Sunday, January 31, 2010
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Larsson Stieg. I can't tell you how many of you highly - and I mean highly - recommended this book. However, I think Kay offered some sage advice: wait and read this book when I have the time to read the entire trilogy! So with that, I have decided to wait until summer to begin this mesmerizing series.
- American Rust by Philipp Meyer. This has received some wonderful reviews in the bloggosphere, and some have even gone so far as to compare this debut author with John Steinbeck. However, after reading the first 20 or so pages I decided that this is not the book for me for now. The writing style is very fragmented, and while I am sure this is indicative of the subject matter and characters' way of thinking/speaking - I am truly not in the mood to read a depressing, disjointed tale. I will add this to the TBR list and perhaps comes back to it at another point in time.
- The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker. I am already enthralled with Truly and I simply must discover the true story behind Dr. Robert Morgan (and why is he never referred to in first name only?) I love the author's writing style: so descriptive using very unusual metaphors that transmits emotion as well as accurate detail.
- Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler. I have not read this author before, but I can understand why she is popular. I was instantly drawn into this novel, mostly because I could totally relate to Liam, the main character, who at the age of 61 has been "forced" to retire from teaching. But more than that, the author's easy writing style has gently carried me along in this narrative. I am anxious to discover what truly happened to Liam and what he has blocked out of his memory; I already care deeply about this man's future.
- Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. Again, after only reading two short chapters I am very much involved in the lives of these three women and the caring relationship they share with one another. I am also wondering what role Mrs. Kelly plays in their lives, because right now she is not a woman that I trust with a ten foot pole. I must admit that I had a personal interest in this story as I used to live in New York City. I think once a Yankee, always a Yankee.
- Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin. Ok - so many of you ranted and raved about this book that I truthfully had my doubts that it could live up to the hype. Well, I am eating my words now. It is fantastic! I really know nothing about Alice in Wonderland nor its author, Lewis Carroll, but I am totally engrossed in this historical fiction narrative of the "real Alice." I expect that this will be the first book that finish.
- The Motion of the Ocean by Jana Cawrse Esarey. This would be the surprise book of the stack. I absolutely LOVE her writing style. She is witty, funny, poignant, and descriptive. She uses a bit more colorful language than perhaps I am accustomed to....but that doesn't matter. I care deeply about her story - and I know that if it gets too serious, she will be sure to throw in enough humor to keep me from becoming too melancholy. This is probably the second book that I will finish as I feel it is the perfect book for me at this point in my life.
- Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. I discovered this series while searching for the Percy Jackson series online. Five years ago I would not be caught dead with a fantasy novel in my hand. It isn't that I have anything "against" them, but I just don't "get" them. At that time I forced myself to read The Hobbit as a compromise activity with my British literature class, and that has warmed me up to the genre, just a bit. I am currently listening to the Harry Potter series and totally enjoying that experience. I know that I will come back to the Fablehaven books soon and read the series as I found the opening chapter very well written and captivating. I feel that I should read the Percy Jackson series first, however, since so many of my students have told me that it is "amazing" Fablehaven is definitely high on the TBR list!
- Mr. Dixon Disappears by Ian Sansom. After reading the first page (and perhaps that is too generous....the first paragraph), I decided that I must add this book to my personal library collection. I will gladly return this copy to the library for someone else to discover, and I will soon read the series in its entirety -- chuckling as I go.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
- 2 pounds ground beef (I use 93% fat free)
- 1/2 head cabbage, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 18 slices American Cheese (I prefer grated)
- 1 egg (optional - I do not use it)
- sesame seeds to garnish (again, I do not use)
- Brown beef in a large skillet. Do not drain. Add onion and cabbage and continue cooking until onion is soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool.
- After rolls have thawed, assemble bierrocks one at a time. Roll dough as thin as possible. Place cheese on dough (I use a healthy "pinch" - perhaps 1.5 Tablespoons) and then top with filling (I used approximately 2.5 Tablespoons). Fold over and seal like a turnover (I grab all corners at the top, pinch together, and create a round ball).
- Place on baking sheet (I use Parchment paper for easy clean-up), brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional) and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown (my oven runs hot so I cook them about 20-25 minutes).
- Serve immediately or cool and freeze.
Friday, January 29, 2010
- Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips to Clean up your Writing and...
- Grammar Girls' Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. I am the grammar teacher at school and, not surprisingly....grammar is not a favorite among the student body. I am hoping that this audio series will either give me some ideas to help spice up my classroom OR....I can use these audio clips in the classroom so students will realize that it is not just Mrs. T's boring subject matter -- but actually supported by others in the country.
- On Writing by Stephen King - performed by Stephen King. Belle at Ms. Bookish raved about this audio book which is read by the author. I know that the book is considered a modern classic among those books on writing - and I figured that if it is read by the master himself, if must be excellent!
