Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me

            An international bestseller—the extraordinary memoir of a German-Nigerian woman who learns that her grandfather was the brutal Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler’s List. My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me is Teege’s searing chronicle of grappling with her haunted past. Her research into her family takes her to Poland and to Israel. Award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair supplies historical context in a separate, interwoven narrative. Step by step, horrified by her family’s dark history, Teege builds the story of her own liberation. (Goodreads)

            Growing up in post-war Germany, particularly as an adopted child of Nigerian and German descent, was a difficult row to hoe. Add to this the complexity of feeling an innate sense of abandonment, and you have a fairly accurate assessment of Jennifer Teege’s childhood. Although Jennifer was placed with a fabulous, middle-class family, Jennifer always felt like the odd one out—she was of darker skin tone than her adoptive family, she stood head and shoulders above most children her own age, not to mention the glaring realization that she had been given up by a mother that she can vividly recall.  Even though she felt the deck had been consistently stacked against her, Jennifer courageously pushed through these barriers to become a successful and productive member of society.

            At the age of 38, Jennifer was perusing through the library when she was drawn to a book with a familiar face on the cover—the face of her biological mother. She quickly takes it from the shelves and opens the pages much to her own shock. After devouring the information inside, Jennifer is alarmed to find that her biological grandfather was none other than Nazi Commandant Amon Goeth, of Schindler’s List fame.

            Armed with this new found knowledge of her familial history, Jennifer spirals into a deep depression.  Drowning in her own self-imposed guilt, she clings to what she thought she knew about her biological family. She struggles with what she remembers and what she now knows, prompting her to reach out to her natural mother and sister. These meetings, while essential to her healing, do not go as planned, causing Jennifer to fall deeper into despair. How can it be that she descends from such evil? Is this malevolent nature hereditary? Will her Jewish friends shun her once they find out the truth?
           Before she can find the answers that will create a deliverance from this vile torment, Jennifer must face her darkest, most terrifying fears. Jennifer’s journey of understanding and eventual reinvigoration will lead her to Israel, Krakow, and deep within the nadirs of the death camp overseen by her heinous Grandfather.  Through the written word, Jennifer and her co-author, Nikola Sellmair, offer an intimate look into a complete mental and physical breakdown, while showing that in life, your genetics do not define you. You are, instead, a product of who you choose to be, and for Jennifer, that was a survivor.

           I thoroughly enjoyed this short read. It runs the gambit of emotion, from the utter devastation of discovering your family’s murderous history to the psychological liberation of learning to let it all go. I was pleasantly surprised to be so beguiled by this story that shows the Holocaust from a new and unique perspective that is typically missing in most historical accounts of that period in time. I give this book four stars for its raw, visceral nature. Through the internal digestion of her family's past, Jennifer was able to humanize such a callous and unimaginable evil that was Amon Goeth, while reconciling that the monster did not reside within her own soul.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Outlander (STARZ Original Series)


Outlander the television series “Follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire's heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”


            For as long as recorded history has existed, mankind has had a fascination with time travel. Whether the motivation stems from the desire to rewrite history or to simply experience a time far removed from one’s own, the notion of leaving the present to travel to a distant past has inspired fictional works such as A Wrinkle in Time and even A Christmas Carol. While escapism has always been the common thread, be it voluntary or not, the conflict of past meeting present is always an interesting mix of confusion and enlightenment. True to form, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series falls within these bounds. The involuntary time travel of Claire Randall brings two vastly different worlds crashing into each other, creating a love story that transcends both time and space. Now brought to life on the small screen, fans of Gabaldon’s novels can watch the pages unfold right before their very eyes on the STARZ network blockbuster series -- OUTLANDER.
            The year is 1945 and World War II has just ended. Claire Randall, a military nurse who has seen the absolute horrors of war, has returned to her home to be with her husband Frank. Frank also served in the war with British Intelligence. After being separated for the majority of 6 years, the couple decides to reconnect on a second honeymoon to Scotland. During the onset of their travels through the highlands, Frank shows off his considerable historical knowledge, much to the indifference of Claire. While she politely listens to Frank’s ramblings, she finds herself being distracted by the beautiful scenery of the Scottish countryside. Eventually they reach their destination, and Frank becomes absorbed with tracking down any genealogical information on his ancestor Captain “Black Jack” Randall who served during his military career in the Scottish Highlands squashing Jacobite rebellion. Franks preoccupation allows Claire quite a bit of free time to explore.
Claire’s exploration leads her back to a mysterious grouping of rocks that jut up from the ground in the style of Stonehenge. Just the night before, she and Frank had witnessed a troupe of woman performing an old, pagan ritual at that very location, only adding to the mysterious nature of the rock and earthen monument. As Claire enters the ringed structure, she begins to feel an eerie presence. She reaches down to pick a cluster of purple flowers and places her hands upon the most central rock formation in the grouping to steady herself. Almost immediately, she is whisked away, unbeknownst to her, back to 1743. Scared and alone, Claire makes her way back to where she parked her vehicle, only to find an empty field.
Bewildered, she runs through the forest where she encounters a man that looks oddly familiar…”Frank?” she questions. But it is not. It’s none other than Captain “Black Jack” Randall. Taken aback by why any respectable Englishwoman would be traipsing through the back woods of Scotland, Captain Randall proceeds to attempt to have his way with Claire. In swoops Jamie Fraser, a virile and ruggedly irresistible Scottish warrior, to her rescue. From this moment, Claire’s life takes a major turn, catapulting her directly center stage in the Jacobite uprising. She finds herself embroiled in mystery and intrigue, while all the while subjecting herself to danger due to her modern, free-thinking ways. As her time with the Highland clans ensues, Claire finds her loyalties to Frank and her own time in history tested.  Will she choose to follow her heart and stay in the past, or will she follow her head and try to get back to 1945?

