Classic for the Summer

As many people know, I love reading classics. In the past few years, I did a classic challenge where I attempt to read a classic in a limited amount of time. Now that I am graduated, I can read those books at a slower rate, but it does help having a deadline. I have decided to extend the deadline to end of September, and I love that because I do not have to read as quickly. That means I can read less in a day. The classic I am reading is Nicholas Nickleby.

IMG_1839

Advertisements

Adventures Outside of Campus

Gardner Webb may be located in the middle of nowhere, but it is about 1 hr away from both Asheville and Charlotte and about an 1 and 1/2 away from Greenville. So yesterday, two friends and I left Gardner Webb for Asheville and decided to go on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was so beautiful. We drove underneath rock tunnels and saw a bear and we ended up driving for part of the trip in the clouds. Below are some pictures relating to that adventure.

Afterwards, we took a quick stop in Asheville and explored Malaprops where I did the “blind date” book thing. You just get a book that is wrapped in brown paper and have to pick a book based off of the adjectives and you never know what book you are going to get.

Love, adventure, and discover are at the heart of The Signature of All Things, which soars across the globe from America to Tahiti  to tell the story of a brilliant women named Alma Whittaker. Born in 1800, the daughter of a charismatic botanical explorer. Alma quickly comes into her own within the world of plants and science. But as her research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falling in love with a man who draws her in the opposite direction-into the realms of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical.

Written in the bold, questing spirit of the nineteenth century. Gilbert’s spellbinding tale takes the reader to unexpected places as it tells the story of a remarkable women with an unquenchable sense of wonder.

Why It is Hard to Enjoy Required Reading

Everyone has experienced required reading throughout their years in school. But I found them so much harder to even like or love, but why is it? For starters, you are kind of forced to read them and cannot read them at your own pace. Required reading is the hardest to enjoy in high school and college. I am reading a lot this semester, which is for Western Civilization. I have lots of books to read or required pages in those books and in the middle of one and I am so slow faced at getting it done. A lot of that comes from it being required to finish in only one week so required reading has a lot of pressure put on you. But every so often you can enjoy reading a required reading.

Back in high school, I never liked any of the required reading that we had to read over summer. Those were “Of Mice and Men”, “The Giver”, “Great Gatsby”, and “Frankenstein”. Many of the books I did not like were the sad ones. Some were ones I did not give a fair enough chance or ones I had no clue they would be sad in the first place. I discovered that yes tragedies exist in theatre so I thought they were pure sad so I literally ignored them when we had to read a Shakespearian tragedy in class. I did like “Taming of the Shrew” due to it being a comedy. I also loved “And Then There Was None”, “Illiad” and “Odyssey” so there were stories that I did love.

But required reading is so hard to appreciate. I like reading at my own pace instead of at this kind of forced pace. When you choose to read a book, it is easier to appreciate because you have the power to actually read the plot and decide whether or not you will actually read it. Required reading can drive you nuts because you have no power to decide what to read because teachers pick out the books you have to read. I did love required reading at times. Books I choose to read and loved included “Les Misérables”, “Great Expectations, “Oliver Twist”, “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “A Christmas Carol”,  “Tale of Two Cities”, “Uprooted”, “Lord of the Rings Series”, “Land of Stories Series”, and so on.

Do you agree? Do you think it is harder to love required reading and why do you think that is?

Les Mis Collection (Part 2)

Earlier in Christmas Break, I wrote a Les Mis post about my Les Mis collection. Well, a couple weeks after, I realized I left part of my collection off so I am doing a new post. I will still talk about the things I already explained and will bring up the stuff I never included.

IMG_1527

This picture gives a general idea of my love for Les Mis. I have three tickets from the community college production (2013), the West End production (2015) and the current touring US production (2017), which was seen in Greenville. So have happened to see 3 productions ever two years. The community college production was seen 3 times due to going once with family and twice as an usher, which is why my total number of times I have seen Les Mis is 5 times. In relationship to those productions, I have the three playbills and what surprised me in London is that I had to buy the playbill, which doesn’t happen in the United States. My London playbill was signed by Adam Bayjou, my Valjean, and he was an understudy and he made me forget I was watching an understudy so that says something about how brilliant he was. I have a filer for the community college production and a filer for the London production.

