All sorts of bookish adventures!

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Tonight’s the night! Season 5 of Mad Men premieres on AMC at 9:00! Two hours!

While I haven’t had to wait as long as other fans (I only just started watching seasons 1-4 in November), I am still very excited to see what’s happening to my favorite characters!

So, today I will be gearing up for the premiere by watching some of my favorite episodes from the past seasons (all previous seasons are streaming on Netflix). These favorite episodes include:

-Warning: Don’t Click on These if You Haven’t Watched the Show–Synopses Contain Spoilers!-

“A Night to Remember” Season 2: Episode 8

“Six-Month Leave” Season 2: Episode 9

“Meditations in an Emergency” Season 2: Episode 13

“Out of Town”: Season 3: Episode 1

“My Old Kentucky Home”: Season 3: Episode 3

“The Grown-Ups”: Season 3: Episode 12

“Shut the Door. Have a Seat.” Season 3: Episode 13

And most, if not all, of Season 4 (definitely my all-time favorite episode “The Suitcase” and the finale).

Other Mad Men Links That Have Me All Worked Up!

While watching the last two episodes of The Walking Dead (also on AMC), I loved these Mad Men trailers that link up my two favorite shows! Check ’em out!

and my personal favorite

“and drinks like Hershel used to…” my favorite line!

Book Riot has posted a couple of bookish posts on Mad Men. First, there’s “Recommended Books for the Characters of MAD MEN”. Then, there’s also “Nonfiction for the Life and Times of MAD MEN“.

There’s a lot of reading being done on Mad Men. Flavorwire has compiled “The Definitive ‘Mad Men’ Reading List” for any fans who want to read along. Also, they’ve pulled together a 1966 playlist to act as soundtrack for this season. Check it out!

Then, for those of us planning to really celebrate the return of Mad Men, there’s tips and recipes for throwing a Mad Men premiere party. I think I might try out Joanie’s famous Ginger Snap and Roger Sterling’s Party Nuts!

Can you tell how excited I am? So excited! Just wait until you see how excited I am for the premiere of Game of ThronesI’m gonna be nuts!


The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

This opening line is as resonating to me, as imprinted on my brain, as “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a fortune, must be in want of a wife.”–the opening line of Pride and Prejudice.

Dark Tower 4.5And so it begins, again. I am terribly excited to announce that I am once again reading The Gunslinger by Stephen King. I am reading it in anticipation of The Wind through the Keyhole, or book 4.5 (new!) of the Dark Tower series.

I am eager to return to Midworld, to see Roland and the rest of the ka-tet back together. As quoted in one of my posts (the one connecting 11/22/63 to the Dark Tower series), “in the Stephen King universe, the Dark Tower series is the axle around which his myriad fictional realities rotate,” (Vincent, The Road to the Dark Tower , 195-196). Thus, I am not just returning to Midworld, but am returning to the core of the Stephen King universe, the base of all existences in Stephen King’s writings. The Dark Tower series is the bible for Stephen King readers and is terribly important if one wants to truly understand Stephen King’s writings on a deeper level.

I am listening to the audiobook of this so that I can continue in my hyped-up reading of Bleak House(I just have 200 pages more to read by Monday to catch up!), so I’m enjoying Roland’s story on the way to work, when I wash dishes, shower, etc. It’s a new experience, and I am soaking up George Guidall’s narration.

I am also reading this as the beginning of my participation in Leighanne’s Lit’s The Dark Tower Reading Challenge. For those of you who haven’t signed up for this, you should! There is a prize involved for participants who successfully complete the series–I am offering the first three books in the graphic novel series of The Dark Tower, all brand new and wrapped in plastic! These are really awesome graphic novels that tell of Roland’s earlier years as a young gunslinger, the story that is referenced but never shown in the novels. So, sign up people, it’s an amazing series!

This is also a good time to announce that I will be taking part in The Stephen King Project, the Stephen King Projecthosted by Coffee and a Book Chick and Boarding In My Forties. I will commit to the big one, the fire, the aaaaaaaa-bomb (reference to Trashcan Man from The Stand, if you don’t know), A King for All Seasons, which is 12 books. With all of the books in the Dark Tower series, plus the new one, plus the graphic novels, plus all the books I’ll read for the R.I.P. challenge in the Fall, this should be no problem!

