Monthly Archives: May, 2012

TQ Review: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Title: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 2010

Good Reads Synopsis 

  Why I Read It

I love all things Lincoln. So much so, that I was awarded the opportunity to be Horace Mann Abraham Lincoln Fellow in the summer of 2010. This allowed me to tour his Springfield, IL home, law office, Presidential Library & Museum, New Salem, and his burial tomb. As a history teacher, he has been one of my favorite presidents to teach about and as a person, he has been one of my personal role models. And of course, the movie is coming out this summer!

Short Synopsis (no spoilers)

If you know the basic history of Abraham Lincoln-born into a country family, self-educated, lawyer, statesman, President, assassination-you will be able to follow the plot of this novel without much difficulty. The difference-vampires! From the time his mother died, killed by a vampire, Lincoln vows to rid the country of the evil of vampires. He is helped in his caused by a vampire. Hmmm…

  What I Liked

The story of Abe’s life, told with the vampire storyline is easy to follow and is for the most part, factually representative of most of the major milestone’s in his life. I loved how the author used actual photographic (Photoshopped of course) and document evidence to depict the veracity of vampires being a part of American society. The novel is in three parts: Boy, Vampire Hunter, and President. It covers his journey from a young boy who lost his mother, to a vengeful vampire hunter, to the President who saved a nation.

If you did not know Lincoln’s story, it would be easy to view him as a vampire hunter. I can see, perhaps sometime in the distant (far, far, far away) future, finding this “historic document” and believing vampires really roamed the country, using slavery as an easy means of satisfying their eternal hunger. It would be easy to believe President Lincoln died because his long time vampire hunting friend chose not to guard Lincoln after the trying day at Gettysburg. It would be easy to believe John Wilkes Booth was a vampire who simply went too far in his final act.

Seth Grahame-Smith writes in a style all his own. His wry humor carries the story line with vampirical nuances about why events in Lincoln’s life turned out the way they did. For instance, the reason Lincoln took back his engagement to Mary Todd on the “Fatal First” of January, 1841, because her family was involved in the vampire underworld. In writing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Grahame-Smith used much of Jane Austen’s original novel and added his own bits and pieces to add the zombie story. With AL:VH, Grahame-Smith writes the story from Lincoln’s life and makes it believable. His incorporation of the “lost journals” of Lincoln help lend reality to the story and help the reader stay focused on Lincoln and the choices he had to make.

And, Grahame-Smith has a new book coming out: Unholy Night–Who were the three wise men? Really? I can’t wait!

Classroom Ideas

  • There are many historic factual instances I could pull out of this story, but I don’t see myself using it in the classroom. It was just a fun, pleasure read.

What I Didn’t Like

There wasn’t anything about this book that I didn’t like. Except maybe that it ended. Those who are really into the vampire lore may be disappointed. The vampires are an integral part of the story, but their background is only mentioned in passing and their habits/beliefs are mentioned, but not fully discussed.

  My Rating

4 stars!

My Recommendations

  • Anyone who loves Abraham Lincoln

Top Ten Tuesday (11) – 21st Century Classics?

The Broke and the Bookish are hosting the weekly Top Ten once again!

Just to get it out there…I will link and explain more later :)!

  1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  3. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  4. The Painted House by John Grisham
  5. Matched by Ally Condie
  6. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  7. Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI by Bryan Burrough
  8. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  9. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  10. Harry Potter, yep all of them! 🙂

I realized, when doing this list, that there are FAR TOO MANY books I still need to read from the last 10 years!

Thanks for reading about blogs I read. I can’t wait to see what everyone else has recommended. I am always on the lookout for new reads! Make sure to head over to The Broke and the Bookish to see their list.

Ask me why?

Sunday Salon (8) Memorial Day Edition!

Weather today…After spending Friday and Saturday in less than warm South Dakota, I have returned to a sunny, if somewhat humid, Kansas spring.

Summer Happenings: School’s out…let the fun begin! I began summer vacation by traveling to South Dakota to leave MiniQ with the grandparents. I am flying solo this summer, so my reading and blogging time have increased!

I’m reading: 

  • Lawyers in Hell edited by Janet Morris. This one is slow going. I am currently on the story with Che Guevarra and Kurt Kobain. Not sure why this one is going sooooo slow. It is a good read.
  • Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. Prepping for the movie release!

I’m listening to:  I don’t listen to audio books, usually. When I do, it’s always a book I have read before. I have to see the words myself to make complete sense of a text the first time. So, instead of audiobooks, I will share my iPod shuffled playlist for the week 🙂 !

