Monthly Archives: June, 2012

TQ Review: A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Review: A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Today’s review can be found at The Nerdy Book Club blog.

Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think of my review. It’s for a book I normally wouldn’t have given a second look at,  but…

Check out the review here.


Top Ten Tuesday (13) – Characters who are me or I am they…

Love this week’s topic! Don’t forget to participate in the Top Ten Tuesday post from The Broke and the Bookish. They always have such great post ideas.

I have written before, in TTT posts, about my affinity for the first two characters listed here. I strongly identify with both Alice and Dorothy for many reasons. Read on for my attempt at explaining why I see myself in them.

Alice from Alice in Wonderland

Because I am Alice. The curiosity, brought on by boredom. Her trust in following that which seems so unfamiliar, yet something that CAN be made sense out of. I still feel like Alice.

Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz

Again, another “lost soul” trying to figure out where she fits in. And she’s from the midwest! I won’t lie, when I relocated back to the midwest, I was MORE than psyched that it would be to Dorothy’s home state of Kansas!

Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird

Her tenacious spirit. Her regard for justice and all things right. Her being able to read and not understanding how Atticus could have taught her how to read incorrectly, so she points out maybe the teacher doesn’t know everything. *sigh* so me!

Lizzy from Pride and Prejudice

Her distrust of most things, especially the expectations pushed upon her by others. Her then seeming complete flip flop to accepting and even almost worshiping that which she had deemed beneath her or just not for her.

Novalee Nation from Where the Heart Is

Oh, how I wish I could say I wasn’t her. But I was. And am. I trusted someone I shouldn’t have. I grew up way too soon. But I took that pain and took that life to teach me how to be better because of it. I let it open me up to life at large.

Narrator from The Lover’s Dictionary

I have never been able to tell-is the narrator a girl or a guy. And, sadly I have been on both sides of the conflict within those pages. I have been the one to leave someone wondering how their world collapsed and I have been left to pick up the pieces. And both are equally painful.

Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter

Because I am TOTALLY HER! In every way! LOVE HER LOVE HER LOVE HER! Love being her in the classroom, too. Sarcastic, yet caring. Forceful, yet gentle. Stern, yet understanding.

Frances Mayes from Under the Tuscan Sun

Ok, I really don’t see much of myself in her, but she is who I want to be! I want to be able to say goodbye to everything (ok, I have!) and move to a foreign country (I was close to a foreign country!) and find out what life really means (ok, so this happens all the time). Maybe I am her. I just want to be in France ;-).

The next two are characters I have read that remind me of my two daughters.

Bella Swan from Twilight  for my oldest daughter

Her tenacity, her quiet, her feelings of responsibility for those surrounding her

Matilda from Matilda for MiniQ (youngest)

Her vivaciousness, her cuteness, her beguiling manner, her determination, her sense of justice

Sunday Salon (10)

Weather today…We, here in Kansas, have had a pleasant spring and summer so far. Last year at this time we had already had numerous 95+ days. This year not so much, but this weekend, which ushers in the beginning of true summer brought the heat!

Summer Happenings: One wee k of summer school remains!

I’m reading: 

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (one of my favorite classics! Just read the chapter on the turtle.)
  • Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness #1 of The Chaos Walking Series. I honestly don’t know much about this series and don’t remember who recommended it to me. I have all three books on my iPad and they will help me with the Summer Reading Challenge.
  • How to Write a Sentence by Stanley Fish. I cannot wait to finish this one. It is proving to be a quick read, even though I am taking notes from almost every page. I wish I had read this one a long time ago! And, I will buy my own copy!

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 🙂 ! I have been listening to Spotify a bit this week and have had the following running through my playlist:

This week has found me listening to quite a bit of Enya. 🙂

Books finished this week:

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone. Look for my review, which will be my first blog post written for the Nerdy Book Club, later this week!

Abandoned book: None!

Scripture lesson in church: Our current message series is focusing on Nehemiah and the idea of Reclamation, Restoration, and Renewal. Today’s guiding verse:

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. ”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1: 3-4)

I’m praying for: Guidance and strength to find God’s path for me through these new developments.

