -- finding what you are good at when you are constantly aware of what you are not good at. It is perfect to have that reflection and introspection but also knowing to not dwell in the negative self talk. It has a great message that we all make mistakes and that we learn from them. Plus the fact that I am a klutz myself, I was quick to identify with Whoopsie, which is also crucial with children's education -- if they can relate to the character in the story, the message and lesson will be learned. I also loved the facts about the animal known as the moose thrown in. Furthermore as I read this book I had a smile on my face. How can you not enjoy a book that makes you laugh? Finally the illustrations are clever and bring the reader in with a sense of feeling involved.

I absolutely adored and loved this book. It is really adorable and it is highly recommended for both the classroom and for home.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Countdown to Halloween -- 2018 Edition

My favorite holiday, besides my birthday, is Halloween. I am drawn to all things Halloween/Autumn -- vampires, zombies, werewolves, cheesy 80s horror movies, dressing up, anything pumpkin flavored or scented, sweater weather... Just love it! With that said I thought it would be cool to do a COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN activities list. Most of this stuff will be done by myself. Yes I know there are dates attached but I am using it more as a check off list.

October 1st: Watch the movie The Lost Boys (Done!)
October 2nd: Watch the movie Nightmare on Elm Street (original with Robert Englund) (Done!)
October 3rd: Watch the movie Hotel Transylvania.
October 4th: Read a short story a day in Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (Done! Mile 81)
October 5th: Watch the movie Venom in theaters (Done!)
October 6th: Watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Done!)
October 7th: Watch the season 9 premiere of The Walking Dead (Done!)
Watch the cartoon Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Done!)
October 8th: See the movie Halloween in theaters
October 9th: Watch the movie Hellraiser (Done!)
October 10th: Watch the movie House of 1000 Corpses. (No way to watch it. Maybe next year I will buy the DVD)
October 11th: Watch the movie Psycho (original Alfred Hitchcock version). (Done!)
October 12th: Watch the Universal classic horror movies Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. (Done!)
October 13th: Visit Last Rites Gallery (Did not get to go. Its okay. Another time)
October 14th: Get candles with a cinnamon or pumpkin smell from Bath and Body Works for my room. (Could not afford candles from Bath and Body Works for instead I got candles from the dollar store with a vanilla apple cinnamon smell. They will do)
October 15th: Get a pumpkin spice chai latte at Argo Tea
October 16th: Watch the movie Beetlejuice (Done!)
October 17th: Watch the movie Interview with The Vampire (Netflix)
October 18th: Watch the movie Hocus Pocus. (Done!)
October 19th: Attend Stephen Lynch concert (Done! Had such a fun time!)
October 20th: Watch the movie Carrie (the original version with Sissy Spasek) (Done!)
October 21st: Watch the movie The Evil Dead
October 22nd: Watch the movie The Craft (Done!)
October 23rd: Howl at the not but instead maybe get a beauty treatment that is pumpkin scented or fall inspired. (Still have my pumpkin sleeping face mask from last year. Score!)
October 24th: Attend She Wants Revenge concert. (Did not physically attend due to reasons but was there in spirit via Spotify playlist made by my best friend)
October 25th: HAPPY BIRTHDAY VERONICA! Watch the movie Veronica in honor. (Netflix) (Done!)
October 26th: Watch Tales of Halloween (Netflix)
October 27th: Watch the movie Coraline (Netflix) (Done!)
October 28th: Watch the movie Teen Witch (Done!)
October 29th: Get a fall inspired color manicure.
October 30th: Watch The Shining (Done!)
October 31st: HALLOWEEN!! Give an acorn to loved ones for good luck and fortune in the new year and get a tarot card reading for guidance for the year to come. (Done!)

What are you doing for October/Halloween?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Book Review -- What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

This book. Oh my goodness this book.

I have never read anything by either Becky Albertalli or Adam Silvera before. I have heard such great things about both authors and I am always down to experience new authors. I read mostly paranormal/fantasy/horror/thrillers as well as young adult and this book, which isn't due out until October 9, 2018, (thank you to Epic Reads at Harper Collins Publishers for the ARC) is such a page turner I could not put it down. I really loved this book! Filled with so many ups and downs and twists and turns -- I have never been so emotionally invested in a book before. It is heartwarming, humorous, awkward, and inspiring. I virtually had to force myself to put it down when necessary and could not wait to pick it up again. If you are a lover of Adam and/or Becky’s work, you won’t want to miss their debut project together.

Book description: ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it. BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things. But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated. Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited. But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs? What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough? What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play? But what if it is? What if it’s us?

