Back to the Classics 2014 Wrap-Up Post!

classics2014I did it!! I read 10 classics from various authors, countries, and time periods in 12 months! (To be honest, a big chunk of those books were read this month *procrastinator*).

This was such a fun challenge, and I’m earnestly considering doing the Back to the Classics 2015 challenge next year, although I still have a little time to decide :)

Here is my wrap-up post listing all of my reviews for this challenge:

Required Categories:

Optional Categories:

I thoroughly enjoyed every one of these books (except for maybe Wuthering Heights), but if I had to rank my Top 3 it would be: North and South, Little Women, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thank you to Books and Chocolate for hosting this challenge!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are you up for next year’s Back to the Classics Challenge?

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“Come Away, Come Away!”: J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan

Peter-Pan-To-Neverland1

Artwork by Nicholas Jackson

“You just think of lovely wonderful thoughts,” Peter explained, “and they lift you up in the air.”


“After the first production I had to add something to the play at the request of the parents…about no one being able to fly until the fairy dust had been blown on him; so many children having gone home and tried it from their beds and needed surgical attention.” – J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan (originally Peter and Wendy) by J.M. Barrie
Published Oct. 11, 1911 by Hodder & Stoughton
Children’s/Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Annotated hardcover; 182 pages
Also By This Author: The Little White Bird, Peter Pan (play), The Admirable Crichton
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

Peter Pan, the book based on J.M. Barrie’s famous play, is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children–Wendy, John, and Michael–who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks. 

(This review is spoiler free)

Thoughts:

What is there left to be said about the story of Peter Pan, the Darling children, and Neverland? I feel as if this beautiful story about children who don’t want to grow up has been analyzed, digested, and adapted more times than anyone can count, but clearly there is a reason for that: Peter Pan is an enduring masterpiece. So instead of analyzing it, I just want to share a few of the things that struck me the most while reading this book.

Firstly, I checked out my library’s copy of The Annotated Peter Pan, and I’m really tempted to buy a copy for myself. It has so much information about J.M. Barrie, the early productions of the play, hundreds of footnotes (which is where I found that quote from Barrie about the fairy dust), and some chapters on Peter Pan adaptations, spin-offs, and productions.

The Introduction by Editor Maria Tatar included this similarity between Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which echoed my own feelings while reading the novel:

[Dorothy], Huck, and Peter have won us over with their love of adventure, their streaks of poetry, their wide-eyed and wise innocence, and their deep appreciation of what it means to be alive. They all refuse to grow up and tarnish their sense of wonder and openness to new experiences.

Reading this book as an adult, I noticed myself trying to rationalize things or figure out a logical solution to the characters’ conflicts, but when I tried to see Peter Pan and the world of Neverland through the eyes of the Darling children, I began to feel inspired and light-hearted again. This is the exact reason why I enjoy reading children’s and YA literature. Of course every genre deals with serious subject matter, I am not disputing that, but I particularly love reading tales from the POV of a child or adolescent; experiencing situations from the eyes of a younger person has always been eye-opening to me.

Another aspect of the novel that made a big impression on me was Barrie’s style of writing. His sense of humor is both subtle and cheeky, and it’s most concentrated in his descriptions of the characters. One of my favorite examples of this is from a passage about Peter Pan’s imagination:

The difference between him and the other boys at such a time was that they knew it was make-believe, while to him make-believe and true were exactly the same thing. This sometimes troubled them, as when they had to make-believe that they had had their dinners.

And another one about Captain Hook being temporarily overcome by softness:

There was a break in his voice, as if for a moment he recalled innocent days when–but he brushed away his weakness with his hook.

Speaking of the characters, every film adaptation I have seen of Peter Pan has done an excellent job at keeping the characters pure to their original depictions. I grew up watching both Hook and Disney’s animated version of Peter Pan, and I was easily able to resonate each of the film characters with their print versions. Captain Hook seemed both hauntingly intimidating and ironically frightful while Tinkerbell was as mischievous as ever.

I loved how the last chapter concluded everything nicely for our characters, although in such a short and intense way that it definitely brought tears to my eyes. This is one of those books that stays with you a while after you finish the last page; you’ll reflect on things in a bittersweet or inspirational way.

