Tuesday, January 31, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #4 Around the World in 80 Days

It all started innocently enough...I was catching up on my Pierce Brosnan. How does one do that you ask? Watch all his Bond movies, think about watching Thornbirds (then realize that's Richard Chamberlain, not Pierce), move on to a season of "Remington Steele", then dig deep, finding old gems like "The Lawnmower Man" and watch the whole mini-series "Around the World in 80 Days". And, if you're like me, this will prompt you to read the book as you've never read the book before and you've put it down as part of your Classics Challenge and will feel compelled to start it immediately.

This book is a delightfully easy read written during one of Verne's and France's low-points, but accents, what I'm sure many believe, the highest point of the British Empire. I am positive that if you read this book and "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell (an essay about the shooting of an elephant in India, written about 60 years later) you will have a perfect picture of British Imperalism and a well rounded idea of the British Empire.  If Orwell's is the Modern, not so positive aspects than Verne's is the Victorian, idealized version. Phileas Fogg can do no wrong. He is punctual, precise and phelgmatic. He fires his valet for the tiniest of errors and can be counted on to do exactly what he as always done. When one of the members of his prestigious gentlemen's club says he can't possible make it around the world in 80 days, he calmly says he can and will. Betting £20,000 (half of his whole worth) he leaves that night with the French valet he has just hired. 

The best part of the book is reading Fogg's conversion from a stodgy and eccentric man to a man that has gained love and true friendship; even if he does keep all of his Britishness--not that this is in any way a bad thing.

Some things that are in the book that aren't in the movies and visa versa:

1. An extra girl (in the mini-series, at least) who never appears in the book.

2. I've always seen and thought of Passepartout of being the comic relief falling over himself and others and getting into trouble. In the book it seems like he helps Fogg as much as he hinders, and actually does a lot more good than I thought originally.

3. And, the biggest one...There isn't a hot air balloon in the book, don't get too excited about that. There are steam engines and boats and carriages, but no hot air balloons. Yeah, I was fooled by every...cover...I've...ever seen...ever.

Anyway, read the book and imagine Pierce Brosnan, you'll have a grand time.

4 Stars   

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Little Mermaid: A Collection

My husband and I are collectors of sorts. We get an idea about something in our heads and we must research, read, view every bit of it until we've devoured it from all angles. As a couple, I know it started with Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, pooling our collections together, we have several different versions of the movie; the Disney version being a must. We've watched the Syfy Alice and actually spent a Saturday looking through Netflix for strange versions, and new versions and a classic from my childhood. We read parts of the book aloud to the kiddo and I've read the novel Alice I Have Been, a kind of closer to the whole adventure. I don't know what his first collection was or how it began (I'll have to ask him once I get done typing this), but I can tell you mine started with the story of "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen.

I enjoy how the story is incorporated in the lovely Danny Kaye movie, Hans Christian Andersen, a slightly inaccurate retelling of Andersen's life through song. It was from this movie that I realized that maybe the ending wasn't as tragically beautiful as I may have thought, as Andersen wrote the ballet for a beautiful dancer who did not return his love and affection. I remember the scene in the movie. As she is dancing, he is trapped in a closet, nobody can hear his pleas to get out.

Of course, my favorite is Disney's The Little Mermaid. It came out when I was just the right age to appreciate it as a wonderful cartoon with excellent songs that I can still sing on command, a wonderful cast of actors, with great Disney artistry and as the dawn of a new era in not only Disney, but in cinema worldwide. Here's an excellent review of it.

The internet has made collecting variations of the story easy, as different versions can be found just by typing the title and author into any search engine. Here are a couple:

A translation from Erik Christian Hauggard for Doubleday
A translation from H. P. Paull

In reading mermaid books for my MerBooks Reading Challenge, I felt it was important to start with the first. I found a translation that I had not read before and downloaded it on my Nook. It, like all other translations, varies slightly while still maintaining the original intent of the story and I am glad that I read it, as that's one more for the collection. Here's to finding more interpretations as I delve into this 10 book challenge.

While I am counting this for the Mermaid Book Challenge, I'm not counting it as one of my 55 books, because really...even if I read all the translations out there I will still feel like I'm cheating--it's such a short story.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Storyline Online...

Go the website here!