            While I tend to be one of those book snobs who typically feel like the book is always better, I must digress that with this series, I am not so certain. The STARZ network has taken the best of Gabaldon’s books and created a vivid, visually enticing masterpiece that completely mimics what my mind’s eye created from the written word. While, in complete and total transparency, I have yet to completely read the entire 9 book series for myself (I am currently working on that faux pas), I have discussed my opinion with those who have, and they will attest that STARZ has done a fabulous job keeping with the integrity of Gabaldon’s novels.
        Outlander has its fair share of action, adventure, and intrigue to please even the most discerning palate. In other words, it’s not just for the girls. (*wink wink nudge nudge*) With other series that I watch, I find myself feigning in between seasons. With Outlander, I am waiting with baited breathe and a longing heart to find out what lays ahead for the delicious Jamie Fraser and his strong-willed Sassenach, Claire.
    I have been thoroughly enraptured by this series from episode one. The strong, distinctive characters are portrayed in such a way, that I found it hard not to become completely obsessed, and the storyline is engaging with twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. Not just a “romantic frolic through the Highlands”, I give the STARZ original series Outlander two thumbs up…If only I had more thumbs to give. J

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Taming of the Queen

            The post-Pilgrimage of Grace religious upheaval late in Henry VIII’s reign finds credence in another of Philippa Gregory’s prolific Tudor series. The protagonist in this story is Kateryn Parr, the sixth wife of England’s most notoriously wedded monarch. While most readers know her fate, the author puts a spin on the tangle of rival factions and also describes the reasoning behind the madness of the King of England.

Why would anyone knowingly marry a serial killer? In the most recent installment of Philippa Gregory’s Tudor Court series, The Taming of the Queen, the answer to that question becomes all too clear: because he is the KING! Kateryn Parr, the final Queen in the reign of Henry VIII, is the subject of this latest piece of historical fiction. Picking up shortly after the execution of Katherine Howard, King Henry’s fifth wife, this book introduces the world to the little known Queen Kateryn.  With most of the attention given to the more eccentric and flashy queens like Anne Boleyn and Katherine of Aragón, little has been published about Queen Kateryn until recently. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she is just as noteworthy as the more scandalous wives of King Henry.

As the story begins, thirty-year-old widow, Kateryn Parr, is in a secret affair with Thomas Seymour. After involuntarily catching the eye of the king, she is forced to end her secret affair and marry a man old enough to be her father…A man who has notoriously buried four wives - King Henry VIII. Kateryn is fully aware of the danger she faces. She is attentive to the fact that the previous queen lasted only sixteen months, and the one previous scarcely half a year. As much as her logical reservations tempt her to quickly turn tail and run, she knows that her fate would be much worse if she did. In her mind, either way, she is a dead woman walking.  She decides to accept the King’s proposal and marries him, much against her better judgement.
She takes some comfort in the fact that King Henry initially adores his new bride. She is kind and gentle with the infamous wife killer, even as he suffers from a chronic leg injury that skews his attitude and judgement in a most violent and sporadic way.  Kateryn slowly begins to trust him and makes great efforts to unite his extremely fragmented royal family. Her success leads her to be allowed more freedom. She uses this new found trust to create a free thinking study group at the heart of the court, and even rules as Regent in the absence of the King.