Read This Book If…:

…you have an active imagination
…you’re always up for an adventure!
…you’re not ready to grow up (or you have grown up, and you wish you hadn’t)
…you need to refresh your sense of wonder and embrace the unexpected

Final Musings:

I dearly loved this book, in a different way than I probably would have if I had read it as a child. The themes that resonated with me the most weren’t about the pirates or the fairies, but about living for the moment, staying curious and interested, and always being ready to face the unexpected (as impossible as that sounds). And this wonderful story reminded me that sometimes we have to pause and take a look at the things around us, to reflect on where we are and how we got there.

Odd things happen to all of us on our way through life without our noticing for a time that they have happened.

October Highlights

October was a big month for me. I dealt with a lot of different transitions as my husband and I entered our second month of living in the States. I revamped my blog, I discovered a lot of things about myself, and I came to some conclusions about where I want the future to take me.

Here are some of my highlights from the month of October:

I read 10 books this month!
thegeographyofyouandme dearmrknightley Adobe Photoshop PDF peterpanannotated
   lola isla grimmlegacy grimmmemories
I have now exceeded my 2014 reading challenge goal of 45 books by reading 65 total.

Favorite Read:
secondchancesummer

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

As always, Morgan Matson’s writing impacted me deeply. This book more so than her other two. It’s one of those books that I label as “life-changing.”

Least Favorite Read:
theoneandonly

The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Normally I don’t post negative reviews, but I couldn’t even finish reading Emily Giffin’s latest book. It’s really long, slow-moving, and morally questionable.

Favorite TV Show:
As hinted at by this post, my husband and I started watching Supernatural and we’re hooked! We’re already halfway through the second season. I love Sam & Dean!

But on a lighter note, Green Gables Fables is my favorite current YouTube series and a couple of weeks ago they released this video which has been my favorite of the series so far. If you’re not familiar with Anne of Green Gables, this is the follow-up to my favorite scene from the book.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/r732LUuTiEk” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Most Popular Post:
Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Totally Want To Be For Halloween
But my post on Sleepy Hollow last year was also really popular this month.

Favorite Memories From October:

  • Trick-or-Treaters!! This is probably the first Halloween I was able to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, and I never thought I would enjoy it so much! At first I was worried we wouldn’t have any kids come by, because this neighborhood is fairly small and out in the middle of the woods. But we actually had quite a lot! And they all had such amazing and cute costumes. And Solo was there to greet each kid that said “Trick-or-Treat!” and I think they were more into petting him than getting any candy :)
  • This month I also got to spend a lot of time with my family, which I really needed. Even though we didn’t do anything big or exciting, it as a lot of fun just watching football with my dad and brother, going shopping with my mom, and going to the movies or out to dinner with everyone.
  • Earlier in October Matt finally received his green card! Now if only we could find jobs…

November To Be Read:

thetroublewithflirting thebeautifulamerican waroftheworlds
                    loveunexpected amostinconvenientmarriage

Things I’m Looking Forward To In November:

  • This week I have a job interview! It’s my first positive result from my job search so far. I’ve applied to so many jobs and received a few negative responses, but yesterday I finally received some good news. I know nothing is guaranteed yet, but it’s still encouraging to make it this far.
  • Next weekend is YALL Fest! It’s my first book conference/event and I’m going with my friend Regina @ The Sunflower Pages. There will be several of my favorite authors there, but I think I’m most excited about Rainbow Rowell and Ann Brashares. I’ll post all about it afterwards!
  • This is the month of THANKSGIVING! Last year I did my daily 30 Days of Thankfulness posts, which I won’t be doing again this year, but I encourage you all to think about what you’re thankful for this month & to share those things with others :) I’m thankful for my family, because without them I’d be lonely, miserable, and homeless.

What were some of your favorite highlights from October?

