Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Books of 2009

Hmm... I hate to repeat what others have already said, but I have to say that Katniss and Peeta and Katsa and Po enthralled me in the YA category this year. These fiesty women and their sidekicks just thrilled me to no end. They are definitely at the top of my list!

In the adult fiction category, I would have to say that I loved Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, and FLW still lingers in my mind...

And, my favorite teacher book this year would HAVE to be Kelly Gallagher's Readicide. If all teachers would read this and follow Gallagher's suggestions, then we wouldn't have a reading crisis in our schools--

Out with 2009...and not too Soon!

As you can tell by the title, I was not too thrilled with 2009. It began [crappy] day ONE and didn't quite let up. I hate to sound maudlin at the end of the year, but I would have to chalk this one up as one of the worst. And, I still have much to be grateful for. My family is healthy and happy, my marriage is in tact, my job is rewarding and yet the world seems to have crashed down around me during this year. I won't go into details but I have some uplifting ways to end this post.

1. I have been keeping a gratitude journal since Thanksgiving and it's been a wonderful uplifting piece of the Holidays. In fact, I give it credit for my literally sailing through the last month or so virtually stress-free! :) I will definitely continue this tradition into 2010.

2. My resolutions are as follows (besides #1): to use my gifts of baking and teaching to help others, to meet my weight goal, and other religious goals that I don't really need to display to the world.

3. I would like to let people know about this great website called 29 Gifts (there is a book too). I am definitely going to sign up on Jan. 1 (tomorrow) to start my decade off on a positive note
I love the calendar where you can keep track of what you give and what you receive.

4. I will remember what my priest told me recently: "Even if you end up with nothing, you still have each other."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Faith, Hope and Ivy June

This was a sweet book that I picked up in audio from NCTE and my own children really enjoyed hearing it as well. Ivy June is chosen for a first-time exchange program with a wealthy school called Buckner Academy. She will go and live for two weeks with Catherine Combs in Lexington, Kentucky and Catherine will then spend two weeks in Cumberland Gap, Kentucky. This is like city mouse and country mouse but so heartwarming it makes you want to cry. I really did at the end! Driving around with tears on my cheeks. Naylor is adept at creating a beautifully scenic story full of endearing humans. This is a great novel for any tween and Ivy June's grandfather (Paw Paw) will surely bring to mind any beloved relative of your own. The audio version was very well done by Karen White, whose accents for the city and country families was wonderful!


Merry Christmas! I can't believe I got so caught up in the Christmas spirit that I forgot to blog! I have been reading though....

The biggest news is that Santa brought me the Kindle I've been so longing for and we're off to Indiana today- I have 4 books packed in one tiny, thin little e-reader. I am so geeked about this. On the way to NCTE this year I started up a conversation with a woman about her Kindle and we talked the rest of the flight. I have been obsessed with the little thing for about a year now. My husband's greatest worry is that I'll bankrupt us with loading books onto it. Currently, I have the following: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton and The Life of Saint Benedict (can't forget the Benedictine part of me). Why no YA books? Well, I'm currently trying to finish LIAR by Justine Larbalestier in ARC form and then I am working on other ARCs from Penguin (which aren't available in Kindle format). Well, I had to compromise somewhere.

I did, however, blow through Splendor by Anna Godbersen, which is the 4th book in the Luxe series. This is my guilty little YA pleasure. History and slightly better "gossip girl" stuff rolled into one. Better clothes by far.

I was glad Godbersen stayed true to the characters she had created but it was a little too neat for me in the end. The novel didn't really imitate real life for me but teen girls will find twists, I'm sure. A couple of the characters really did learn the hard way, but too many people seemed to show up at "exactly" the right time. Here is a short synopsis by character.

Penelope- Tired of life with Henry who isn't interested in her after he returns from the war, Penelope goes looking for more "excitement."

Henry- is finally experiencing and learning what it is to be a real man and not a spoiled rich boy.

Elizabeth- is carrying Will's child but learning dark secrets about her husband's past.

Diana- is following her dreams even though she has all she could have ever hoped for.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wake by Lisa McCann- First in a trilogy

Janie is haunted by other people’s dreams. She is mysteriously drawn into the crazy and mundane dreams of her high school classmates like being naked at a football game. No one else knows of her ability because she doesn’t know how she would explain it. But, all of a sudden she is drawn into a haunting and gruesome dream that involves a man with knives for fingers. Then enters Cabel who has been transformed over the summer into “superhotguy”. He and Janie are instantly attracted to each other and share a very rocky relationship throughout the novel. Cabel has a secret, however. He also can enter the dreams of other people. And, he has a secret job Janie doesn’t know about or understand until the end of the novel. Janie’s alcoholic mother is all but absent so this novel is about adolescents on their own. After a party where many people get arrested for drug use- including Cabel- Janie puts the pieces of her dreams and her relationship back together.
This novel will appeal to reluctant readers because it is fast paced and a quick read. Janie is a very realistic character and her budding romance with Cabel will appeal to teens. This is the first in a trilogy- 2nd book Fade was out Feb, 2009 and Feb. 2010 Gone will be published.

Savvy- By Ingrid Law

Mississippi Beaumont (known to her family as Mibs) is about to turn 13 and that’s when the members of her family find out their savvy or secret power. Her brother, Rocket, can create electricity, her brother Fish can conjure storms and hurricanes, her grandfather can move the earth in the form of quakes and her mother is perfect in everything she does. However, just before her birthday, Mibs’ dad is in a huge accident on the freeway and is in a coma in a hospital quite far away. Mibs’ mom and brother Rocket go immediately to tend to her father while the rest of the 5 children in the family stay with the pastor’s family.
On the morning of her 13th birthday Mibs seems to have the ability to wake people and thus she believes this is her savvy. At an impromptu birthday party thrown for her, Mibs leaves and states she is leaving for the hospital. Perhaps she can wake her father as well. She sneaks aboard the bus of the bible selling man followed by an entourage of her two younger brothers and a brother/sister pair who are the children of the pastor and his wife.
This unusual assortment of characters continues on their bus adventures while trying to reach Mibs’ father at the hospital. Along the way Mibs’ discovers that her savvy is actually related to ink. The tattoos of those around her actually come alive and talk- telling Mibs exactly what the person is thinking or feeling. In addition, Mibs can hear the ink drawn on anyone’s hand which creates quite a cacophony at certain times in the novel, but eventually ends up helping her in various ways.
Savvy is a sweet, feel-good kind of novel with honest and touching characters making some rather large discoveries about themselves. And, it’s not just the teens in the novel who have these flashes of self-realization

Thirteen Reasons Why

I can't believe I haven't read this yet! What a wonderful novel and I'm flabbergasted that it's been challenged in different places. I was intrigued by the sexual bullying premise and I love how Asher captured what rumors can actually do to someone's reputation. And, the character of Clay Jensen was very real, right down to his ability to cry. Does Asher know females love that character in a male? At NCTE I heard Asher speak on a panel about censorship. He talked about how he wrote two different scenes for his editor for the "hot tub" part, and the editor chose to go with the more graphic version. However, that is usually the reason, says Asher, that his book is banned.

Since I have a little time tonight, I will post some of my book talks from our session at NCTE.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I found this cool poem format on Miss Rumphius and challenged my students to write one for their Reading Response this week. All haynakus published are written by students and about their books. See Comments.