So, I found this online last week and Lila Jane and I have been having a blast! Actors and actresses discuss reading and the book and then read the story while sharing the pictures. We've listened to Sean Astin read A Bad Case of Stripes at least once a day since Tuesday. Too cool!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Six Word Saturday #31

My life in six words
Two days left in my giveaway!

Click to be taken to the giveaway

Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. The full list and linky can be found here. And, here's where I found it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #3 Geek Girls Unite, How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits are Taking Over the World

I am a geek. I've embraced that fact from the first day I went to visit my grandfather and he told me stories about WWII and his early life in PA. While other kids were reading Amelia Bedelia (and, I read her too!), I was reading about fighter jets and pilots and Tuskegee Airmen...collecting WWII stories was my first foray into geekdom.

Fast forward to a few years later, which you can read all about here, I began an adventure in SF. I've collected books, movies and actors (yes, if you keep stats on actors on paper like IMBD, in 1985, before said website was even thought up and before the interwebs were created for mass use, you are, in fact, collecting actors), I collected dolls...er action figures (I still have my Yoda action figure, no you may not buy it from me) and I still have my Mulder and Scully Barbies (no you may not have those either!), rocks and posters. Starting my adult years I began to collect recipes and glassware. I think that it is being a collector that makes any person a geek. I don't think that Leslie Simon, author of Geek Girls Unite, disagrees at all.

The book is broken up into chapters focusing on various types of 'geeks’ (fangirl, literary, film, music, funny girl, domestic and miscellaneous) and each of those sections follows the same format: a quiz (where the answers are always 'C'...don't know why that is), a character sketch, descriptions of famous geeks of that ‘genre’, ‘frenemies’ (which is an hilarious look at those in that particular community that give the rest a bad name...) and concludes with ‘the perfect match for’ section. It's this last part that cracks me up the most, it's like Geek girls meet Cosmo mag and my friends and I had such a fun time checking off the list and then adding our own.

I like how Simon uses the introduction to make sure that we understand that while she may poke fun at this or that and that while we may do that too, we are all in this together. She says

It's time for us to reclaim the connotations of being a "geek" and hold tight to the term as a source of pride and distinction. In other words, embrace your quirkiness! Celebrate your idiosyncrasies! There is power in your geekiness! Trust.


Here's the most important thing, though: just because our passions aren't the same," that doesn't mean we aren't united in our geeky affection for what ever it is that makes us happy--even if it feels like society sometimes pits us against one another. ...being a geek should unite--not divide--us. If one good thing comes out of this book, it will be that you get to know your geeky sisters (and cousins) so you can recognize these fabulous ladies when you see them, start a conversation, and realize that our differences are actually what bring us closer together.
I remembered the above when she defined, with a little bit of sass, but all truisms, the terms that I have used to refer to myself (geek, nerd, dork, dweeb, weirdo) and when, on more than one occasion, I found myself falling into the 'frenemies' category. We, even those of us who only scratch the surface of someone else's obsession, must love each other and unite in order to conquer the world.

Geek Girls Unite is just informative enough that teenager girls, who feel their inner geek, but can't find an outlet, can learn more and identify with others and those of us who already know what we are can laugh in delight. I mean I have at one time or another been totally in love with David Tennant (my Fangirl Geek Girlness), James Franco (my Literary Geek Girlness), Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mark Ruffalo (my Film Geek Girlness), Jack White (my Music Geek Girlness), Andy Samberg (my Funny-Girl Geek Girlness)...and, I've crushed on Hungry Girl, Anthony Bourdain, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and John Stewart. I liked that Simon talks about Athletic Geek Girl as a person who doesn't necessarily play or want to play sports (it goes back to that collecting thing I mentioned earlier) so I felt comfortable about falling into this category as well. 

This book is part encyclopedia, part humor, part commentary, part major to-do list (as in I must now watch _____ or create a mix-CD of ________, why haven't I done that before?) and definitely a call to arms to all geek girls out there.

It is, after all, "a geek's world; everyone else is just living in it."

5 Stars
This book isn't really 280 pages on the Nook...seriously like 70 pages are footnotes. Each footnote gets its own page so you can click back and forth effortlessly. I'd like to also note that this book is glitchy moving from the last page of a chapter to the first page of the next one...not really sure what that's about, but I'm sure it can be fixed and I will wait to go to B&N before archiving and unarchiving et cetera, I have an irrational fear of deleting things that I shouldn't!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Six Word Saturday #30

My life in six words
In celebration of a turbulent time!


