Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dragonfly in Amber: Outlander 2

I like big books...actually the bigger the book the more appealing it is to me. Unfortunately, big books have a distinct disadvantage for me as well...they're big. In the crazy of a school year, a big book can potentially drag out indefinitely. I read Les Mis - unabridged - in late November/early December of 2012, about a month altogether. That's 1,400 pages while planning, teaching, and grading. I was really proud of myself. It doesn't always turn out so well though, as I found out this school year. I read Outlander at the end of the summer and really wanted to keep going, so I began Dragonfly in Amber in September. I just's the end of November. Three months for a book half the size of Les Mis. Sheesh. I'm ashamed, excuses of new AP Lit classes I'm teaching aside.

That's not to say I haven't read other books between...there were a couple that I read for other purposes, so I guess it's not a total bummer. Regardless, I loved Dragonfly in Amber and cannot wait to move to the next book in the series!

At the start I was really mad though. The story begins with Claire, her practically grown daughter Brianna, and Roger, a young man of interest to said daughter. In their present day. "HOW DARE YOU DIANA GABALDON? WHERE IS JAMIE FRASER?" kept running through my head. Completely incensed, I kept reading because I figured there had to be something about how this daughter came to be.

Sure enough, the story goes back to 1700s Scotland and Jamie Fraser once again. (I was NOT happy about the "why" of the story heading back there again, but I'm not a story spoiler, so you'll have to find out for yourself.) Claire's story picks up again with her new, adventurous life with Jamie Fraser and it's as exciting and action packed as Outlander was. Being a big book with so much happening, I feel more of a need to describe my feelings and general set up than any details of events. Suffice it to say, the story obviously ends up telling how and why the story began in Claire's present day with a grown daughter. But there's quite a bit that works up to the events that bring Claire to this point.

And the ending, well, it made me most happy of all and ready to read the third book of the Outlander series, Voyager. But that may have to wait until Christmas break. Until then, I love you Jamie Fraser!

Anyone have any series they are seriously obsessed with currently - or recently?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

My sister gets married today. It's all exciting and unreal. I am the Matron of Honor and get to give a toast. Of course, I wrote my own, although I did Google around and found truly good and meaningful love and wedding quotes lacking. I did however come across two sayings that I like because I recognize their truth after my almost sixteen years of marriage. So I share them today in honor of the best man a girl could have, my husband Brandon...and lift my glass to my sister and her soon-to-be-hubby. God bless.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

Is it just me or are the weeks flying by? It feels like every time I turn around it's a new week. Anyway, here's another great quote from recently published (and reviewed) The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom. Love the analogy.

"Music is in the connection of human souls, speaking a language that needs no words. Everyone joins a band in this life. And what you play always affects someone." 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, TLC Book Tours

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom
Publisher: Harper
Publication date: November 10, 2015
Category: Fiction
Source: I received a galley via TLC Book Tours for consideration of review in their promotional tour.

When you hear that Mitch Albom has a new book out, you don't ask questions, you just buy it. Well, that's the case for me at least. He has proven himself quite able to weave an amazing story on any topic he sets his mind to. From his nonfiction (Tuesdays with Morrie) to considerations on religion (Have a Little Faith) to explorations into mythology/history (The Time Keeper) and more, Albom's stories speak to humanity in a most relatable way. So the only question I'm left to consider when I hear Albom has published a new book is, "Where is he taking us now?!"

This time it's to Spain, where we see Frankie Presto's life begin tumultuously, level out, and shake him up again. Frankie's journey takes him to America, a young boy with only his guitar and music to care for him. Seemingly fate intervenes, as Frankie comes in contact, travels, and even works with numerous famous musicians of the 1940's, 50's, and 60's, ultimately becoming a legend himself. A legend with a special power...magical guitar strings that burn bright blue when he uses his music to change a life. As with most stories of fame, Frankie has his demons. Mistakes have torn him from what matters most and who he is. It takes him years to come back to what matters most, including his first love, his guitar.

That's a pretty brief synopsis for a book with so many events, but I really want to discuss two of the more interesting pieces of this story. First, the story is told in flashbacks and interviews. Frankie Presto is dead, we are at his funeral, and his story is told between a narrator and interviews with people Frankie met throughout his life, from boyhood to fame and beyond. This isn't a spoiler, we know from page one that this is the case. Frankie's story winds us toward the inevitable, wondering not only how, but also why Frankie passes when he does.

The second interesting piece of this story is the narrator himself. Akin to Death as narrator in The Book Thief, Music narrates Frankie Presto's life story. I loved it! An omniscient narrator, Music pieces together the intricacies of Frankie's life, pieces that not even Frankie knows, including how Frankie grasped the talent of music at birth. I love such narrators, not human but personified, for the variance they give from typical narration. In this case, Music relates the happenings of life in terms of musical composition. I have a musical background myself, but it is a good decade behind me at this point and I was never much of a theory student. Yet, I followed along easily, even learning new musical information I hadn't known before. Don't fret if you are not musically inclined, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto does not require musical knowledge, simply an ear to hear and a heart to understand.