- Leaving a Trace by Alexandra Johnson. To be honest, I do not remember what bunny trail led me to this book, but I am grateful. This non-fiction book focuses on how to journal with intent. I think this might be the place for me to begin my budding writing endeavors.
- Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. Again, I am not sure how I came across this series, but I think it had to do with my recent interest in the Percy Jackson series that my students absolutely, positively LOVE.
- The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse Esarey. I read several favorable reviews of this memoir in January and I knew that it was one that I would enjoy. I hope I have the time to read it in its entirety.
- On Writer's Block: A New Approach to Creativity by Victoria Nelson. I am sure that I have mentioned more than once my desire to write - but my lack of ideas has me worried. I am hoping that this book might help me break through some of those self-imposed barriers.
- Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin. I reserved this book for several reasons. First of all, it came highly recommended from several book bloggers. Secondly, the March 2010 release of Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, has renewed an interest in this classic not only for me - but for my students. I made a bargain with my English 1 class that if they truly "studied" the original fantasy story - then we could go see the movie in 3-D. I want to read this book as an enrichment to the unit of study.
- Turning Life into Fiction by Robin Hemley. Are you noticing a pattern here? I know I want to investigate this writing interest -- but I am just not sure which direction to follow. Non-fiction is less scary to me, so when I saw the title of this book, I thought I would give it a try.
- Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler. I really, really, really hope that I have the time to read this one. It is paired with several books that I have enjoyed reading in the past, including The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Yes, I know...nearly every other thriller lover in the bloggersphere has read (and ranted and raved about) this book - but somehow I never got around to reading it. Again, I sure hope I have the time to do so before I need to return it.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
- Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?
- What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? OR your least favorite?
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
First I should introduce you to the term "dialectic journals" Students in all three classes (8th grade is excluded) are bemoaning the fact that I make them do this tedious chore. What is a dialectic journal you ask? It is notebook where students write down quotes from the book that they find significant - and then explain to me why they chose that particular text. Quotes can be selected for diction (eloquent word choice - which will help students become better writers themselves) - character development - theme development - possible foreshadowing (and what they predict will happen) - personal connections they see in the story - connections to other books and/or movies that they recognize - well, you get the idea. What students rarely realize is that this tedious chore is actually making them responsible for their own learning. Hopefully they will end the unit more confident in picking up any work of literature to discover meaning for themselves.
"Very well. We now come to a point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it (the proposal). Is not it so, Mrs. Bennet?""Yes, or I will never see her again.""An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. - Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do. (page 206 )"
"...But I don't think it is social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you? An hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures, and more sports, but do you know, we never ask questions or at least most don't; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film teacher. That's not social to me at all. ..... They run us so ragged by the end of the day we can't do anything but go to bed or head for a Fun Park to bully people around, break windowpanes in the Window Smasher place or wreck cards in the Car Wrecker place with the big steel ball. ....."I'm afraid of children my own age. They kill each other. Did it always use to be that way? My uncle says no. Six of my friends have been shot in the last year alone. Ten of them have died in car wrecks...." (pages 29-30)
You have her father's love, Demetrius.Let me have Hermia's. Do you marry him (I i 95-96)
The Bagginses had lived in the neighborhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. (page 4)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page.
They are flying toward the oldest part of London, the city proper, the area inside London Wall, where spooky little streets wind around like snakes slithering into stone burrows. It is filled with banks these days, but it's where the Romans once lived, where the Vikings and Saxon lords ruled, where witches told gruesome tales, and wretched medieval men and women were whipped and tortured in public. (page 31)This is a great book so far and one that I think I will suggest my 7th grade students read when we complete our mystery unit in the Spring.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Where do you keep any books borrowed from friends or the library? Do they live with your own collection, or do you keep them separate? Do you monitor them in any way?
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
- I have less than 100 pages left in The Swan Thieves - which I hope to finish tonight. It would be my goal to have the review written this weekend (but suffice it to say, I have enjoyed every single page!)
- I still continue to read Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman a little bit at a time.
- I am listening to the Harry Potter series (for the first time) while walking the treadmill (I am hoping that if I only listen while exercising it will actually help motivate me to do it). I am thoroughly enjoying the first book and am probably about 75% through it.
- For school, I am currently reading Volume I chapters 10-16 of Pride and Prejudice. We are knee deep into the obsequious character of Mr. Collins, and I am very anxious to hear the students' comments regarding this comical fellow.
- My 9th grade class has just started Fahrenheit 451 and I love discussing the fact that Ray Bradbury wrote this book in the 1950s when technology was just beginning to take hold and schools were mostly concerned with chewing gum in class --- and how accurately he depicted our current society of the 21st century.
- I will be introducing The Hobbit to my 7th graders - and we will be reading the book nice and slow (approximately two chapters per week). I plan to listen to the audiobook as a change of pace. We focused on fairy tales first semester - and the Hobbit will be a nice way to end that particular unit.