I saw this story on the Yahoo news feed and was immediately reminded of how grateful I am for such courageous, strong and honest people.

Our Wedding Day July 28th, 2009!

Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. The full list and linky can be found here. And, here's where I found it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #2 Fifth Avenue, 5 AM, Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Dawn of the Modern Woman

I'd make an excellent Mid-Century woman.  I enjoy making meatloaf and deviled eggs and jell-o molds.  I passionately watch The Dick Van Dyke Show, Ozzie and Harriett and Mad Men, longing for the times when women made cakes from scratch, cigarettes were smoked in front of children, people drank at every occasion (I love a good mixed drink in a perfectly shaped glass poured over perfectly shaped ice) and couples slept in separate beds, sometimes separate rooms. I understand that even Mad Men is a stylized version of this era, but I can't help it, I love the dresses, the food, the struggles and the imperfections of this time in American history.

Fifth Avenue, 5 AM by Sam Wasson encompasses that era with equal parts nostalgia and grit. It is the story of Audrey Hepburn and her reluctance to be the poster girl for Modern American women, her desire to be a mother, her failed relationships and, in the end, her willingness to accept herself in her imperfections. Audrey Hepburn is the reason why women wear little black dresses, but Holly Golightly (the heroine of Breakfast and Tiffany's) is the prototype of the modern female. Holly is the perfect combination of sex and femininity and, Wasson will tell you, she was the perfect bridge between June Cleaver and Marilyn Monroe.

Wasson deftly weaves touch tones of America into this tale. He describes how Hepburn helped revolutionize the fashion industry, making designer clothing appeal to the average working class woman. He talks about class, a smidgelette about race, fashion, the film industry, the music industry (where would the movie be without Mancini's "Moon River"?), gender, sexuality and Truman Capote (yes, Mr. Capote belongs in a class all his very own) and gives us enough information to know that he's in love with all of it and, yet, wants us to love it for ourselves not because he says so. 

Everytime I picked up the book and began reading I was propelled back to a time of dualities; on one hand America's need to look and be picture perfect and, on the other hand, a nation who wanted to show it's true, unglossy, promiscuous self. I gotta tell you I love both sides. I also love that Wasson makes sure that his readers understand that it is Breakfast's at Tiffany's (the film more than the movie) that signifies our break from trying to be the perfect Land of Liberty.

I didn't realize I would identify with Audrey Hepburn so much. Her struggle to balance her personal desires to be a good wife and mother, with those of her husband and those of one of the first modern career women kept me reading just to see how she was going to succeed through /in-spite of it all.

Read this book (doesn't the title just make you want to?). Be prepared to laugh and cry (OK, I didn't cry, but I did gasp a few times at the glorious story). Be prepared to hum "Moon River" in the shower. Be prepared to yearn for cigarettes and martinis and a time when everything was new and America was a blushing debutante. 

4 Stars   
Wasson interrupts my flow of reading a little too much with all of his topic headings. Oh, and I also didn't like that he didn't have nice things to say about George Pippard. Who doesn't like Hannibal?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

BAND January Discussion: Books to Support Goals and Resolutions

Kim over at Sophisticated Dorkiness (my Christmas Card Exchange partner) has another blog that she co-authors titled BAND: Blogger's Alliance of Non-fiction Devotees and if you want to participate, this is what you do...from the About Us section:
How to Participate 
Our main online headquarters is this blog and this is where you can find any updates you need.  
Each month, a different nonfiction blogger will post a topic for discussion, which we’ll post a link to here. To participate, write up a response to their topic — as long or short as you’d like — for your blog at any time during the month. Please also leave a link to your response at the original topic post so the host can write up a wrap-up at the end of the month. 
January's topic

This month's post plays right into my need to create lists so I can see things on paper...
I joined 4 reading challenges this year and I'll be using several books to help with those projects. To find out more about these challenges just click here. This year I want to read more classic novels as well as keep and exceed my reading challenge of 55 books, I've downloaded many free books for my third challenge and most of the books needed for the first two challenges. I also know that I'll be reading loads more YA and Middle Grade fiction for my blog and my classroom as we've implemented an Independent Reading Initiative through MRI (Missouri Reading Initiative). From the MRI website:

