Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Status: Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven L. Layne

Sunday Status is a look at my current read. I share one line from the page I'm currently reading and what I'm thinking about the book so far.

Igniting a Passion for Reading 
Steven L. Layne
Scholastic, Inc., 2009
Source:  Scholastic Book Fairs


"In other words, don't just assume that because kids can read, they will read.  The skill and the will are two very different things; we need to acknowledge that fact, and then we need to teach as if we understand that fact to be true (66)." 

I always like to start out my summer with a professional development read.  I also like it to be somewhat of an easy read as it is my summer and I'd rather not be wading through data and graphs and numbers and numbers and blah, blah, blah.  This is not one of those difficult reads, but a nice and easy read with lots of inspiring ideas.

Layne's number one goal here is to get teachers to understand that we have to find ways to get kids to want to read, and the same thing won't work for every kid.  He advocates for read-alouds, choice, time to read, goals, and much more.  I just finished the chapter on read-alouds and have been convinced that I should find a way to incorporate this into my 48 minute periods.  I'll figure it out and make it work--even if I have to only read one or two days a week.  

This book speaks to me because this has been my goal since I started teaching 6th Grade Literature.  I've been teaching for six years, but my first three years gave me a modge podge of courses to teach and I never felt like I quite owned them.  Now I've had a chance to mold my class into one I feel like I can be proud of.  I'll be trying to incorporate a few of his ideas into my classroom next year because the teacher who doesn't grow has little hope in inspiring her students to grow.

May In Review

This month's reviews:

        
                 



May Goals:
  • Post 3 times a week (non-reviews)  4/4
  • Post 5 Reviews  5/5

I would say that I did pretty well on this front.  This past week I had at least one post a day, plus three book reviews.  Two book reviews were simply pushed back because it was the last week of school and I couldn't get to them until this week.

I also joined a weekly Feature and Follow that I'll be participating in on many Fridays.  I had to take a break last week due to many obligations and being completely run down.  But I'll be back for awhile.

I also wrote a series about Summer Reading Suggestions for Middle Schoolers.  It's a great list of books for kids to read.  There are a lot of different options for kids too.

I feel a little better this month since I decided not to stick with weekly ideas.  I'll still use these now and then, but I won't feel like I'm stuck because I have to stay within this theme that I chose.  

Check in tomorrow for June Goals!



Saturday, May 30, 2015

Introducing....My new Facebook Page

I finally started a Facebook page for my blog.  If you're more prone to check things on Facebook, then consider liking me and following me there! You can click the like button at the bottom of this post, or click the links to the right to find my page on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+.

See you there!




Friday, May 29, 2015

Summer Reading Suggestions for Middle Schoolers Part V

As a 6th grade Language Arts teacher, I am always trying to give my students new suggestions on really good books to read.  At the end of the school year, I provide them with a list of Recommended Summer Reading. I'm sharing that list with you! Please keep in mind that I attempt to keep the list as clean as possible and I also try to stay away from really popular titles in hopes that you might discover little diamonds waiting for you!


Today's post is our final post in this series. If you're still searching for a good book, then check out some of these great authors!  



Mike Lupica has a lot of well-written sports novels.  A newspaper columnist, Mr. Lupica has been writing sports commentary for years.  He has appeared on ESPN and writes for the Daily News.  In addition to his nonfiction books, he began writing young adult fiction with Travel Team and added a few more to the list.

Suzanne Collins is well known for her recent Hunger Games trilogy, but before Hunger Games there was The Underland Chronicles.  Check them out!

Judy Blume is always hilarious with Freckle Juice, Blubber, Fudge, and so many more!  She also some older books geared towards issues girls might face in high school.

Patricia Reilly Giff has so many books about kids from all different walks of life. For example, Nory Ryan’s Song is a historical fiction and then Pictures of Hollis Woods is about an orphan who remembers her past foster homes. 


Still looking?  There book lists everywhere!  Here are two sources to check out.


Junior Library Guild lists
Lists of books at different levels, for different topics, put out by different organizations.

International Literacy Association
There are links to three different lists here: Children’s Choices, Teachers’ Choices, Young Adults’ Choices.



