Friday, January 2, 2015

on new challenges.

so this year, instead of an official reading challenge, i've opted for a photography challenge.

photography has always been a love of mine--waxing and waning from time to time as other interests/necessities took its place.  i miss it often.

i was gifted with a beautiful new camera for christmas, so a photography challenge feels right.

i've looked at a lot of photo challenges lately, some 30 day, some 52 week. i haven't really found what i was looking for in terms of a schedule, though, so i'm creating my own.

mine will be a twelve month challenge, each month having its own theme.

i will take pictures within the theme and post at least one of them here along with a description of where/when/why the photo is taken and (if it's not obvious) how it fits the theme.  there will likely be more than one posted, but one is my absolute minimum.

here, in order, are the themes to come this year:

january: family
february: words
march: starts with b
april: technology
may: flowers
june: vertical
july: blue
august: books
september: pet
october: bokeh
november: self-portrait
december: hobby

ready or not, here we go!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

on 2014.

2014 is over, so here's the obligatory year in rewind:

worst parts: losing pets, one super sick puppy, mystery illnesses

best parts: new tech, getting one super sick puppy worlds better, various vacays, lockhart BBQ, awesome movies, amazing books, incredible coworkers


in 2014, i resolved to:1)  embark on a new book challenge (i don't know what it will look like yet, but i need to do something)
--done and done.  i challenged myself to read 60 books this year, and i was successful.  this blog has been one big book list this year.
2) continue learning and growing as a teacher

--i accepted a new tech-based role in addition to my regular teaching load this year and it has been SPLENDID!  in addition, i've presented at my first conference and have the second one all lined up. done.
3) work on accepting bad news in a productive manner
--this one's a fail as there have been a lot of not so great moments this year.  i've dealt with a ton of anxiety issues as a result, so this one is still a work in progress.

in 2015, i will:1) Embark on a new challenge--probably photography based
2) Write more.  

best of 2014 (the best things i've encountered this year [either truly great or awesomely bad or entertaining])
books:
*the ocean at the end of the lane - neil gaiman
*the coldest girl in coldtown – holly black
*the book of life trilogy – deborah harkness
*bones never lie – kathy reichs

movies:
*american hustle
*captain america: the winter soldier
*interstellar
*mockingjay, part 1

 

2013 in review (quotes from my dear neglected blog):

enero: "so it begins: a new book challenge for 2014."

febrero: "
all in all, this was a deeply moving text for a reason i can't quite put my finger on.  well done, mr. egan."

marzo: "
fun. campy. a bit preachy at times. basically everything the television show is condensed into a book."


abril: "the cliffhangers! the revelations! the theories abound!"

mayo: "i'm currently developing a harry potter class grounded in narratology, so i picked this book up hoping for a good biblical allegorical interpretation."

junio: "
sidenote--his psychopath test is the book that taught me it was okay to cull--to just stop and put a book down in the middle if you aren't getting anything out of the read. "


julio: no posts

agosto: "
while i hesitate to proclaim that this text is better than ender's game, i do think it surpasses it in engaging audience sympathies and leaving the reader satisfied at the end.  if not better, it is certainly as good."

setiembro: "
awesome. fun. totally not my usual read.  i flew through this series really quickly because it was just an absolute joy to read."

octubro: no posts

noviembro: "
it's the middle of the semester...actually almost the end.  blogging has been light, and i've been terrible about keeping up with the books i've been reading here.  but i have been reading."

deciembro: "
i'm done!  i have succeeded!  if only every challenge could be this easy..."

Friday, December 19, 2014

on books 57-60.

i'm done!  i have succeeded!  if only every challenge could be this easy...


here's a brief recap of books 57 through 60:

book 57 of 60: jurassic park by michael crichton
thoughts:
jurassic park is easily still one of my favorite movies (totally nerding out over jurassic world, btw), so i thought it was time to read the book.

sidenote: i hate the adage that the book is always better than the movie.  in fact, i teach a class in comparative studies where my students aren't allowed to make that claim.  the book and the movie are distinct entities created by vastly different artists for incredibly remote purposes.  

after reading the book, i can safely say that the movie was...different. the movie was a traditional translation of the text, meaning some major plot pieces were changed to accommodate the medium, but that the sense of the plot as a whole and the major themes present in the text were retained. 

all said, the book was obsessively entertaining, and i still love the movie.  i consider this a triumphant success!
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book 58 of 60: the davinci code by dan brown
thoughts:
again a book i saw as a movie first.  again a traditional translation.  again entertaining in its own right.

what a delicious and perfectly nerdy read this was.  so much so, that i plan on reading the other books in the series.
________________________________________________
book 59 of 60: after the end by amy plum

thoughts:
dude.  based on the description of this book, i thought it was going to be awesome.  

the description was completely misleading and wrong, but it was still an enjoyable book.  

i plan on reading the second part when it comes out early next year.
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book 60 of 60: talon by julie kagawa
thoughts:
so i've read a lot of YA.  i tend to think that good YA has a lot to say to all age groups, not just teens.

this book had such promise for a YA fantasy novel--a race of dragons hidden within the human world, hunting and being hunted.

yeah.  not so much.  this book sucked.  it was ultimately a piece of dribble that focused far too much on a YA love triangle and a weak protagonist.  

i *almost* culled this one so many times, but i received it as a gift and i felt it was only right to see it through to the end.

disappointing as my last official read of the challenge.

