Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book Review: Haunted Ground by Erin Hart

I recently read Haunted Ground by Erin Hart for my book club.

I had a little difficult getting into this book. The beginning scenes (chapters?) in the Irish bog were too technical for me. I was getting lost in the graphic description and wasn't sure where the novel was leading.

As I read further, the story did begin to captivate me; however, there was a bit of a language/swearing problem with a few of the characters. That alone would prevent me from recommending this book - especially to any of my LDS friends. Certainly, I would not have read this for a church book club. :-)

The story line in the book was rather redeeming. It begins with the discovery of a body in a bog. I found it interesting (as did many of the women at this book club) how well bogs preserve items that are discarded within them. It must be wonderfully fascinating from an archaelogical perspective. It can give an actual glimpse into events that happened centuries in the past. I may need to investigate this further.

From this discovery, several storylines are interwoven together. The red-haired girl from the bog. The archaelogists who are called to investigate. The family of bog farmers who made the discovery. The neighbor, whose wife and child mysteriously disappeared three years prior. The dectective who has been investigating the disappearance. Hart takes us on a journey that eventually connects all of the characters and storylines together. It was quite satisfying to get to the end and have it all come together nicely.

At book club today, we briefly touched on the symbolism of the crows that reappeared in the book. Very briefly. The conversation quickly turned more to a discussion on crows themselves - not their portrayal in the book.

One topic that I really did like that was broached was the theme of survival. This book, ultimately was the story of survival. The red-haired girl survived hundreds of years in the bog. There were many references to traditional music in the novel. This was something that had survived into modern times. All of the characters were surviving - some better than others.

When the discussion leader asked us which was our favorite character, a silence fell over the room. No one spoke up. One person finally mentioned how she wanted Nora to be her favorite character, but there were times that she really didn't like her. I agreed. She could be ill-tempered, and quick to pass judgment. A couple other ladies agreed. We discussed a few of the other characters and their complexity. Hart really did a good job developing complex characters. We also felt that it was easier to point out characters that we didn't like. Mainly Lucy Osborne and Brendan McGann. One suggestion was that perhaps this was because they weren't as complex as some of the other characters. We did discuss Hugh Osborne in some detail. We all really enjoyed his character. He seemed to be such a great guy - even though the entire town has judged him harshly. He was always kind and well composed, but not in an off-putting way.

Overall attending the book club was a good experience, for the most part. For me, I felt there was a lot more discussion of things unrelated to the book. The last 15 minutes or so the discussion moved more to the history of Ireland and the Reformation. I could see where the tangent tied to the book, but I didn't have the knowledge necessary to contribute to the discussion. This happened with a few other topics as well.

There is a reader's guide found on the author's website, but we didn't really go through any of the questions together. I think I may have enjoyed the book discussion better if we had focused on some of those questions. I've found that I'm not that critical of a book reader and take most of what I read at face value rather than delving into some deeper meaning. I think having some questions to frame my reading would be helpful. I'm definitely going to look for book discussion questions for the next book. I think it will help me become a better reader...perhaps?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Being Sick...

I hate being sick. Of course, I don't know anyone who actually enjoys it.

Thankfully, I don't really get sick that often. At least not debilitating. Mostly headaches and fits of the blahs.

This bout of the cold started last Wednesday as a simple sore throat. That sore throat got worse and worse until Monday it had progressed to a full on cold. Since then, I've gone through nearly an entire box of Puffs. On my own. It's incredibly gross! I'll spare you all the disgusting details.

Really, I wanted to share the other reasons why I hate being sick...

All my progress towards a healthier lifestyle? OUT THE WINDOW!
  • Not one day since last Wednesday have I consumed more than 3-4 glasses of water. The 3+ weeks prior I was averaging 9 glasses per day.
  • I haven't been able to go to the gym or pool or long walks with Sallie.
  • I spend most of my day napping, which means I haven't been eating very often. It's hard to eat while you're asleep.
  • When I eat, it's all junk! I've had more sweets and crappy food in the past week than in the previous month.
All medicine that claims relief tastes awful!

One good thing from it all? Lots and lots of snuggle time with my girl!

What do you HATE  about being sick? Are there any benefits? Do you have a surefire cure to the common cold?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What do you think?

Here is a video about what students say about technology in their classrooms:

Students Sound Off on School Tech Use from Education Week on Vimeo.

What do you think? Should schools adopt more technology into their classrooms? Should students be able to access the Internet outside of the library? Should they have access to web-based email programs (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc) at school?

How is technology used in your children's classrooms? Is it embraced by the students and teachers? Is the available technology being used? For example, a few of the students in this video stated that there were Smartboards in a few of the classrooms, but the teachers rarely used them.

I look forward to embracing technology when I become a teacher. I feel that students will learn more when they are engaged, and using technology can be that tool to help grab their interest.