Check out Part I, Part II, Part III, or Part IV if you missed them!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feature and Follow: TBR lists


Feature and Follow:
F&F is a weekly blog hop that consists of book bloggers. It is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. The rules of involvement are simple:

1.) Link up on the blog hop at Alison Can Read or Parajunkee, 2.) follow the hosts via their network of choice, 3.) follow the weekly featured blog(s) via their network of choice (listed as "featured" in the blog list below), and lastly, 4) check out the rest of the blogs on the hop! If you become a new follower of a blog, let them know and they will follow you back.

The F&F is a great way to network, meet other book bloggers, and gain new followers. Even more so, it's a great way to drive fun discussion on a weekly topic.

You can follow me via the options to the right!

This week's topic: How many books do you have in your TBR list?

I just went and checked my Goodreads lists.  Technically I have 180, but that's just the books I've managed to enter.  There are more tucked into corners in this house or in my classroom library that should also be added to that list.  I also have a short list of books to read currently.  My summer TBR list has 53 books in it.  Yikes!

How about you?  Is your list manageable?  

Book Review: Sharp Objects--I'm still creeped out

Sharp Objects
Gillian Flynn
Shaye Areheart Books
Source: bought
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Camille is fresh out of a psychiatric hospital when her editor wants to send her back to her hometown to cover the disappearance of a little girl and the death of another one.  Despite her misgivings and reluctance to return, she does it, knowing this could be her big break.  Camille quickly finds herself pulled back into the crazy that is her family and the town in which she grew up. In order to get the story, she allows herself to sink into this unsolved mystery, and the further she’s pulled along in the search for the murderer, the more Camille learns about her town, her family, and herself.  The question is, will she be able to do this and keep herself together.


Warning:  There are some spoilers here, but I do not give away any major twists or the ending.  


Camille’s character is interesting, but not as intelligent as Flynn's Nick and Amy from Gone Girl. So don't go in expecting the same type of characters as before, or even the same level of writing.  I found it important to remember that this was her first novel and she has grown from here to what we saw in Gone Girl. So if you’re reading Sharp Objects after Gone Girl, like I did, just remind yourself of this.


From the beginning you can tell Camille is anxious about seeing her mother, especially since her boss expects her to stay there instead of getting her a place to stay.  She drives around town when she first gets there, talking to the victim’s family, having a few drinks, checking with the local police, and having a few more drinks before she arrives at her mother’s door.  The way she worries, leads me to think she’s young, just out of college, anxious about displeasing her mother.  But she's in her thirties and whenever her mother is around she seems to be high school again.  They go shopping in one scene and Camille turns into a whiny, stressed out little girl who is trying to keep her excitement over spending time with her mother at bay.  Her mother, Adora, however revels in Camille’s anxiety and stress.  This is how she feels power.  I wish I could have seen more of how Camille acted and spoke before she went back to her hometown to see if this was just her normal.


Another thing that intrigued me was Camille’s obsession with skin. She is particularly focused on her 13 year-old half-sister’s skin and youth.  Amma’s skin is young, and “so smooth and tawny, like warm ice cream (136).”  She notices how “her face so perfect” seems “unfinished (114).”   And when she’s around Amma and her friends, she feels “confronted with that smooth flesh (151).”  This makes sense when we learn that Camille has been cutting herself since she was a teenager, and this is why she was in a psychiatric hospital recently.  Her own skin is covered with the scars of words she has carved all over her body. Flynn lets us feel the pain that Camille associates with all her scars when she says that the words on her skin are screaming (150) and that her skin buzzes.  It’s as if her scars are speaking, whispering their secrets--not just to us, but Camille.  And there are so many secrets!  Camille deals with those secrets not by cutting, she has promised herself not again, but by drinking herself into a daze that numbs her world a little bit, but not quite enough.


Although I guessed the killer pretty much from the beginning, there were a number of twists and turns that gave me a run for my money.  I was intrigued by the mystery and how things kept building and building to this dark, ugly, arrow that pointed to the truth.  Be prepared to be creeped out by all the characters in this book, even the minor characters who have a kind of Stepford feel to them.  The whole town has an eerie covering of sugary sweetness that you’ll find yourself cringing more than you’d like.  

Summer Reading Suggestions for Middle Schoolers Part IV

As a 6th grade Language Arts teacher, I am always trying to give my students new suggestions on really good books to read.  At the end of the school year, I provide them with a list of Recommended Summer Reading. I'm sharing that list with you! Please keep in mind that I attempt to keep the list as clean as possible and I also try to stay away from really popular titles in hopes that you might discover little diamonds waiting for you!


