Saturday, January 24, 2015

Celebration 1/24

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  • I am cautiously optimistic about the change in leadership at my school. We all were nervous about this really messed-up situation. A higher-level administrator in Central Services was demoted and placed at our school. This bumped out the Assistant Principal who was acting as Principal for our school. We were all upset about this change because we really loved what the Assistant Principal was doing. She was moving us in a great direction. At first, they were going to take this person away from us and bring in the other person. Then, they changed their minds, due in part to pressure from parents, and left her at our building along with the new person. Now, we have two really strong administrators. It seems to be going well. The few things I was worried about don't seem to be happening. Our school is transitioning well and I think we will continue to move in the positive direction that we were moving in. 

  • The last two weeks, my niece had her first dance lessons. My sister has been sending me videos and pictures of the class. It has been lighting up my day to see the joy that is in the room with all those toddlers learning to dance. Plus, the tutus!!!

  • The ridiculously miserable cold that has been hanging around me all week seems to be getting better and going away. I don't have as much congestion this morning. Maybe I will actually be able to get something done today!

  • Friday was record day for us at school. I was able to clean and organize my classroom. I also put together the cart I bought from IKEA. I bought it so that I would have a place for my document camera. It fits perfectly. It is going to be so much better for me. I know I will be using the camera more frequently now. 

  • I talked to the new principal and got permission to rework my class schedule. I had been following a master schedule that was given to us by the principal with whom we started the year. I am super excited about flipping my schedule around because it will give me more time for literacy. I have been trying to fit everything into a too-packed morning and falling short. 

  • My husband and I have been watching Friends on Netflix. It is so fun to watch the show. I can't believe that it already was 20 years ago that these episodes were airing for the first time. 

  • My package from Erin Condren arrived on Wednesday. I bought a package they put together for New Years. I can't wait to start using my new colorful budget planner and health journal. I also bought some pretty address labels. I know it will make my day to use those labels. Yay for pretty stationary!
What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/12

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? --From Picture Books to YA is a weekly meme started by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. This is a chance for bloggers to recap their week of reading and share their plans for the next reading adventures they will take. Visit the host blogs for a list of great blogs participating in this meme and a whole bunch of titles to add to your to-read lists.

Books I Finished This Week:

Rick Riordan is a genius at what he does. I have loved every single one of his books, and The Blood of Olympus is no exception. I really admire his ability to write about these really difficult issues and violent battles while keeping the book appropriate for middle grade students. I love how much I learn about Greek and Roman mythology and I absolutely love the characters. I highly recommend all of his series for anyone grade 4 and up. 

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar is a science fiction thriller for middle grade students. It will be published this summer and I will definitely be buying a copy for my class library. The author brings out environmental themes and the price that we sometimes pay for scientific progress. I think kids in grades 4-6 will be riveted by this book.  

Books I am Currently Reading:

I started reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and am still reading El tiempo entre costuras. I also started listening to a Young Sherlock audiobook. 

What's Next? 

There is a ridiculous pile of library books on my shelf right now and I will try to get to at least one or two of them. I have Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, The Magicians, Mortal Heart, The Winner's Curse, and The Treatment in that pile. I also have a few titles from Netgalley that I would like to get to. My percentage of feedback to requests is really dismal so I want to do better with that. I somehow keep picking up these ridiculously long books, which makes the number of books I can actually finish much smaller.  *sigh*

What are you reading this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments! Have a wonderful reading week!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Celebrate This Week 1/10

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This week was all about the temperatures outside. Our entire week was below zero and wind chill advisories. My biggest celebration this week is the extra two days off I got from the cold weather. I was happy that my district chose to close because the extremely low temperatures are so dangerous for the low-income students who don't have appropriate outerwear.  Also, the other days this week were so low in attendance that it was pretty hard to do anything that I had planned. 

I had an awful headache and am now pretty sure I have a sinus infection. I was so glad for the days off to rest and recuperate without having to make sub plans. 

I also want to celebrate the new year and the reflection time that comes with this time of year. I had a great time writing my blog post about my favorite reads of 2014. I am looking forward to another great year. 

My 2015 resolutions:

  • Continue to lose weight using the digital tools from Weight Watchers and my Fitbit. My ultimate goal is to lose 60 pounds. 
  • Read one classic novel each month. 
  • Get organized with my budget and set financial goals that I am working towards. 
  • Continue to read voraciously without getting too obsessed with it. 
  • Take at least 10 minutes each night to reflect on my day in writing. 
  • Write at least 1000 words each week.

