Uprooted Booted

uprootedboots

Shoe designs by love2read365 inspired by the book Uprooted, written by Naomi Novik.


UprootedCoverI was re-reading the Harry Potter series this summer, and was really concerned that whatever I read afterwards would be a huge letdown. However, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. The book was receiving quite a lot of hype, so I was cautious about it at first. But the book was a wonderful read. It was so magical and lovely. I didn’t always know where the story was going either, so that was refreshing. Sometimes I felt like there were gaps in plot or explanations, so sometimes I had to read things over to understand what was going on, but that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. There were interesting characters (although not always totally fleshed out). I appreciated the great portrayal of female friendship. Despite two of the main characters’ moments of jealousy of each other, they truly care about one another and remain loyal. I wanted to race to the end of the book to see what would happen, but then I was sad that it ended. I think readers who enjoyed Kristin Cashore’s Graceling would also enjoy this novel.


Want to see more shoe designs?

A while back, I commented on a line of footwear that was (supposedly) inspired by classic American literature. Since the final product was so watered down, I created a few of my own shoe designs for classic novels.

I love drawing shoes. Check out a design I came up with for Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian here. Here you’ll find a design for Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. I even created a shoe based on the children’s book classic, Chicka Chicka ABC here


 

Voldemort Likes My Hair

voldemortmyhairI’m in what feels like a theater, as there are rows of chairs where various people (and other magical beings) are seated, when suddenly, Voldemort enters the room. He floats up and down each row along with some sort of creature that can find missing people, searching for Harry Potter. It’s terrifying to be in the same room as him, but I can’t run away because that will draw his attention to me. And he mustn’t know that I’m Harry Potter in disguise! Yes, Harry Potter is disguised as me!

This is the dream I had the other night as I was finishing up the final book in the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Apparently I’ve been spending too much time in the wizarding world this summer as I re-read the series! It has managed to creep into my dreams. The dream didn’t end there either – instead, it got even weirder…

I try to stay calm – which is difficult when the snake-like face of Voldemort is nearby – but I’m confident that my disguise will keep me safe. How could he think a 30 year old woman would be Harry Potter? Unfortunately, Voldemort stops when he gets to me and starts running his long, thin, grey fingers through my hair. He brings a handful of my hair to his creepy, slit-shaped nostrils and inhales. He is surprisingly gentle with my hair. He says something like, “You have good hair.” While I’m relieved – and weirded out – by this turn of events, I’m still on edge because I’m still Harry Potter in disguise! What if he takes me just because he likes my hair? Then he’ll really have Harry!

Then my alarm went off and that’s where the dream ended. What did we learn from this? Either that Voldemort may have some weird hair fetish, or that you shouldn’t stay up until all hours of the night reading, even if it is Harry Potter!

I had been wanting to re-read the series for a long time, but always thought it was too much to take on. I have the hardcover versions of most of the books and they are huge and intimidating. Also, there are so many other books to read, so why would I read a seven book series again? And perhaps the scariest thought, what if they weren’t as good as they were the first time around? Pushing these worries aside, I jumped into the series (ebook version this time) and enjoyed every minute of it.

First, I’m pleased to report that the books were still just as magical and wonderful as I remembered. It amazes me every time I start thinking about how J.K. Rowling put together these books. How did she make everything fit together so well? How did she create such a believable and incredible world? How did she craft characters that we would care about for years? For real. Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, Luna, Neville, Professor McGonagall, Dumbledore, all the Weasley’s, Lupin, Sirius, Snape. I don’t think there is a cast of characters that I love more. Second, the books were not that big of an undertaking. I read all seven books (plus five other novels while I waited for the books to become available through the Overdrive app) in less than three months. The books read quickly, perhaps because they are technically children’s books, but also because they are so wonderful that you want to find out what happens next.

If you’ve never read the Harry Potter series (*gasp* how is that possible?!), or you’ve been wanting to re-read them but you just haven’t found the time, I encourage you to pick up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and get reading. You won’t be disappointed.

Current Read: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

imageThis week, I’m re-reading a book I read almost 16 years ago: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s J.K. Rowling’s’ first book in the Harry Potter series, and a game changer in the world of literature. I’d like to re-read the entire series, but we’ll see how that goes!