Today's post is Part IV, check back tomorrow for more ideas!


 
Legend, Prodigy, and  Champion (Legend Series #1-3) by Marie Lu – Very popular right now and a great dystopian read.  This is one of the best trilogies out there.  If your kids like Hunger Games or Divergent, then they’ll enjoy Legend even more!







Rules by Cynthia Lord –Catherine’s brother has autism and she has created rules for him to live by that will help him not embarrass her so much.  Now a new neighbor has moved in next door and Catherine is determined to not let her brother ruin everything.








Inkheart by Cornelia Funke –Meg’s father is a master story teller with a gift that releases the characters from the story into real life and traps something from real life in the story.  He’s vowed to never read again, but villains from a story are very insistent.








So B. It by Sarah Weeks—Heidi has lived in an apartment with her mother and Bernie since she was a baby, but hasn't really left before.  Her mother is mentally challenged and Bernie suffers from agoraphobia, but when Heidi finds pictures of her mother's past, she sets out on a journey to find out more about who her mother is, and maybe what her name really was.









The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman—Set in an alternate dimension similar to ours, Lyra is trying to find out who is kidnapping other kids. (If you saw the movie, forget it.  It was terrible. The book is great!)








The Mysterious Benedict Society by Tenton Lee Stewart – A group of children are mysteriously recruited to become part of the Benedict Society and save the world from an unknown evil.




Check out Part IIIIIIIV and V

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer Reading Suggestions for Middle Schoolers Part III

As a 6th grade Language Arts teacher, I am always trying to give my students new suggestions on really good books to read.  At the end of the school year, I provide them with a list of Recommended Summer Reading. I'm sharing that list with you! Please keep in mind that I attempt to keep the list as clean as possible and I also try to stay away from really popular titles in hopes that you might discover little diamonds waiting for you!


Today's post is Part III, check back tomorrow for more ideas!


Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai
In the summer of 2001 during Fadi’s family’s attempt to flee Afghanistan, and escape from Taliban, his little sister, Miriam, is left behind.  Adjusting to a new life in the United States, each of Fadi’s family members, himself included, grapple with the guilt of knowing Miriam may be somewhere alive, but there is no hope of returning to look for her.  When Fadi learns of a photography contest where the prize is a trip to India, he knows that it could be his only chance to get back and find his sister.




Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Miss Moses LeBeau is on a mission to find out who killed someone in her home town, but so is this new detective and she doesn’t trust him one bit! It’s a humorous mystery with many interesting characters.


Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Great historical fiction set during the Holocaust.


Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington 

Sarah’s mother left when she was just two and now her best friend is a plant, that moves with her from place to place.  She knows that next school year she will have to do a Family Tree Project, and she’s not looking forward to exposing her greatest secret. 





Cinder, Scarlett, and Cress  (Lunar Chronicles #1-3) by Marissa Meyer

A spin off of traditional fairy tales, Cinder focuses in a cyborg named Cinder who meets a prince and is invited to a ball, but must stay under the radar or an evil Lunar queen, and avoid her stepmother and stepsister.  Scarlett and Cress bring in Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel themes that interweave with the Cinderella theme.  There are more, but I haven't read them yet.  I also realize that these are very popular, but I couldn't help but put them on here!



Check out Part I , IIIIIIV and V

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

Usually I wait a few days to write my review, allowing the book time to sink in and my thoughts to simmer. I couldn't wait for this one, though! I finished it last night and have spent so much time thinking about it today that I had to start writing about it!

An Ember in the Ashes

by Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill, 2015
Source: bought

I’ll be honest, what got me was the cover.  It’s just beautiful with the glowing letters set against the dark background, and the blowing sand, or possibly ash.  I had never heard of it until I saw it and I shrugged and said why the heck not?  I’m glad I did, because as soon as I bought An Ember in the Ashes I saw it popping up everywhere, persuading me to push it to the top of my TBR pile.  I finished it within a few days.

An Ember in the Ashes is a story told in dual perspectives, which seems to be the fashion these days.  It’s also something that has started to make me cringe a little because in many cases it can go very wrong--not so here.  Sabaa Tahir has done has excellent job of creating two very different voices for her two main characters that are believable, intriguing, and endearing (yes endearing--even for Elias).  Laia is a slave girl who knows she will never live up to her mother’s bravery, but finds herself in a situation that demands it.  Elias, on the other hand, was trained to be brave as a student at Blackcliff.  From the age of six he has been training to be a soldier, and now has been chosen to compete in the Trials for the right to become the next Emperor.  Both Laia and Elias want their freedom, but will either of them be able to stand up to the evil that is in front of them?

