Sunday, June 26, 2011

Is it really blogging?

Is it really blogging if you only post about once a semester? How sad is that? Well, I do have to say, I have read a lot in the last couple of months. But I knew that I was not good at keeping up with the blog. I just didn't realize HOW not good. *sigh* Well, I shall try again to be better about it. I have gotten quite caught up in some presentations I was doing on the iPad and educational and library apps to go with it, but I never hope to neglect my books for it. Sooo..where to start....I think a list might be in order. Perhaps with bullet points under each title.

The Magic Thief
  • Fantasy
  • Poor Orphan Formula
  • Magic
  • Pretty good read, but not for those who don't like Fantasy
Extra Credit
  • Andrew Clements is always a favorite
  • I liked that it takes on a topic we hear a lot about (Afghanistan)
  • Easy read, so it might be good for reluctant readers
Kenny and the Dragon
  • Cute story
  • Easy read
  • Good for young uns - I was a little surprised it was on our Intermediate list

Night of the Spadefoot Toads
  • Seems like it should be written by Andrew Clements or Carl Hiassen
  • Sort of a slow story compared to the others
  • Fine book, but it didn't really pull me in
Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow
  • A robust fantasy and the start of, what else, a series
  • Poor Orphan Formula
  • Magic, danger, excitement, romance
  • Fantasy fans will enjoy this one

Shooting the Moon
  • Soft spot in my heart for this one as it reminds me of my dad
  • Set during the Vietnam War
  • A brother sends pictures home to his sister to explain what war is like

Closed for the Season
  • Mary Downing Hahn
  • Not a good Mary Downing Hahn
  • Wasn't scary or creepy
  • Wasn't much of a mystery either

The Blue Shoe
  • Really fantasy
  • Poor Orphan Formula
  • Magic and a mysterious Blue Shoe

The Grimm Legacy
  • A girl gets a job working at the "repository" where the magical Grimm collection (among other special collections) is stored
  • Someone wants to steal the stuff (so surprising, I know...)
  • Pretty good read
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling
  • Great book
  • A flair of historical fiction with the slightest twinge of fantasy. Though if my hunch is correct, we will get more fantasy as we delve into book two - this is just the first in a series.

The Mostly True Adventures of Home P. Figg
  • Good historical fiction
  • Much more serious and less funny than the cover lets on
  • The cover really did throw me off

The Magician's Elephant
  • Who couldn't like Kate DiCamilllo
  • Another great book from her
  • Sadness, love, redemption....a great read!

Vesper's Rising
  • Another 39 Clues book
  • Kind of neat to see the start of the family
  • I wonder how long they'll milk this product though

The Throne of Fire
  • Just as good as the Red Pyramid
  • One of the Sync YA free audiobooks
  • Obvious spin on Beauty and the Beast
  • Great character development

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch
  • Another Sync YA audiobook
  • First in a series
  • Good magical fantasy
  • Reminds me a bit of Harry Potter when it starts to get darker
*Both books I would consider putting in my library for higher reader intermediate students

A Whole New Mind
  • Tremendous adult read for anyone teaching in the 21st Century and anyone interested in learning how times are changing. It makes good sense!
Smokin' Seventeen
  • The latest in the Stephanie Plum series
  • A lot fun
  • Good, juicy parts to the story
I think that's it, but I may have forgotten something. I do have a lot more new books to dig through at school, so I hope to be much better about posting! (Of course, I say that a lot don't I?) :-)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Books

I've been diving into a few of the books that I wanted to make sure were age appropriate for my kiddos. Dark Life by Kat Falls, Heist Society by Ally Carter, and A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron are the first three I picked out. Dark Life is a great new Sci Fi book that take a sort of apocalyptic US and places an experimental colony on the bottom of the ocean floor. There's everything in this book, danger, romance, outlaws, and a fierce dedication to independence. I was concerned there might be too much violence or the romance might get to detailed for my intermediate students, but I ended up feeling it would be an excellent book to recommend to some of my higher readers. Of course, this is going to be a series, so look for more books by Falls to be gobbled up!

I used to describe Swindle as Ocean's Eleven for kids, but now I think Heist Society will take that description. When Katarina has to rescue her father from an unexpected situation, she has to assemble one of the best teams of art thieves ever. Even though this book had the potential to go way out of age-appropriate range, it was excellent. Again, we had romance, intrigue, danger....but it stayed at a level that was fine for my intermediate level kids. It will again be a good recommendation for my higher readers.

Now...prepare the tissue box. If you are a dog person, like me, and you haven't had a dog in a while, like me, you will still bawl your way through this book. If you love a dog and have one or have recently lost yours, you will not be able to hold this book up to read it. (Or in my case, see out the windshield while driving to school.) I was worried this book might be too adult, as is listed in some places as adult fiction. But really, the content was not anything too out of bounds for my students. The book is told from a dog's point of view and cycles with him as he is reincarnated several times while he learns his purpose in life. That is part of what keeps you from losing it all together because you know the dog is coming back. :-) There are a few places where the puppy doesn't understand the new game he wants to partake in with the female dogs and why he needs to go to the doctor and end up with a cone on his head. And once in a while, some of the owners "wrestle" on the couch together. But I think that these minor areas are handled with a pretty good delicacy. My students probably see worse on tv every night. The story is heart-warming and endearing and has you rooting for all the heroes all the way through the book. If you couldn't read Marley and Me, you won't probably do well with this book. But if you can handle the emotion of the story, it's a wonderful read.