Missouri Reading Initiative Connection: Middle & High School

Program Overview

  • The Missouri Reading Initiative is a comprehensive approach to professional development in all aspects of literacy. It was first organized in 1998 under the auspices of the Missouri Learning First Alliance, consisting of fifteen major educational organizations. The initial mission of the Missouri Reading Initiative was dedicated to working with Missouri public schools' teachers and administrators to ensure every child would be able to read proficiently by the end of third grade. However, because of the successful results of the program it has been expanded to include literacy assistance at all grade levels.
The Missouri Reading Initiative works with Missouri public schools to achieve the following goals:
  • Provide ongoing, systemic professional development to enhance the quality of literacy instruction leading to improved student achievement throughout all grade levels.
  • Examine and disseminate research in reading and writing to educators throughout the state, assisting schools with the implementation of instructional best practices in literacy through modeling lessons, coaching, and collaboration.
  • Assist schools with assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of school improvement efforts in literacy toward a comprehensive model.

So, I guess my list will go a little something like this...YA novel, YA novel, classic, non-fiction book, chunkster, chunkster, blog, blog, blog, YA novel, YA novel, classic, non-fiction book, chunkster, chunkster, blog, blog, blog until we ring in the new year 2013. Should be fun! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

50 Books...a retrospective, sorta

I've got 6 books on the burners (yes, I've read parts of 6 books) and yet...

3 of these are for Reading Challenges, 2 of those are from last year!

...I don't feel any sense of urgency, I definitely don't feel the same way I did this time last year when a 50 book challenge loomed on the horizon. I wasn't sure (with everything that goes on with day to day living) I'd be able to do it, I was afraid that my zest for reading had died. I wasn't even sure that I really liked to read for pleasure anymore. Those were dark times.

And, why were they?

You get pizza just for reading...pizza people!
Let me start at the beginning. Every since I can remember I have been an above average, avid reader. If my Book-It goal was 100, I read 120, if we had to read a book a quarter, I read four and I remembered. I remember drawing a poster (we could chose to draw a poster or write a page response) for the Phyllis A. Whitney book Step to the Music; a girl in one of those Civil War period pink hoop skirts standing by a man on crutches--a replica of the cover. I remember having to stay in for recess with a friend for three days (we'd been gone on a school trip when the punishment was doled out, so we had to stay in just the two of us) we read 3 of the books from The Chronicles of Narnia...I remember Digory and Polly and Mr. Tumnus and Prince Rillian. I remember the conversation we had about religion; sure I was only in 4th grade, but he was the first Catholic I'd ever met. I remember all the More Tales for the Midnight Hour especially the one about the moth collector. I remember reading The Last of the Mochicans (this is not the one I read, but I can't find it--yes, I remember the cover) as a graphic novel and reading a biography of Louisa May Alcott. I was sad when the girl jumped off the cliff and thought it was even more tragic that someone would punish their kid by making them put pepper on their tongue; events that happened in each of the books; respectively. I read the Emily books by LM Montgomery and because of those books I've written a letter to myself every 10 years since I was 14. I could read over 100 books a year and look over the list recalling each moment in the book, recalling each feeling I felt while reading. I used to keep list of the books I read just for this reason...I still have those list, I still get the same feelings.

In college I read a ton of books many of them were required for classes, but were still fun for me. I appreciate Early British lit, dislike explorer narratives, worship The Scarlet Letter as the first American novel and read The Sun Also Rises every year. I love Edith Wharton and Thornton Wilder, Toni Morrison, Harlem Renaissance poetry, Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen.

Then it all just died.

Don't kill me, I'm just trying to finish Vanity Fair
In hindsight, it was a gradual sort of death...although it seemed all of the sudden. I read only the books I taught, and I read them over and over and over. I only read books that would help me with teaching. I  stopped reading for pleasure. Who has time when attending meetings and writing lesson plans?

I tried to get it back on my own. I assigned choice reading at the Honors level. This allowed me to have a list of books; a goal. I made it a point to read books from this list. I started assigning a Non-Fiction book project. It helped me read more non-fiction. It opened up a whole new world of books. But, I still wasn't reading like I used to...I wasn't make my own personal list. I felt like I was reading to survive.