There is so much I want to say about this book, but I am so afraid to give too much away!  At times, I was so surprised by what happened that I had to put the book down and walk away while I calmed down.  Of course this made me more anxious, so before long I found myself plunging back into their world.  Part of the intrigue is the pure evil that exists within some of the characters.  I had my own vague ideas of what types of things would happen in the Trials, but I was taken aback by what they included because I never guessed some of these things.  I am definitely ready for another book about this world and have read that we’ll be getting another one in 2016.  I’ll definitely be revisiting An Ember in the Ashes before then!

One thing to know, is that An Ember in the Ashes is very violent.  Elias and Laia live in a world where torture, violence, rape, and death are overlooked by those in charge.  An early scene with Elias, is when the entire school is forced to watch a young deserter be beaten to death.  Laia’s grandparents are murdered in front of her by soldiers who were trained at Blackcliff, and she runs, leaving her brother to be taken to prison and tortured.  If you don’t like to read stories with violence in them, please be aware that this book might not be for you.  It’s essential that you realize that the way of life these characters know, that they are so used to and has been ingrained in them, is a way of life neither of them want and both are desperately trying to escape.

I definitely recommend this book.  It’s not often that I give a book 5 out of 5 stars, but it’s also not often that I get so worked up reading that I have to walk away.  

Summer Reading Suggestions for Middle Schoolers, Part II

As a 6th grade Language Arts teacher, I am always trying to give my students new suggestions on really good books to read.  At the end of the school year, I provide them with a list of Recommended Summer Reading. I'm sharing that list with you! Please keep in mind that I attempt to keep the list as clean as possible and I also try to stay away from really popular titles in hopes that you might discover little diamonds waiting for you!


Today's post is Part II, check back tomorrow for more ideas!




Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan—Historical Fiction 

Esperanza lives a privileged life in Mexico until she and her mother are forced to flee to California during the Great Depression. They settle in a work camp for Mexican immigrants and Esperanza’s life has turned upside down. Esperanza must find a way to change her attitude and learn to accept not only the people who have helped her and her mother, but also her new life. 





Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan—Realistic Fiction 

Willow Chance is a bit different from most of her peers. When her adoptive parents suddenly die in a car accident, it’s up to Willow to make a family out of the strange mix of characters who reach out to help her. This is a beautiful story about a girl who is different from everyone else and what it means to be a family.








I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai—Non-fiction, Memoir  

Malala Yousafzai’s memoir chronicles her life leading up to the Taliban’s attempt to end her fight for girls’ rights to an education. We see how her city was overtaken by Taliban and what it meant for her and her family as they found their lives in danger. The Young Reader’s edition is easy to read and not too violent, considering Malala’s story. 









Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine—Historical Fiction 

It’s 1958 and tensions are high in Little Rock, Arkansas. Marlee is shy and doesn’t speak much, but then she meets Liz, the new girl in school and Marlee has an instant friend. Then the unthinkable happens and Liz is kicked out school when it’s found out that she is not white. Can Marlee find a voice to speak up against what she knows is wrong so she and Liz can be friends?








One Came Home by Amy Timberlake



After her older sister runs away with “pigeoners”, the sheriff returns, with the news that she is dead. Georgie sets off on a journey to prove that it’s not true, following the clues she can find and searching through her memories, trying to assure herself that it wasn’t her fault. Due to the nature of Georgie looking for a sister who is thought to be dead, this is a darker read, but well written and intriguing.








Check out Part I if you missed it!  Part IIIIV and V

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: A Long Walk to Water--Great for Kids

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story
Linda Sue Park
Clarion Books, 2010
Source: borrowed from a friend
Rating: 3 out of 5  stars


Based on the true story of Salva, one of the “lost boys” of the Sudan, A Long Walk to Water walks through the life of Salva in the 80’s and Nya in 2008.  Nya must walk twice a day to gather water for her family.  She does little else.  Salva’s life is torn apart as he escapes his school when soldiers come into town, killing many.  We follow Salva as he travels across deserts, swims across a river filled with crocodiles, and tries to keep hope alive in refugee camps.  The majority of the book is focused on Salva, but we do have frequent breaks of Nya’s perspective.