Around the house: Been working on finding cute, inexpensive decorating idea via Pinterest.

From the kitchen: Beef and Broccoli

Fun event of the week: Walked the River Walk downtown.

A favorite quote this week:

Top Ten Tuesday (12) – Summer TBR Pile

So, this week’s TTT is a day late, but complete! This one was far too easy because my TBR list for summer is HUGE and I have split my list into categories. Please enjoy!

For School

~these books are on my TBR for summer because I am preparing for teaching these novels in at least one of my classes next fall~

Native Son by Richard Wright

I have not read this one, but have heard of it, as it makes most classic American Lit lists. I will either have my honors kids read this on their own or read it together. It is set in the 1940s and deals with the ever present racism, especially when it comes to matters of criminal behavior.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I have read bits and pieces of this one over the years, but never the whole book from start to finish. I used the first chapter of this book for my American War Lit class last spring and was pleasantly surprised by how well my students responded to it. Instead of reading Huck Finn this fall, I will be reading this one. Huck took 8 weeks and is just too much time for one book in a one semester course. I am hoping this one can be done in less time.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I have read this. In high school! So, before giving it to my honors kids, I felt I should re-read much more closely than I did when I was in high school. I like the story. Love the movies. But, it is a dense and difficult read, especially for kids used to reading Manga and texts!


~I try to read as much non-fiction as I can, to stay in the real world and to find things to use with my students and some are just for fun~

Superfreakonomics by Stephen Dunbar & Steven Levitt

I LOVED Freakonomics when it came out. I devoured it in one sitting. I know there are a lot of critics who claim the “economic” claims within these tomes are NOT true to economic study, but they make so much sense. And it gets you thinking about the big picture of the world and how the smallest details and choices can have such a huge impact. Can’t wait to read this one.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Society by Jared Diamond

I have had this one since last fall and have read the first few chapters, I just haven’t had the time to sit down and read it in its entirety. Books like these require cerebral power to be focused. It is one I have wanted to read and now it will make my list, which will hopefully encourage me to finish it!

The Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent

Much like the previous one, it has been on my pile for awhile and just haven’t been able to finish it. I did get the first three chapters read for my 1920s Lit class, before reading Gatsby. There is a lot of useful information and it is an engaging read. Will finish it this summer!

For Pleasure

~because we all need those books to read JUST for fun~

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Stephen King. JFK. Need I say more?

Pale Demon (#9) & A Perfect Blood (#10-Rachel Morgan Series) by Kim Harrison

I love Rachel Morgan! And Ivy. And Jax. And all the men that come and go. The magic. The fighting. The tortured souls. These are some of my guilty pleasure reads and I can’t wait to get back into it.

The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

I just started reading the first book The Knife of Never Letting Go and I am hooked. I was recommended this one after reading the Hunger Games series. It is more than interesting. Can’t wait to write the reviews!

I realize I cheated and added more than 10 books, but I couldn’t put one Kim Harrison without the other and same with the trilogy. And this is not even a third of my whole summer TBR pile, YIKES! Thanks for reading and make sure you check out The Broke and Bookish’s TTT post.

Leave me a comment about whether you have read any from my list, or
if you have recommendations based on my list!

TQ Review: Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

Review: Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

Title: Triangles
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 2011

Good Reads Synopsis 

  Why I Read It

For those who know my strong dislike of love triangles in YA literature might be surprised by my choice in reading this book, which is all about love triangles. Bear with me though! I chose this book because:

  1. It is a novel in verse. I am currently participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and am trying to write a novel in verse. So it was research. 🙂
  2. It was written by Ellen Hopkins. She has written numerous books in verse. Starting with Crank, which was written in response to her own daughter’s struggles with drugs. I have devoured EVERY Ellen Hopkins book I could.
  3. Once I read the book flap, I had to read it.
  4. I used it to meet one of my Summer Reading Challenge reads.

