Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lots of books read

I haven't been very good about blogging. I know...shocker. But I have gotten a lot of reading done. =)

Here what I've read in list form:

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Paper, Scissors, Death
The Black Circle by Patrick Carmen (39 Clues)
Tales from the Hood by Michael Buckley (Sisters Grimm)
The Ever After War by Michael Buckley (Sisters Grimm)
Nightmare at the Book Fair by Dan Gutman
The New Policeman by Kat Thompson
Real Pirates: The untold story of the Whydah from slave ship to pirate ship by Barry Clifford
The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket
Courage by Bernard Waber
Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski
The Great Texas Hamster Drive by Eric Kimmel
The Perfect Next by Catherine Friend
The Gentleman Outlaw and Me by Mary Downing Hahn

Sooo...summaries now. The Lost Symbol is another good Dan Brown novel. I don't think quite as gripping as Angels and Demons or DaVinci Code, but still good. Paper, Scissors, Death is a scrapbooking mystery that was just a fun light-hearted read. Despite the whole "death" part of it. The Black Circle brought the 39 Clues closer to its interesting conclusion. I actually had to remind myself what this one is about after reading it weeks ago. So it wasn't terribly memorable to me. The Sisters Grimm books were good, but for some reason I really thought that #7 was the last one. So I was slightly disappointed when I realized there is at least one more book in the series.

Nightmare at the Book Fair is not the best book Gutman has ever written. An attempt to cover multiple genres, it doesn't have good exposition or flow to the story...you can't when your main character is time jumping through every genre ever created. However, I might recommend it to my students as we are studying genre right now.

The New Policeman was bizarre. I think I was expecting a serious book and plenty of the parts of the book were along those lines. However parts of it had quirky details...want to know where all the lost socks in the world go?? The book was also clearly written for Irish audiences and there was plenty of lingo in it that I didn't get. Of course, I didn't realize until the end of the book that there was a glossary at the end. I'm not quite sure if students will be able to follow this book well.

I might have already mentioned Real Pirates and the Composer is Dead. I did get those this summer. The Real Pirates book was perfect for my students about the pirate ship exhibit I saw this summer in Chicago. The exhibit was fabulous and fascinating. And this book brings all of that to the kids. The Composer is Dead is, frankly, a disappointment. I expected wit and a dark sense of humor, but this book is just weird, doesn't explain symphonies well and delivers a poor message. If you don't play music well, you are murdering it. (So give up all you kids learning to play instruments.)

Courage is a sweet little book about all the different kinds of courage we experience in our lives, from the big kinds like jumping off the high dive to the little kinds like wearing a shirt that's different. I immediately showed it to my guidance counselor and he loved it.

Woolbur is going to be a classic "beat of your own drummer" kind of book and my teachers already love it. The Great Texas Hamster Drive is cute. And the Perfect Nest is a simple story that could be used as a curriculum tie in about eggs and nests.

I honestly haven't finished the Gentleman Outlaw and Me, but I'm really enjoying it. There was a slight concern about a little bit of the content in the book. And the teacher who read it also read another Mary Downing Hahn book that was not appropriate for our grade level...Look for Me by Moonlight. I somehow missed the YA level on that book. So I've pulled the Mary Downing Hahn books I haven't read to double check them. I'm not concerned about the Gentleman Outlaw and Me yet, but we'll see what I think when I'm done.

Next on my "To Read" list: Erratum, Masterpiece, Swindle, and the Journal of Curious Letters, along with probably some of the state nominees for next year. (Masterpiece and Swindle are on the list.)

On a side note, I had considered joining Audible because I had been spending so much on audiobooks through iTunes. I was a little frustrated with their site. You can't seem to read much about them without at least signing up for a free account. Even then, you still can't seem to find a lot of information. I actually had forgotten I had an account and was searching their inventory without logging in and I had seen The New Policeman on there. There were a few other books I wanted too. So I went through a lot of rigmarole and discovered I had an account. I logged in and The New Policeman didn't show up anywhere anymore. After a long conversation with customer service, here's what I discovered. #1) Audible has no care at all for decent customer service. #2) They are a world-wide company and publishers sometimes only purchase rights to books in their own territory. Understandable. This means that some of the Audible's inventory is "restricted by geographic location". #3) Books that are potentially restricted by geographic location are not labeled as such in any way, shape, or form. #4) The reps solution was log in. Then you won't see what's not available to you. My point is that it was false advertising. #5) Audible advertises that they have 60,000 titles available. However, that's a lie because a portion of those are not available in geographic locations. But they won't tell me how many titles could be affected. They claim they don't have those numbers, but it's a business for goodness sake. You can't tell me they don't have those numbers somewhere. All that said, Audible still has the biggest selection of any audiobook deliverer that I can find. And if my understanding is correct, the price isn't that bad if you listen to a couple of audiobooks a month.

Ok...marathon post over. Perhaps in a couple of weeks I'll get sick again and have plenty of time to blog. =) I am headed to our state conference and then to AASL in North Carolina, so I'm sure I will come away with a lot of good ideas from those conferences. Until then...happy reading!!

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