And, then my friend Julie devised herself a plan--50 books in a year, and I soon followed with my own plan. I made it official on Goodreads, I made it official on my newly developed blog, I joined Goodreads reading groups, I joined challenges, I followed reading blogs. And, then I began to read. The reading started off kind of slow, but by summer I was ahead of my goal. I was ahead of my goal by 15 wonderfully, marvelous, glorious books!

I read everywhere and anytime. It felt like old times. I read my books to my kiddo at night. I read while she napped, I read while she was at daycare. I read on planes. I tried, unsuccessfully, to read in the car. And, people who are reading this, I read for pleasure!

It wasn't until school started that I realized I'd easily meet my reading goal, but not my challenges, and you know what I didn't care! Having those challenges just forced me to read outside of my comfort zone, having a goal of 50 just guaranteed that I'd read more than that. Having those challenges just meant that there was something on the horizon geared towards making me a better reader, thinker, writer, teacher...person.

And, then I read this lovely post by Gabe Habash and thought, "Oh, geez, what if I'm doing it wrong?" Seriously, I thought that literally for 5 minutes at least...you see Gabe (I feel like I can call him by his first name) counted his pages and I only counted my books. I read more books, but he friggin' read more pages (War and Peace in three weeks, really!? Gar, I'm soooo ashamed it took me 8 months to read Vanity Fair) and I stopped checking my challenge updates...I was *gulp* reading for pleasure. And, I realize, reading his post for the 15th time, that he was reading for pleasure to...he accidentally got caught up in the numbers.

And, I didn't feel any pressure...can you tell I did not play sports in high school? Can you tell I haven't a competitive bone in my body?

Will I continue my challenges? Yes, remember they've made me a better person. Will I do the new ones? Yes, to the best of my ability...there really are books I want to read! I've upped my reading challenge to 55 books (I could do more, but, then I'd lose all the fun of it!). But, I don't care if I don't meet my goal and I don't care if my challenges spill over into the next year or the next. If I'm reading just for the sake of reading who's winning? It sure ain't me!

I just finished a book last night and it felt so good to add it to my Goodreads list. It ain't pizza (there isn't a Book It program for adults or high school students, I know, sad right!?), but it's a start!

Oh, and I love looking at and reading my 50+ books list of 2011. I recall each moment, each feeling...it's fantabulous!

Monday, January 16, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #1 Bittersweet

For the record I have a major girl crush on Sarah Ockler...no, really, not only is she singing to my soul of yesteryear, she is singing to my soul right now...and, except for her strange like of zombies, I'm pretty sure we're kindred spirits (thank-you very much Anne of Green Gables). In this book it's all about the cupcakes and those of you that know me know how much I love, love, love cupcakes. Ockler has given me about 20 more recipes to try, I'm so excited! OK, enough with the gushing...

Hudson's parents will divorce and she sees it as kind of her fault. She is, after all, the one who found the cheetah bra. It's the night of her biggest ice skating competition and she blows it thinking about her parents, her little brother and the life they will no longer share.

This is how Bittersweet, Sarah Ockler's third novel, opens.

While this book is a little heavy handed with The Scarlet Letter references and a little Mighty Ducks meets The Cutting Edge, it makes up for it with its take on friendships, relationships and cupcakes.

Sarah Ockler can write a kick butt teen romance. Josh and Will are both perfect dream boats. They are both so fleshed out that it's hard to determine which one will win in the end. The bad one ends up learning a lesson and repenting and the good one is kind of a turd for a minute. And, this book has just enough flirtation, and smooching scenes to make it incredibly interesting. There's also a great 'meet cute' scene on the ice and a scary rescue scene on the ice further in the book.

I preach, to anyone who will listen, about the effects of divorce. I also preach about the effects of staying in a relationship when you should divorce. I talk about how your kids notice more than you think and I talk about how you are, not only hurting yourself, but those around you. Hudson has learned some pretty crappy behaviors from her divorced parents and she exhibits these behaviors throughout the book. Hudson thinks of her friends and family, only after she thinks of herself. When feeling down about the impending divorce she kisses the boy she knows her best friend likes. She talks about how she knew it was wrong, she talks about how she needed to tell her friend the truth. Years later she alienates her second best friend by not telling her the whole truth. She buries herself in her work (the making of exquisite cupcakes--and there are some amazing ones that I'm definitely going to have to try) and in a flirtation with the hockey captain, although she is warned not to and although she truly has feelings for someone else.