As some know, I went to Les Mis party last year where I dressed up as Eponine, my favorite female character in the musical. Well, my first Les Mis party was in 2015 where I was surprised and my mom hid it by saying that one of her closest friends, who is also a big Les Mis fan just wanted to see the movie with me. So in my 2015 party, I was not able to dress up as a character, but I was called Eponine all night long just because I sang “On My Own” during Karoke. One of the people who attended knew a friend happened to know one of the Valjean’s and so she got in contact with that former Valjean and he signed a souvenir program and I did not see that part of my collection coming.

Obviously as any Les Mis fan, you would have the soundtrack. It took a lot of debating over which one I wanted. My mother eventually bought me one of the soundtracks and it ended up being the original broadway cast. Even with the soundtrack alone, I am reduced to tears. As a big Les Mis fan myself, I own the unabridged book, which I actually finished in less than one summer and that book is my favorite of the classics. The last of that picture is the page to screen book. It talks about how it made its journey to London stage to its creation of the school edition all the way to the musical movie. It has pictures and several facts in relationship to Les Mis.

IMG_1531

My first Les Mis bit of my collection was the movie. The movie was the first full experience of Les Mis. My first viewing, I couldn’t tell if I loved that movie or not. I was a bit shocked and confused as it is a tragic musical, a musical theatre genre I really had no clue existed so I didn’t know how to respond to Les Mis. Despite the confusion, I started researching the musical until I decided to give the movie a 2nd chance and I was able to calm down and get more out of it. I watch the movie each time I come home for break and I am not tired of it yet. I also own the 25th anniversary concert DVD. I watch that version less than the movie because it is longer so it is hard to find time to watch something of 3 hours. So these two are my easiest access to Les Mis if I am in the mood to watch it.

IMG_1529

I got the gray T-shirt at the Queen’s Theatre when I saw it in the West End. The red shirt is quite special. Some of my friends at Gardner Webb made that shirt for me for a birthday present. Literally the shirt says “keep calm and talk about Les Mis”. It appears as if those two friends know me quite well. It is unique in the fact that a) college friends it for me and b) no one else can own it.

IMG_1528

This poster is hung above my bed in Charlotte. This is yet another souvenir I got at the Queen’s Theatre. The only posters that belong on my wall in my room are musicals that hold an important part of my life.

fullsizeoutput_747

These two paintings do deserve a part in my collection as well. In my first semester of college, one of the RAs of my floor made these two paintings for me. Those two are hung in my dorm room. Even though the French flag is not in the right order, I still love the painting.

IMG_1583

Last time, I did this post, I cannot believe I forgot about my Les Mis piano book. In 2014, I was going through a rough time in my life and to get through that, my piano teacher taught me the Les Mis songs on the piano. Because I knew the songs so well, I was able to add emotion into the songs. I knew when the songs got louder or got softer. The colored pencils were found as a stocking stuffed. They have words on them like “one gray more”, “do you hear the purple sing”, “blue4601” and other things like those.

I will leave with pictures from when I saw Les Mis and when I dressed up as Eponine along with a painting I made at Pinterest night, which has Eponine on it.

‘So based upon my collection and the number of times I have seen the stage production, the movie and the 25th anniversary concert DVD combined shows just how big of a Les Mis fan I am. It also is shown through the number of times I listened to the soundtrack. So I have listened to those songs so many times and not yet tired of them and shows just how amazing of a musical Les Mis. Despite the number of times, I still get emotional listening or seeing it, which has led me to tear up, get goosebumps, and laugh along with something else that I can’t describe and that sort of feeling is something that rarely happen in a musical world.

 

2017 Year in Review

Yes, today is 2018 and Happy New Year, but I think today I shall write about last year.

2017_in_Review

2017 was a tough, but wonderful year. I don’t remember some things that happened month after month, but will do the best I can.

January- all I remember about this month is my birthday. I don’t remember anything else. Part of 2017 consisted of being in St. Louis visiting my grandma over New Year’s.

IMG_1121

February- I remember two things about this month. I was house manger of my school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors and got to see a production of it. Plus, every year at my school around Valentine’s day, we are able to make a stuffed animal and I made a rainbow dog named rainbow.

IMG_1151

The bunny in this picture is Beatrice Rose, my stuffed animal I made at school in February of 2015. Rainbow is the dog next to her.

March- I have no clue what happened in March. Spring Break might have happened in March, but I just don’t remember.