I have almost read all the Stephanie Plum books too. So I'll be ready when seventeen hits the stores this summer.

I really need to get a jump on the books for next year's children's choice awards for our state. So next on my plate is The Magic Thief. After I finish the last two "between the numbers" novels for Stephanie Plum, I'll also pick up a few more of those books to read. Hopefully, I'll be back soon with more reviews!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Really??? August 10th???? Really???? That was the last time I updated? Holy macaroni I've fallen down on my job. Not reading, of course, I never stop reading! So I guess this is going to be the mother of all book blog posts! Let's get down to business. First a list, then reviews.

V is for Vampire
Baker Street Irregulars: The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas
Catching Fire
The Lost Hero
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest
The Graveyard Book
Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris
Heat Wave
Naked Heat
Out of My Mind
Stephanie Plum series 4 - 9
Strange Case of the Origami Yoda
Into the Gauntlet

And that's what I can remember. I might have missed a few! LOL!

Ok. Let's books first. I finished up the series of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Definitely enjoyed reading those. I can see how some might not stick with the series though. You have to get past the ten page descriptions of Ikea furniture. And I thought the break between the second and third books was a little weird. But in the long run, very good reads.

I started reading some fan fiction. Anyone watch the show Castle? I love that show and they have the books that Castle supposedly writes available to read. Naked Heat and Heat Wave were really fun. I ended up getting the second one on my iPad because the narrator for the first one was utterly ridiculous. It was really destroying the image I had in my head of the characters.

After I got done with those, I also wanted some other adult books along those lines. So, after taking a poll of my friends, I picked back up the Stephanie Plum series. I had already read 1-3. Now I've read 4-10 as well. Just good fun those books are. (Notice I didn't necessarily say "clean".)

I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. And that was phenomenal. I have mixed emotions about the ending, but I think you had to expect that everything wasn't going to end up roses. I will certainly recommend these to my advanced readers in 5th grade, but I decided not to put them into my library. I don't think most of the kids on their age level would get the abstract concepts and the violence would upset some people. Definitely a powerful read though!

I also read a few more books in some other series. The Lost Hero is a new book in the Heroes of Olympus (Percy Jackson) line. Percy isn't in this book, but it was the same concept. It was good and will continue to hook all those readers who want more of the Percy Jackson stories. I especially like that my hometown is featured in it for several chapters. The last 39 Clues book came out, Into the Gauntlet, and wrapped up the series rather nicely. Of course, there's room for a new spin-off series. And since Scholastic is in charge and doesn't have to worry about author burn-out, I can imagine that another one will be coming out soon. I read the first in a new Vampire series aimed at my tween readers. V is for Vampire will hopefully satisfy some of those girls who want to read Twilight that are sad I don't have it at my school. It was not too meaty in the love and violence department, so I think it's great for my kids. The Baker Street Irregulars series I think will be really good for boys who like mysteries and a bit of historical fiction. With the Sherlock Holmes movie coming out last year, I think the interest is there to push this book. It was really enjoyable and I can see this becoming a movie as well.

The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda was incredibly popular at our book fair this year. I had already purchased it for the library after hearing many, many things about it. I think the kids are really going to like this book. It dealt with some of the just nearing puberty things that these kids are facing, but was funny and had a good lesson. It's written in that graphic style that the kids are big on right now (like Diary of a Wimpy Kid). I heartily recommend it for this age level.

Somehow, I thought it would be fun to be on the selection committee for our state children's choice awards. This means you get to help decide the ten nominees for the following year. I thought this would be fun until the list of 40 or so intermediate titles got sent to my inbox. Now I don't think they expect you to read every single one, but I certainly WANT to read a lot. So, I've started picking some of the ones that have drawn my attention. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper caught my eye immediately. The book is written from the perspective of 11-year-old Melody. Melody is in a wheel chair and can't move most of her body. She also can not speak. But Melody is a genius and has a photographic memory. Her story is heart-warming and wistful and it makes you think a bit harder about how you interact with some of your students. Though I don't really appreciate the way Draper paints the public school system (apparently, we are all idiots who think all special education students are imbeciles and would think it's a good idea to rotate with new sped teachers every year), I really love the way that Melody triumphs in her story.

Finally, I picked up the book Hero by Mike Lupica. Lupica takes a bit of a break from his typical sports fiction in this story. I saw it mentioned on Barnes and Noble's website and had it on my wish list. When it showed up on the book fair, I scooped it up right away. Like many of our stories these days, our main character - Zach - is discovering that he is more special than he would have imagined. After a tragedy strikes his family, Zach needs to figure out who he is and exactly what he can do. We, of course, do not get all of our answers in this book...a new series has been born. My students are eating up these kinds of stories though, and next to Origami Yoda and School of Fear, this was probably the hottest book at the fair.

I have a lot more books waiting for me at school to add into our system after our book fair. A few I feel I have to read before adding into our catalog: Smile, Heist Society, and Dark Life. And I need to get cracking on my state awards for next year. Too many books, too little time!!

I know I always promise to be a better blogger. I'm sorry! :-) I really will try this time! Fair warning though, I have a lot more Stephanie Plum books to read!!