So, until next time, long days and pleasant nights!


The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King’s Magnum Opus by Bev Vincent

As many of you probably already know, I’m an English teacher. And being an English teacher, I have to read a lot of student writing. One tool that teachers use to evaluate writing is a rubric. Rubrics are used to help communicate expectations to writers and also help the evaluator put their feelings on a written piece into understandable points (rather than, “meh, this feels like a C to me”).

So, being that I understand how useful a rubric is in organizing my analysis of a written work and in conveying my evaluation, I have decided to create a rubric for assessing the fiction that I read. It is called The Adventures in Borkdom Book Review Rubric! It takes into account the story’s use of plot, characterization, themes, style, originality, addictiveness, re-readability, and threshold quality (how much the story makes me want to read more of the genre, author, series, or other texts related to the reviewed book). I also include two rows for other qualities that stand out for the reviewed piece of fiction. Check out the rubric here: Adventures in Borkdom Book Review Rubric

Hopefully, this will make my assessments of reviewed books more clear and help readers better determine if they would be interested in reading the book. Enjoy!

Sunday Salon

I return to work this week, dragging my feet, and so my life goes back into hectic mode as I will try to balance all the important parts of my life. Shifting gears between delivering a quality education to underprivileged teens, to sweaty boxing and Muay Thai workouts, to daily blogging, to spending attentive time with my husband and friends will require some real strategy. Plus, don’t forget reading and gaming and cooking and cleaning and correspondence with my long-distance family. There’s a lot to be done! But, I’ll put my game face on and try to not have a total meltdown!

So, here’s what’s been and will be on my table:

A Dickens of a Time: I am totally engrossed in Dickens! I’ve been continuing in my reading of Bleak House (my goal is 250 pages per week) and absolutely loving it. This week, I wrote about Dicken’s masterful use of characterization in Bleak House with lots of examples showing how he uses characterization as a tool to accomplish other literary goals.

Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin

I also snagged a copy of Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin at one of the San Diego libraries. This book has been in high demand as it was only just published in October, and I was thrilled when I saw it was available on Tuesday afternoon at a library 20 minutes away in Carmel Valley. I fought traffic to get there and grabbed it from the New shelf before anyone else saw it. So far, it is very good, which is surprising for me as I usually detest biographies. But, I’m reading it in hopes of understanding his opinions on philanthropy (my Tuesday Dickens post will be on Dickens and philanthropy). So, between this book and Bleak House, I am having a very Dickens week!

Chuckles: I had some chuckles last night as I watched two very amusing videos with my husband in a cozy evening at home. We watched

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

killer klowns from outer spaceKiller Klowns from Outer Space~ his pick! It was his turn to pick as I forced him to watch the last two episodes of Downton Abbey season 1 last week (he doesn’t usually go in for period pieces), and I have to say that I loved this terrible “horror” movie from 1987. Now, I have to admit that I love really bad movies (see my discussion on bad movies here) and this one was right up my alley with bad music, bad acting, and terrible writing. Plus, it starred one of the two girls from Weird Science (the blonde one), and that’s one of my all-time favorite ’80s movies. There was also an actor who just cracked me up with his melodramatic reactions to everything and his soap opera style (he kind of reminded me of Dean Winchester from Supernatural, whom I didn’t realize had such a soap opera style of acting too. But, I love precious Dean!). So, as always, my husband chose well in the movie category.

He also introduced me to a YouTube video of Tebowie, Jimmy Fallon performing as a hybrid of Tim Tebow and David Bowie on his Late Night show. It was hilarious as he performed his own version of Space Oddity with new lyrics- “Ground control to Jesus Christ…”. I highly recommend it to all of you who are watching playoffs today.

