Call the Midwife

Thank goodness for adorable, high-quality shows! I know adorable isn’t the best adjective to describe a show aimed at adults, but it was the first to pop into my head. “Call the Midwife” is my current obsession; I’m telling everyone I know, “You have to watch it!” I came across it randomly one day while flipping channels – there was some special (I’m guessing) about it on PBS, and it reminded me of Downton Abbey. I figured since I’m going through Downton-withdrawal, I may as well give this show a try, and thank goodness I did!

The show is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth and set in 1950s London (already perfect, in my opinion. Favorite era, favorite city). It focuses on a young woman, Jenny Lee, who begins work as a midwife at Nonnatus House, a convent. She and the Sisters and other midwives service the slums of the East End, and throughout the episodes she comes in contact with many different people, and finds herself growing into a compassionate woman.

Jenny is my favorite character; I feel like she and I are very similar. But believe me, it’s hard to choose one favorite. Every single person is so endearing. Aside from the characters, I absolutely love the clothing on this show! Everything is so classic and classy. I honestly believe that I was born in the wrong decade, and actually belong in the 1940s and 50s.

The hair and makeup is beautiful, too – natural and simple. I’m constantly searching for tutorials, but haven’t found any yet!

It’s a good thing my summer vacation is just getting started, because I would hate to be interrupted in watching Seasons 1 and 2; I’m already two episodes into Season 2 and can’t wait for Season 3 to begin! In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to pass the time with reading the books. Things could be so much worse, couldn’t they?

Have you seen Call the Midwife? What do you think? Who is your favorite character?

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Book Review – Beautiful Creatures

I finally made it through Beautiful Creatures over the weekend. I knew it was going to be hot, so I decided to take a day-trip to the beach. I packed my beach bag with a few books since I was sure I’d finish Beautiful Creatures, and of course I’d need a new book to start. I thought I should wait a little to write a post about it because I wanted to make sure I had all my thoughts in line. Get ready.

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Wate lives in the small Southern town of Gatlin. This is your stereotypical small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, and no one leaves. Ethan is anxious to get out after high school…but then Lena Duchannes comes to town and changes everything. Ethan realizes that Lena is the girl he has been dreaming about, and finds himself “drawn” to her. They develop a relationship despite the fact that Lena, the niece of the town recluse, is the outcast at Jackson High and everyone is set on tearing them apart. As they grow closer, Ethan realizes that Lena’s differences come from special powers. She is a Caster. Lena’s sixteenth birthday is approaching, which means she will be “claimed” – she will be chosen as a dark caster or a light caster for the rest of her life. Knowing that her mother was dark, Lena fears that she will be the same and is desperate to stop it. Ethan spends every possible moment helping Lena search for a way to save herself…until her birthday comes, and it may be too late.

As you may remember, I had been struggling through the book and was not a very big fan. At all. I wouldn’t say I hated it, but it was far from even being considered for a favorites list. It’s an “eh” book. Like I said previously, I’m not sure if my opinion was swayed by the reviews I read on goodreads, but it didn’t take much to figure out why so many reviews were negative.

One of the things that really bothered me was a lingering confusion over what exactly it means to be a Caster…how do they develop their “powers”? Are they similar to witches? What kinds of things can they do? These things were touched on, and there were different examples of Caster powers throughout, but I felt like there was never a very good explanation. I’m not saying Twilight was anything to rave about, but at least I understood the whole vampire/werewolf thing while I read the books! I felt like the authors of Beautiful Creatures just wanted to write a paranormal story, and made things up as they went along instead of thinking it out beforehand. (They do say in their acknowledgments that it took them three months to write the book, before going through editing. Gee, I would never have guessed…)

A second thing that I didn’t like was that there was no apparent basis for Ethan and Lena’s falling in love. There seemed to be no development of feelings over time, no getting to know each other. You know, those things we normal people go through in real life. In Beautiful Creatures, Lena and Ethan are “drawn” to each other because of a dream they keep having. And when they finally meet, Ethan’s world changes forever. Please. PLEASE! And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous lines. I wish I had kept count of how many times I rolled my eyes and thought, “Oh my God.” I couldn’t help but think as I read this, that a number of my students were reading these books, or had read them, and now have in their heads that this is what love is like…at sixteen years old. Hate to say it, but you don’t get an electric shock when you kiss someone unless you’re holding a fork in a socket at the same time.

Overall, the book wasn’t atrocious; I was curious to find out what would happen and how the story would end, which kept me reading. But I was by no means enraptured with this book, where I could NOT put it down. If a student is looking for a book to read and I know they like romance stories or fantasy/paranormal, I’ll recommend it but it won’t be with much enthusiasm. Should you read it yourself? Eh, if you feel like it. If you’re planning on watching the movie and are the type of person that likes to read the book first, go ahead. Or if you are thinking to yourself, “I have to see for myself what she’s talking about…”

Or just skip it and thank me. Okay, maybe I did hate this book. Can’t win ’em all.

http://thecasterchronicles.wikia.com/wiki/Beautiful_Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl Source: http://thecasterchronicles.wikia.com/wiki/Beautiful_Creatures

It’s Like Christmas!

Earlier this week I ordered a bunch of books from Barnes & Noble for my summer reading goal of Ya/Teen lit. They came today!

The Eleventh Plague and Switched weren’t in the order – I picked those up at Target today when I went for a completely different reason. Isn’t that how it always goes at Target?