currently reading: 
  • #61: the lost symbol by dan brown (more semiotics fun!)
  • #62: the martian by andy weir (just started and loving it, if slightly wigged out over the concept)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

on books 45-56.

it's the middle of the semester...actually almost the end.  blogging has been light, and i've been terrible about keeping up with the books i've been reading here.  but i have been reading.

here's a brief recap of books 45 through 56:

book 45 of 60: mockingjay by suzanne collins.
thoughts:
this is a reread that, i must admit, i reread solely to guess where the movie will split in half.  for the record, i think they'll cut it just as peeta tries to kill katniss upon being rescued from the capital and brought to district 13.  the movie comes out tomorrow.  we'll see if i'm right.
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book 46 of 60: madonna and the corpse by jefferson bass
thoughts:
thought i might catch up with an old anthropology fave.  TERRIBLE IDEA.
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book 47 of 60: season to taste by natalie young
thoughts:
this is a story about a woman who kills her husband then proceeds to cook and eat him, piece by piece.  i don't think i've ever been so disgusted while reading.  this was made worse by the fact that there is literally no point to this book and the narrator isn't remotely sympathetic.
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book 48 of 60: the fever by megan abbott
thoughts:
i appreciated the mixed narrative here, but overall the book was forgettable.
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book 49 of 60: conversion by katherine howe
thoughts:
basically the same book as the fever, with some minor changes.  better, but still not great.

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book 50 of 60: what if? by randall munroe
thoughts:
best. book. ever.  i mean, how can a book that explores the science behind some super crazy hypothetical situations be bad?  it's not.  it's great.

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book 51 of 60: bones never lie by kathy reichs
thoughts:
after being burned by jefferson bass, i was afraid this book would let me down.  it did not.  it was just as fun as i remember the series being, and the twist at the end was EPIC!

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book 52 of 60: the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy by douglas adams
thoughts:
how have i never read this before?  douglas adams: that's a frood who really knows where his towel is.
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book 53 of 60: into the darkest corner by elizabeth haynes
thoughts:
while initially disappointed in the book, it eventually wormed its way into my head. elizabeth haynes is sick and twisted.  like gillian flynn.

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book 54 of 60: the 5th wave by rick yancey
thoughts:
wow.  twists and turns aplenty.  some you see coming, others sneak up and completely catch you off guard.  good little book.

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book 55 of 60: not that kind of girl by lena dunham
thoughts:
i don't get lena dunham.  girls is funny.  dunham is funny in acceptance speeches and interviews. this book is not.  it reads very preachy--and quite a bit like an essay written for a class.  i think i'll stick to amy poehler and tina fey.
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book 56 of 60: harry potter for nerds: essays for fans, academics, and lit geeks by travis prenzi
thoughts:
after having an epiphany about another narrative style that can be applied to the harry potter series, i just had to have this book.  it's awesome.  and nerdy.  and wonderful.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

on books 42-44.

book 42 of 60: the battle of the labyrinth by rick riordan.
date started: 8.11.14
date completed:  9.16.14

thoughts:
ehhh.  i'm quickly losing steam with this series.  it's still fun, but i'm glad to be through this one.
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book 43 of 60: the last olympian by rick riordan.
date started: 8.11.14
date completed:  9.16.14

thoughts:
much better than the previous book.  glad i read the series, but it's nowhere near as good as harry potter.
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book 44 of 60: doll bones by holly black.
date started: 9.15.14
date completed:  9.18.14

thoughts:
i'm not sure how she manages, but black consistently puts together creepy and cute in a way that works.  this book has a little bit of everything and just enough nostalgia to make it work.  while definitely not as great as the coldest girl in coldtown, it is a terrifically fun little novella.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

on books 38-41.

book 38 of 60: lost girls: an unsolved american mystery by robert kolker.
date started: 8.26.14
date completed:  9.3.14

thoughts:
sucko.  kolker does a good job of narrating these womens' lives, but ultimately there's just not enough difference or intrigue here to carry the story through.
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book 39 of 60: a discovery of witches by deborah harkness.
date started: 8.26.14
date completed:  9.1.14

thoughts:
awesome. fun. totally not my usual read.  i flew through this series really quickly because it was just an absolute joy to read.
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book 40 of 60: shadow of night by deborah harkness.
date started: 9.1.14
date completed:  9.7.14

thoughts:
awesome. fun. totally not my usual read.  i flew through this series really quickly because it was just an absolute joy to read.
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book 41 of 60: the book of life by deborah harkness.
date started: 9.7.14
date completed:  9.13.14

thoughts:
awesome. fun. totally not my usual read.  i flew through this series really quickly because it was just an absolute joy to read.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

on book 37.

book 37 of 60: ender's shadow by orson scott card.
date started: 8.18.14
date completed:  8.26.14
thoughts:
i love ender's game, and this is its companion text. i *really* doubted that it would be as good. 

bean, the main character, can come across as a bit whiny, but he is (dare i say it) a more sympathetic character than ender.  even as he tries to ignore/hate/avoid ender while constantly being compared to him, bean grows to love and respect his future commander.

always the smartest in the room and ahead of everyone else, bean figures out the secret of the ansible and does the right thing for his team.  

ender may be the hero, but bean deserves just as much credit.  maybe even more given his unusual birth and genetic history.

while i hesitate to proclaim that this text is better than ender's game, i do think it surpasses it in engaging audience sympathies and leaving the reader satisfied at the end.  if not better, it is certainly as good.

mr. card, i may despise your politics, but i love your art.  please keep writing.