As trusted as she seems to be, are her efforts enough to keep her safe? As her influence as a religious reformer grows, suspicion of the Queen runs rampant amongst the anti-protestant movement that is sweeping the country. Kateryn dangerously stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own, as evident in being the first woman to publish in English. Her exertions and sacrifices, however, are for naught as Henry’s perilous gaze turns on her.  Persuaded by the clergy and other power hungry rivals, Kateryn finds herself accused of heresy. The punishment for such a crime is death by fire, and her husband, the king, has signed the warrant…

(As those who regularly read the Lit Writ know, it can be safely assumed that Philippa Gregory is my favorite writer in this genre. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I feel I must preface the following commentary by divulging that bit of info.)

After finishing the previous book in this series, a small part inside me was sad to say the very least. Like an addict, I searched frantically to find my next historical fiction fix. After reading several other authors, who were fantastic in their own right, I was still left feeling a little empty. Then, much to my joyous elation, I saw The Taming of the Queen on an upcoming release list and immediately put it on hold. While this is not my favorite book in the series, I am happy to report that I learned more from this work than from any of the others.

Kateryn Parr is a little known force in the long list Henry’s wives. She was well educated and strong willed. Considerably older than most of Henry’s brides, Kateryn was the perfect match for an aging and debilitated Henry. She managed to bring his royal children all under the same roof…a feat unsuccessfully attempted by others in the past. While Henry was easily swayed by his mates in religious matters, she was the first to have the royal authority to translate and publish religious works into the common tongue – an allowance that almost cost her her life. Ultimately, in a great disservice to her legacy, history would push her aside in favor of more “Hollywood- ready” queens like Anne Boleyn and Katherine of Aragon.  This, however, does nothing to diminish her spirit and achievements throughout her reign.

As I close yet another series by Philippa Gregory, I am sadden by the fact that it is over, while none the less excited that I was able to delve into such a little known Queen who pleasantly surprised me with her tenacity and bravery in the face of a monstrously evil force like King Henry VIII. I highly recommend not only this book, but the entire series to anyone interested in this time period. I give The Taming of the Queen 4 stars and look forward to devouring whatever dynasty Philippa Gregory decides to tackle next.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Crown

Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

While Joanna is in the Tower, the ruthless Bishop of Winchester forces her to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may possess the ability to end the Reformation.

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must decide who she can trust so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story set in Tudor England melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.

One day at the library, I was discussing with a well-read patron my need for a new historical fiction writer, as I had exhausted many of the works of my favorites. She suggested Nancy Bilyeau, an author whose name I had heard mentioned in various historical fiction circles. I searched within the libraries catalog and was pleasantly surprised we carried the very book the patron had stated was the one that got her hooked on the author. I immediately went to the stacks, pulled the book, and began to devour it on my lunch break, and might I say:  Who knew the lives of nuns and monks could be so exciting?
After reading, “The Crown”, Nancy Bilyeau’s first installment in the Joanna Stafford series, my assessment of the men and women of the cloth has gone from one of meek and mild-mannered devotees to that of cunning and intelligent sleuths doing all they can to protect their home, faith, and way of life. The story begins with Joanna Stafford, a young and naïve member of the fallen royal Stafford house recently turned novice Dominican nun, wandering unaccompanied through London’s Cheapside. King Henry VIII has announced that there is to be a traitor burned at the stake, and Joanna is desperately searching for its location to confirm her worst fear—that the intended burn victim was to be her beloved cousin Margaret.
Margaret, like many devout Catholics at the time, was angered and enraged by King Henry’s nonchalant casting off of the old ways in favor of the new religious separation from Rome. This separation was brought about by Henry’s anger over not being granted an official divorce by the Pope, allowing him to marry his Boleyn mistress. All who opposed him by standing up for their religious beliefs were labeled traitors and effectively dealt with as such. Margaret was no exception. Accused of leading an uprising, or rather not talking her husband out of a revolt, she is sentenced to death by burning. Catching wind of King Henry’s intentions for her cousin, Joanna sneaks out of Dartford Priory to try to convince those in charge that her cousin should be spared. That is when her trouble begins.
After attempting to be near her cousin in her finals moments of life, Joanna is accused of trying to help Margaret escape, and finds herself locked in the Tower of London. While held captive, she has a chance run in with treacherous and deceitful Bishop Gardiner, who bribes her to join his search for the infamously cursed Athelstan Crown. This sets Joanna off on a path of mystery and intrigue, leading her to not only question the church, but her own faith as well. With a new obstacle around every corner, Joanna finds herself in some not-so-nun-like situations, relying on her wit and instincts to pull her through, while all along attempting to preserve her commitment to not only her family, but the fold as well. With the amount of excitement and deceit that unfolds along her path, it is easy for the reader to forget they are reading about nuns, monks and priests.
As a self-proclaimed historical fiction junkie, I must say I am rather impressed with Nancy Bilyeau’s novel, “The Crown”. While it is not a easy to devour as a Philippa Gregory novel, (I am a little bias, as Ms. Gregory is my favorite author of all time) it is closely comparable and is chalked full of good, down and dirty Tudor suspense, stratagem, and huggermugger. I would highly suggest this as a good place to venture once you have exhausted the entire Gregory catalog. I give this book 4 stars overall and 5 stars for the mysterious plot line. I look forward to reading another of her works soon!