I loved the set up of their story – not only the charm having a “missed connection” to find each other later, but also the hilarity of their terrible, terrible dates. We have all had those terrible dates before and it was so refreshing and relatable to see on the page. Ben and Arthur have a very unique love story that I feel is absolutely worth reading. I also loved the fact that I was able to get annoyed/angry with both main characters so frequently. I LOVE characters who’s reactions make me mad while also enabling me to see their viewpoint and fully understand their reactions. There were many times where I would throw the book in anger, let out an "awwww" at a cute moment, and just feel all of the emotions. Both characters are easy to love, yet remain flawed; and you are not rooting for one over the other. You want to see this relationship work somehow. The only critique/problem I have is with the ending. Granted, its reality but gosh darn it a girl loves some cheese!

To let you know -- there are the subjects of cheating, homophobia, racism, and panic attacks in this book. If any of this are triggers for you -- you have been warned. Overall, I really loved my time reading this as it was a step out of comfort zone of reading. If you are someone who is excited for this story, I don’t feel you will be disappointed. I would definitely recommend to everyone who loves a young adult diverse contemporary romance novel.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

What if I Told You I Was a Teacher?

What if I told you I was a teacher? 

What if I told you that I just do not teach Language Arts and Mathematics?

What if I told you that every day I worry about the unthinkable?

What if I told you that despite wanting to lock my classroom door and rearrange my classroom furniture for an easy escape route and protection and figure out which of my supplies would make a good weapon “just in case” — every morning I open up my classroom for my students to be in a place of safety, of warmth, of nurturing unconditional love?

What if I told you that instead of prepping my lessons and organizing — I spent my morning checking in with my crew to see how they are doing and to just listen and bond with them?

What if I told you that every day I greet everyone with a smile and a good morning because sometimes that is all a student needs to get through their day?

What if I told you that instead of isolating myself to the teachers lounge for lunch I have regular lunch time chats with my students to make them feel loved and accepted, especially the ones who are invisible and help them become visible?

What if I told you that I open up my classroom during my off periods to the students who don’t fit in, who don’t know how to make friends yet, to give them someone who will just listen?

What if I told you that regardless of race, sex, religion, ethnicity, social status, income, identity that I have created a safe haven and finally have a place where they fit in?

What if I told you that I have told my students that it is okay to talk about your feelings and that I teach all of my students, especially young men, that anger is not the only acceptable emotion?

What if I told you that I teach my students how to deal with bullies and bullies how to deal with their pain?

What if I told you that I really listen to my students?

What if I told you that I have already lost students to gun violence?

What if we did SOMETHING?

What if we said SOMETHING?

What if 2018 is the year that we stop all of this madness?

What if you share these words and our voices were heard?

We protect the children — NOW ITS YOUR TURN


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Book Review: Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu

As I wrote in a previous blog -- I have adopted a sacred morning practice because the most important thing in life is to FEEL GOOD. Feeling good is priority #1 in my life. It should be yours too. If you do not feel good, you will drag those negative feelings with you throughout the day and you will pick up more negativity along the way and will continue to go down the spiral. Why would you want to feel like that? I sure do not want to feel like that. So since I do not want to feel like crud all day -- my sacred morning practice puts me in my vortex first and then I act. You learned that as part of my sacred morning practice I crack open a non-fiction book; whether it is a self-help book, something inspiring, something motivating, a memoir, etc. So this time around -- have you ever read a book that you had trepidations about because you might not know all of the content but then you receive it and are so happy you did? Let me present to you Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu.

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit. With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

Well, this book sure did inspire my inner rebellion and my indomitable spirit. Plus this book was originally published in French and we all know how much of a francophile I am! This book is marketed for young adults but it is surely not just for young adults. This is a wonderful, inspiring and eclectic group of triumphant women's stories. There is a consistent theme of feminism in the stories but there is a whole spectrum of issues that need to be overcome from autism, to poverty, to war, to lack of musical talent. Bagieu created a cornucopia of entries featuring a variety of trailblazing ladies from across a spectrum of time and place. Some were familiar to me, but many are lesser known and have been sadly overlooked by the mainstream. I wish every girl (heck every boy too) gets a chance to read these stories to see that nothing can hold you back if you don't let it.

I am amazed at the different stories that made it into this book from the bearded lady to Hedy Lamarr. For example -- one of my favorite hobbies and interests are solving murder mysteries. With a notebook in hand, I try to get as many details as I can to put things together. This book exposed me to Frances Glessner Lee who was a crime miniaturist. She would recreate crime scenes for police to solve crimes. She put so much detail into her work. Such an inspiration and so relatable. Bagieu seems to have put in a lot of heart, and effort into researching different women to feature in this book, who deserve so much recognition for the incredible work they have done. There's such a great range of stories in this book, some of which literally choked me up several times throughout the book. I felt truly connected to some of the stories. I also personally love that Bagieu chose a graphic novel concept. The illustrations go perfectly with the history of the amazing women Bagieu chose to highlight, and her humor makes the history memorable. A definite feast for the eyes and for the brain.

I would love to see a second book from her with some more Brazen women. This is a perfect way, for anyone to learn about some pretty incredible people, in a very digestible way. If you are interested in current events, history, and science; in dance, movies, and songwriting; by people interested in explorers and political rebels -- GET THIS BOOK. Highly recommended.