A Return to Lectures and Research? I’m thinking that I want to go back to school and finish my MA in English Literature at SDSU. I started the graduate program in 2006, and then, after one semester, I switched over to the credential program in hopes that I could finish my MA while earning money as an English teacher. Now, it’s six years later, and my one semester is still hanging in limbo. I’ve put it off, thinking that I couldn’t handle it on top of my ever-precarious position at these schools where I always get laid off in the Spring. But, look at all of the difficult reading I have been doing, for fun! I think I could handle it, and am thinking even of taking an Open University course this semester, or at least in the Fall. Then, though, begins my debate on what my focus will be–British Lit. or American Lit.. I’ve always thought British Literature was my thing, and it is, but I wrote a really extensive annotated bibliography on The Grapes of Wrath and the Dust Bowl that my professor wanted me to publish, so that makes me lean towards an American Literature thesis. Well, one thing at a time, I guess.

On My Doorstep:The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

I went ahead and purchased all of the remaining bookish items from my Christmas wish list with an Amazon gift card. So, midweek, I added the Oxford World Classics copy of The Forsyte Saga to my TBR shelf. This completes my collection for all of my reading challenges–I now own all of the books that I am setting out to read this year!

I also bought the 2011 Jane Eyre movie! I loved this movie when I saw it in the theater, and I already loved Mr.Rochester (my top book crush, as he pushed Mr. Darcy to number 2), but Michael Fassbender really made me swoon as he played Rochester. He’s now my number one hottie actor as well! Highly recommend this movie to fans of Jane Eyre and period piece movies in general.

Downton Abbey Tonight! Downton Abbey Season 2

I was very pleased with last week’s two hour premiere, so I’m looking forward to tonight’s episode. Mathew’s engaged, Mary is flirting with disaster with tabloid publisher Sir Richard Carlisle (played brilliantly by Iain Glen, whom I love from the Wives and Daughters miniseries and as Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones), and yet again, we’ve lost Mr. Bates to his past. So much drama, and Maggie Smith continues to steal the show as the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Love this show!

Howard's End by E.M. ForsterFor those of you looking for books similar to Downton Abbey, check out Dana Huff’s list of books at Much Madness is Divinest Sense, as well as this article at The New York Times. As mentioned earlier, I, like Dana, will be reading The Forsyte Saga this year, and am also planning on reading Howard’s End by E.M. Forster.

Upcoming Posts:

Monday: Review of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Tuesday: Two posts! My Top Ten List of Classic Novels (as requested by Ankit the Reviewer)

and an analysis on Charles Dickens’ views on philanthropy

Thursday: Review of Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin (? if I finish in time)

Have a good week!

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply…

~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

On Friday, my sister Erika and I got together to kick off Veteran’s Day weekend. We haven’t spent a day together in a long time, so it was long overdue. We’re both very busy with teaching (I work as an English teacher, she works as a Special Education teacher) and we’re both newlyweds, so we sort of lose track of each other. It’s rather sad that we were in better contact before she moved down to San Diego. Now she lives in the same neighborhood, and we’re lucky if we see each other once a month!

Erika came over early, around 8:00 in the morning, and we both grabbed a cup of coffee and sat on the couch and gabbed. As always, we shared stories from work, married life, and then moved on to the more emotional topic: family.

We are planning our trip up to Sacramento for Christmas, and it might be kind of awkward as I haven’t spoken to my dad in a few months. Make that six months. He doesn’t call me and I don’t call him. This happens every year and then we see each other at Christmas, catch up on each other’s life (well, my life), and act like there’s nothing wrong. I am sick of this sham.

I’m not even sure I want to see him. Maybe I’ll just spend the whole time at my mom’s house. But, that’ s just silliness, I know–what I need to do is be a grown-up, put my big girl pants on, and talk to him about our fractured relationship. Something’s got to change. It’s been weighing on me, not just for months, but for years, not speaking to Dad.

Erika nodded her head knowingly when I explained this to her:

Me: Have you ever noticed that when we’re fighting with Mom or each other or haven’t talked to Dad in a while, that even if we get on with life, it’s always there. Always in the background of our life. It’s like, being so close as a unit growing up, we developed into this one being–each of us is a part of a whole. When one piece is missing, we don’t feel whole anymore. I’m not 100% without you guys in my life. It’s always been that way.