Short Synopsis (no spoilers)

Three friends–two married, one not. Each unsatisfied with what life has handed them. Is the grass always greener on the other side? It is a story of friendship, the quest for love, and how sometimes working through the most difficult things in life can rebuild everything you desire.

  What I Liked

I was looking for books, written in verse, in order to study the style and structure. Of course, I went looking for Hopkins’ newest in her YA series. When I found an adult novel by her, I had to check it out. And I am so glad I did.

Now, I have ranted about love triangles before–Why I Hate ❤ Triangles–but that’s mainly in regards to YA novels. This is an adult novel. An adult novel with real adult morality issues. An adult novel about real love triangles and how they are NOT pretty. They hurt people. And they never work out with everyone happy in the end.

Triangles is a novel about three women, who could be any one of us. A single mom doing the best she can to raise her child, while wondering why love has never found her. A married mom of three who seems to have it all, but isn’t satisfied, so seeks out what she thinks will make her happy. A married mom of two whose husband works far too much, because one child was born to die and the other is gay.

Hopkins uses her writing style to help you feel the emotional toll these three women are going through. I thoroughly enjoyed her layout and the use of end poems to wrap up the theme of that section to lead into the next one. I also loved how those end poems could be read in two different ways. There is the poem as a whole and then she sets off one word every stanza or so, that can be read on it’s own and encompasses the theme in the poem.

Each character speaks through her own set of poems. Through these poems the characters become real, their struggles apparent and full of dimension. As a reader, I love traditional novels, but I admire the authors able to write in and tell a story through verse entirely. The author of a verse novel cannot depend on the traditional sets of descriptions and heavy dialogue to tell the story. The story is told through introspective poems from the characters perspectives. I have come to realize this year, as I continue my reading, I particularly enjoy first person narratives far more than others. When I can get inside the characters’ heads and struggle through their struggles and celebrate their triumphs with them, I have a greater appreciation for the story as a whole.

The struggles in this novel, are struggles all women face at some point in their lives. Everyone questions whether the grass is greener, but it is our choice whether to act upon those feelings or not. And that action can actual bring us closer to loving what we originally had, rather than forsaking everything for what we think might be better. But, those same actions can rip apart a family with no hope of repair. Reading this novel put those thoughts, ideas, and decisions in perspective.

There were moments I hated Holly. She had it all and was willing to throw it all away because she thought she could find something better somewhere else. Then there were the moments I felt sorry for Holly. Communication is the key. Why can’t people learn to communicate? It would solve so many problems! I identified most with Andrea. As a single mother, focused on her daughter and her career, I can understand the ideas she struggles with and know how hard it is to find that one thing we are looking for. And, it often finds us when we stop looking. (Yes mom, you were right…sigh…)

I do hope Hopkins will continue writing adult novels. I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

Classroom Ideas

  • There are a few poems that don’t solely focus on the many adult themes running throughout this book I might use with students.

What I Didn’t Like

There are more than a few racy scenes and I am not so much against reading racy material (I broke my teeth in the adult reading world on romance novels, after all :-)), but I do think it will put some people off the book. It will definitely be one I cannot recommend to my students to read directly, which is sad, because I think some of my students could get some perspective on their own relationships within their families.

  My Rating

5 stars!

My Recommendations

  • Anyone who loves Ellen Hopkins
  • Anyone who needs a real story about real life love and hurt.

Sunday Salon (9)

Weather today…A hot, windy Kansas day.

Summer Happenings: First week of summer school-less than organized, not going all that well, but we will make the best of it.

I’m reading: 

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 🙂 ! I have been listening to Spotify a bit this week and have had the following running through my playlist:

Killing Me Softly by Fugees

FireBrilliant DisguiseSecret Garden, & Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen

Beasts of Burden by The Rolling Stones

Grenade & Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars

Human & Mr. Brightside by The Killers

Fireflies by Owl City

Books finished this week:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. Prepping for the movie release!

Abandoned book: Not a complete abandonment, but I need to set this one aside to focus on school readings for a bit.

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.

