Category Archives: Lists

October 2012 In Review

Books Read:

It is still slow going on this end. School work swallows me whole and by the time I am ready to read, I can’t keep my eyes open! But, I have finished one or two over the last couple of weeks.

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins (Review below)

Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher (Review below)

Posts Written:

Reviews:

Perfect

Write Like This

And some random posts (some are from Sept, as I forgot to do a rundown of Sept!):

on the thirteenth

And, sadly, that’s it. School has kept me going and running out of steam and energy. 😦

But the good news is my students are great, my classes are great, and I am enjoying this year. And, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo starting today, in fact I already have 1758 words! Go me!

Happenings:

School work has included having a class read and act out The Crucible! They thoroughly enjoyed it and they are very excited about our next project, based on the book Native Son. I have decided to combine their required research “paper” into a mock trial of the main character.

I am currently working on the Verse Challenge. And have FINISHED reading Perfect by Ellen Hopkins! I adore Ellen and can’t wait for more from her.

My parents came down for a quick visit, but it was great to see them.

Intriguing Search Terms Pointing to My Blog:

“it’s all about me quotes”

Am I really that self-centered? I hope not!

“visual writing prompts”

This one probably disappointed the seeker. I don’t have any prompts, but I do use the visual ones frequently in my classes. I will need to do a post with links to the sites I use, which have great prompts!

“why did John Steinbeck write the novel Of Mice and Men the way he did”

dang it! This is exactly what I try to encourage my students to avoid. Number 1) please have enough dignity and self respect to at least try to do this on your own. There is no magic answer. The teacher wants you to think and analyze and evaluate Steinbeck’s writing. Because, if you can do that, you have a pretty well-oiled mind and can analyze and evaluate almost anything. Number 2) learn some decent search skills. I hope I am teaching my students better search skills, because anyone who goes to google and types in the EXACT question the teacher has asked, will be disappointed, because he/she will find nothing helpful OR find other students’ work, who also lack the same skills he/she does. *SIGH*

“langston hughes bedtime”

Why is someone seeking this? I am intrigued. I feel a writing activity coming on…

“beautiful things happen in your life when you distance yourself from all the negative things”

So true! Glad it brought you to my doorstep.

What I Learned this month:

August 2012 In Review

Books Read:

Hmm…I have started a handful but finished none in August :(! I blame it on school starting. Really!

Posts Written:

Review: I Am Not a Serial Killer

Readers are Created, Not Born

I am still reading… and I promise I am. But it happens every year around this time. School starts and my attention is pulled in a hundred directions and I always pick up and start books, to be finished later.

The Start — as mentioned before, at this point school has taken over any spare corners of my brain…lol

Sunday Salon

SWUR Goals & Update — my second reading challenge, which I didn’t meet my goals. *sigh*

Happenings:

Attempted to participate in the Summer Wrap Up Reading Challenge–didn’t meet my goal at all! Sad, but work came first.

I am currently working on the Verse Challenge. And have started reading Perfect by Ellen Hopkins :).

School started. I spent a week in my classroom getting it prettified and then sat through the first of the year meetings. Now, we are back in full swing. Students have been in class for over a week and a half now and we are setting into a groove. Here’s to the start of a great year!

Intriguing Search Terms Pointing to My Blog:

“quotes to begin a new school year”

Oh how I wish I had some good advice for this one! Starting my tenth year, you would think I have the words of wisdom, but every year is a new year and I have never started the same way twice!

“who will save your soul quote”

Very interesting. Love the song. And pondering what quote they were looking for–Jewel or possibly a higher power?

“i am just a girl quote”

hmmm…yes I am. And when I first read this search I immediately thought of No Doubt’s song.

“all done”

Are we ever?

“gwendolyn brooks we real cool and a roller skating”

Wow! I am sure I posted about “we real cool” during April (National Poetry Month), but roller skating??? Not sure.

What I Learned this month:

July 2012 In Review

Books Read:

Secret Windows by Stephen King 🙂 *
How to Write a Sentence: and how to read one by Stanley Fish 🙂
On Writing by Stephen King 🙂 *
Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith 🙂
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland Through a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente 😦
Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay 😐
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 😀 *
I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells 😐

*Reviews coming soon!

Posts Written:

Reviews to some of the books read above, plus:

Sunday Salon July 4th

Sunday Salon

Happenings:

Participated in the Once Upon a Reading Challenge–didn’t meet my goal, but it was a good experience. I think I learned some reading challenges may not be for me, especially the short focused ones.