A Long Walk to Water is a great read for middle schoolers.  Although it is based on a true story, it is not nonfiction, and it would be great for students to read and then conduct research on Salva to find facts that support what happened in the story.  It’s also a short read, making it pretty easy for students who may struggle with reading.  I can see how this book could easily fit in with many different units that are already taught in middle school.


Despite this, I wish there was more to Salva’s story than what I’m given.  I realize that some of the gruesome facts may have been left out since this is for children, but there are huge chunks of time that are simply skipped over.  I also wasn’t a huge fan the Nya storyline.  For most of the book I was wondering why we were following her when this was clearly about Salva.  Although this is cleared up at the end, it just doesn’t feel authentic.


I would say A Long Walk to Water is worth the read, but don’t push it to the top of your TBR list.  

Summer Reading Suggestions for Middle Schoolers Part I

As a 6th grade Language Arts teacher, I am always trying to give my students new suggestions on really good books to read.  At the end of the school year, I provide them with a list of Recommended Summer Reading. I'm sharing that list with you! Please keep in mind that I attempt to keep the list as clean as possible and I also try to stay away from really popular titles in hopes that you might discover little diamonds waiting for you!



Today's post is Part I, check back tomorrow for more ideas!



Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool--Realistic Fiction, Adventure


When Jack’s mother dies, he is forced to move from Kansas to Maine with a father he hasn’t seen in years.  At his new boarding school, Jack meets Early Auden, a strange boy who reads the number pi as a story.  When Jack befriends Early, he has no idea that it will take him on an adventure on the Appalachian Trail in search of the Great Appalachian Bear and truth. 


Star Wars: Jedi Academy  and  Star Wars: Jedi Academy #2 Return of the Padawan  by Jeffery Brown—Science Fiction, Graphic Novel



If you have a Stars Wars fan in your house (and even if you don’t) this will be a favorite. It’s funny, smart, and cute. Jeffery Brown puts a young Roan into Jedi Academy, but he’s a few years behind his peers. Antics ensue! It’s a great summer read. Lots of fun and could be paired with a viewing of some of the original movies!



Al Capone Does My Shirts by  Gennifer Choldenko –Historical Fiction



Moose Flanagan is just your average, baseball loving 12-year-old who happens to live on Alcatraz with his family.   His mother wants to send his older to sister a special school in San Francisco for children with autism, but she is rejected.  Now Moose is in charge of watching his sister in the afternoons.  At the same time, he’s dragged into schemes dreamed up by the warden’s daughter in which Al Capone plays a role.  Will Moose be able to help his family, stay out of trouble, and keep his sister safe?



Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin –Nonfiction


The true story of how robbers planned to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln and demand, as ransom, the release of counterfeiter Benjamin Boyd.  This is a great read.  Sheinkin writes in an easy and interesting style that allows readers to really get pulled into this true story.


I'll have more ideas to keep your middle schooler engaged in reading this summer!



Part II, III, IV and V

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Status: An Ember in the Ashes

Sunday Status is a look at my current read. I share one line from the page I'm currently reading and what I'm thinking about the book so far.

First, let me say that I know I've been absent as of late. The last two weeks of school added with my daughter's birthday made it a little difficult to do much else than get by. So here we are, all caught up and with the summer ahead of us!

An Ember in the Ashes 
by Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill, 2015
Source: Bought 

"'Everyone wants out of here, girl.  I want out. Izzi wants out.  Even the damn students want out (293).'"

Laia is a slave, working for the Resistance in exchange for help in rescuing her brother from Blackcliff.  She must spy on the school's Commandant, which is not an easy feat.  Meawhile we also hear from Elias, the top student at the school who has been pulled into the Trials to see who will become the new Emperor.  He too must survive the Commandant's evilness in order to stay alive during the Trials.

So far this book is great.  I am enjoying the suspense as Laia, who isn't exactly the bravest or sneakiest, or the most cunning.  She is the opposite of what you would expect from a spy, but she's surviving and has not been caught...yet. 

Elias...I don't really care about one way or another really.  I feel like I should want him to win, because he's projected as a good guy.  He wants to be free of the Empire, but will he actually stand up and do anything?  Plus he's got his best friend Helene who is really acting weird lately and he needs to stay on her good side, but really he just needs to suck it up and tell her the truth.  I have hope that Helene is a good person too.