Purchase Links for The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto:

About Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom is a bestselling novelist, a screen-writer, a playwright, and an award-winning journalist. He is the author of six consecutive number-one New York Times bestsellers and has sold more than thirty-four million copies of his books in forty-two languages worldwide. Tuesdays with Morrie, which spent four years atop the New York Times list, is the bestselling memoir of all time.

Albom has founded seven charities, including the first-ever full-time medical clinic for homeless children in America. He also operates an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He lives with his wife, Janine, in suburban Detroit.

Find out more about Mitch at his website, connect with him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and sign up for his newsletter.

Click below to view other 
reviews on this tour.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

My AP Literature students have to pick a novel to read and write about on their own time every nine weeks. Of course, they are not only looking for interest, but for length. That might bother some, but it doesn't bother me. The list they have to choose from is a compilation of classics - both older and contemporary - that have appeared on the AP Lit test since 1970. The more numbers next to the title, the more times it has been mentioned/used on the test. So it doesn't matter the size of the book, as long as they're reading from this list, it will benefit them. Plus, we all know little books can pack a powerful punch...Of Mice and Men anyone?

A recent novel the girls seem to be picking up is Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Reading their essays had me looking back through the book and pondering the emotional roller coaster of the main character. It speaks something of humanity that many could or have identified with such waves of emotion. Thought I'd share one today for Sunday Sentence.

"There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.

There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why—when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation." 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

Friday was a good day. I had some great parent teacher conferences and because we'd had conferences for three hours the night before, we were allowed to leave at 11am on Friday! What to do with an entire Friday afternoon? If you read my previous post, ANNOYED, then you can take a pretty good guess. I spent the next few hours sitting in a comfy chair at B&N reading. And I just couldn't help it - I took an ARC to read. What's better than sitting in a bookstore reading a book that no one else can?!

I easily read over a hundred pages of Mitch Albom's The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto in that one sitting. The story is captivating...but more on the book in next week's review. What I was pleased to see was that besides the story, the writing is also captivating. Phrases and paragraphs stood out to me from the start. So I snapshot a few of the them for this week's Sunday Sentence.

The cool thing about it, is that the phrases are carried throughout the book, into different stages of Frankie Presto's life. Can't wait to put up my review. Have a good week readers!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Life is ridiculous. Not really bad by most standards, except it is severely lacking one thing I love without exception: reading. Usually life gets craziest for me with the busy months of the school year: March and September. This year, life hasn't let up since day one. Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. There's time spent with family and friends and new or memorable experiences. And even things like grading papers has a good side: it means I have a job. So, I feel like I can only be annoyed at the most. Annoyed in capital letters at the least. ANNOYED.

The only books coming into my house are those on my wish list at (Well there's Outlander #2, Dragonfly in Amber, from the library via OverDrive app...but I'm ashamed to say the number of times I've had to renew it. At three weeks a shot no less. Smh.) As the swap books trickle in I place them on my shelves, only to see other titles longingly beckon me. Titles I've waited forever to read, titles I have at my fingertips, yet they seem to elude me. Over the past few weeks, I've placed such titles by my bedside, because picking them up and stacking them nearby seems like a step in the right direction, as small a step as it may be.

So now I catch glimpses of them daily. Rushing in after work to change my clothes before heading out again. Out the corner of my eye while guiltily binging on past seasons of Survivor and Lost (just starting season 3...oh my lord, season 2 put me in a fit toward the end!). In a dead stare, grading essays and wishing that just by looking at the stack my essays would be graded and I could be reading. Between camera clicks and social media posts (my new puppy Gatsby might as well be a human infant). Fleetingly as I fall asleep.

I like to think my annoyance is becoming determination. That I will dig myself out of this never ending suck on my time and prevent it from happening again. We all know it's not true though. I enjoy time with my friends and family. I love Lost! Sleep is my next favorite thing to reading. Grading essays...haha. No. Necessary evil I guess.

But I have a goal. After this week I will be caught up on my school work. Next couple weeks I will finish up my forever read of Dragonfly in Amber (it's good, just long and my timing is bad) and read and review the newest Mitch Albom as part of a TLC Tour, which I'm excited about. I'm setting time limits to get things graded efficiently instead of dragging them out and dwindling around my kitchen table and work desk. I'm limiting the number of nights I have stuff to do per week. By Thanksgiving I will be set to sit. Sit and read...and watch more Lost. I'm starting with that special stack. And hopefully season 4 of Lost.

I've never had such a bad reading year. Anyone else feeling this?