April- this was when Gardner Webb’s Easter egg hunt happened. Each student is limited to just on egg. In both 2015 and 2016, I never managed to find one. But this year when I was looking at the prizes prior to the Easter egg hunt, I was eyeing this gigantic stuffed bunny. This year right when I saw the email that said it started, I immediately got dressed and started looking. The prize you are given is based off the number in the Easter egg. I actually found an egg this year and because I was the first one to redeem my egg, they gave me the gigantic bunny so they did not base my prize off of the number. I ended up naming the stuffed animal Chester.

IMG_1168

The last school production of the semester was in April. I was house manger of Full Moon over Montmartre, the school production and got to watch one production, but I found the show to be quite boring.

May- what happened this month was the Les Mis party. Since I knew the party was coming, but not surprised like 2016, I got to dress up as a character and I decided to dress up as Eponine.

IMG_1203

May- August- I grouped these together to talk about all the books I read over the summer. I ended up reading nine books in one summer and that is a lot of books. I read Oliver Twist (5/5), Clearing in the Forest (4.5/5), 2 Land of Stories Books (both 5/5), Queen of the Tearing (3/5), Five Little Pigs (3.5/5), 150 Years of Musical Theatre (5/5), Hundred Story Home (5/5) and Same Kind of Different as Me (5/5).

June- something my family does every year is going to a weekly Sunday Symphony in the Pops. Each year outside, we go to this outdoor symphony and each week there is a different. Earlier in the day, we lay out a tarp to reserve the spot. My family and friends spend time at this yearly event and everyone brings food and we have dinner like picnic style.

One of the symphonies is also dedicated to Fourth of July. Songs that represents America are played at that one and one of them honors solider and the songs each play each of the division’s hymn and when the veterans hear their hymn, they have to stand up and it is a wonderful thing to watch. At the end of that entire symphony, there are fireworks.

Another June memory was hearing my church’s choir sing at Duke Chapel. Hearing them sing at Duke Chapel reminded me of the time they sang at Bristol Cathedral.

19466581_10213373635314688_7936379861913706406_o

July- my family went on vacation to Ponte Vedra, FL.

What also happened in July was a day visit to Asheville. First stop was having lunch at Moose Cafe. What we do in Asheville is walk around and one of the stops usually involves getting ice cream at Kilwin’s. One place I love going is Malaprops. One section I love stopping at is the “mystery” book section. It is so much fun because the books are wrapped up in brown paper and adjective are written on it and we have to select the book based off of the wrappings and it is a lot of fun discovering the book we have picked and we are not allowed to open it till leaving the store.

August- that was the month I entered my last year at Gardner Webb. I made the move from dorms to suites, which ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made. August also consisted of going to a wedding.

September- I think September was when my school did a production of  Real Inspector Hound and I was house manger of that show. At the end of the month, I got to watch Rent with mom and dad. I have loved Rent since Fall of 2012, but never got to see Rent live. So I finally got my opportunity. I ended up buying a poster and t-shirt. We sat in the Mezzanine towards the center and those were perfect seats. The production was amazing, but the only complaint I have is that the couple next to us were talking the entire time and even though they were whispering, they were still taking and that was annoying. But other than that, I loved the show and became a bigger fan of Rent and it was so good that I was an emotional wreck.

FullSizeRender.jpg

October- This is Halloween month. There was Pumpkin painting this month, and painted it Gardner-Webb themed. There was Octoberfest and of course Halloween and dressing up. For Octoberfest, I was dressed up as Rizzo from Grease since our club choose to do a Grease theme, which was our club’s homecoming theme in September, but I am not exactly sure if homecoming was in September or not. For Halloween, I was Eponine, my 2nd time this year and I was dressed up as her about 3 to about 10, so that was a long time to stay in my costume. I cannot believe I went to the Gathering dressed up as Eponine. This time as Eponine, I made myself look a bit dirtier and it was fun dressing up as her.

