Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ozarks Reading Update

Day Four of Ozarks Vacation and I have only finished one book.  Pretty sad, huh?  I started reading When It Happens by Susane Colasanti on the way down.  I had read another book, Take Me There, and had really liked it.  Remember when I started making connections to the previous book that I had read?  Well, the connection for this book to the previous book that I read is that I didn't read it.  I abandoned this book.  It has a great plot and I enjoyed the characters.  I'm even okay with an occasional cuss word, but this book has the f-bomb littered throughout.  It actually seemed out of character for the characters to be cussing so much.  If I can't add the book to my shelf at school, I'm not going to read it myself.  I wish that Susane would have made this book more Jr. High friendly though because it really seemed like a good book. 

I just finished Wild Roses by Deb Caletti last night.  I was amazed at how much research this author had to do to write this book.  Cassie lives with her mother and step-father, Dino, who is a famous violin player and composer.  The main conflict in the story is that Dino is going nuts.  The author sprinkles facts about other famous composers and artists and their crazy lives throughout the book.  I didn't realize how many famous artists and composers were nuts.  I really enjoyed this author's style.  I plan to read another book by her before vacation is over.  (I also know what trombone playing 8th grader that I'm going to recommend this book to when school starts!)

Well, I'm taking Insurgent to the boat today!!! I've already started chapter 1 and I'm hoping that I can have an entire day to just read about Tris, Tobias, Amity headquarters, Abnegation, the Dauntless, and more!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why am I up this early?

I woke up at 6 AM this morning!  While there are many people either waking up around that time or already awake, I do not wake up this early during the summer.  I tried to fall back to sleep, but it just wasn't working.  Before I pick out a new book to read from my summer pile, I though that I should let you know about the books that I read this weekend. 

Secrets, Lies, and Algebra - This book looks like one of those books that is easy to read, doesn't involve too much thinking, and is fairly decent.  It is.  I would recommend this book to most 7th grade girls.  Tess seems to be a typical 7th grade girl that has to make decisions involving friendships and what is right.  I enjoyed the connections to math throughout this book.  It was a great view for some algebra that most people don't use after high school. 

Hugging the Rock- Another prose book that is packed with metaphors!  Absolutely fantastic book and very easy to read!  Rachel's mother who suffers from bipolar disorder essentially runs away from home.  You get to follow Rachel's journey as she builds a relationship with her father, deals with her mother's absence, and learns so much about herself. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Two More...

I finally abandoned a book!  Crazy that I'm excited for not finishing a book though.  I usually think that all books have enough value that as a reading teacher, I should probably finish them.  Like I said before though, I tell my students to not waste their time reading books that they don't like.  I got The White Darkness for $2 at Plato's Closet.  (Great place to buy used books!)  The cover is mysterious and the quotes on the back are good.  At the very beginning of the book, the author recommends that you read the postscript which is about a man named Titus that dies trying to reach the South Pole.  Strange, right?  Even stranger is that the main character is best friends with Titus who died over 100 years ago.  She "talks" to him.  I abandoned the book on page 149 which wasn't quite half-way.  At that point, Sym is on Antarctica which her Uncle Victor who isn't really her Uncle and a group of people that are trying to find Symme's Hole which is a hole in the Earth's crust that goes to another world/planet.  From what I can figure out, this Uncle Victor has kidnapped Sym from her mother.  Her mother thought that they were all going on a few day vacation to Spain, but somehow her mother had lost her passport.  (Sym found it later in Uncle Victor's pocket.)  Sym thinks frequently that she should try to tell her mother that they are in Antarctica, but she never does.  It's really strange and I don't really care to even know how the book ends up.  I didn't really connect with any of the characters and the plot was too strange.  As I read through some reviews on Amazon, many other readers agreed that Sym was just too strange to connect with. 
     I'll put the book on my shelf and see what someone else thinks.  I love to encourage kids to read books that I hated.  Last year, one student would love to read the books that I hated to see if he liked them or hated them.  We seemed to agree half of the time and disagree half of the time.  He was a great reader, but just loved having that purpose for reading.

After I abandoned that book, I picked up reaching for sun.  I'm not sure if I already shared this book, but I enjoyed it enough to read it a second time.  It's written in prose, so it's an easy read.  It is full of so many similes and metaphors that it would be an excellent book to discuss with others.  I'm sure that some would just like to read it though and not discuss the symbolism of the metaphors.  If you have a chance to read it, let me know what you think.

I'm getting ready to go on vacation.  The great thing about vacation is the opportunity to read lots of books while just relaxing!  I've started to pack some clothes, but I need to think more about what books to pack.  I'm definitely taking Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent.  I'm really hoping that it's as good as the first.  One of my fellow teachers posted to her facebook a comic about having a book hangover which is where you finish a book that you loved so much that you hate to read another book.  That's how I feel about this book.  I'm afraid to read this sequel because I'm afraid that I won't like it as much as the first book.  I hope to have a long list of books to share when I return home.  (I'm taking several education books too!)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Only 39 Days Until School Starts?!?

We traveled to Iowa this weekend to watch Ashlyn show in the All American Jr. Sheep Show, so I had plenty of travel time to read some books. 

A Certain Slant of Light - This was one of those books that I started reading and really struggled through the first part of it.  Halfway through, I wanted to abandon it.  I encourage my students to abandon books that they are not interested in.  There are so many great books out there, don't waste your time reading something that you aren't interested in.  Granted, I have kids that seem to abandon every book that they start.  Why is that?  I understand that they don't get reading, but shouldn't there be something out there that they enjoy.  My guess is that they don't know how to enjoy get into reading.  It's that whole metacognition thing.  They need to be "thinking about their thinking" while they're reading. 

Wish You Were Dead - Great book by Todd Strasser who is a great author.  Easy read too!  There really isn't a main character but several main characters.  One of the characters (you do find out who by the end of the book) starts a blog.  This character is frustrated with the "popular" crowd at school and wishes on her blog that certain students were dead.  The mysterious thing is that those students start to disappear from thie upper class community.  It isn't what who you think either. 

Loser Queen - The back of this book does a great job of inviting you in to this book.  "Cammy Hall is used to being a loser.  All of her attempts to rise beyond high school obscurity have ended in utter humiliation.  Now that she's a junior, she's setting her sights a little lower:  If she can avoid doing anything horribly embarrassing, she'll consider the year a success."

"Then Cammy accidentally flashes her granny panties at the school dance, and all hope fo flying under the radar is lost.  But just as the dustr of humiliation begins to settle, she is sent an anonymous text message with instructions on how to get her revenge.  With the help of the texter, Cammy causes the downfall of the most popular girl in school..."

Throwing Like a Girl- Ella moves from Chicago to Texas during the middle of her sophomore year.  Back in Chicago, she had a great life and great friends.  In Texas, she isn't sure where she fits in her new private school.  She decides to tryo out for the softball team even though she has never played softball.  With the help of an upper classmen who is fantastic at softball but can't go out for the team because of family obligations, Ella makes the team.  (Everyone who tries out, makes the team.)  Of course, life in Texas doesn't become easy for Ella.  Her new boyfriend's snotty sister just happens to be on the team and makes her life miserable. 

Happy Kid! - Not sure what I thought of this book.  Kyle is a seventh grader who really doesn't care about anything.  His negative attitude has basically earned him no friends and he really doesn't seem to care.  His mom gives him a book, "A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-Filled Life", and tells him that she'll pay him $1 for every chapter that he reads.  For every chapter that Kyle reads, he becomes more happy and has some positive experiences along the way.  Easy book to read.  Not terribly exciting.  If you don't want to have to think too much about what you're reading, this is the book for you.