I am currently working on the Verse Challenge. And read the following novel in verse in July : Love and Leftovers

I am also currently working on the 14 Books, 4 Months, 1 Challenge:

July 1: 20 points, July 31: 60 points

I am a bit worried I may not make this challenge :-(. But, I am not giving up yet!

Intriguing Search Terms Pointing to My Blog:

“push knife in back quote john grisham book”

I must admit, I went and used this search term myself, to see if it would pull anything up. I couldn’t find a quote, but I remember the book and know it probably had something to do with Cowboy…

“batman buckets”

I ❤ using sayings like “Holy Buckets Batman” when I am speaking or writing. I use them in my classroom quite frequently and my students are constantly giving me new ideas.

“summary of chapter 1 in nevermore by william hjortsberg”

Sadly, one of the books I have read I wished I hadn’t. The novels premise was promising–Houdini, Poe, magic, psi abilities, and murder. Unfortunately, it did not deliver a great read for me.

What I Learned this month:

Just keep moving ahead. There is no outline for tomorrow, there is no forged path. Every day is a chance to move forward or backward and I have chosen it’s all forward from here.

As for blogging, the school year seemed to keep me more on track, however, I am reading far more in summer!

Top Ten Tuesday: Tips for New Book Bloggers (5)

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, we are asked to suggest hints for bloggers new to book blogging. I approach this week’s Top Ten with a bit of apprehension, since I am a fairly new book blogger myself. But, I have learned quite a bit during this time period and know others could definitely benefit from some helpful tips. So, here are TeacherQ’s Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers, in no particular order.

Read as many book blogs as possible before starting your own

“see how others do it”

The best way to learn how to do something is to see how others do it. Blogging is not an exception to this. I had a previous blog I kept as a way to keep track of my reflections on teaching. I got the idea for that blog in the same way I got the idea for this blog–by reading other’s blogs on the same topic/ideas.

When Writing Reviews, Create a Format to Follow

“post consistent reviews”

and know it may change as your blog grows. But, starting with a format helps me post consistent reviews and not forget what I feel is important in a book review. There will be changes and adjustments as you grow as a writer and a blogger. A good place to start developing a format is from going back and looking at the reviews posted by the bloggers you researched in the previous tip. Also, make sure to include links to the author, a GoodReads or Barnes & Noble summary, and any other pertinent information, like past posts or other blogs mentioned.

Read, Comment, Follow

“blogosphere is a community”

Of course, as a book blogger you need to read. But, not just books. You need to continue reading, following, and commenting on other book blogs. The blogosphere is a community and as a community it is important to follow what others are doing, thinking, and writing. I have stumbled across many posts on other blogs to make me think of a book from another angle or vantage point. These are priceless moments, because that’s when I can go back, re-read a story, and delve even further into the story. It is also wise to leave comments for others. Think about how you feel when someone leaves a comment for you. Come on, I know you get a little stroke to your ego, it elates you, even if briefly, and it gives you a sense of accomplishment. And that’s exactly why you need to go out and comment on other blogs.

Begin Simply

“getting something written”

Begin with the first post. The end. Getting something written is the start.

Set Goals

“focused and accountable”

Set a goal. A realistic goal. One you can achieve weekly. At first I wanted simply wanted to make sure I tried to post one book review a week. I also wanted to try to complete at least one book meme a week. I knew this would keep me focused and accountable each week. As an overachiever, I wanted to do EVERYTHING cool I had come across while researching for my own blog. But, I had to be realistic. There was no way I could tie myself to every cool meme, every book I have read (in the past) and wanted to review, and every idea that popped into my head. So, I have scaled back and decided to stick to the weekly Top Ten Tuesday meme, because they are so much fun, writing at least 1 review per week, and this month posting once a day for National Poetry Month.

Post With Some Frequency

“move right on ahead”

To go along with setting goals, you need to post with some regularity or frequency. There is nothing worse than following or checking on a blog that does not update with some regularity. Again, don’t stretch yourself too far to too thin. Not meeting self set goals sometimes backfires to the point of making you feel so guilty you cannot get back into the swing of things. It’s okay to miss deadlines, but don’t give up. Just move right on ahead!