**Also, a note about my last Sunday Status:  I had to abandon the book.  It seems like a good read for a high school student, but it couldn't keep my interest.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Character Spotlight: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor
Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell

I absolutely loved Eleanor when I read this book. I thought she was funny, smart, and quirky. I loved her so much that I worried about her the entire time I was reading this book. In fact, I still worry a little about her and it’s been a few weeks.

Things I really like about Eleanor:

  • She’s smart and sarcastic. Nothing is better than a character who can be funny/sarcastic, and still be smart. You’re not going to find yourself laughing at her because she accidentally says something stupid.
  • She has her own style. I know part of her style comes out of her need to hide the clothes that are falling apart or dirty, but she’s made it her own. She adds different trinkets to her outfits that make her a little more interesting.
  • Despite her life and all the terrible things she’s dealing with, you don’t feel pity for her. Don’t get me wrong, like I said, I worry about still, but do I feel sorry for her? No. I should, yes, and at times that was a part of my feelings towards, but I never felt like she was demanding of pity.


Things I don’t really like about Eleanor:

  • Her self-consciousness. Hey, we’re all self-conscious about something. I’m not exactly the most confident person in the world, but I cared so much about Eleanor, that I wanted her to be more confident. It does happen slowly, but I wanted it for her.
  • I hate that she didn’t open up to Park sooner. I wanted her to be more truthful, but I understand why she wasn’t. I get that. And it’s not that i wanted Park to fix it all for her, I just wanted her to confide in someone so they could help her--earlier than she did.


I loved Eleanor & Park--check out my review here to see more details why-- so it’s not that I didn’t like Eleanor. Like I said, I loved her and her flaws really helped make her who she is. Also, now that I’ve written this, I’m realizing that the things I don’t like about her, are the things I don’t exactly like about myself. Hmmmm...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summer Reading List

It's Here! It's Here!





I have finally finished my summer reading list. It's somewhat in order, but only for the first 10-12 books, because let's be honest, I'm a mood reader. I also didn't include a couple of rereads I have planned. Here is the link to my entire Summer 2015 reading list. I'm overwhelmed. Can I make it? I hope so!!!

One more week of school and I'll be able to read during my daughter's nap time and when she goes to bed. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Feature and Follow: Organizing Books--What??

Feature and Follow:
F&F is a weekly blog hop that consists of book bloggers. It is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. The rules of involvement are simple:


1.) Link up on the blog hop at Alison Can Read or Parajunkee, 2.) follow the hosts via their network of choice, 3.) follow the weekly featured blog(s) via their network of choice (listed as "featured" in the blog list below), and lastly, 4) check out the rest of the blogs on the hop! If you become a new follower of a blog, let them know and they will follow you back.

The F&F is a great way to network, meet other book bloggers, and gain new followers. Even more so, it's a great way to drive fun discussion on a weekly topic.

You can follow me via the options to the right!

This week's topic: How do you organize your books? Either at home on your bookshelves or on your reading-device, or on your bookish platform like Goodreads,Leafmarks orBooklikes. 


I'm going to talk about the different places I have organized books.

First, my library at home is not at all organized. We have three different bookcases where we keep books. Two of them are mine and one is my husbands. I have one of them with my most favorite books--a lot of those ones I read growing up. The other has all the other books, whether I've read them yet or not.

Most of the books I read/own are in my classroom at school. I share my books with my students--especially if they're good! At school, I don't even attempt any organization, except that the books are neatly placed on the shelves. 130 kids come in and out of my room each day and having much more of an organizational scheme is just impossible for me.

On Goodreads, I organize my TBR piles by time of the year. For example I have a summer 2015 list for all the books I want to read. If I don't get to it during the summer, I'll move it to my Fall list. When I'm finished reading them, I assign them to a genre as well. 

I'm not too big on organizing, but I am looking forward to organizing my summer 2015 list! 

I'm jealous of those of you who have immaculate and beautiful bookshelves! How do you organize?

Let me know if you're a new follower in the comments and I'll follow back!  Check out some of the other blogs on Feature & Follow.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

TBR: May 14, 2015





I haven't updated my TBR lately, so here are a few books I've added in the past couple of weeks:





I've never read any Sarah Dessen before, and I found one of her books at a book bazaar recently so I thought I would give it a try.  I'm hoping it'll be an enjoyable read!