What do you have to celebrate? I would love to hear from you in the comments and I hope you have a fabulous week!

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/5/15

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? --From Picture Books to YA is a weekly meme started by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. This is a chance for bloggers to recap their week of reading and share their plans for the next reading adventures they will take. Visit the host blogs for a list of great blogs participating in this meme and a whole bunch of titles to add to your to-read lists.

This was another great reading week, helped along by the fact that it was still winter break. I have been really picking up excellent reading material lately. I hope the trend continues.

Books I Finished This Week:

The Pale Assassin by Patricia Elliott really took me by surprise. I enjoyed reading this book and learning more about the French revolution from the point of view of an aristocrat. I flew through the book because I was so curious about what was going to happen. I have the second book on my TBR shelf and I am sure I will be picking it up to read soon.

I love Kate Messner's books! I have absolutely adored every one of them. All the Answers was no exception.  Imagine that you have a pencil that will answer all your questions for you, provided they are questions that have factual answers. Would you want to know? Ava thinks she wants to know and that she has an amazing find in the pencil that will give her the answers. She soon finds out that maybe learning all the answers is not exactly what she thought it would be. This book is heartwarming and I cannot wait to buy a copy for my class library.

In Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne, disaster is striking all around. There is ridiculously big hail that causes car crashes, there are earthquakes and tsunamis happening around the world. And then the defense company nearby leaks gas into the air. Now, it is dangerous to go outside. In the book, a group of kids are abandoned in a superstore while their bus driver goes to seek help. They are left to fend for themselves and to fight for their survival. This book was fascinating and I had a hard time putting it down. Good thing I was on vacation and could stay up to all hours of the morning to read.

I listened to Confessions of a Murder Suspect on audiobook. I loved this book, but I am not sure I would have loved it as much without the audio narrator. I think she nailed the tone of the book. I will be interested to read more of this series to see if they hold up. I would highly recommend this entertaining read to high school students and adults.

Into the Still Blue is the third book in the Under the Never Sky trilogy. I listened to the first two books and loved them both as audiobooks. This one was a really well written and believable third book. I love when authors really nail the ending of a series. If you are a fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic books, then you need to read this series right now. Oh, and Perry and Roar are swoon-worthy characters if you like that sort of thing ;)

A Crooked Kind of Perfect was a perfect light and quick read. This is a heartwarming story about a girl who works to make lemonade out of lemons. She is the kind of character that you just love to love. Her father loves her and has good intentions, but never quite comes through for her in the right way. Take for instance the dreams she has of becoming a concert pianist. Her father gets her an organ. Yes, it is an instrument, but it is not the elegant one that she had envisioned for herself. I highly recommend this middle grade read to everyone.

I just finished listening to Of Poseidon by Anna Banks. I loved this book. I must find the next one! It is the perfect mix of supernatural mystery, mythology, and teen romance. The audiobook narrator did an excellent job with this one also. I once again found myself looking for tasks I could do in order to continue listening to my book when I finished my workouts. My kitchen is mighty clean lately.  I highly recommend this one as well.

Books I Am Currently Reading:

I am still plugging away at El tiempo entre costuras and am also reading The Blood of Olympus.

What's Next?

I may have gone a little overboard in requesting books at my local library. I have quite the pile of books to read and some are super lengthy. I will have to see what happens this week and realistically how much time I have for reading. I would like to read Dreams of Gods and Monsters if I have time, but man that book is thick. We shall see what happens.

What are you reading? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Favorite Reads of 2014

2014 was a fabulous year for me as far as reading goes. I read so many really good books. I have narrowed down my list to my favorite books for adults, young adults, and middle grades.  This is an extensive list, but it was so hard to narrow down any further. I hope you enjoy!

This year I read 29 Novels for Adults

My favorites:

I finally read En el tiempo de las mariposas (In the Time of the Butterflies) by Julia Alvarez. What a beautiful novel! This is one that rose straight to the top of my all-time favorites.

This is a love story about the love of books and reading as much as anything else. It is an incredibly wonderful story and you absolutely need to read it.

The Crane Wife is a gorgeous story based on a Japanese folk tale. Patrick Ness is genius and writes such beautiful stories. His writing always makes me think and this one is no exception to that rule. This is another must-read book.