Monday, January 5, 2015

An Old Betrayal

On a spring morning in London, 1875, Charles Lenox agrees to take time away from his busy schedule as a Member of Parliament to meet an old protégé’s client at Charing Cross. But when their cryptic encounter seems to lead, days later, to the murder of an innocuous country squire, this fast favor draws Lenox inexorably back into his old profession.

Soon he realizes that, far from concluding the murderer’s business, this body is only the first step in a cruel plan, many years in the plotting. Where will he strike next? The answer, Lenox learns with slowly dawning horror, may be at the very heart of England’s monarchy.

Ranging from the slums of London to the city’s corridors of power, the newest Charles Lenox novel bears all of this series’ customary wit, charm, and trickery—a compulsive escape to a different time.
(From Goodreads)

            In the latest installment of the Lenox Detective series, Charles Finch evokes the time-tested feel of a “Sherlock Holmes” mystery with his novel “An Old Betrayal”.  The year is 1875, and the opening scene plants the reader in the chambers of the British Parliament.  Charles Lenox, a former, yet highly regarded detective, has left his investigative vocation for a less exhilarating position as junior Lord of the Treasury in the House of Commons. When he receives word that his protégé, Lord John Dallington, needs assistance with a pressing new case, Lenox jumps at the chance to delve back in to his once well-loved profession.  
            On the day that the duo is to meet with their new client, Dallington falls ill, leaving Lenox to take the meeting on his own. But when the meeting falls through due to enigmatic circumstances, Lenox is filled with more questions than he began with.  Little does he know that that initial cryptic failed-consultation will open up a Pandora’s Box of intrigue, scandal, and death that will take him to the doorstep of the Monarchy. A centuries old grudge transforms itself into a contemporary mystery for Lenox and Dallington, instilling horror and fear in the heart of the very Queen herself.
            I am always hesitant to read a piece of fiction that is a part of a series without out first reading all of the books up to that point. On the suggestion of a patron, I broke my own tenet, and picked up “An Old Betrayal”, the 7th book in the Charles Lenox mystery series, and proved that there are always exceptions to the rule. Although I plan to go back and read the first 6 books in the series, I was pleasantly surprised that “An Old Betrayal” is a fantastic and action-filled standalone that is reminiscent of writing style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Again, as with most extensive book series, character development is generally complete by book 2 or 3, but in the case of Lenox and Dallington, Charles Finch continues to reveal nuances and attributes that make even the reader new to the series feel as though they haven’t missed anything by starting part way through.

            As with any mystery, a well-defined, yet slowly revealed plot is essential to keeping the attention of the audience. In “An Old Betrayal”, Finch used humor, wit, and period-appropriate vernacular to introduce the plot to the reader in a subtle and colorful fashion, while simultaneously creating two sub-plots. At first, the sub-plots seem completely disconnected from the original crime, but upon further investigation, the connections between them are undeniable and shocking, allowing the reader to believe they have solved the mystery alongside Lenox and Dallington. Oh, but then comes the twist! As with any mystery worth its salt, Finch draws the reader into a solvable situation only to drop a bombshell that will completely catch them off guard. 

           Overall, I must say, I am impressed with the writing skill and attention to detail that Charles Finch demonstrates in this installment of the series. “An Old Betrayal” has given me a new found appreciation for mystery writing that I had all but given up on as a genre. While Hollywood and the rest of the world may be enamored by blood, guts, and sexual intrigue that tend to overshadow a lack of plot, Charles Finch gives the reader a good old fashion murder mystery jammed packed with style, flair, and finesse that has been missing in this genre for quite some time. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I give this book 4 stars!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Top Ten Books To Read . . . or Re-Read over the Holidays!

    Through all of the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season, the one thing that everyone craves is "Me Time". When the sliver of free time finally reveals itself in all of its glory, my favorite thing to do is use it up to the last drop reading a good book. Below I have compiled a list of my top ten all-time favorite reads. Many that made the list could be old friends of yours, too. Reading for the first time, or re-reading for the hundredth, any and all of these treasures could quite possibly be the best gift you give yourself this Holiday season. As always, these can be found at your local library. So, find a cozy spot, brew a tasty, piping hot pot of your favorite beverage, snuggle up under a warm blanket, and escape the craziness of the season with one of these fantastic gems! You won't be disappointed!

