Monday, September 20, 2010

Cupcakes, Music, and Other Hobbies

I have to say that I'm sorry I don't post on this blog more often. I'm sure there's someone out there wondering why I created one if I wasn't going to update it. Anyway, school has started again, and I've been really busy (which is actually unusual, because I'm not typically a very involved person). So, I think I'm going to broaden my horizons a bit with this blog and let you all see more of my life. Let's see...I made some chocolate cupcakes recently, which was just awesome. This was from scratch, obviously, because that's the best way to make something fantastic, and some of the dry ingredients were mixed by my friend Rebecca's two-year-old daughter (which means there was flour and cocoa all over the dining table). Overall, a yummy and wonderful experience that I'd never had before. (I've baked plenty but mostly cookies.) I might try to post some pictures on here soon. Let's see...I recently read A Modern Comedy by John Galsworthy, so I'll post about that soon. If you haven't read anything by Galsworthy yet, it is an absolute must. I was going to say a lot more about playing my keyboard lately and other things I've been doing, but it's very late, and I'm about to pass out. So, there's more to come, and hopefully this blog will grow into something much more interesting soon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hope Leslie

A little while back, I finished Hope Leslie or, Early Times in the Massachusetts by Catharine Maria Sedgwick. I read the Penguin Classics edition, because they always have helpful introductions and background information, but for those of you who just want to read it without all of the extra information, grab any copy you want.

If you haven't read much early American literature, Hope Leslie is a great place to start. It's set in seventeenth-century New England, with a very strong main character and unexpected plot twists. Sedgwick wrote around the same time as James Fenimore Cooper, but there are significant contrasts between their works. Their Native American characters, for instance, differ extremely. And what really gets me are the characters. Women play a primary role in the novel, which is something you don't see very often in early American literature (even less often than in British literature at the time). Their role is only achieved through decided independence and discovered wiggle room in their atmospheres, however, because men still rule the culture of the day. The plot centers around a young woman, living in a Puritan community, whose sister was captured by the Pequots when they were both children. Her primary aim is to win this sister back again, but there are all sorts of complications caused by both the societies (Puritan and Pequot) and individuals.

In comparing and contrasting the cultures of a Puritan society with a Pequot tribe, Sedgwick finds much to be admired about different kinds of people, beliefs, and traditions. Hope Leslie really is an interesting and slyly informative read, especially for those interested in the American colonies or the interactions between Puritan and Native American cultures (without all of that frustrating violence).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Well, here we are. You don't know me, and I don't know you. Should be fun. It's taken me a while to actually get around to writing a post, even though I created this blog in February. I couldn't find a specific topic to focus on, as most people do with blogs. I'm a college student, and my husband is in the Army, which tends to be a recipe for randomness. So, I guess I'll start out talking about books I've read lately, and we'll see where it goes from there. (Here's my little disclaimer: Although I am an English major with an emphasis in Literature, I do not generally write reviews. I don't expect for my words on this blog to come out as genius or even to be very in-depth at this point, so neither should you. I'm not doing this to expand my literary knowledge or practice but because I love to read. End of disclaimer. If you're still there, thanks for hearing me out.)

I love Jane Austen. Not because her novels are romantic or girly (as most people see them), but because of how she writes people. That woman could write a fantastic character forward and backward, integrate them into a well-written and realistic society, and then inject life into it all. Frances Burney was also a great author, in my opinion, and I believe she influenced Austen's writing quite a bit. Every time I read or think about an Austen novel, I'm blown away. So, when Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters came out, I was naturally skeptical. I enjoy my fair share of monsters in novels, comics, games, TV shows, and movies, so that wasn't the aspect of the novels that made me uneasy. There are lots of romantic stories out there today that are "based on Austen novels," especially Pride and Prejudice, and generally speaking, these romances don't do justice to the characters, realism, or artistic beauty of Austen's work. I was afraid that these new monster versions of Austen's novels would have the same problem. But, being assured by friends and professors alike that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was fantastic, I rushed out to grab a copy and give it a try. I ended up getting my hands on Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters instead, and after reading it, all of my worries about these monster novels vanished. While I still prefer the Austen version, Ben H. Winters did a wonderful job staying true to the original novel, but giving it his own twist. He changed the world in the story through "the Alteration," as his characters call it, and placed Austen's characters right into that world as they would have been after "the Alteration." For those of you who have read Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby wears a wetsuit and helmet rather than a well-fitting suit and nice haircut. Marianne plays sea shanties and enjoys adventurous stories of pirates, rather than Shakespeare's poetry. There are several little changes like that which I found interesting. I also liked how Winters gave Margaret a slightly bigger role. She was one character that he had more freedom to expand, since her role in the original novel was small. I think the secret to Winters's success is that he found a unique idea to combine with Austen's novel, rather than trying to continue her story and make it "more romantic" in modern terms. Overall, I'd say it's worth reading. I'm sure I'll get a chance to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies sometime, although now there's a prequel out as well, and I don't know which to read first.

Thanks for reading this; I hope you enjoyed it. And if you don't get a chance to read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters soon (say that ten times, fast), you should definitely find some way to get in your monster dose!