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon Wrap Up!

readathonYesterday I participated in my first 24 hour read-a-thon! I didn’t get to start reading until 7 hours after the official start time, but I ended up reading for about 10 hours straight, so I felt satisfied with that :)

End of Event Meme:

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 18. That’s when I decided to call it a night. I got to that place where I kept having to refocus my eyes and my thoughts kept wandering :/ Next time I may drink some coffee or do some jumping jacks.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Anything fast-paced or action packed. My husband, who rarely reads, starting reading The Maze Runner yesterday and he was up as late as I was because he couldn’t put it down. Next year I’ll try reading something more suspenseful.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? No, not really. I didn’t do any of the mini challenges or tweet much with anyone online, so I can’t really give any input in that area. I’m sure everything was great though :)
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? The advertising and preparation leading up to the big day.
  5. How many books did you read? I finished the second half of one book, read the first half of another, and read the first several chapters of a third.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Lola and the Boy Next Door (finished), Peter Pan (read the first half), and Isla and the Happily Ever After (started).
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? I enjoyed them all, really.
  8. Which did you enjoy least? ^^
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I saw lots of praise for the cheerleaders so that’s good :) I only blogged once during the read-a-thon so I didn’t really hear much from any cheerleaders. If I had blogged more I’m sure that would have been different.
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? 100% likely! The next read-a-thon in April will probably be easier for me…Saturdays in autumn are usually filled with football games, and yesterday was a big game day for my Alma Mater FSU :)

Did you participate in the Read-a-Thon? I’m so happy I did! The next one is in April and I’m already excited about it :)

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon

readathonEarlier this year I found out about Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon and I really wanted to participate during the next one. Well, today is the day, and unfortunately my morning did not start off the way I thought it would, and because of that I have only now started reading.

But that’s ok! I never intended for this read-a-thon to be an obligation or to be full of pressure; I wanted to participate to have some fun and to spend some time getting through my TBR stack.

So here are the books I’m hoping to finish or make a decent dent in:

readalong

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – This book is due back at the library next week! I’m already nearly halfway through and if I can finish it soon I will probably start the final novel of the series, Isla and the Happily Ever After.

A Grimm Legacy by Janna Jennings – To help get me into the Halloween spirit I picked up this book and it’s soon-to-be-published sequel, Grimm Memories, by Janna Jennings. I’m almost a quarter of the way into it and it’s definitely intriguing :)

peterpanannotated

And if I need something shorter to take a break with, I have this beautiful annotated edition of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie to satisfy the classics-lover in me.

I’ll post updates later as I get more into my reading time. Honestly there’s still 16 hours left in the Read-a-Thon…plenty of time to get a lot of reading done!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Places I Want To Visit

toptentuesday

One of my favorite types of books to read are the ones where the setting becomes a character in the story. I just love flipping through a book that makes me want to walk through the setting and experience it all first-hand. Sometimes I end up not really caring for the book that much, but the setting can be presented in such a way that I don’t even care; just let me visit!

Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit:

London – Honestly, who hasn’t wanted to visit London because of a book they read or a movie they saw? London is the setting for so many stories over so many different time periods, the city itself has become timeless. I believe you can make London the setting for nearly any genre (except for maybe Westerns) and it would work. The book that made me want to visit London so badly was Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill. She does a fantastic job making London an actual character that I could practically imagine myself walking around a city I’ve never visited. Can’t wait to actually go there one day!!

Bath

Bath – I’m just going to cut right to it. Jane Austen makes me want to visit Bath. Even though Jane hated living in Bath, her final two novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, are set there. I would love to visit this city and tour each of the areas Austen mentions in her novel. And then I would pretend to be Anne Elliot chasing down Captain Wentworth in front of The Royal Crescent ;)

New York City – I feel the same way about NYC that I do about London: it’s timeless. I love reading stories and watching movies that take place in the City. The one that’s popping up in my head at the moment is the movie You’ve Got Mail. We get to see all the seasons, but I love what Meg Ryan says: “Don’t you love New York in the fall?”

neverland

Neverland – I don’t know what I love most about Peter Pan’s Neverland: the waterfalls, the mermaid lagoon, the Lost Boys’s tree house… I would be totally content living there forever. Each time I visit Disneyworld/Disneyland I just want to ride Peter Pan’s Flight all day.

