Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I've Read The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, please click here!

Today's Topic: Authors I've Read The Most Books From

Young Adult Picks:

#1 - JK Rowling 
Author of the Harry Potter series (obviously!) - I've read all the books once myself and am now going through them again with my daughters. I need to pick up her adult title and give it a shot. She's such a generous and kind woman, I'm happy to support her. (And she once retweeted me, so there's that - lol!)

#2 - Jerry Spinelli
Author of Stargirl, Wringer, Loser, Milkweed, and SO many other great books that kids love.  When I taught fifth grade, we read Maniac Magee every year....
#3 - Beverly Cleary
All the wonderful Ramona books alone would have this author on my list! But Dear Mr. Henshaw has a special place in my heart along with Runaway Ralph and the Ribsy books.

#4 - Judy Blume
Right after my Beverly Cleary phase, I dove right into my Judy Blume era...
To this day, I still FEEL like Peter, and Sheila, and Margaret were childhood friends. My classroom library would not be complete without Are You There, God? It's Me Margaret. And I'm loving the new updated covers!

#5 - Laura Ingalls Wilder
A confession: I once ate NOTHING but baked potatoes for two days straight to get the FULL experience of The Long Winter. My summers were spent running through the woods across from my house pretending I was avoiding panther attacks in the Big Woods. I BEGGED my mom to make recipes from the Little House Cookbook and was so bummed when we couldn't find a rabbit to stew. HA!  If you want a funny look back on the series, here is great Jezebel post on Little House:"I Play With A Pig Bladder Like It's a Balloon!" (LOL!!)

Adult Picks:

#6  - Jane Austen
My year would not be complete if I hadn't reread something by Austen...  Pride & Prejudice is my favorite but my first contact with Jane Austen was actually Sense & Sensibility.

#7 - Barbara Kingsolver
I was introduced to The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams in high school and have devoured everything Kingsolver has written since. My favorites are Prodigal Summer, Flight Behavior, and The Lacuna (this last is AMAZING - especially on audio!)

#8 - Margaret Atwood
Author of the post apocalyptic Maddaddam Trilogy, the Penelopiad, Alias Grace and SO many other incredible novels, essays, and non-fiction works, I'm so glad she's prolific so I've got lots more reading to look forward to.  The Handmaid's Tale alone should be required reading by EVERYONE.

#9 - Bill Bryson
From his travel books (Neither Here Nor There .... A Walk in the Woods - which will be a MOVIE this fall - YES!) to his exploration of a particular time in history (One Summer: America, 1927 ) - I'm willing to go on any journey Bryson wants to share. My all time favorite Bryson book is A Short History of Nearly Everything - that book totally changed my perception of the universe and my place in it.

#10 - Charlaine Harris
Yep - I've read every one of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series. And even though my interest waned about half-way through I pushed on to the end to see what happened.

Okay, fellow readers! Who are your most-read authors?

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Monday, August 10, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 8/10/15

A less productive reading week this time, but I still fit in some great books while on vacation!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys and then refocused onto KidLit by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. It's a fantastic way to reflect on your reading and discover great new titles by connecting with the other bloggers that link up.  

I finished reading:

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
What can I say about this book? It came so highly recommended that I was worried I'd be disappointed. Not at all! And I'm really looking forward to participating in the 2015 Global Read Aloud this year featuring this book. Ally is a character every teacher should know.

The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel by Ann M. Martin & Raina Telgemeier
I think I actually screeched in the library when I discovered this graphic novel version of one of my favorite childhood series - by RAINA! Win-win! I've only delayed reading it because I couldn't pry it out of my daughter's hands.  :-)

Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy
This collection is amazing and oh so WEIRD! While it includes some familiar stories - Snow White, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, etc...  each tale has a strange little twist to it.  And my daughters' favorites were the bizarre obscure stories like The Prince and the Tortoise (DON'T ASK!), The Boy Who Drew Cats (quietly creepy for sure...), and The Small Tooth Dog (in the words of my daughter: "Wait. WHAT?!!")  We've had LOTS of laughs reading these out loud before bed this week.

