Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: A Poem by Me

L'isola bella
e piena di felicita.
Nessuno m'annoia
perche non c'e nessuno qui.
Guardo le nuvole,
e guardo l'acqua azzurra.
Non c'e il tempo,
soltanto ci sono la nature ed Io.
L'isola e l'immortalita,
la morte non mi puo trovare qui.
Qui, Io fugo di tutto,
qui Io sono allegre.
Qui l'amore, la vita, e la morte
sono tutti insieme di me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Roman Holiday

It seems like that trip to Italy is going to be a reality. We are only in the planning stages, but we expect to spend Christmas and New Year's in Italia! Our itinerary consists of 3 days in Venice, 3 days in Florence, 3 days in Rome, and a couple of day trips to Vicenza and Siena if time permits. Unfortunately, we will be purchasing round-trip tickets. Although our time there will be limited, it will surely be unforgettable. I will get to live out all the daydreams I had while reading The Glassblower of Murano (click here for post). This will be my second trip to Italy and the first one for my husband, so the teacher side of me can't wait to be his tour guide. The first time I was there was almost 13 years ago. It was a gift for my quinces (eek! am I aging myself?!). But, I remember every second of it and I look forward to making new memories in La Serenissima, in The City of Lilies, and in The Eternal City.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Banned Books Week!

This week, the American Library Association (ALA) celebrates the freedom to read through Banned Books Week. Chicago will be hosting the Banned Books Readout in which six of the ten most challenged books, including And Tango Makes Three, TTYL, and The Gossip Girls Novels, will be read by their authors.

I'm glad to know that many of the books I have read are on the 2008-2009 list: The Twilight Saga, The Kite Runner, To Kill a Mockingbird, My Sister's Keeper, etc.

Ironically, the next book on my nightstand, The Book Thief, deals with this very issue. In it, a little girls becomes obsessed with reading and turns to stealing banned books to satiate her hunger for reading. Wouldn't it be funny if it made the banned/challenged books list?!

Here's to exercising our FREEDOM TO READ!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: A Psalm of Life

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
"Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act to each to-morrow
Finds us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
Learn to labor and to wait.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, September 21, 2009

The History Channel and Discovery Channel Go All Out for Dan Brown's New Novel

With the release of Dan Brown's new novel, The Lost Symbol, The History Channel's line up has now been flooded with programming relating to the themes in his novels. Beyond the DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons Decoded, The Templar Code, Secret Societies, and The Holy Grail were among the shows that aired this weekend. Tonight, you can catch The Templar Code, again, as well as Cities of the Underground: Freemason Underground and Secrets of the Founding Fathers. For the complete History Channel weekly schedule, click here. Disovery Channel has a similar lineup with Secret History of the Freemasons and Secret America on Thursday, September 24, 2009.

I love learning the true history behind Dan Brown's novels, but I tend to wonder how much of these special programs is factual and how much of it is just hype.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dan Brown's 20 Worst Sentences

This week has been pretty hectic and on top of that I was a bit under the weather. So, I didn't have a chance to blog. But, I'm back!

I'm still reading The Lost Symbol. Like most of Dan Brown's books, it gets your attention right away and keeps you hooked. However, I came across this article, "The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's 20 Worst Sentences," and thought it was actually, quite funny. It is true that Dan Brown is not the best writer when it comes to his use of figurative language. But, as a national bestselling author, I don't think he has to worry about his use of metaphors, similes, or even basic word choice. Apparently, most of the population is purchasing, reading, and discussing his books. The critics may say whatever they want, but at the end of the day Dan Brown is the one laughing all the way to the bank.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's here!

The new Dan Brown book is here! I love how it arrived the day of its release. I'm going to have to put The Book Thief aside for now and start The Lost Symbol today. Stay tuned for the review!

Friday, September 11, 2009

In just a few days...

Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol will be available. I pre-ordered my copy in June and can't wait to receive it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Running Away with the Circus

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen recounts the story of a Cornell veterinary student who is about to graduate when a family tragedy changes his life forever. When Jacob Jankowski realizes that he has nothing left due to his parents' death and the loss of their assets during the Crash of 1929, he runs away and lands on a circus train. He soon becomes the circus vet and develops a strong bond with the animals, especially the performing elephant, Rosie. Not only does he discover that he was meant to follow in his father's footsteps, but he falls in love along the way with the beautiful performer, Marlena. However, she's married to a violent and hated man, August. Nonetheless, the stubborn yet intelligent creature, Rosie, plays a key role in Jacob's destiny.

Jacob is now a 93 year-old man and through his memories, we are transported to the gritty way of life on a circus train during the Great Depression. The struggles of the social classes between the circus workers and performers mirrors that of the dispairty between the poor and the rich of the era. Gruen's descriptive prose and attention to historic details depict the lawlessness and debauchery of the circus and the time period while at the same time highlighting its beauty and the hope that it brings to so many unfortunates.

I really loved this book! While I read it, I pictured a world like that of the film, Moulin Rouge. I would love to see Baz Luhrmann's interpretation of the book with his exciting camera work and visually stunning sets and costumes. It seems the film rights have been bought by Fox 2000, so that may become a reality by 2010!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: Seussian Insight

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You're on your own.

And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kids' Events at Books & Books

While visiting my favorite bookstore in Coral Gables, Books & Books, I noticed they had some wonderful upcoming events for kids.

On Saturday, September 12, 2009, the bookshop will be celebrating the birthday of author, H. A. Rey, the creator of Curious George. The event will take place from ten to noon and will feature many activities surrounding this lovable character.

On Monday, September 21 2009, Tomie de Paola will be presenting his new book Strega Nona's Harvest. Based on the same characters from the beloved book, Tomie de Paola creates a new adventure for Strega Nona and Big Anthony. As a teacher, this was one of my favorite books to use in my lessons and the kids were fascinated by it. Tomie de Paola has written many memorable children's books. This is a great opportunity to meet the author and get an autographed copy of his new book or an old favorite.

For more information on the events at Books & Books click here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Author Spotlight: Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights was required reading (and probably still is) for high school English classes. However, it truly is one of my favorite novels. After reading Twilight and seeing so many references to it, I was inspired to reread the same copy I've kept for over 10 years. I must say that I enjoyed it as much as the first time I read it. It is full of beautiful yet dark imagery, intriguing figurative language, mysterious characters, and an unrequited, tumultous love set in a similarly, unruly and violent landscape.

Although it was Emily's only novel, it is such a masterpiece that it transcends time and continues to inspire movies and other pieces of literature. After rereading it, I noticed that it was not only mentioned throughout the Twilight saga, but there are also references to the novel in The Kite Runner and The Glassblower of Murano. Who needs a happy ending when you've experienced such an insanely passionate love story?

"My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees — my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath — a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff — he's always, always in my mind — not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself — but as my own being — so, don't talk of our separation again — it is impracticable." ~Catherine's monologue, Ch. 9.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: One of My Faves

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

i am never without it (anywhere i go, you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)

i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret no one knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

- e.e. cummings

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