I can’t wait to get through this stack….I don’t know where to start!

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What a beachy bedspread, huh? Thank you, ideeli.com!

Summer Reading

This will be a quick post – just wanted to share what I plan on reading this summer, and hopefully get some suggestions to add to my list!

Coming to the end of the school year, I decided I should read as many teen/YA books as I could over the summer so that next year I’d be able to give recommendations to students. Here’s what I came up with so far:

Delirium (ended up reading the trilogy; halfway done with the third book)
Beautiful Creatures
The Maze Runner
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Gone
The Selection
If I Lie
Reckless
Entwined
The Killing Sea
Perfect
Sarah Dessen novel

Have any good books to add? Let me know!

Spontaneity

I’ve already written about a perfect day, but I have to say that yesterday was even better.

For whatever reason, almost every morning when I wake up I check my phone and scan Facebook. When I saw that one of my good friends had a beach day with her close friends planned, it immediately popped into my head that I should go to the beach. If you know me, you obviously know that I don’t need much to talk me into a beach trip. I hopped out of bed and did my usual morning routine before calling my mom; we had originally planned on going for a walk in the morning. Since the weather was not walk-worthy, we decided against it and when my mom asked what I was going to do instead, I blurted out, “I think I’m gonna go to the beach!” I have a hard time keeping things in when I’m excited, and this cost me a couple hours of beach time!

My mom thought it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to drive “all the way” to LBI for the day, and of course my dad had to put his two cents in as well – they thought it would be better for me to start getting things ready for the beginning of school next week. Needless to say, they got their way while I fumed for an hour, rushing around as I went through my school things that I’m storing in my grandfather’s basement. When I returned my dad’s car to my parents’ house, I told my mom I was going to the beach anyway; the weather was supposed to be great, and why not take advantage of having the summer off? I grabbed a beach chair and towel, headed back home to put my suit on and pack my beach bag and cooler, and I was on my way!

I can’t explain how it feels to drive myself to the beach – to go by myself. I did it for the first time in June, and it was one of the best experiences. It’s so freeing to know that I am relying on myself and I am doing everything for myself, and that I can make it on my own. Of course, I know all these things about a single day trip to the beach, but I wouldn’t have felt so confident yesterday if I hadn’t taken a weekend at the beach by myself. Luckily, I was leaving late enough in the morning yesterday that there was hardly any traffic and I got to the beach by 1:00. I have a feeling it would have been sooner, but because I’m an idiot and forgot to bring my license, I made sure to follow the speed limit. As happy as I was to be there, I couldn’t help but feel sad that it was only for the day. The worst part was parking on the same street where our rental house is (not OUR rental house, but the house that we rent), and not being able to walk into the house because there were other people there. And they were sitting on the porch! I know it sounds silly, but it breaks my heart a little bit to see someone else at the house we stay in, because even though we only rent it, I  always think of it as “our house”. If only…

The beach was surprisingly less crowded than I expected, and I got a spot up front, plopped myself down and opened up my book…yes, I’ve read it 5 times already, but I had to throw The Bronze Horseman into my bag, and I’m so glad I brought it; it made the day even better! The weather was perfect…sunny and a good ocean breeze which kept me from getting too hot. Every so often I took a break from reading and just enjoyed the view, or took a short walk to find some shells and sea glass. By the time 6:30 rolled around, I figured it was time I start heading home. I packed up, took one last look at the ocean (it’s going to have to last me till next year), and held back my tears as I walked off the beach, down the street that feels like home, and packed up my car. A trip to Beach Haven is not complete without cream-filled doughnuts, so I stopped and bought a half dozen for my sister and I, plus one for the road. I’m good at procrastinating, so I took my extra doughnut to the park on the bay, sat at a picnic table and enjoyed the best dinner I’ve had in awhile. 🙂

Again I made sure to drive the speed limit on the way home, and once I got near the New Jersey Turnpike, I kept thinking I was seeing lightning. The clouds didn’t look very stormy so I assumed it was just heat lightning. It became more and more frequent as I got closer to PA and Philadelphia, and I began to get scared. Some bolts left me with my mouth open in shock, and I was just glad they didn’t hit the road I was on. I know that a car is the safest place to be when there’s lightning, but I would rather not be anywhere near it, period. I kept thinking to myself, please don’t let this be a tornado. I am deathly afraid of tornadoes, and I wouldn’t have known what to do if I seemed to be driving into one. I didn’t notice any funnel clouds, but it’s hard to notice a funnel cloud when it’s dark out and the only light in the sky lasts half of a second while lightning flashes. Driving into a sudden wind blast so strong that my car, my little close-to-the-ground Jetta, blew sideways, didn’t help with my tornado fear. The wind died down, but now all of a sudden I found myself in a downpour, so bad that I had my wipers on full speed and still couldn’t see very well. I, with everyone around me, slowed down to 40 miles/hour and gripped the wheel, as if holding it tighter would really keep me safe. Luckily, the storm wasn’t huge and I was out of it within ten minutes. Those ten minutes were pretty nerve-wracking, and I found myself wondering if I was going to get into an accident when I don’t have my license. Because that would be something that would happen to me.

All in all, it was a good day. Spending the day at the beach just reaffirms for me, how much I need to live there at some point in my life. If it can’t be LBI, then somewhere like it. I just have to find a way of making it happen…