I dislike Hudson's shallow, irresponsible father. He smashes everything while doing anything to please himself. He is so far removed from the picture that he doesn't even comment or recognize that he hurts his daughter every time he sends a thoughtless email or post an even shallower blog post. He reminds me so much of my father, that he doesn't even deserve the few lines I have given him.

I really dislike Hudson's mother. I know that my single mother went out of her way and humbled herself to make sure that the three of us wanted for nothing and to make sure that the three of us lived normal teenager lives. When I was in high school I had to work to have money for things like cheerleading and club dues. I had to fundraise to get money for summer camps. I know that without the help of my aunt I would have still fallen short. However, my mother did not demand that I work and she did not demand that any of us girls become the other parent. I know that Hudson's mother wants the diner to succeed. I know that Hudson's mother wants Bug (Hudson's little brother) to have a great Christmas and not be burdened, he is, after all, only 8. In doing this she has created a tough as nails daughter who remains silent when she should speak. I cannot imagine how hard divorce must be on a parent, but I do know that you don't make your teenage children carry more weight than they can bear and you don't have your teenage daughter sacrifice her dreams so you can live yours. I know that, in the end, Hudson and her mother come to some sort of agreement, but I'm not sure that it is enough...I'm not sure that Hudson's mother understands what kind of daughter she has had a hand in creating and I'm not sure that she has done enough to help undo the damage.

I am glad that Hudson finds her true passion. I am glad that she finally figures out how to begin the conversation with her mother, her brother and her best friends; past and present. I am glad that she gets the guy. It is wonderful that this book really doesn't end picture perfectly. That's life after all and we must learn to live it thorns and all.

I enjoy a good teen romance, so I enjoyed this book. If you don't get any of the hockey, ice references (like me) you can always fall back on the cupcakes.

4 Stars   

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Six Word Saturday #29

My life in six words
"Newsies" to Broadway; must get tickets!

My sisters and I have probably seen the movie about a million times...no lie. And, yes, that is Christian Bale in the pic on the left and...yes, it's a musical so he sings. :D Sorry for those of you who can't see the videos (stupid country copyright laws!) they are Carrying the Banner, Santa Fe, The World Will Know and Seize the Day from the musical.

Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. The full list and linky can be found here. And, here's where I found it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

World Book Night...Yes, Please!

So, last year I spent a good two months being jealous of all the UK blogs I follow and read as they participated in World Book Night...this year the US is participating and I have sent in my application!!! Yippers!!!

What is World Book Night?
From the website:

World Book Night is a charity dedicated to the promotion of literacy and the celebration, sharing and enjoyment of reading amongst teenagers and adults. The first World Book Night was held in the UK in 2011. In 2012 World Book Night will be celebrated in the USA as well as the UK and Ireland on April 23 and will see tens of thousands of givers share the joy and love of reading with millions of non or light readers.
To find out more about WBN please visit our 'About World Book Night' page

If you are chosen, you are given 20 copies of the book you selected to pass out to the audience you selected. Books in the hands of those who wouldn't, for myriad reasons, have one otherwise. It sounds pretty darned amazing!!! 

What are the books?
There are 30 books to choose from and they can be found here.
The three books I chose (you'll be asked to choose 3 when you sign up) are in order:

1] The Hunger Games
2] The Lovely Bones
3] Kindred

If you want to sign up, and you know you want to, click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Snow Day...#1 (see how I'm hoping for more???)

It's January...and, this is our first Snow Day...what weird weather we've been having...

What to do today?
1. Eat...we have all the ingredients, I feel like God wanted us to have a snowday, so we'd have time to make  and eat these...A-Men!

[Cinnamon Roll Pancakes]
2. Various chores around the house (finish dishes, fold laundry)
3. Take a nap.
4. Watch various TV shows on Netflix or in my own personal collections (Ally McBeal followed by the Rockford Files followed by the X-Files...anyone? anyone?)
5. Play with the kid...she'll probably be up by then...hmm...or does she go to daycare? Choices, choices...
6. That decision will require another nap.
7. Shower...maybe...
8. Finish some blog posts I've been working on.
9. Read.
10. School work...maybe...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Incorporating Technology into the Classroom

OK, so I love Our Town by Thornton Wilder, if you don't how much you can read all about it here. I also love technology, especially social networking, I love the idea of using technology in my classroom. As a journalism teacher I understand the importance of convergence in my classroom.