- My 8th grade class is now starting to memorize lines from A Midsummer Night's Dream in order to perform the play in an hour's timeframe. This week we will be watching 4 different film versions (the first scene only) and discussing the different ways in which directors have interpreted the play. Once students decide how they wish to perform our version, we will begin to cut the lines to fit the time slot.
- I would love to read Possession, as I have been so inspired by A. S. Byatt lately. But that book is a little over 600 pages and I am just not sure that I will have the time to finish before it is due to be returned at the library.
- My other consideration is Surviving Hitler by Andrea Warren. I just learned that the author will be giving a writing workshop at my daughter's school, and I may have the opportunity to sneak in the back and listen. I feel that I need to read at least one of her books, although I am very interested in the book she is currently writing, Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London, due to be released in the fall, 2011.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Perhaps the most important thing to say about my books," remarked Byatt, "is that they try to be about the life of the mind as well as of society and the relations between people. I admire - am excited by - intellectual curiosity of any kind (scientific, linguistic, psychological) and also by literature as a complicated, huge, interrelating pattern. I also like recording small observed facts and feelings. I see writing and thinking as a passionate activity, like any other." (pages ix - x)
"The ur-Gestalt of Possession was a grey cloudy web, ghostly and spidery, to do with the ghostliness and connectedness of the original idea....I imagined my text as a web of scholarly quotations and parodies through which the poems and writings of the dead should loom at the reader, to be surmised and guessed at." (page xii)"....there is a Gothic plot, I thought, of violence and skulduggery. The Gestalt got more lurid, purple, black, vermilion, with flying white forms." (page xii - xiii)"....I had been thinking a lot about the pleasure principle in art. Art does not exist for politics, or for instruction - it exists primarily for pleasure, or it is nothing. It can do the other things if it gives pleasure, as Coleridge knew, and said. And the pleasure of fiction is narrative discovery, as it was easy to say about television serials and detective stories, but not, in those days, about serial novels." (page xiii)"....The Gestalt in my mind changed colour and form and became delicious - all green and gold, the colours of Tennyson illustrations in my mind as a child, of dream landscapes, of childhood imaginings of a world brighter and more jewel-like than this one." (page xiv)
Monday, January 18, 2010
The one thing that does not abide by majority's rule is a person's conscience (page 105)
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
- I was actually a French major (even though I teach English);
- I played flute for several years and even debated about majoring in music (sadly, the flute has sat in the corner for about 2 decades now);
- my one literary vice is that I LOVE reading People magazine (I figure it is a lifestyle that I will never experience myself);
- I think the Chipotle carnitas burrito with black beans is about the most perfect food in town
- I am a born Texan - transplanted Yankee - living in the Midwest - with dreams of traveling to Europe.
Paul Collins and his family abandoned the hills of San Francisco to move to the Welsh countryside-to move, in fact, to the village of Hay-on-Wye, the "Town of Books" that boasts fifteen hundred inhabitants-and forty bookstores. Taking readers into a secluded sanctuary for book lovers, and guiding us through the creation of the author's own first book, Sixpence Housebecomes a heartfelt and often hilarious meditation on what books mean to us.
We have one last hope for a home in Way: Sixpence House.We have shied away from the Sixpence before. It is a desanctified pub, huge and rambling and hundreds of years old, thumped down squarely into the middle to town. Everyone in town, it seems, knows about the Sixpence House. Here is what they know:
Corollary to this:
- It is a dump.
- Everyone who buys it tries to sell it again, except that
- They can't sell it.
- It has a cellar full of water, and, oh, yes,
- It is a dump. (page 148)
Hay-on-Wye, you see, is The Town of Books. This is because it has fifteen hundred inhabitants, five churches, four grocers, two newsagents, one post office.....and forty bookstores. Antiquarian bookstores, no less. And they are in antiquarian buildings: there are scarcely any buildings in Hay proper that are under a hundred years old; not many, even, that are under two hundred years old. There are easily several million books secreted away in these stores and in outlying barns around the town; thousands of books for every man, woman, child, and sheepdog - first editions of Wodehouse, 1920s books in Swahili, 1970s books on macrame, pirated Amsterdam editions of Benjamin Franklin's treatise on electricity, and maybe even a few unpulped copies of John Major's autobiography. (pages 22-23)
Not every book at Booth's is a lost treasure. You have to sift through a lot of rubble first. (page 101)
One could fairly say that Clare and Diana, though not rooted in the town's past, are the faces of its future. For a town that once subsisted on butter and wool - selling it, not eating it - Hay has seen a great many changes in its economy and its populace. With the exception of the bookseller Derek Addyman, almost nobody in the town's book trade is actually from Hay. It is a town composed of refugees from London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, the states, anyplace but the Welsh countryside. The town bookbinder came from Illinois, the copy shop owner from California, and even Diana herself - to my shock, for I cannot think of anyone more English than Diana - was born in Chicago. Hay is a town of travelers who stopped; it is where urbanites come to hide from their home cities and from the tentacles of big-city traders and publishers. (page 103)