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last eighteen years, here’s what Goodreads has to say about the book:

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! The first book in the “Harry Potter” series makes the perfect introduction to the world of Hogwarts.

The first time I read this book, I was skeptical. Why would I be interested in a book about a boy magician? Why would that interest me? It was a different reading experience because I didn’t have any movies to shape my perceptions of the characters or world, and I didn’t know how to pronounce the name “Hermione.” Needless to say, it’s very different to read this book a second time around. I not only know how the book ends, but I know how the series ends, and I can’t help but to see Daniel Radcliffe as Harry.

This time around, I’m struck by how flawlessly Rowling created her wizarding world. Everything is so well thought out, yet there is never an info dump. Everything a reader needs to know is seamlessly integrated into the text. We learn about this amazing world right along with Harry. Around 300 pages long, the book is well-crafted, but easy to read and understand. It is not as dark and sinister as the movies make it out to be, but I think the danger and intrigue increases as the series goes on and the books become longer and more complex.

However, the ending of the book is sort of silly if you start to think about it too much. CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD! Let’s be real here. Voldemort is a powerful dark wizard, and while he might not have much physical strength in this book, he does have power over his followers, like Professor Quirrell. If he’d wanted Harry dead, he could have done it. Apparently, Quirrell can’t kill Harry in the final scene because it’s too painful to touch him…but why didn’t he use his wand?! He should know plenty of curses – after all, he teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts! Quirrell attempts to knock Harry from his broom during a quidditch match, but that’s the ONLY attempt on his life all school year. I guess Voldemort didn’t realize what a hinderance Harry would be to his comeback. Also, why didn’t Quirrell wait to go get the stone until after the students had left the school? They would have been gone in just a few days, and then there wouldn’t have been any interference. Oh well, this is the suspension of disbelief we as readers must endure at times. For Harry and J.K Rowling, I guess I’ll let it slide!

Have you re-read the Harry Potter series? What did you notice the second time around?

I’ll Give You the Sun: A Dream Cast

imageJandy Nelson’s Young Adult novel I’ll Give You the Sun is just the sort of book that would be great as a movie. It offers both a male and female teenage lead, a cute British love interest, an eccentric mother, a grumpy tortured artist, a ghost grandma, plus a whole lot of teen angst and drama. Read this post to hear me gush about the novel some more. Hollywood is already buzzing about this movie. As of yet, a Gossip Girl writer and two producers from If I Stay are signed on to the project.

In summary, the novel focuses on twins Noah and Jude as they navigate their early teenage years dealing with sexuality, sex, love, their futures, and their parents’ possible divorce. Jude is beautiful and popular. She’s daring and can surf as well as any of the boys. She fights with her mother about how she dresses and parties, yet strives for her mother’s love and attention. Noah is the weird one. He is a loner and sees the world as works of art. He wants to attend a prestigious arts school. He is also questioning his sexuality, which has him worried because he thinks his macho, sports-loving dad won’t understand. An unexpected turn of events throws their world into turmoil. Suddenly, Jude is the loner, trapped in her guilt and grief, while Noah becomes the daring, social butterfly and stops painting. Can a ghost grandma, tortured artist, and British bad boy get the twins back on track with their lives?

casting_GiveUtheSun

Would you go see this film?

~ Visit the Dream Cast page to see more of my book to film casting ideas.

Recent Read Haikus

Gah! I’m failing at posting!

All I’ve got to show for the past two months is a pile of half-written drafts. I’ve read so many books since my last blog post and I haven’t shared anything about them. In an effort to catch up, I’ve decided to write haikus for each of my recent reads. I hope it won’t be quite so long before you hear from me again. Enjoy!

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What books have you read recently? Care to share a bit about it in the form of a haiku?! I’d love to hear it in the comment section.