During the road trip, I realized my nifty Sync enabled car can play Pandora! So, I listened to a bit of the Puppini Sisters radio.

Books finished this week: 😦 I haven’t finished any books this week. But, am on the verge!

Abandoned book: I have not let any books go this week 🙂
 
Scripture lesson in church: Because I was traveling, I missed church this morning, but spent some time reading in the book of Isaiah and keep this one close:

Isaiah 41:10  “fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I’m praying for: All those who are currently serving, have served, sacrificed themselves for us.

Around the house: Time to really clean and organize the office.

From the kitchen: Brats, salads, the standard Memorial Weekend fare.

Fun event of the week: Trip home to SD.

A favorite quote this week:

Top Ten Tuesday (10) – Blogs that aren’t about books???

The Broke and the Bookish are hosting the weekly Top Ten once again!

As if I read blogs that aren’t about books. LOL Well, actually I do. As a teacher many of them are related to teaching and a few are just for fun! Enjoy!

1. Education ReThink by John T. Spencer. I first stumbled across John’s education blog by way of his fictional and largely humorous blog about technology integration: Adventures in Pencil Integration. It is a humorous look at current technology integration efforts by looking through the scope of 19th century technology. After reading some of the escapades of trying to replace slate & chalk with paper & pencils, I found John’s Education ReThink blog. He is a talented educator who spends a lot of time doing what I need to do more of–reflecting on his practice.

2. HiJinks Ensue: A Geek Comic. This one is a new one added to my list of blogs to read. I came across it after reading a Tweet about HiJinks live tweeting of the WORST first date ever. Since I have recently re-entered the dating pool, largely through online means, I had to follow. And it was worth it! Read it and not laugh, I dare you!

3. The Jose Vilson: It’s not about a salary, it’s all about reality. I have been following Jose’s blog about teaching and education almost since it started. I love seeing the evolution of a blog and a teacher. He has stepped up and put his voice, a sorely needed voice, out there for all to hear. Too many times teachers are afraid to say what they really think, because they fear retribution. Jose has risen above this fear to tell the story of education as it really is, warts and all.

4. Seth Godin’s blog. I love getting a Seth Godin update in my email almost daily. I read Tribes and was hooked. Even though his words are largely written for the business world, I have often found they fit in my career as a teacher. It at least gives me something to think about. Frequently.

5. Letters of Note. Technically this is NOT a book blog. But it is about reading. Reading notes and letters to or from famous people. Today’s post: You are not lazy, and still you are an idler, a letter  from Abe Lincoln in response to his step-brother’s request for a loan. 🙂 I also follow Lists of Note, which is very similar, but lists instead of letters.

6. Huff English by Dana Huff. I have followed Dana’s blog for quite a few years, too. Dana teaches English and now works as a technology integration specialist. Lots of great ideas and conversation have come from her blog.

7. Austin Kleon of Newspaper Blackout Poem fame and author of the book Steal Like an Artist. I want this book! Now! I missed him at Tedx KC…how???

8. Sunni Brown‘s blog on Visual Notetaking and the Doodle Revolution. I love all things artistic. Even though I feel I lack a certain vein of creativity, but doodling is my thing! I love the visual notetaking ideas and hope to incorporate into my classrooms more fully next year.

9. The ineffablemrjones‘ blog. Poetry and stories to move your soul.

10. Anansi the Poet’s blog. I follow quite a few poetry blogs. But, Anansi’s blog is one I go back to time and again. Very witty, fully of story filled poems, and a great read every time.

Thanks for reading about blogs I read. I can’t wait to see what everyone else has recommended. I am always on the lookout for new reads! Make sure to head over to The Broke and the Bookish to see their list.

What’s your favorite non-book blog?

Burdened

To my friend who chooses to shoulder the world,
For fear others will fall without his strength-

The world is not yours to shoulder.
You are merely one among multitudes.
Your strength lies in your care,
So too will your unnecessary demise,
If care is not taken for yourself.

The world continues on regardless
Of your constant tending ways.
Motives kept hidden, yet sadly transparent,
As dawn begins breaking again
In spite of desires to hide beneath light.

The world belongs majestically
To one and all, but you feel burdened,
By the cares of those surrounding
You, who fail or simply refuse
To shoulder their own burden.

The world belongs to you again
With no burden or shame.
Stand up, the strength exists.
Push through, the weariness will fade.
Begin to take back you again.