Take Notes While Reading

“what I want to remember to write about”

When reading books for reviews, make sure you are taking notes. You will never remember what page, what quote, or what tiny idea sparked the thoughts you want to write about. Even though I am an English teacher, I don’t take notes over every single detail. I just make sure to have something to write down my thoughts, important quotes, and ideas I want to remember to write about in my review. In fact, I treated myself to a nifty little Book Lover’s Journal from Barnes and Noble to help with this task.

Proofread, Revise, Edit

“professional as possible”

Okay, this is the English Teacher in me, but it is also the desire to be as professional as possible. For an English teacher, there is nothing worse than coming across major typos or grammar mistakes. Especially in blogs written about books. Also, paragraph structure exists for a reason! I understand we are all at different levels of writing maturity, but I also believe if you are writing for public consumption, you should care enough about your work to make sure you are presenting your best efforts. There are many tools at our disposal today to use to help us craft the best writing we are capable of and we should always be striving to grow as a writer. I must remind myself to do this step and it helps for me to use the preview button before hitting publish.

Visual Appeal

“images”

Make your sight visually appealing without being over the top or mundane. Use book covers when you mention a book. Use meme images when following a meme–also, don’t forget to link back to the meme hosts. I am still working on including video links–this is a new step for me and I am usually at school where I don’t have access to videos…lol, but I always link to the video if I can’t imbed it directly. Use colors, fonts, and layouts to mix things up. Play around with the blog theme. I am still using the free version of WordPress and there are so many themes to choose from, which sometimes makes it harder to make a choice. But, it’s okay to switch the theme to see what fits. Just beware, you may have to adjust some things to look better when you switch a theme.

Just Do It!

Get out there and start blogging! It’s a learning and growth experience.

There they are–my top ten Tips for Beginning Book Bloggers. Don’t forget to hope on over to The Broke and Bookish and check out their list for today!

National Poetry Month (16) – Classic/Current Pairs

I love National Poetry Month! And I am pleasantly surprised at myself for keeping up with the daily posts. Yay me!

In previous posts I have mentioned how poetry can scare students off before we even get started. One resource I use to push this fear away is to show students how current lyrics to hip-hop and other genres of music are similar to or have the same poetic devices used as the classical poems many are afraid to read for fear of not understanding. I stumbled across the idea of pairing classic poems with current hip-hop lyrics through Alan Lawrence Sitomer‘s book Hip-Hop Poetry and the Classics.

This book includes lesson plans to use to teach poetic devices, such as imagery, using a classic poem like A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes and a hip-hop song like Juicy by Notorious B. I. G. I have used many of the pairings included in the book and students have always received these lessons well. Using popular culture, like hip hop songs, encourages the students to think critically about the world around them by making those connections between their world and the world before them.

Here is an additional list of poetry/hip hop pairings from Sitomer’s book:

To teach tone: Rakim’s “Paid in Full” with Francis William Bourdillon “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”

To teach symbolism: Ice Cube’s “Three Strikes You In” with Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s “Sympathy”

To teach personification: Common’s “I am Music” with Robert Frost’s “Lodged” or Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror”

To teach metaphors: Mos Def’s “Respiration” with “Weaver” (anonymous)

To teach mood: De La Soul’s “A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays” with Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool”

To teach meaning: Tupac Shakur’s “Me Against the World” with Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”

There are many more opportunities to mix current with classic. These are just a few. Please let me know what you use to connect today’s world with the world of literature that came before.

Thanks for reading and commenting on my National Poetry Month posts!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Deceived! (4)

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, we are asked to consider Books That Were Totally Deceiving. Suggested ideas included covers or titles that don’t fit, summaries different than the book, or books thought to be fluff but ended up far more serious. My list will be a mix of those, as I don’t think I could come up with 10 in one category. So, here is my Top Ten Books That Deceived:

1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. This book grabbed me by the cover. I had passed by this beautifully illustrated cover at least 5 times before finally buying the (on my Nook…lol) to read. I knew nothing about the book, except it was about water for elephants and so I assumed it would be a light read about the circus. Even GoodReads synopsis (linked in the title) mentions only a book about “star-crossed lovers set in the circus world circa 1932.” It was deceiving to me, because I thought it would be a simple, possibly humorous read about people who fall in love at a circus. I had no idea the narrator would be narrating as an elderly man remembering this past. Any book that has an elderly man or couple recalling their youth, akin to The Notebook, holds a special place in my reader’s heart. This one surprised me and I thoroughly enjoyed the read and was pleasantly surprised by the “deception.”

2. Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson. This one was deceptive from a few different angles. The first being the author, himself. I had been an avid Patterson fan for years, ever since first seeing the movie Kiss the Girls. When I found out that movie had been based on a book, I went out and read it. Then I went back and read the whole Alex Cross series and have continued to follow it ever since. When I saw Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, I thought for sure the author was a different James Patterson. I remember thinking to myself, “How could the J.P. I know write a book like this one?” I try not to judge books by their covers or their authors, but it is how I choose books most of the time. Because I was a J.P. fan, I picked it up and read it. Hooked. I could not believe what a beautiful story Patterson was able to weave together. Another deceptive piece comes from the beginning of the novel. At first as one reads, it seems like there may be some questionable relationships happening and this almost turned me off of the book. But I kept reading and am so glad I did. It is a heart wrenching story of love and life and how to keep both balanced for the best of everyone.

3. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. So, I’m not sure what it was about this book that I found deceptive. I think it had to do with the summary on the back. I bought the book because of the cover. I have the red cover w/ black vines. But, the back encouraged me to really give it a read. I love all things related to fairy tales and this book promised to give new life to old tales. I think I found it deceptive because it took SO LONG to get to the really good fairy tale parts. I have NOT finished this book and know I may not find it as deceptive when I finish it. Right now I have a student reading it and hope he finds it interesting enough to finish.

4. Any Charlaine Harris book. I had heard about the “wonder” of the Sookie Stackhouse books for a few months, seen the previews for the True Blood series, and watched the first episode. I was pleasantly surprised by the show, but when I went to read the first book I could not finish it. I found the writing to be too generic and simplified, the humor lacking in any suaveness, and the characters solidly flat, rather than fully dimensional. Did not live up to the hype for me.

5. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I love historical fiction. That and my daughters to die for recommendation encouraged me to give this one a read. My review is here. I felt deceived when I read this book by the title and cover art. The historical side was present. Loved it. The story, not so much. The clockwork angel–needed more of a storyline, I felt. In fact, I can see a whole storyline that could have played out, but didn’t. I haven’t read the next book, so I don’t know if it comes into play in the future, but I was sadly disappointed.

6. Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. As a history teacher I am always looking for fiction and non-fiction alike to share with my students. I had heard rave reviews about Red Badge of Courage — no I had never read it myself as a student — and was excited to read it. NOT! I did not finish it. In fact, I stopped teaching it to my students in the midst of teaching it. I said, “I cannot, in good conscience, teach something I do not enjoy. Let’s find something else.” The kids were just as pleased as I was.

7. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This one was a mix of cover art, title, and summary material deception. I was hoping Flavia would be a Nancy Drewish type character. I was not pleased at all-with the writing, the character or plot development, or the supposed humor. Big disappointment :(.

8. 1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club) by James Patterson. I am not happy putting James Patterson on here (thrice, see #2 & #8 😦 ). I LOVE the Alex Cross series. I LOVE the Maximum Ride series. I love the other’s he has done, like Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas (#2 above). But, the Women’s Murder Club series did not do it for me. I can’t quite put my finger on why. It is his writing. It seems like an interesting premise. I just don’t think it plays out well and I was sadly disappointed.

9. The Beach House by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge. Again, disappointed in Patterson, well not really Patterson as I strongly believe the books he co-authors are written largely by the co-author. I have not found one I enjoy reading. Most of the story lines are far too predictable and the writing style is basic at best.

10. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1) by J R R Tolkein. Why can’t I understand these? I tried reading them again after I watched the movies hoping the background knowledge would help me understand the books. Nope. 😦

There they are–my top ten Deceivers. Don’t forget to hope on over to The Broke and Bookish and check out their list for today!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read in a Day (3)

It’s time for the weekly Top Ten Tuesday. Thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for hosting the meme. Here are my Top Ten Books I could read in a day…