Introduce the following: 

OK, so you can 't be part of the fun, unless you are an LHS Sophomore English student, but you can read the thread...it's pretty fun so far! :D

What other ways can I incorporate technology into my classroom?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Female Role Models on The Tube

My Heroes
I've been watching a lot of Remington Steele lately, which means I've been doing a lot of self reflecting. I didn't realize it, but growing up I had two heroes; Wonder Woman, who stayed in my conscience brain and Laura Holt, who became so much a part of me I didn't even realize that aspects of me are, in fact, her.

When I was a kid I watched Wonder Woman every day after school (I must have watched it in some sort of syndication because I am not that old). And, from Lynda Carter's depiction of the Amazon Princess, I learned:

1. How you dress does not determine how you are perceived Although many today think of Wonder Woman as the sexy superhero (in writing this post I found severally Playboyesque pics of my hero), she doesn't for once let you forget that in tiny spangled spankies and high-heeled red go-go boots she can, and will, kick your heine.

2. Nice girls finish first Diana Prince, Princess Diana, Wonder Woman...always, always, always, according to creator William Marston stands for "love, peace and sexual equality". She is honest and virtuous and because of these traits always gets the bad guy and always gets the man she loves. Even if she does have to wait...for...ever...hmmm, she is also patient, another lovely quality of any 'nice girl'.

3. Girls are powerful in body and mind Even when talking to a perp, Wonder Woman's voice is smooth and without edge. As Diana Prince she isn't like bumbling Clark Kent instead she works for military intelligence and saves lives. She's been a secretary, a nurse, and a Major in the Army. Without the costume she is still self-assured and strong. In the costume she is all this and a powerful ally in the Justice League.
The Source is My Very Own Wonder Woman Pinterest Board

In Laura Holt, I learned all those traits, and more, could exist in a real person.

In watching Remington Steele with adult eyes and a nostalgic mind set, here are the things I've been noticing:

1. Less is More Stephanie Zimbalist is just friggin' beautiful. Yes, this is the first thing I noticed while watching the show again. The first time around I noticed Pierce Brosnan's beauty (yes, a 10 year old can know when a 30 year old is H-O-T), heck, the whole world noticed Mr. Brosnan's beauty. Anyway, Stephanie Zimbalist is beautiful running after bad guys, dancing in a ballroom, figuring out that a crime has been committed, in a skirt, in a dress, in heels, in espadrilles (and, she wears many variations and colors--I'm jealous), in slacks and without makeup. I love that there's so little make-up on her pretty face, that you can see her freckles. I also love that, unless she's working out, you do not see Laura Holt in sneakers...I hate sneakers and feel like a dork when wearing them...I don't know if I got that from her (my mother also wears sneakers rarely), but it's nice to see.

2. Girls with Brains Rule While it may be the girl with the curls and the eyelashes who catches the eye of the guy, it is the girl with the brains, the girl with the standards who gets him in the end. I mean Laura tells Mr. Steele how it is often. She makes sure that he knows that it's her detective agency. She connects all the dots all of the time and still, in the end, gets carried up the stairs by the man who loves her brains and her beauty.

3. Strong, Smart Girls Don't Always Have to Win It is so cool to see a character who is a strong girl who is allowed to be strong and still be feminine. Remington Steele is always there for Laura Holt...she cries on his shoulder when her house gets blown up and she learns lessons from his Type B personality...lessons like, "Friends come first", and, "Just because I'm angry at you doesn't mean I don't love you", lessons like, "Sure, We've got a crime to solve, but let's drink this wine first". There's one episode in Season 3 (I believe it's Episode 1) where Steele really does get angry with her and yells at her about how she always has to have everything her way and on her terms and he says that at some point in time he'd like her to think of him and what he wants. I love the role reversal and I love that she does, through-out the season, take a step back and reflect on her relationship with him. I love that he does too.

You've got to admit, I have some pretty awesome TV heroes.

Who are/were your TV heroes growing up?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's Time to Go Book Shopping!

