Quote of the Week

This week’s quote comes from George Orwell, author of Animal Farm, and is a list of rules Orwell gave for writing. I thought all of his advice was really good, especially the second one. I tend to add extra words to sentences like “that” that aren’t needed. My writing always flows so much better when those extra words are gone!

“Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”  – George Orwell

~ Kayla

Five Least Favorite Classic Novels

From Shakespeare to Twain to Defoe, I’ve enjoyed a lot of classic novels from a lot of different authors. I loved reading The Merchant of Venice, The Prince and the Pauper, Robinson Crusoe, and many other great classics. Alas, not every classic novel can be that enjoyable. Today I’m sharing some classics that I downright disliked and never, ever want to read again.

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I didn’t fully dislike this novel. In fact, there were some parts I really did enjoy. However, the novel seemed to drag on and on. Parts like the scenery, the story about the cabin and the people Frankenstein’s monster met, and the letters from the captain to his sister in the beginning bogged down the actual plot of the book, making it hard for me to enjoy the story.

4. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I’m not sure how this ever became a children’s classic because this is one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. I could deal with the talking White Rabbit, the Unbirthday celebration, and even the Cheshire Cat. However, I found the potions and cakes that sometimes shrunk Alice or made her nine feet tall, the baby who turned into a pig, and the playing card soldiers just a little too strange for my taste.

3. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver’s Travels is a book I read last year for school and, boy, was I glad when it was finished! I really disliked Gulliver. At one point, I was actually hoping he might get squished. Because the book was supposed to be a travelogue, the descriptions of the people Gulliver met and the lands he visited were incredibly detailed and long. Also, there was a ton of bathroom humor/references in the novel, and that just made the book even worse.

2. 1984 by George Orwell

I love the dystopian genre, so I was excited to read the most famous and classic of all dystopian novels. What a disappointment! I found it boring. I couldn’t get interested in the long descriptions of the world in which Winston lived. I also didn’t care about Winston. Not a bit. It went from boring to unreadable when Winston got involved with Julia. I eventually just put the book down. It’s strange because I really enjoyed reading Animal Farm and some of Orwell’s essays, but I couldn’t get through 1984.

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

This title strikes fear into my heart. I tried to love the book, and then I tried to like the book, and then I just tried to get through it. I failed. I was bored stiff from the insane amount of detail about the story of Nantucket, whale hunting, and even an entire sermon on Jonah. I later learned that when the novel was first published, no one liked it. I agree with the original readers and place it at the top of my dislike list.

Have you read any of these novels on my list, and if so, what did you think of them? What are your least favorite classic novels?

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

What I’ve Read This Month

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to read more, and I’ve set myself the goal of four books a month. I’m trying to read different genres, fiction and non-fiction, and even from different age groups. Well, I did indeed read four books (actually five!) in January and today, I thought I’d go ahead and share them. Let’s get started!

Books I Read This Month:

The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh

This is a short book, meant for a younger audience, but I was curious about it because of the sci-fi story line. It’s a story of one of the last families to leave Earth because of the dying sun. Each of the children can only bring one book, and one of them brings a green book, hence the title. They land on this planet, which they call Shine, and learn to survive on it. I found the moth people, the strange wheat, and the shiny grass, a bit odd. Even with some of the strangeness of Shine, the book wasn’t horrible. I just wasn’t thrilled with it.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

This is another younger book I chose mainly because it’s a classic, and I’ve never read it. Karana is from an Indian tribe that lives on an island. When the tribe is forced to leave, her little brother jumps off the ship, and she follows after him. Now that they are stranded on the island, Karana is forced to learn how to survive. I enjoyed this one. It was definitely interesting reading how she survived, fought off the wild dogs, and built a home for herself.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

In England, a group of animals, unhappy with their treatment on a farm, rise up against their owner, take over the farm, and start running it themselves. Animal Farm is a classic novel I read for school. I was pleasantly surprised about how much I enjoyed it! Orwell’s satire on Russia is so brilliant.

Indian Captive by Lois Lenski

I wrote a review on this book last week. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here: https://concerningwriting.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/book-review-indian-captive-by-lois-lenski/

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

I read this one for school. It’s the story of humanity’s war against the Martians who come falling from the sky in cylinders to take over the Earth. The book was certainly entertaining, but the one thing I disliked was the fact that you learned almost nothing about the narrator. It was hard to grow attached to him, and I found myself not really caring about what happened to him. Still, the story was pretty exciting, and it was interesting to see how Wells created such non-human like aliens.

So, those are the books I’ve read this month! Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading? Do you have any book recommendations? Comment below and let me know!

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – Ideas that Inspired

Welcome to January’s Monthly Link Share!

The first link is to a site listing some of the ideas that inspired famous books such as The Hobbit and Animal Farm. It was a short, interesting read and really fascinating to see how these famous authors were inspired.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/the-ideas-that-inspired-the-hobbit-animal-farm-8-other-famous-books

The next link is to an article by George Orwell, author of Animal Farm (which I’m reading for school right now!) and 1984. The article is about how and why he wrote. It was interesting to read about the reasons why Orwell wrote and what experiences in his life led him to become an author.

http://orwell.ru/library/essays/wiw/english/e_wiw

This is a list of the some tricky grammar mistakes. I know I’m guilty of more than a few of them! The blog is written by Gloson, “a kid blogger who lives in Malaysia.” He is a published author of two poetry books!

http://www.glosonblog.com/most-common-grammar-mistakes/

While the following video really has nothing to do with writing, it is very entertaining! Ten2ndRule is a Youtube channel dedicated to making, you guessed it, ten second skits illustrating a point. (If you’re a Wretched fan, you’ll know what I’m talking about! 😉 ) There’s a new one every Friday. These are two of my favorite ones:

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

An Interesting Word – Taradiddle

Now, I’m not telling a taradiddle when I say that this is a strange-sounding, strange-looking word. I found it in a slideshow from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary called “Funny-Sounding and Interesting Words.” Taradiddle certainly fits the bill for “An Interesting Word” post!

Just what IS a taradiddle? No, it’s not a fish or a tropical fruit or a type of weather system. It’s a British term (the Brits get all the awesome words! 😉 ) meaning “a fib” or “pretentious nonsense.” In both cases it’s used as a noun. Its first known use was in a 1796 dictionary. Some have tried to claim it comes from the old English verb “diddle,” meaning to cheat, but no one’s been able to prove that. If someone tells you that they know the true history of the word taradiddle, you can tell them that they’re telling you a taradiddle! 🙂 Authors such as G.K. Chesterton and George Orwell are well-known users of this word.

You can learn more about taradiddle from Merriam-Webster’s word of the day podcast:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/2013/01/14/

~ Kayla