Babymouse: Queen of the World by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
I wanted to really like this book and while it was okay.... it was... JUST okay.
I tried prompting my 8 year old to read it (she loves pink! this book is pink!) but she gave up 1/3 of the way through. Meh.

The Boleyn Deceit (Book 3) by Laura Anderson (Adult Audio Book)
Such a great series! I am always intrigued by alternative histories, and I have a soft spot for the Tudors. However... in the midst of the story, I had forgotten the brutality that those fascinating Tudors were famous for. I hate it when awful things happen to my favorite characters, so that was a rough listen, but the ending redeemed the earlier difficult spots. 

I am currently reading:

Less on my plate since I just got back from a fantastic three day trip to Hersheypark in PA. My oldest daughter is now tall enough to ride most of the coasters - my stomach is STILL recovering - ha! Here is me reading on 81 North while my sweet husband drives. 

AND.... at first I was psyched to see hundreds of books in the lobby of our hotel!  THEN I noticed they were all selected because their covers were blue.  Not cool, Sheraton. Not cool...

What was your reading life like this week? Comment below or link up!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Fairytale Retellings

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, please click here!

Today's Topic: Ten Fairytale Retellings

Children's & Young Adult Picks:

#1 - Brick Fairy Tales 
I just love all the "brick" books! In this series, all the illustrations are done using LEGOs - how awesome is that? And like the best illustrated books, you'll be exploring the pictures long after you've read the book to catch all the things you missed the first time.

#2 - Snow White in New York by Fiona French
This is Snow White with a Roaring Twenties twist! With gorgeous art deco illustrations and a clever retelling of the classic, this is always on my read-aloud list every year.

#3 - The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith
Point of view is everything - and this fun read certainly makes that clear!

#4 - The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I'll admit it. I totally fell for the premise of this book the first time I read it as a kid, and it was only on rereading it a few years ago that the whole S. Morgenstern "unabridged" version premise seemed a bit dodgy. Still one of my forever favorites, I have the special reunion scene I requested from the publisher tucked carefully into my book.

#5 - Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists
This anthology is a fun, colorful and diverse collection of fairy tales illustrated by various artists like Raina Telgemeier, Luke Pearson, and Jaime Hernandez. Aside from great retellings of both familiar and hilariously odd tales - this book will also serve as a great introduction to some fantastic graphic artists. Can't wait to add this one to my classroom library!

Adult Picks:

#6 & #7 - American Gods & the sequel Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
This amazing book imagines that "the gods of European yore, who came to North America with their immigrant believers, are squaring off for a rumble with new indigenous deities: gods of credit cards and freeway, of Internet and telephone..."

#8 - The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
I love a retelling from a different point of view and this incredible book tells the story of the myth of Odysseus from his wife Penelope's perspective. And no worries - this novel is much shorter that Homer's epic!

#9 - The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
This novel imagines the lives of Jacob's four wives from the Biblical story in Genesis. Fascinating!

#10 - The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
Inspired by "The Robber Bridegroom", Atwood recasts the villain as Zenia - a woman who burrows her way into three woman's lives to wreck what each holds the most dear.

What do you think?  What are your favorite fairytale retellings?

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Monday, August 3, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 8/3/15

I finished up a great reading week and celebrated my first successful #bookaday challenge for July!
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys and then refocused onto KidLit by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. It's a fantastic way to reflect on your reading and discover great new titles by connecting with the other bloggers that link up.  

I finished reading:

33 Minutes by Todd Hasak-Lowy
Sam Lewis is about to get his butt kicked in 33 minutes by his (former?) best friend, Morgan. I love books that slow down time to stretch out moments and these 33 minutes are packed with poignant details about two long-time friends that are growing apart as they change. The beginning is hilarious and chock full of one crazy thing after another until those last couple of pages that left me.... feeling.  What a powerful last word!