The world’s burdens will always exist.
Your choice lies in choosing those worth
The struggle,
Time,
And care.

-Angela Quiram, 2012

© Angela Quiram and Reading After Bedtime, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Angela Quiram and Reading After Bedtime with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Sunday Salon (7) Graduation Edition!

Weather today…The heat is slowly creeping back up. I dislike checking the weather forecasts and see the days inching farther and farther into the higher digits…lol…but I am grateful for the beautiful weather we have had this spring.

In my classes this week: It was the last full week before finals week. Lots of review, talk of books, and suggestions of summer reads from students.

I’m reading: 

  • Lawyers in Hell edited by Janet Morris. This one is slow going. I am currently on the story with Che Guevarra and Kurt Kobain. Not sure why this one is going sooooo slow. It is a good read.
  • Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. Prepping for the movie release!

I’m listening to:  I don’t listen to audio books, usually. When I do, it’s always a book I have read before. I have to see the words myself to make complete sense of a text the first time. So, instead of audiobooks, I will share my iPod shuffled playlist for the week 🙂 !

Thanks to some former students, my Spotify playlists have been full of bandera music!

Books finished this week: 😦 I haven’t finished any books this week. What, with starting 2 new ones and finals week approaching I just haven’t had time.

Abandoned book: I have not let any books go this week 🙂
 
Scripture lesson in church: er…ummm…I missed church this morning…but here is a scripture for all those grads out there:

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

I’m praying for: All the graduates out there this month-to trust in God and find their future along his path.

Around the house: Trying to rid the house of a foreign invader–fleas! My poor cat is going insane, as are the humans!

From the kitchen: Orange Chicken (made by MiniQ), fried rice, and fresh fruit salad.

Fun event of the week: Graduation

A favorite quote this week:

Holy Buckets Batman… (1)

Re: Title of the post–I LOVE the sayings from the Adam West version of Batman…LOL So, when I have something surprising/interesting to share, I will be sharing them under this title! 🙂

On Tuesday night, I was traversing the Twitter-shpere and saw that Figment was having an author’s chat with Maggie Stiefvater and Lucy Christopher. For those in the YA world of literature, you know Stiefvater wrote the Shiver trilogy and Christopher wrote Stolen: A Letter to My Captor.

When I popped into the chat, I was directed to a contest being run by Figment–to win two, signed copies, one of each book. I didn’t think anything of it, as I  know my “luck” does not always serve me well.

Lady luck was on my side! I got to work the next morning, checked my email, and I won! I won a copy of each book signed by the authors. I am SO excited! I rarely win things, in fact, I was still a bit bummed because I didn’t win any of the cool prizes given away for Teacher Appreciation Week last week.

But, I won!

The email says I should expect the books around the middle/end of June and I can’t wait! Two books to add to my To Be Read list for Summer and two books I can show my kiddos next fall, with author signatures. Exciting!

Top Ten Tuesday (9) – What my students think I should read…

The Broke and the Bookish are hosting the weekly Top Ten once again! This week’s top ten topic was something about reality shows, which I must admit I don’t watch much of, even though I could probably name many of them. But, since they so kindly offered a Freebie week, because of the topic, I am going to go ahead and mention the top ten books my students think I should read and why.

1. The Hate Listby Jennifer Brown

This was recommended by the same student who recommended Ruby Holler, which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. Not even close to the same kind of novel, though. After reading the GoodReads synopsis (linked through title), I am definitely interested. As a teacher, school shootings are always something sitting in the back of my mind. Not that I ever think it will happen at my school, but I am all too aware that it could. This book seems interesting because it looks at the story of one of the survivor’s who was also implicated because she helped create the target list. Definitely to be read!

2. My Desperate Love Diary by Liz Rettig

Recommended by the same student as above. She recommends it because it is “odd and weird” and “keeps you guessing.” After reading the GoodReads synopsis, I am not sure if I will read it, but I remember the student talking about it with such fervor I might have to give it a try.

3. The Blindside by Michael Lewis

One of my very reluctant readers suggested I read this  one. I have seen the movie. Loved it. Love football. And could definitely read the book.

4. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

My honors student suggested this one. He suggests it because I “seem religious in some ways and this poem really made [him] think/kept [him] inspired.” This is one of those classics I should have read and probably have read bits of it, but I have never sat down to read it. I think I will. 🙂

5. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Same student who suggested Dante, suggests this one. He was intrigued by all the “interesting, juicy details about Jobs’ life no one knew except for a few others.” After seeing the length of this book (not that long books scare me) and knowing how dry I think computer guys are in real life, I am not sure I will make it through this one. But, I will try!

6. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Meyers

This was recommended by another “hates to read” student. He found it entertaining and I did see him read this one in class. He seemed to enjoy it. I will definitely read this one, because it is such a short read and is about the Vietnam War.

7. Blankets by Craig Thompson

This one was recommended because it “includes his relationship with his parents and how he tries to keep a love interest.” The student who recommended this one asked me first if I read graphic novels. LOL Of course, I read anything, almost. So he recommended this one. It has peak my interest.

8. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This was recommended as a “mysterious book that keeps you on the edge of your feet” and that I “will LUBB it.” After reading the GoodReads synopsis, it sounds interesting and I might be able to weave it into my Hunger Games unit next year.

9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This one was first recommended by a teacher friend of mine and then I saw a student reading it earlier this semester after he had seen the movie. Not sure if he made it all the way through the book, because he struggled with the dialect used, I guess. It is definitely on my to be read list.

10. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

I saw this one at the bookstore. Fireflies hold a special place inside my heart and anything relating to fireflies I will latch onto. The GoodReads synopsis also sounds like it could have been written by/about so many of the women I know. I must read it!

Thanks for reading about some of the books my students have suggested. I can’t wait to see what everyone else has written about for this week’s TTT! One of the best ideas ever can be found here: Makeshift Bookmark–TT Reasons Why I Would Make a Terrible YA Heroine. Genius, I say, pure Genius! Make sure to head over to The Broke and the Bookish to see their list.

What would you recommend?

Sunday Salon (6) Happy Mother’s Day Edition

Weather today…The heat abated for a few weeks and it has been oh, so nice! It has stayed crisp with spring’s coolness blanketing the days.

In my classes this week: In my 1920s & 30s class we have discussed infographics and what kinds of information can be used to make them. We may/may not produce our own this year. There are so few days left.

In my War Lit class we finished reading Farewell to Manzanar and have moved on to reading the first chapter of The Things They Carried. The students seem to enjoy it. The realness of the happenings and the sadness with which the author speaks make it a moving piece of reading.

I’m reading: 

  • Lawyers in Hell edited by Janet Morris. This one is slow going.
  • Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg

I’m listening to:  I don’t listen to audio books, usually. When I do, it’s always a book I have read before. I have to see the words myself to make complete sense of a text the first time. So, instead of audiobooks, I will share my iPod shuffled playlist for the week 🙂 !

Mad World Adam Lambert

Paper Airplane Alison Krauss

Human Touch & Atlantic City Bruce Springsteen

Get Off This Cracker

I Dream of You Perry Como

Keepin’ It Real Shaggy

Give Collective Soul

Books finished this week: I finished Nevermore by William Hjortsberg. I will be posting a review soon. It was a fair read. I anticipated liking it more than I actually did and I’m not sure why. Houdini, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edgar Allen Poe could make for great storytelling. It just didn’t pull it off for me.

I also finished Farewell to Manzanar with my students this week. Will also be posting a review of this soon.

Abandoned book: I have not let any books go this week 🙂
 
Scripture lesson in church: Isaiah 8:13-14 “The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.” (NIV) This week’s lesson is about fearing God, because he sent his son for our salvation, without which we will stumble and fall.

I’m praying for: Many cyber friends who have enormous loads to carry and ask for peace.

Around the house: Prepping for the inevitable summer cleaning. Since school will be out, it will time to get the house back in shape.

From the kitchen: Nothing! MiniQ took me out to the Mexican restaurant for Mother’s Day lunch.

Fun event of the week: Mother’s Day!

A favorite quote this week:

First Love – Poetry

A challenge poem written for : ClownPonders’ Poetry Challenge First Love

First Love

Her eyes light up as the phone beeps,
Signaling a new text
From someone she calls–

Just a friend.

Carefully arranged hair slides down
Covering her eyes
To hide behind.

Her giggles build up
Quickly closed off
So as not to give away
Her newfound affection
For someone she calls–

Just a friend.

Cautiously optimistic she begins
Building a persona
One to fit in with him
And his friends.

A warning is given
Warning her not to lose herself
In the struggle to be
With someone she calls–

Just a friend.

Slowly, it seems, at first
Her mood and her character
Begin to meld and change
Molding herself into
Someone he can’t live without.

It isn’t very long
Before her time is taken up
And her focus is now on
Him, she now calls–

Her First Love.

– Angela Quiram, 2012