North Carolina – This is the current place Matt and I are looking to relocate to. Even though I visited multiple times when I was younger, the reason I want to live there now is because last Christmas I read at least 3 or 4 Nicholas Sparks novels. But hey! That state is gorgeous, whether you like Sparks novels or not (I happen to like them).

montana

The 1800s American West- Along with Nicholas Sparks novels I also have a soft spot for Historical Fiction novels that take place in the American West. I love everything about them & the west. When I was a sophomore in high school I visited Colorado for two weeks and fell in love. I’m trying to convince my husband to look for jobs there, but at least he’s on board with North Carolina ^

Omaha – Ok, I’ve never visited Omaha, or any other place in the Midwest, and I don’t really know what would be attractive about Nebraska, but the reason I want to visit is because of every single Rainbow Rowell novel. The way she talks about her city makes me want to go there and visit all of the places her characters have visited.

sherwood

Sherwood Forest & Nottingham – I have a huge literary crush on Robin Hood. Everyone who knows me in real life knows this. I want to marry Robin Hood, but even more than that I want to be him. Can’t you just see me walking down this pathway with Little John, singing “Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day!”?

Washington State – Okay, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit the reason why I’d like to visit Washington…it’s because of Twilight. I’m not a fan of the books, even though I went through that period freshman year of college, but I really did like the setting of the series. I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in a place where it rains nearly every day, but I would like to visit Washington and maybe go camping there.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island – This should come as no surprise to any of you who regularly read my blog. Anne Shirley’s beloved Prince Edward Island is the place I want to visit more than any other in the whole world. Every time I read or watching Anne of Green Gables I immediately imagine myself walking along next to Anne as she braves the Haunted Wood or strolls down Lover’s Lane and especially when her and Diana visit Miss Lavendar! *sigh* I’m hoping to finally visit next year. Each summer in Charlottetown they host “Anne of Green Gables–The Musical”, and I WANT TO SEE IT SO BADLY!!! Until then I’ll just keep the soundtrack on my playlist ;)

What are some places–fictional or real–that you have wanted to visit because of a specific book you read? Would you like to visit any of the places on my list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring Reading

toptentuesdayToday’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is all about our Spring To-Be-Read pile! This was a nice post, because it made me think about all that I want and need to read within the next few months (and by need I’m referring to books I’m currently borrowing from the library). I hope some of my TBR books spark your interest as well!

tbr1

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth: I received this from my sister as a Christmas present and I still haven’t gotten around to reading it yet! I don’t know what I’m waiting for, honestly!
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass: (Clearly I’ve grouped this first section of books as young adult dystopian sci-fi, aka one of my favorite genres) This is one I will be reading within the next week, as it is due back to the library very soon!
  • Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry: Another book I will be reading within the week, I recently discovered that Lois Lowry wrote a couple of companion novels/sequels to The Giver. So I have no doubt I’ll love this read.

tbr2

  • The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks: I didn’t have time to finish reading this library checkout before coming back to France after Christmas, so I bought it on my Kindle, where it is still sitting unfinished.
  • Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham: Yet another book I currently have checked out! Seriously, I have a problem. I’ve heard many good things about this book and it was on my holds list for months–excited to start it soon!
  • Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik: A modern Pride and Prejudice adaptation that I’ve been wanting to read since participating in Austen in August last summer. Lately I’ve been on a Lizzie Bennet Diaries craze, so this should fit in perfectly :)
  • The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom: I love Mitch Albom’s novels. They’re always so thought-provoking and typically uplifting, although I usually cry during some point.

tbr3

  • Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie: Ahh, I feel like Peter Pan and Springtime just go hand in hand. They both represent youth and nature and everything I love to reflect on.
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: This is a classic that has been on my TBR list for years. I feel ashamed to admit that I’ve never read it, despite the fact that I love the film!
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: The first Austen novel that I ever read. Tonight I watched the most recent BBC adaptation and my love for Marianne and Colonel Brandon just makes me want to read the book all over again! Jane Austen is perfect for spring…and summer…and definitely autumn. Who am I kidding? It’s the perfect reading for any season :)

 

What novels are on your To-Be-Read list this spring? Do we have any books in common?