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry & Tom Lichtenheld
Sweet rhyming story about two friends. Loved it!

My Teacher is a Monster! by Peter Brown
This clever book is about how a boy's perceptions of his stomping, roaring teacher change when they unexpectedly meet in a park. No spoilers but the illustration details here are key.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
My daughters and I loved this book - groaning over all the spectacular things the boys miss and then comparing the world they left with the world they fall into  Although.... I gotta say - this book kind of gave me a mini existential crisis!  Where are they? If they go in the house, will their parents have different colored hair? They fell so far - they can't ever get back - aaahhhhh!!  ;-)

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess
Professional development book for July with lots of awesome hooks to boost engagement in the classroom.  Although slightly overwhelming to this introverted teacher, I'll do my best to get my pirate on this fall!

I am currently reading:

I joined up with a Learn Like a Pirate Facebook Discussion Group for August- check it out!

I am currently listening to:

Such a fun audio book!  It's also available on Kindle Unlimited so I can peek at the pictures, too when I want.

What have you been reading this week? Comment below or link up!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists. For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, please click here!

Today's Topic: Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

It was interesting to go back through my Goodreads lists and realize just how much I enjoy books about reading and about readers. While I could list WAY more than ten - here are my top 5 YA and top 5 Adult books featuring characters who love stories and books. 

 Young Adult Picks:


 A favorite of mine as a child, I loved Sara Crewe's stories and resilience.
“Never did she find anything so difficult as to keep herself from losing her temper when she was suddenly disturbed while absorbed in a book. People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over them at such a moment. The temptation to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy to manage."

2. Hermione (Harry Potter)
Hermione Granger was one of those rare reader characters who actually spends a significant amount of the story really reading. She's gone for hours in the Hogwart's library to emerge ready to save the day.
"When in doubt, go to the library."

3. Despereaux (A Tale of Despereaux)
Poor little Despereaux! I can completely relate to getting so immersed in a story that it infiltrates your dreams.
“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark."

4. Amanda (Maniac Magee)
A favorite of our class when I taught 6th grade, Amanda Beale loved her books so much she dragged them to school in a suitcase so her little brother and sister wouldn't wreck them. 
“Amanda took the torn page from Maniac. To her, it was the broken wing of a bird, a pet out in the rain.”  

5. Liesel (The Book Thief)
My dear, sweet Liesel.... this child worked her way so much into my heart that I tear up a little now thinking of how she painstakingly learned to read through that first awful book. I've experienced this book twice - once reading and once as an audio - and I'll never hear accordion music without feeling a pang for Liesel's Papa.
"Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.” 

Adult Picks:

6. Marianne & Elinor (Sense & Sensibility)
I love that sisters Elinor & Marianne have such a rich reading life that Marianne's most stinging criticism about Elinor's potential suitor is that he reads aloud horribly.
"Oh! mama, now spiritless, how tame was Edward's manner in reading to us last night! I felt for my sister most severely... To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!"

This entire book is populated with thoughtful readers - both those long-time readers like Juliet, and those forced (at first) into reading by the need to make true their alibi during the war.
“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” 

8. Queen Elizabeth (The Uncommon Reader
This funny novella features a chance encounter between Queen Elizabeth II and a mobile library that leads to her sudden and deep passion for reading for pleasure.
“Books are not about passing time. They're about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting time to pass, one just wishes one had more of it. If one wanted to pass the time one could go to New Zealand.” 

9. Margaret (The Thirteenth Tale)
The insightful and poetic commentary on reading and writing in this book make it one of my favorites despite the way the plot seems to get warped at the end.
“All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes -- characters even -- caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.” 
While 99% of these fun vampire & werewolf & witch & shapeshifter & fairy novels are all about the paranormal, I love how the main character pines for a simple day of basking in the sun with a romance novel.
“They say there's no harm in daydreaming, but there is.” 

What do you think?  What are your favorite books featuring book nerds?

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