November- I ended up seeing Les Mis in Greenville with my school and I also participated in Pinterest Night. That same week, I went to the Big E, which was closed off starting at 11 and I saw Murder on the Orient Express, which started at 11:30, but think I fell asleep during part of it. Since it was November, I also celebrated Thanksgiving with family and I met family members I had no idea existed. I also was house manager of my school’s production of God of Carnage

This was my first time seeing Les Mis on tour, but 5th time seeing the stage production and 2nd time seeing it with a professional company. Just like Rent, I was an emotional wreck. It had this incredibly powerful cast with wonderful advanced staging, which gave Les Mis a fresh complexity. I had an understudy as Eponine during this production. I love  this 25th anniversary production and it allowed things to flow smoothly and some scenes were improved upon from the West End production. The production and the cast had a lot to live to after seeing the West End production in 2015, but this cast and production lived up to it in its own way and so did the cast in their own way.

December- the first half of December was not that exciting as it was time for finals. However, Winter Formal was during that time and I literally came looking at Glinda. The dress I wore reminded me of her “Popular” dress so my suite mates made me look like her during that  particular scene. In December, I got to decorate a Gingerbread house and visit Santa.

But the second half was Christmas Break. I ended up seeing the Man Who Invented Christmas, read two classics, and of course celebrated Christmas. The classics I read were Hunchback of Notre Dame and A Christmas Carol.

Outside of the two classics, a good church family friend gave me six classics since she was downsizing her book collection. So I have a lot of classics to read, but these books were be read after reading Nicholas Nickleby this coming summer and right after that book will be David Copperfield. After David Copperfield is when I will start reading these books.

IMG_1572

I went to two parties in December. One was when we were at a Christmas party at a friend’s house and it was the usual batch that we tend to be with at Christmas dinner. The second December party was for New Year’s.

Honorable Mentions:

Glow Zumba- I have no idea what month this happened in.

IMG_1563

Going to late night trips to Cook Out to get a milkshake

Trips to FATZ and a Mexican restaurant with friends

I had a wonderful 2017, but cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store.

Just spending time with college friends

How was your 2017?

A Christmas Carol Book Review

As a bit of background, I have grown up up with a Christmas Carol through the movie adaption, which was the George Scott version. So A Christmas Carol was my first introduction to Charles Dickens and was my first classics I ever loved. But in those times growing up, I have once read the book, which seems quite surprising. An interesting thing about this version of the book is that it is complete with pictures.

As expected I loved the book and was an easy book to read after Hunchback of Notre Dame due to how sort it was. It was a fast read. As I was reading, I could start to visualize  scenes from the movie. Each chapter is focused on a particular spirit. It still is the ghost of Christmas Future that creeps me out the most. These ghosts really looked like the same ghost in the movie. I just love this story how this spirits help make Scrooge a better version. He used to very greedy and called Christmas a “humbug” and never really celebrated it. The Ghost of Christmas Past showed how he got to be the man he eventually become. He had a tough childhood and eventually the love of his life left all because of how much he seemed to love about money. The Ghost of Christmas Present taught him about the spirit of Christmas and showed that even the poor celebrate Christmas and are still happy on this wonderful day. The Ghost of Christmas Future taught him of what will happen in the future, but those events can be changed if Scrooge changes his ways. I think Scrooge in some ways is a complex character on on Christmas Day, Scrooge became a much happier fan and felt compassionate towards the poor and towards Mr. Cratchit’s family. He started helping them in any way he can and raised Mr. Cratchit’s family.

I love Mr. Cratchit’s family. Despite being poor, they still are happy. Tiny Tim, who is a cripple, has this incredible spirit and one of his most famous lines is “God Bless Us, Every One”. Mr. Cratchit has such an incredible bond with Tim. Even this family is huge and poor, they still have a wonderful bond with each other. But if Scrooge didn’t change his ways, Tiny Tim would have died. But Scrooge did, which is part of why he raised Mr. Cratchit’s salary in the end.

Fred, Scrooge’s Nephew, always invites his Uncle year of year to have dinner with him, but Scrooge always died. Fred actually loves his Uncle despite how greedy his Uncle is. But in the end, Scrooge finally came to dinner.

So A Christmas Carol really shows the spirit of Christmas. No matter how poor you are or no matter how rich you are, Christmas is worth celebrating. No wonder A Christmas Carol is so well loved. It teaches us to think of those in need and gives us an idea of where we came from and we see that through Ghost of Christmas Past, which shows Scrooge how he became what he is. We are the way we are because of the past. We learn what Christmas really means and yes it is about the birth of Jesus, but it is also about family and it defiantly not a “humbug” like Scrooge once said. Through the spirits, he really learned what Christmas is really about and how it isn’t a “humbug”.

