Donations for Classmates

At the beginning of the year, I asked parents to donate one packet of notebook paper and one dozen pencils. I also encourage parents who are able to donate facial tissue, hand sanitizer, and bandages to do so.

These materials are being donated to help classmates who are unable to provide their own; and facial tissue, hand sanitizer, and bandages are comfort items that I do not have the means to provide myself. So long as I have these materials on hand, they will be made available to you.

Were I going to give any sort of consideration to students whose parents supplied these items, the deadline for such donations would be this coming Wednesday, September 6th.

Thank you very much to those parents who have already donated materials.

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Life and Death Essay

Click here to download the document I shared on screen in class today about your essay.

Remember that all I *need* is a well-crafted intro and one well-developed body paragraph (which uses correctly-cited direct quotes and your own thoughtful commentary of the writer’s ideas/beliefs). Feel free to do more – as in all things, the only way to get better is to keep practicing – but that is what I am looking for tomorrow (unless you already turned it in today).

Rating on Goodreads

I use Goodreads to keep track of the books I read, and I rate them according to whatever criteria I invent inside my head. I have noticed a few authors I follow who rate books often give every book they read a five-star rating, and I wondered about that. Especially because some of the books I also read were not worthy of that rating in my opinion. Do authors give good ratings to get good ratings? Probably, I have decided. But why not?

And that got me thinking about my own ratings of the books I read. Who am I, an unpublished wannabe without even a finished novel, to give a novel any sort of rating at all?

I wonder how authors perceive our ratings and comments? If I ever become a novelist, how will I regard them? It’s worth thinking about.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss

The Slow Regard of Silent ThingsThe Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book came out in October of last year, but I only just now committed to reading it. I had it previewed from Amazon and everything. I even have the audible version. I love the other two books in the series and am eagerly awaiting the third. This book is not part of that series, per se, but is a bit of an advanced look at one of the more intriguing characters that appears in the book. I like the idea well enough and I like the character Auri very much. But when I first tried to read this, I couldn’t get farther than the first dozen or so pages. That’s okay, I thought, I’m distracted and I really want to be able to focus on what I’m reading here. Maybe I’ll just wait until Winter Break when my head frees up a little bit and give it a shot then. So I did, but it was still a difficult book to get through.

Pat Rothfuss apologizes for the book in the beginning and then re-apologizes for it at the end. He says that it is not a book for everybody and I guess that’s true. It wasn’t a book for me.

Frankly, I hate leaving a negative review of any sort here. I sincerely like Pat Rothfuss. I follow him on Facebook and I read his blog. I appreciate the charity work he does for World Builders, and his interactions with his young son always make for interesting reading. He is very much the kind of person I feel that I would like to be friends with. I respect him. I like him.

But I don’t care for this book. I don’t think I’ll ever read it again, even though I’ve read the other two books in his series 3 times each at this point. And I wanted to give it a fair rating, the same way I would hope he would do for me if he ever read one of my books. Part of me wants to give him a five just because I like him as much as I do, and part of me wants to give him a four because the things I don’t like about the book are the things he tells me I’m not going to like in the beginning and apologizes for again at the end. But a three is fair. The book is not poorly written as such – just, nothing much happens. You know, I probably would’ve rated at higher if I felt that I had actually learned something about Auri here. Maybe some background, some history, some idea of what makes her mind tick. I just didn’t get that feeling enough.

And to be honest, if you read the series (which I definitely recommend you do) then you should read this book also. Get a good full understanding of the characters and situations in the series. I’m just saying that this book specifically is nothing to write home about.

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Precious Moments Gift Treasury

Precious Moments Gift TreasuryPrecious Moments Gift Treasury by Samual J. Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a Christmas gift for our foster kids, and our daughter especially loves it. The art is so beautiful, soft-color paintings on every page, and she just points and laughs and talks about everything she sees (especially the butterflies). The writing is about what you’d expect – simple rhythms and basic rhymes – but the beauty of this book is really the art.

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The Best in the World, by Chris Jericho

The Best in the World: At What I Have No IdeaThe Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea by Chris Jericho
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one 1 star more than the previous one. It was crisper, cleaner, not so tangential. And it has had an impact on me. As much of a smark as I am these days, I only started watching wrestling again in late 2012; I had not watched at all before that since the early 90s. So frankly I had no idea who Chris Jericho is/was when he was a surprise entrant in the 2013 Royal Rumble. And I’ve enjoyed his body of work over the past couple years, on WWE and his webseries (which is great) and his podcast (which is okay, but I dislike having to fast forward over the first 20 minutes where he rambles and/or discusses his sponsors). Now, having read these two books, I want to get to know more about his band, Fozzy. And I am eager to get to 1999 in my chronological viewing of WWE PPVs on the network so I can see early-Jericho.

If you’re a wrestling fan, this book is well worth your while.

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The Heart Is a Loney Hunter, by Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely HunterThe Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ah, look at all the lonely people.
Ah, look at all the lonely people.

I am so glad I read this book, which was written more than 70 years ago but could have been written today. Yes, some of it would need to be updated a bit, but I feel as if the conflicts within are still relevant. Especially, of course, the loneliness felt by the characters which somehow called out the loneliness that has always dwelt within me no matter how many people have been part of my life. This book requires many papers to be written about it.

Especially John Singer. Deaf mute John Singer, around whom the other characters gather to tell their secret feelings even though he cannot hear them, whose advice they seek even though he cannot talk to them. John Singer, who has people all around him but who wants only the company of a man who has gone insane and is completely distant from him.

This book is just deep, man, and you’ll have to immerse yourself in the characters. It’s one of those books that has things happen that are not foreshadowed literarily but that you can see coming from a mile away. Next time I read this book, I am going to do so with a highlighter.

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Usagi Yojimbo: The Ronin

Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 1: The Ronin (Usagi Yojimbo #1)Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 1: The Ronin by Stan Sakai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up a few years ago but haven’t read it yet. I picked it up because Mr. Sakai is the letterer for GROO THE WANDERER comics, which are by far my very favorite comic books (yes, even outshining the woefully inconsistent Spider-Man titles), and I know this series has a good reputation. I was reminded to read this due to the unfortunate passing of Mr. Sakai’s wife recently.

I think this first edition must grab snippets of early Usagi comics that were in other comics. Each of the stories here is only a dozen or so pages. So what we get here is a lot of worldbuilding, and I get the feeling this is going to be very useful as I read the other two volumes I bought back then. This world of the samurai is full of ideals and philosophies that may be a bit sideways to my Western thinking. I am eager to read on 🙂

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Batman: Hush

Batman: HushBatman: Hush by Jeph Loeb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For me – a non-avid DC reader – the Batman mythos is all screwed up. I don’t know what happens when and how. This is really when Batman revealed his secret identity to Catwoman? I thought that happened decades ago. Too many movies, too many Elseworlds, too little continuity on my part, and I was a little upside down now and again.

That said, it was pretty cool to see Batman have to go up against several known villains. Anyone who has ever seen Scooby-Doo knew who HUSH was going to be, but there was also a nice twist at the end that felt very satisfying.

I enjoyed the reading, and there is definitely a part of me that WANTS to jump on the Batman bandwagon, but I just don’t know where to start. Any suggestions?

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