      10) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy- by Douglas Adams

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

 9) The Alchemist- by Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

 8) Pride and Prejudice- by Jane Austen
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited, while he struggles to remain indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

7) Great Expectations- by Charles Dickens
In what may be Dickens's best novel, humble, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman — and one day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of "great expectations." In this gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward, the compelling characters include Magwitch, the fearful and fearsome convict; Estella, whose beauty is excelled only by her haughtiness; and the embittered Miss Havisham, an eccentric jilted bride

6) The Hobbit- by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum

5) The Complete Sherlock Holmes- by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This book contains all the investigations and adventures of the world's most popular detective. Follow the illustrious career of this quintessential British hero from his university days to his final case. His efforts to uncover the truth take him all over the world and into conflict with all manner of devious criminals.

4) Hills Like White Elephants- by Ernest Hemmingway
A man and his girlfriend wait for a train to Madrid at station in rural Spain, the almost casual nature of their conversation evading the true emotional depth of what’s happening between the two of them. “Hills Like White Elephants” is considered to be among Ernest Hemingway’s best short fiction, showcasing the author’s powerful ability to strip writing down to its bare bones and allow the reader’s imagination to fill in the subtext.

3) The Bell Jar- by Sylvia Plath
This novel is Sylvia Plath's shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.

2) On the Road- by Jack Kerouac
On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, "a side burned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty," the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance. Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "Beat" and has inspired every generation since its initial publication.

1) Rappaccini’s Daughter- by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part fairy tale, part Gothic horror story, "Rappaccini’s Daughter" is an inspired tale of creation and control. Giovanni Guasconti, a student at the University of Padua, is enchanted to discover a nearby garden of the most exquisite beauty. In it abides a young woman, perhaps the most beautiful Giovanni has ever seen; yet as he looks out from an upstairs window, he soon learns that the garden--and the matchless Beatrice--are not the work of Mother Nature but rather the result of a monstrous abomination of creativity.

(All Summaries were taken from GoodReads)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Big Help For Writers!!!

It’s that time of year where college students and high school students alike are scrambling to complete written assignments that are due before the winter break. Well, in light of this, I have compiled a listing of various invaluable resources, with short descriptions, that are intended to make this process a little less daunting. Who knows. . . You may even find that you LIKE to write! I honestly don’t know what I would have done without some of these tools. I hope you all find these helpful and insightful, and best of luck on the remainder of your semester! As always, if you find you are having trouble and can’t find answers elsewhere, feel free to email me at jstoltey@oplin.org, and I would be happy to answer your question or direct you to someone who can!

·         Purdue Online Writing Lab-- https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/
Contained within this site are your basic grammar rules and writing tips. This easy to use website helps even the most grammatically defunct writer achieve great success…best of all it’s Free!!

·         Capitol Community College Foundation-- http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/
The Guide to Grammar and Writing is sponsored by the Capital Community College Foundation, a nonprofit 501 c-3 organization that supports scholarships, faculty development, and curriculum innovation. This online guide provides tutorials and digital handouts designed to teach basic skills for writing various types of essays.
·         LEO: Literacy Education Online-- http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/
Developed by St. Cloud State University, this site breaks down various common issues people have when writing research papers, and allows the user to hone in on one specific topic instead of making them sift through tons of concepts before getting to the heart of their problem. 
·         NSCU Libraries-- http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/citationbuilder/
North Carolina State University offers this free online tool to assist in creating APA and MLA source citations online. While you must still provide the information, it does place said information in the correct place for the bibliographical citation.
·         The Chicago Manual of Style-- http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html
One of my personal favsmore than likely because my favorite professor in college required this style to be used.  Now, I actually find this to be the easiest method to use and understand. At any rate, this is a priceless resource to anyone unfamiliar with Chicago Style citations. 
·         Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers Online-- http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/turabian/turabian_citationguide.html
Within this website, writers will find a wealth of knowledge take straight from Kate Turbain’s 8th edition Manual for writers. Commonly known as Turabian Style Citation, this site is a great source for understanding how to cite sources in this style.
·         Paper Rater-- http://www.paperrater.com/

While there is a paid component to this, the free version is more than sufficient. Simply upload your work (or copy and paste), agree to the terms, and click “Get Report”. It’s that simple. Features include grammar and spelling check, plagiarism check, and word choice check to name a few.