Well, things almost got sobby there, so, after that discussion, we decided we were hungry and wanted to check out some used book stores. Erika was looking for a copy of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. I advised her against Rosemary’s Baby as the book is exactly the same as the movie. Waste of time if you’ve already seen the movie! Unfortunately, neither used bookstore we visited had a copy of either. So, we returned home after lunch.

We still had lots of time to enjoy each other’s company, so we decided to talk a walk down to a local independent bookstore, The Grove, to see if I could find myself a journal. It was a 20-minute walk, and though we started off chilly, by the time we arrived at the store we were both sweating. I was wearing boots with ill-fitting socks and could feel little blisters forming on the balls of my feet.

However, I was revived as soon as we entered the shop. I was delighted to find so many wonderful bookish items to add to my Christmas wish list! They had some lovely candles that were inspired by classic authors–Whitman is scented of grass, Poe is scented with absinthe, Austen with tuberose. I loved them! If you’re looking for a bookish gift like this, click the above picture for a link to the Paddywax Library Candles website. I also found a 5-year journal called Jane-a-Day, where each page has 5 short entry spaces for the writer to record a sentence or two about the day, each page accompanied by a Jane Austen quote. The idea is that you go through the book once every year until at five years you have an entry filled in each space, having chronicled every day for five years. Very cool! I ended up buying a small journal for recording blog ideas and a copy of Olive Kitteridge to read for the Award-Winning Challenge (it’s a Pullitzer winner).

We walked back home. My feet were killing me and Erika was wishing she hadn’t brought a heavy coat. Despite my discomfort, Erika told me a few things that gave me a thrill. First, she told me that my blog has inspired her to read again (she’s been in a dry spell for a while); that I have made reading sound so pleasurable. The best compliment ever! Also, she confided that she and her husband are considering writing their own blog as well. So, I gave her some ideas, and once we got home, I shared some of my favorite blogs of varying types with her. It sounds like she is deciding between a photography blog, a movie blog, a music blog, or an all-of-the-above blog. I’m very excited for them and hope they pursue this!

Shortly after our return, she went to her own home, and I felt wonderfully giddy. I greeted my husband with a warm smile when he got home from work, happily volunteered to pick up some take-out for dinner, and simply felt content for the rest of the evening.

I am so lucky to have my sister. I’m only a fraction without her and I can’t wait until our next get-together so I can fill myself up all over again!

Erika won't let me post a new picture. Boo.

Today, I took myself out on an Artist Date! An Artist Date is when you spend an hour or so, on your own, doing something that you love or that might inspire creativity in you. It’s part of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way program, in which I am nearing the end of my third week. I will go into more details about that on a future date, but if you’re interested in the program, click the above link.

So, this week’s Date was a visit to my favorite indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy! This bookstore specializes in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal Romance, and Horror. It also has an awesome collection of Young Adult novels as well as a decent selection of graphic novels. I love this place!

I browsed for awhile, admiring their fun book-related gifts and novelties. Next, I discovered that there is a new release of some of Ray Bradbury’s stories called A Pleasure to Burn.  Apparently, this is a collection of short stories that Bradbury wrote pre-Fahrenheit 451 that relate to the themes in his classic novel. I coveted this book, but I had barely gotten there, so I moved on.

I browsed the George R.R. Martin area, looking for one of his anthologies, but instead had a happy accident! I found some PR foldout posters for the Game of Thrones HBO series (of which I am a big fan). According to the very helpful gentleman who works at the store, these were free, so I grabbed two–one for me and one for my Game of Thrones buddy!

After a lot of browsing, I settled on two paperbacks–the newly released Pay Me in Flesh by K.Bennett (pseudonym for James Scott Bell, author of the best book on writing–Plot & Structure) and Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris. I’m very excited because                                                                                                                                        A. I’ve never read any of Bell’s fiction and I love zombie fiction!                              B. I love Charlaine Harris’s writing style and can’t wait to meet one of her other characters!                                                                                                                             C. I am addicted to buying books and I am still riding high on the rush!

I was also pleased to find a card for my friend who loves cats–it’s some sort of fairy-cat with a dragon on the card! Love it! Overall, it was a great Artist Date and I highly recommend anyone who lives in Southern California to visit one of their stores in San Diego or Redondo Beach. If not, they sell books online as well. Visit them at!