Scripture lesson in church:

The Parable of the Lost Son: Luke 15: 11-32     The pastor pointed out the lost son wandered, wondered, wasted, and finally wanted and when he returned home to confess his sins to his father, his father welcomed him with open arms. As does God, to all who believe in him.

I’m praying for: My baby girls. Ok, so they are not babies anymore, but they will always and forever be my baby girls.

Around the house: I cleaned and organized the office! Now, need to finish to hanging pictures.

From the kitchen: Just a mix of stuff found on shelves and in the fridge. Must. go. grocery. shopping. LoL

Fun event of the week: Sleeping in on Friday and Saturday and Sunday :-)!

A favorite quote this week:

TQ Review: The Statstical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: 2012

Good Reads Synopsis 

  Why I Read It

I stumbled across reviews of this book frequently this spring and was intrigued by the title and cover art. So, I added it to my To Read list. And to meet one of my requirements for my 14 Books 4 Months 1 Challenge list. This was worth 20 points and is set in a place I have never been, but have wanted to visit–London. 🙂

Short Synopsis (no spoilers)

Hadley’s headed to a wedding in London. Oliver’s headed to London as well. Hadley misses her original flight. Hadley and Oliver meet at JFK airport and spend hours together on the flight across the Atlantic. Is it love at first sight? How can Hadley possibly believe in such a thing when she is headed to her father’s second wedding?

  What I Liked

Reading the first few chapters, I was pulled into Hadley’s story. Smith uses flashback memories and the present surrounding to ground the protagonist in her muddled feelings about her father’s soon-to-be new life. Smith uses metaphors to stress the theme/lesson of certain chapters. For instance, the flight itself compared to Hadley’s inner feelings of claustrophobia (physically and mentally). As I followed Hadley and Oliver’s conversation on the plan, it kept reminding me of different conversations I have had with those I was sure I was in love with and it made me wonder, when do we open ourselves up to the point of sharing those private thoughts of our lives?

One of Hadley’s struggles and the overriding theme deals with beginnings and endings and how, in life, we know everything begins and ends, yet are often still surprised when it happens. It’s something to ponder. We go to school for years at a time, knowing each school has an end, and often working hard to meet that end. Yet, the day for the end-like graduation-arrives, and we are surprised by the mixed emotions felt. We know our children will one day leave us, yet we never seem fully prepared for this end, which is a new beginning for them and us. Hadley struggles with this idea throughout the story and spends much of the story trying to come to terms with the feelings associated with these beginnings and endings.

Oliver is headed to London and it becomes apparent early on in the story we don’t know exactly what he is headed home for and when Hadley finally figures it out, she does what most of us women do, shoulders the guilt for dumping her “troubles” on him, when he had it worse than she did. While some might suggest a predictable storyline, Smith tells it uniquely enough to keep the reader engaged and waiting for the next turn of the corner. Because both Hadley and Oliver are looking for something in each other. Do they find it? Read it!

Just a few other things I loved:

  • It’s not the sappy teen love story some YA novels fall into being!
  • There is no love triangle 😉
  • The use of Dickens and other literature as a motif

Favorite Quotes

In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity. (pg 20)

…just dark bleeding into light… (pg 81)

“No one is useless in this world,” it reads, “who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.” (pg. 159)

Classroom Ideas

  • There were quite a few instances where I thought to myself–this could be used to teach writing. Smith uses such variety in her sentences and word choice it would be easy to use bits and pieces to teach students style and voice.

What I Didn’t Like

The storyline IS predictable, to an extent. But, there is enough to keep the reader going. I also felt like the author could have involved a few of the characters a bit more, to make their personalities more apparent and believable. It is easy to want to side with Hadley and dislike the soon-to-be stepmother from the very beginning, simply for her new role in Hadley’s life. But, for a few statements about the stepmother trying to engage Hadley, there is little else from which to form an opinion or thought of her.

  My Rating

4 stars!

My Recommendations

  • Anyone who enjoys a quick read.
  • Anyone who enjoys a quirky teen love story–not sappy in the least!
  • Anyone who wants to ponder a few of life’s great questions: “Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?” (pg 62)