I have to admit that this was an impulse buy.  I saw it in the book store and the cover jumped out at me enough so that I really wanted to read it.









Finally, I love Mindy Kaling, so why haven't I read this yet?  Good question.  Now's the time!







All the pictures link to the Goodreads page for that book.  Check them out, and maybe add them to your own TBR piles!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Status: Express Yourself by Emily Roberts

Sunday Status is a look at my current read.  I share one line from the page I'm currently reading and what I'm thinking about the book so far.

Express Yourself: A teen girl's guide to speaking up and being who you are
by Emily Roberts, MA, LPC
Publisher: New Harbinger Instant Help Books
Source: ARC--received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


"Mindfulness means deliberately paying attention to whatever you are doing, right now (22)."

I requested this book because we are looking for some books to read next year for our girls' group book club.  We're looking for books that either address positive social interactions, dealing with tough girl stuff, or have examples of great female role models.  I saw this one and thought it might be good.

So far, I'm not very far into it, but I like that this is written by a psychologist and already has started addressed the biological factors that teen girls face, with hormones that going crazy and how that affects them from day to day.  I like how it is factual and it speaks to girls on their level, not down to them.  Granted, I am an adult, but I don't think that my students would read this as an adult giving them advice, but as a peer.

On that note, it is a little old for my middle schoolers.  So far, I think our eighth graders would get more out of it, but not our younger ones.  This book will be published June 1, 2015.

Check out the publisher's website information on the book here.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Book Review: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: bought
Rating: 5/5 stars


When I first started reading, I wasn't sure I would like Eleanor & Park.  I'm not necessarily a huge romance fan.  I used to be when I was in middle school and high school and refused to read much else.  Often when I read YA romances as an adult I read it and think along the lines of the teenage me. As an adult I want to roll my eyes at the pining and giggling and sunsets and all that stuff, but the teenage me would have been all over it.  I have to say that I never felt the urge to roll my eyes at anything in this book and I found that I wasn't just reading it for the teenage version of me, but for the adult version.  Rainbow Rowell has written a love story that can transcend age barriers, even though it's focused on high schoolers.

Take two teenage misfits, put them on a bus full of high school mean kids, and make them sit next to one another. Eventually they'll become friends.  Eventually they'll become more than friends.  This is the story of Eleanor and Park.  Eleanor has just moved back in with her mom, her brothers and sister, and her step dad who hates her.  She just wants to disappear, and then Park notices her.  Park's family is the opposite of Eleanor's, with two parents completely in love.  Even though he feels like a disappointment to his dad, and he is nothing like his classmates, Park has a safe place.  When he sees Eleanor, he dislikes her at first, but something about her pulls him towards her.

The dual perspective was done extremely well, keeping me equally intrigued by both characters.  Eleanor's voice comes across so strong, yet quiet at the same time as she tries to disappear when she's at home.  For Eleanor, I wanted her to be all right and I needed to know when she would truly be safe.  For Park, I wasn't so much worried for him, as I was interested in his relationship with his mother and father.

I loved the pop culture references that were woven throughout.  The story is set in the 80's and although the story isn't stuck there and inaccessible to teenagers, it definintely lives there with the Walkmans and punk music, Star Wars references, Watchman comics, and clothing choices.  I loved these little bits!

In its way, this romance is sweet and innocent, with Eleanor & Park experiencing their first real loves, but it's also not for the younger reader.  Even though there is no sex in the novel, there are some heavy make out scenes and a lot thinking about sex and touching.  It's painted as something beautiful and wonderful because they care about one another so much and at no time did I consider it gratuitous or distasteful.  I never even rolled my eyes at it for being cheesy.  Also, there is a lot of language in this novel, so be aware of that if you are considering this for a younger reader.

If you have any interest in romances, or even if you don't because they just make you roll your eyes, then I suggest giving this one a try.  Eleanor & Park will pull you in and make you want to follow both characters forever.  You'll feel like Park when he realizes how much he loves Eleanor, ready to follow her across the sky.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Feature and Follow: What to read next?

Feature and Follow:

F&F is a weekly blog hop that consists of book bloggers. It is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. The rules of involvement are simple:

1.) Link up on the blog hop Linky gadget below this post, 2.) follow the hosts via their network of choice, 3.) follow the weekly featured blog(s) via their network of choice (listed as "featured" in the blog list below), and lastly, 4) check out the rest of the blogs on the hop! If you become a new follower of a blog, let them know and they will follow you back.