I've got about $500 to spend on books for my classroom which means I can buy YA novels, Adult Contemporary, Classics...all the genres you can think of...where do I start? What do you suggest I buy?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Six Word Saturday #28

My life in six words
My own version of "Hey Girl"

I've noticed the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme for awhile now, but somebody on Pinterest keeps on pinning them and is keeping Gosling's tender side at the forefront of my brain.  When my friend got into a car accident after leaving my house I felt horrible and sad and immediately thought of "Hey Girl"...who doesn't want to be cheered up with something thoughtful, said with sincerity? I created these using our favorite, Detective Elliot Stabler (yes, we cried when Chris Meloni left the show).

Think the "Hey Girl" phenom is interesting/weird/hot? If you've created your own "Hey Girl" show me the link, I wanna see it! It is after all Saturday, and I ain't gotta thing I wanna do!

Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words. For more information, try clicking here. Feel free to explain or not explain. Add an image, a video, a song, nothing. The full list and linky can be found here. And, here's where I found it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Campus Novel

I was looking for information about a book we're reading in class and came across this Huffpost detailing 10 Classic Campus Novels, the list is good, but classic and filled with 6 books I've heard of and only one I've read. While I think about reading the books on the Huffpost list, please check out my list of Campus Novels below.

Campus Novel: campus novel, also known as an academic novel, is a novel,. usually comic or satirical, in which the action is set within the enclosed world of a university (or similar seat of learning) and highlights the follies of academic life. Many novels have presented nostalgic evocations of college days, but the campus novel in the usual modern sense dates from the 1950s.

Although not set on a university campus it would not be the novel of friendship that it is had it not been set at a prep school in New England during WWII. I don't know is this too serious to be considered as such...???

Rauchy, clever, dark comedy about a group of New England college students who feel that sex and drugs are more important than classes. If you've read any of Ellis' other books you'll enjoy how some of the characters come into play in this one.

When I first read this book I had just completed my first year of college in a Midwestern town (no, not the Iowa school that she modeled this college after) and some of the parallels were too funny to not be shared with everyone I knew at the time. If you are from the Midwest, have been to college or just like to watch the hilarious fall of man, read this book.

For writers, for dreamers, for those who think they are too old to experience living a full and rich life...introduce yourself to Grady Tripp and his merry band of misfits. Be prepared to talk extensively about a 2000 page book that's almost finished.

Obviously, I'm not very hip on the campus novel scene, have any suggestions?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Essay Contest for Aspiring Writers of YA/middle grade fiction

Win a literary agent or acclaimed author's feedback on your unpublished manuscript for young adult or middle grade readers.  This rare opportunity is being offered to the six winners of an essay contest recently announced by the literacy charity Book Wish Foundation.  See http://bookwish.org/contest for full details.

You could win a manuscript critique from:

  • Laura Langlie, literary agent for Meg Cabot
  • Nancy Gallt, literary agent for Jeanne DuPrau
  • Brenda Bowen, literary agent and editor of Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust
  • Ann M. Martin, winner of the Newbery Honor for A Corner of the Universe
  • Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
  • Cynthia Voigt, winner of the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Song and the Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue

All that separates you from this prize is a 500-word essay about a short story in Book Wish Foundation's new anthology, What You Wish For.  Essays are due Feb. 1, 2012 and winners will be announced around Mar. 1, 2012.  If you win, you will have six months to submit the first 50 pages of your manuscript for critique (which means you can enter the contest even if you haven't finished, or started, your manuscript).  You can even enter multiple times, with essays about more than one of the contest stories, for a chance to win up to six critiques.

If you dream of being a published author, this is an opportunity you should not miss.  To enter, follow the instructions athttp://bookwish.org/contest.

Good luck and best wishes,

Logan Kleinwaks
President, Book Wish Foundation

What You Wish For (ISBN 9780399254543, Putnam Juvenile, Sep. 15, 2011) is a collection of short stories and poems about wishes from 18 all-star writers: Meg Cabot, Jeanne DuPrau, Cornelia Funke, Nikki Giovanni, John Green, Karen Hesse, Ann M. Martin, Alexander McCall Smith, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Joyce Carol Oates, Nate Powell, Sofia Quintero, Gary Soto, R.L. Stine, Francisco X. Stork, Cynthia Voigt, Jane Yolen.  With a Foreword by Mia Farrow.  Book Wish Foundation is donating 100% of its proceeds from the book to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to fund the development of libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad.


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