  1. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. I read it in less than 2 hours one afternoon. And, oh, how this story tugged at my very soul. See review here:
  2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. “One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Who can’t want to read such insights in the guise of a children’s book. This is one I frequently re-read.
  3. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan. An eye opener to the complacent Christian. Are we really loving God by living by a checklist–went to church (check), don’t curse (check), pray (check-most of the time)? This book gives you insight into what it really means to have a personal relationship with God.
  4. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. THE love story of love stories. I can’t help but cry every time I read this one. It holds a special place in my heart.
  5. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Fell in love with this love story immediately. This book sold me with the cover. The circus, an elephant, it was graceful and beautiful. And touching. I can’t not read it in one sitting.
  6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Yep, I did it–read it in one sitting! I couldn’t put it down once I started.
  7. PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern. Because we all have loved and lost. This book makes it ok to hurt, to grieve, but also to move on. And it can be read in one sitting.
  8. The Green Mile by Stephen King. I actually purchased the episodic books all at once and read them in one sitting. I have also, since, purchased the full novel. And somehow I can ALWAYS read the series of smaller books more quickly than I can the larger novel. Not sure why, since it is the exact same story.
  9. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell’s books are almost all easily readable in a day. I chose this one because I think it is the one I learned the most from. Very intriguing read.
  10. Any of the Harry Potter novels. I read each of them in one day, because I could not put them down until I had completed them!

Thanks for reading my list.

Please leave a comment and make sure to check out The Broke and Bookish, where this weekly meme is hosted!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Play Hooky With! (2)

Because spring has sprung, this seems such a fitting Top Ten! Not that I am one to play hooky often, but we all need those mental health days. Especially us teachers 😉 ! Thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for such a great topic. Here are my Top Ten Books I would play hooky with, if given the chance…LOL

Note-All book links are to the associated GoodReads book page.

1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I remember seeing the miniseries when it came out on TV so long ago and I love westerns. At one point I worked at a used bookstore for a few months in college and picked up an old, well worn copy of the book. Took it home and it sat on my bookshelf for YEARS. In college, I was double majoring, had two kids, a house, and too much real work to do before reading could happen. When I moved to Arizona, I rediscovered the book when unpacking. One hot summer day I took it to the pool with me thinking, “Hey, if I don’t get it read, I can just lug it back home.” I began it that afternoon and devoured it. I have read it every year (during spring or early summer)!

2. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein. I tried reading the first Lord of the Rings story. It was a no go. It’s something about the way Tolkein writes and the new worlds, languages, and people I had to try to follow. It just didn’t work. But, last night MiniQ brought home The Hobbit and was excitedly telling me about the first few chapters . I opened the book and read the first couple of pages and thought, “huh, maybe I can read this!”

3. The Shack by William P Young. This one has been recommended to me by so many people. And, I had a student do an amazing book project over it last semester. I need to give it a read.

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Another one that has been recommended by several. Must read. Soon.

5. Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dunbar. I was a HUGE fan of the first book they put out together. I am NOT an economics major, minor, or even dabbler by any stretch of the imagination. But, they way these fellas have explained cause and effects in regards to economics is nothing if not thought provoking.

6. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. I started this one over a year ago. I haven’t gotten to finish it. I think I started it right before school started, which means I had no time with the new move, new job, and other new things filling life. However, the movie is coming out this summer and I MUST see it! So, of course, my rule–Read the book, see the movie–must be followed.

7. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I did play hooky to read this the first time ;-). Actually, I had a legitimate reason for being absent. And, I know it can be read in a day. It’s one of my guilty pleasure reads.

8. Any book of poetry with Dickinson, Poe, Whitman, Angelou, Hughes, and more!

9. The Odyssey by Homer. One of my favorite classics to re-read. I can’t put it down!

10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. This is my story. I read this as a young girl and remember thinking–she’s just like me. She wonders. She thinks. She asks. She finds. She seeks. She’s me. Still.

So, there you have it. 10 books I would love to take a day off to simply sit underneath a weeping willow tree, with an ice cold glass of lemonade, my book, and me.

Spring Break TBR

Spring Break for TeacherQ and MiniQ begins tomorrow!

Officially, MiniQ began her SB today, but she is babysitting and didn’t take a book to read.

We will have a lot of free time and TeacherQ plans on spending a big chunk of it reading! Here are our lists:

TeacherQ

School Reading (these are the books my students will be reading for the remainder of the semester)
  • Farewell to Manzanar, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
For Fun Reading (because I can)
  • Matched, Ally Condie
  • The Clockwork Angel, Cassandra Clare
To Finish Reading (because they have been started for so long!)
  • Lawyers in Hell, Janet Morris and Chris Morris (Eds.)
  • Myth Adventures, Robert Asprin
  • Black Magic Sanction, Kim Harrison
Nonfiction Reading (because I am a geek 🙂 )
  • Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude, Emily White **Gave up on this one…can’t read it right now 😦
  • Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, Daniel Okrent