The F&F is a great way to network, meet other book bloggers, and gain new followers. Even more so, it's a great way to drive fun discussion on a weekly topic.

You can follow me via the options to the right!

This week's topic: How do you decide what books to read?

I look for interesting descriptions.  And the covers shouldn't be too cheesy.  I also try to vary my books and instead of just devouring all the books I'm dying to read, I also make myself read something that I might like before I can read the one I really want to read.  

Let me know if you're a new follower in the comments and I'll follow back!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Top Six Mother Figures in Literature

I have been thinking about some of my favorite mother figures in literature.  The mother figures who help the main characters as they work through problems, encourage them to grow, protect them from evil, but step back and let them become who they're meant to be.  So I decided to write a post in honors of Mother's Day this weekend.

In no particular order:

1. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza's mom helps guide her through losing her home and becoming a immigrant to a
new country.  Esperanza grew up with everything she could ever think of, but when her father is murdered, she and her mother must flee to America with only the things they can carry and the help of their former servants.  She struggles with this change and accepting that they will never be able to return, but her mother is kind when she needs to be, and stern and demanding when Esperanza needs it.  No matter what, her mother stands by her and shows her how much she continues to love her.



2. So B. It by Sarah Weeks

Heidi It lives with her mother in an apartment, but her mother, as long as she could remember, has
always been mentally handicapped.  Their neighbor, in a connecting apartment takes care of both Heidi and her mother.  Bernie, an agoraphobic, does not leave her apartment and has managed to help Heidi and her mother since she discovered them when Heidi was just a baby.  She keeps them safe, helps keep them fed, and when Heidi must go out and discover her mother's past, Bernie steels herself against her fears and supports her.  Although there are many things that Bernie could have done differently, she loves Heidi with all her heart and has not only been a mother to her, but to Heidi's mother as well.



3. Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Willow Chance loses her adoptive parents right at the beginning of this book.  She creates her own family as she figures out how things are going to work for her now.  Through many twists and turns Willow ends up befriending Mai Nguyen, who is a kind of mother figure to her, taking her to her house, making sure Willow is okay.  Mai's mother also fights for Willow, staying one step ahead of Social Services and making sure that Willow finds a home.



4. Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montegomery

One does not expect Marilla Cuthbert to be a great mother when first meeting her.  Our first experience of her is that she's upset that Anne isn't a boy and she's going to take her back because of the mix-up.  But then she doesn't because already she's protective over Anne and won't let her go to some woman who will just use her as a helping hand.  Although Anne tries Marilla's nerves, we see Marilla loosen up and soften as she lets Anne into her life.  She celebrates Anne when she gets the highest grades and saves Diana's baby sister.  But she also supports her when Anne accidentally gets Diana's drunk, standing by her and helping her try to make amends.

5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Like all parents, Isabel Pullman wants her son, August, to be safe and feel loved.  August was born with severe facial differences and looks very different from others.  Isabel knows how cruel kids can be, and she wants to keep him safe from the stares and words that could tear at him.  She also knows that she has to let him go, allow him to grow and always be there.  Isabel isn't perfect.  We see her struggle in her relationship with her daughter, Via, but we also see how hard she tries and how much she wants to jump in and take it all away, but holds back as much as she can.

6. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (spoilers--sorry!)

Okay, so Harry Potter has three mother figures in his life, which is maybe cheating, but who cares! First, is Mrs. Weasley, which seems obvious.  She dotes on Harry and makes everyone feel at home.  Harry feels like a part of their family when he is with the Weasleys and Molly Weasley is a big part of that.  She protects her children with everything she has and her shining moment is in the final book during her battle with Bellatrix.

Next is Professor McGonagall.  Not only is the head of the Griffyndor house, but she is the professor Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to when they need help.  She is strict and has high standards for her students, but she cares deeply for them all and will defend them until she can no longer.  

Finally, Hermione acts as a mother figure to Harry.  She holds Harry to a high standard and acts almost as a conscious for the trio. She is the voice of reasoning and even when Ron leaves in the last book, she sticks by Harry because she believes in him and will always, always support him.  It doesn't matter that her heart is breaking from Ron's leaving.

Happy Mother's Day Everyone!!

Who are some other literary mothers that you like?