“God, Bless Us Everyone”- Tiny Tim, Charles Dickens

Hunchback of Notre Dame vs. Les Misérables

Now that I have read both of Victor Hugo’s masterpieces, I decided to compare and contrast them. I was led to read Les Misérables because of my love for the musical.

Tangents:

With Les Misérables, I disliked reading them more than reading them in Hunchback of Notre Dame. In Hunchback of Notre Dame, they were much shorter and more interesting to read because they mostly were about architecture. With Les Misérables, those tangents were much more political and even longer. But with both, I understand that these tangents helped you understand the setting better.

Plot:

As expected, both of the books had a tragic, but beautiful plot. Both of these plots focused on the lowest of society. They represented things such as gypsies, criminals, disabled, and the improvised so they had a similar representation when it comes to the lowest rung. Both of these plots may be tragic, but they are beautiful. They each focused on love. Hunchback of Notre Dame had a much bigger focus on romantic love than Les Misérables. Hunchback of Notre Dame’s entire plot dealt with a love square of sorts since three men loved the same women. But with Les Misérables, it represented so many areas of love such as love for God, love for a child/parents, romantic love in the form of a love triangle, love for the country, and love for friends. So Les Misérables focused on more areas of love. I actually loved Les Misérables’ plot more than Hunchback of Notre Dame’s plot.

Characters:

I strongly disliked the antagonist, Frollo, in Hunchback of Notre because he was so evil and so dark and he responded to his unrequited love in very phantomesque ways. As far as Les Misérables’ antagonist, Javert, I loved him much more. At least Javert wasn’t exactly evil or morally twisted because he kept on trying to do the right thing even if he saw the world in black and white. But Les Misérables’ does have two major characters who are quite despicable, who are the Thenardiers. Both of the tales had a character who dealt with unrequited love in a selfless kind of way, who were Quasimodo and Eponine. For me it was very hard to figure out who Hunchback of Notre Dame’s protagonist was, but I want to say it was Quasimodo and what was interesting about him is that he was disabled due to being both deaf and have a hunchback. Being deaf did leave at a disadvantage such as when the mob tried to rescue Esmeralda, he thought they were trying to cause harm to Esmeralda so he attacked them not understanding their actual intentions, but he still acted selflessly for his love for Esmeralda. Les Misérables’ protagonist, Jean Valjean, goes on such an incredible journey from this harsh and hateful man to this compassionate and saint-like man and his journey is wonderful to watch.

Ratings;

Hunchback of Notre Dame: 7/10

I gave this a 7/10 because I struggled with understanding the plot. It felt forever till I picked up on the plot and I already was halfway done with the book when it finally picked off. It spent about fifty page or so on Pierre, who is quite a minor character. Also as excepted, you were given background information about some of the characters for some time so it took a while to understand what was going on. It is hard for me to fully describe why I loved this plot.

Les Misérables: 12/10

Okay, why on earth would a book give me a 12/10 rating. Even though like Hunchback of Notre Dame, it felt forever till the plot kicked off, the story was exceptional. This heartbreaking storyline has this beautiful underlying spirituality. It is this beautiful story of how this ex-convict was given a second chance, which led him to redemption. Jean Valjean after being encountered with the bishop, he began to have this strong spirit and helped those in need. He saved Fantine from being arrested and agreed to raise her daughter, he rescued Marius, and he turned himself in when an innocent man was accused of being him and so on. The story overall made up for those incredibly long tangents. It has many more characters I love than in Hunchback of Notre Dame. I loved how selflessly Fantine was towards her daughter, which is why she had to do what she had to do after being fired and she trusted Valjean enough to raise Cosette. The passion the students have for France, especially in the case of Enjolras, is wonderful and I just love how they take in Gavroche, who is Eponine’s little brother.

Eponine, the Thenardiers’ daughter, is not fully like her parents and showed true love towards Marius and her love for him made her become a better person and even though she led him to the barricades to die with him, she still saved his life and she got to die happy because Marius was there. I love what Cosette represents in the overall story and that is hope. She had hope when she was a child that she would be rescued from her life of abuse and later her love for Marius brings hope to the story. As far as Marius goes, he is so complex and is capable of so much compassion. Les Misérables represents all aspects of society and the story is so human.

What do you think? Have you read both or one of these books? Of the two, which one do you like more and why?