It is the cover that caught my eye with this book. I am so glad it did. This is another wonderful story about love and life and the ways that lives intertwine.

In The Blood by Lisa Unger is not the most literary of books, but it is a thrilling read with a twisting plot. I was intrigued by the premise of the book and the central question of whether there is a genetic influence to being a psychopath and what you would do if you were the son or daughter of a killer.

I don't know how to describe this novel exactly. It was an interesting premise and definitely made me think about how one event can influence the future.  The book is an interesting look at the era in history in which we experienced both World Wars, starting with the birth of the protagonist in 1911.

I listened to the audiobook of this one. For some reason, I thought this would be a mystery book. Boy, was I surprised when it was a fantasy book. However, I really lost myself in the world created by this author. I am really looking forward to the next one.

I read 63 Young adult books

My favorites:

I don't really want to give away too much about this book. I absolutely felt for Gerald. This is another one by A.S. King that is about much more than what it seems to be about. I love the way her books make me think.

I could not put The Adoration of Jenna Fox down. I was so intrigued by the science fiction and riveted by the mystery in the book.

What I thought was going to be a retelling of Snow White became an historical fiction novel about the holocaust. Jane Yolen is a master storyteller and manages to teach readers about history through the powerful narratives she writes.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King is a powerful story about grief and letting go as well as the destructive power of keeping secrets.

An absolutely brilliantly written book that devastated me. I was unable to pick up another book for a few days after finishing this one. Powerful, powerful writing.

It took me a couple tries to get into this book, but this time it really got me. I don't exactly know why it wasn't one that I could sink my teeth into before, but I really enjoyed the story this time. I love the way Markus Zusak plays with conventions in his books. This book also made me think about the ways in which we influence others in our lives without always knowing that we are doing so.

With every new installment of this series, I am loving it more. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?  Get out and read it now.

Eliot Schrefer is doing some great things by highlighting these great apes and their home lands. This story is every bit as enthralling as Endangered and I cannot wait for more. These stories tell about the plight of the apes as well as the plight of the humans in the dangerous areas of the world in which the apes live.

This was a beautiful story about how a special child deals with the grief of losing both her parents. Suddenly a child who needs the structure of routine is thrust into circumstances that would be hard for anyone. It is a heartwarming story about forming bonds and accepting new people into your life.

I really liked this fantasy trilogy and I loved how it ended. The strength of a female protagonist really shines in this book and I highly recommend this series.

I loved this book. It was so heartwarming to read about the transformative power that companionship brings. I loved reading about the lessons that the teenage protagonist learned throughout this story.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick was a powerful, powerful read.

I am cheating a little bit here because I technically finished this one in 2013, but it was released in 2014 so I am going to include it here. This is a powerful story that you won't soon forget.  You absolutely must read this one.

This year I read 30 Middle Grade books

My Favorites:

I am not sure what I was expecting from this book, but whatever my expectations were, the author exceeded them. I love the way the author really helps the reader to feel what it must have been like to be denied rights because of race. This is a must-read for students learning about the Civil Rights movement.

This is a great story about how a caring person can help a child to change the way he thinks. It is a beautiful story and I would highly recommend it.

This is a powerful and brilliant narrative about a girl with special needs. I wanted to go into that book and slap her father silly at several points in the book. It is ultimately a book about hope and survival. This is another must-read book.

What sounded like a far-fetched and unbelievable narrative turned into a page-turning unputdownable book.  Jennifer Holm wrote a great novel about family relationships and the inevitability of growing older.

This is a another powerful narrative about empathy and understanding each person's story. It is a great novel for deep discussions about how we treat other people.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library was like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but with books. I loved it and I know kids will love it too. It was especially fun to look for the book titles that are scattered throughout the dialogue.

I loved A Snicker of Magic. I don't know how to do it justice on the page so I will just highly recommend it.

This is another powerful story that is important to share with students.

Brown Girl Dreaming is another must-read. Jacqueline Woodson writes such beautiful verse about her childhood and growing up.

I read other books, some professional books, some graphic novels, some picture books, etc. for a grand total of 174 books. I didn't make my goal of 220 books, but that is because I read some might long books and took it east on myself. I had become a bit obsessed with challenges and had really been using reading to avoid some other things in life. I am happy with the total I did get and have set my new goal at 160 books to help myself continue to balance reading with other things I need to do.

Here is to another wonderful year of reading amazing books!