Baby’s Book of the Week: I Like it When…/Me gusta cuando…

babysbookoftheweek

The last three nights, my baby has been obsessed with Mary Murphy’s bilingual book I Like it When…/Me gusta cuando… My husband was born and raised in Mexico, so it’s very important to us that our daughter learns Spanish. We have several books that are in Spanish or have both English and Spanish translations. We like this book because Mommy can read the English parts and then Daddy reads the Spanish parts. I Like it When… had been part of Baby’s bedtime routine for a long time, but there is a renewed interest in it this week. As soon as I read the last page, Baby says, “ma ma,” short for “mas” (which means “more” in Spanish). I’m not even exaggerating when I say I read it eight times in a row last night! Baby giggled each time I started reading the first page again – which, of course, makes it all worthwhile.

imageI Like it When…/Me gusta cuando… is a board book featuring illustrations of a big and little penguin. The illustrations are lively and bold – only the colors red, blue, green, yellow, black, and white are used. The little penguin lists things he or she likes doing throughout the day with the big penguin. These are things like dancing together, reading stories, eating new foods, holding hands, and saying good night. Since this is the bilingual version, each page is translated into Spanish as well. “I like it when we play peekaboo. Boo! Me gusta cuando jugamos al escondite. Bu!” It’s a simple book, but an instant favorite.

Other Spanish/bilingual Books Baby Loves:

  • Opuestos and Buenas Noches a Todos by Sandra Boynton. These translations of Opposites and The Going to Bed Book are must-haves at our house.
  • I Love My Daddy Because/Quiero a mi papa Porque by Laurel Porter-Gaylord, illustrated by Ashley Wolff. This book features great illustrations of baby animals interacting with their daddies in the wild. image

Current Read: The Kingdom of Little Wounds

imageMe, a week and a half ago: Hm, this book sounds like something I would love. It’s a mix of historical fiction, fairytale, and mystery. Oh, and it’s a 2014 Printz award nominee? It must have great writing.

Me, days later: Ugh, this book is going nowhere…and gross, did I really just read that? Didn’t it say this was Young Adult? Yikes. I’m not sure this book is for me.

I really wanted to like The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal. The blurb was great. Or rather, the blurb was the best part about it. Here, read about the book first, and then I’ll tell you why it missed the mark for me.

Goodreads Book Blurb:

On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches. Yet beneath the veneer of celebration, a shiver of darkness creeps through the palace halls. A mysterious illness plagues the royal family, threatening the lives of the throne’s heirs, and a courtier’s wolfish hunger for the king’s favors sets a devious plot in motion.image

Here in the palace at Skyggehavn, things are seldom as they seem—and when a single errant prick of a needle sets off a series of events that will alter the course of history, the fates of seamstress Ava Bingen and mute nursemaid Midi Sorte become irrevocably intertwined. As they navigate a tangled web of palace intrigue, power-lust, and deception, Ava and Midi must carve out their own survival any way they can.

I’m struggling to get through this book. I have considered abandoning it on several occasions, but then I think, if I just read a bit further, maybe it will get better. I’m now 48% of the way though and the book hasn’t gotten any better. Here are a few issues I have with the book:

  1. It’s labeled YA, but it shouldn’t be. Even though I’m not a teenager and am technically mature enough to handle the content of this book, I was still surprised at the sexually graphic scenes included. I would not want my child reading this book and can only imagine the phone calls from concerned parents if I were to use this book in the classroom. I’m all for celebrating everyone’s freedom to read and understand some teens wouldn’t have a problem with this book, but I also believe in age-appropriate content. This book feels very adult.
  2. There are too many points of view. The book changes narrators in each chapter, but I don’t know who the protagonist is, or who I’m supposed to care about. There is a king who spends a lot of time on the toilet, a servant who lies to get herself ahead, a mute servant who is treated like she’s less than human, and two ambitious courtiers who are trying to gain power (one of whom stores gems inside his royal jewels, if you know what I mean). No one is very “likable.” They seem petty and self-serving instead of complex and interesting. The POV is odd, too, because it’s not really first person. It’s like first person, but then an omniscient presence creeps in every so often and tells us things that the character wouldn’t know. This feels like a mistake to me. Like an editor should have told the author that the point of view needs more consistency.
  3. The plot drags on with very little action. I feel like I’ve been reading and reading and nothing is happening (I’ve already spent over a week on it). The story is getting more and more depressing at this point. If something interesting doesn’t happen soon, I’m going to give up on this book.

What do you think, should I keep reading to find out why this book was a Printz nominee, or simply give up?