Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants

Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants. Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison

The fourth installment of Georgia Nicolson's self-centered teen aged life. She is selfish, she is full of wacky pranks and she loves to snog her hot "older" boyfriend. A typical teen girl.

This book is not as funny as the first three. I didn't laugh until I was halfway through the book but there was plenty of laughing going on. The book series is still entertaining and worth the read just to keep up with the characters. Every character is so eccentric. I am wondering if maybe this is a transition book in the series. Only because the sex god is moving on and Georgia needs to figure out what comes next in her life.

Book candy, tres' amusant, and dancing naked, life is just so much fun. I can't wait to read the next installment of Georgia's wild and crazy life. For now, I'm away laughing on a fast camel. Free and wild with supreme hair bouncibility. Ciao!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

gods in Alabama

gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

THERE ARE GODS in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits and also Jesus. This is the first sentence in Joshilyn Jackson's first novel, gods in Alabama. The first sentence in a novel is as important as your first kiss, it should be memorable and impress upon you the need to want more. More good writing that is! OK and Kisses too. This book contains good southern writing and humor, lots of kisses, a murder and plenty of Jack Daniels thrown in.

It took me a bit to get into the story because the story starts with a murder and no motive. About halfway through the book I started to figure out that this author is a genius and that is when I really couldn't put the book down. The author is playing a game with the reader like the main character is playing a game with her fiance.

This book reminds me of the lyrics in a country song. I will make one up. You add the southern twang.

I made a bargain with god and kept it for 10 years,
then Rose pop shows up and messes with my head.
Jim Beverly does nothing but stare and leer
and Burr tries and tries to get me in bed.

Chorus: Arlene, Arlene, what are you doing to me?
The deal is done and its time to go home.
Arlene, Arlene, what are you doing to me?

My dad died and my mom's turned crazy.
I promised to stop lying and fornicating,
why are all these memories threatening my sanity.

Back to chorus:

Well I hope you get the idea. This is one complex and complicated mystery that is fun and entertaining to read. This book kinda hits you over the head with a bottle of Tequila and then you wake up wondering what the heck just happened.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Birthday Book

Today is my son's 12th birthday and in honor of his birthday we donated two birthday books to his school. My son and I began this tradition when he was in preschool and it will hopefully continue until he graduates from high school.

Here is how it works. My son chooses his favorite book and I buy two copies. One copy is for his classroom teacher and another copy is for the school library. Then I attach a book plate to each book stating that it was donated in honor of my son's birthday. He delivers each book with a smile.

This year the chosen book was ZEUS, KING OF THE GODS by George O'Connor. We try to donate current titles because the schools are less likely to have the books. Most teachers rely on donations nowadays as does the school library. So it makes my son and I very happy to contribute. My daughter takes part in this tradition as well.

One of very cool thing about this is that my kid's classmates will tell them when they have checked out a book they have donated. My kids love to check them out as well just to show me that it is in the library and their name is in the book.

The gift of these books has left a legacy for future students. It is such a great tradition. I hope you will borrow it and make it your own.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

A riveting historical novel set in Shanghai in 1937. Enter two beautiful sisters, Pearl and May, who are calender girls enjoying their freedom in the Paris of Asia. Abruptly and unbeknownst to Pearl and May their father arranges marriages for them to pay off his debts. Their new husbands are Chinese but live in California. Pearl and May must immigrate to the United States. What ensues in a honest look at the struggle of Chinese immigrants in the U.S.A.

The United States Government and its citizens were very discriminatory of the Chinese. The Chinese Exclusion Act limited the Chinese from immigrating to the U.S. and also was meant to severely limit how many people of Chinese descent could become citizens of the U.S. As a result of this Act, many Chinese people could not find jobs and housing was restricted to certain areas. Families were jammed into small housing apartments and lived quite poorly and yet were rich by the standards in China.

Shanghai Girls is as entertaining as it is informative. The storyline simultaneously conveys the history and culture of the Chinese in China and in the United States. I loved how the story went back and forth between countries, it really teaches the reader empathy and compassion as well as shows the fear and discrimination of the times.

I highly recommend this book. If you have a sister buy her a copy and read it together. This book celebrates sisterhood. You will love it! Thanks Random House for sending it to me.

On a side note: I have one ARC (advanced reading copy) to give away. This is not a contest. If you are interested in reading this book, e-mail your name & address. The first person to send me their address via e-mail receives my ARC. You must be a follower of my blog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Crank by Ellen Hopkins

This book is as addictive as the drug it portrays. The author has done an excellent job of taking the reader on a drug induced journey with all its ups and downs. This is the best book I have read so far this year and yes, I was addicted to it. I read the book everywhere I went, in between classes, in the copy room, at stoplights and in the bathtub. I read all 537 pages in four days.

This young adult novel is written entirely in verse. Hopkins is an excellent writer and creative with her text. Some of the verses form pictures, like a pair of underwear, a cross or a heart. The poems on each page can be read as one or two separate poems with separate character voices for each.

The monster in this book is the drug crystal meth and the girl who becomes addicted to the substance is high school junior, Kristina Snow. The author modeled the main character after her own daughter who had a addiction. On a personal note, my sister was also addicted to this drug and so I could really relate to what the family members were going through. I also recognized the lure of the drug that took hold of my sister and wouldn't let her go until she received treatment.

My female high school students loved this book as well. When some girls saw the book on my desk, it was a constant prater about how good the book was and if I had read any other Ellen Hopkins books. They recommended the second book and even brought me the second book to read titled GLASS. I was overjoyed to see there is also a third book told from the point of view of Kristina's family coming out in September, 2010.

Frankly this book was so good, I think I will read every book Ellen Hopkins has written. I can hardly wait to get my hands on them.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Zeus. King of the Gods

Zeus. King of the Gods by George O'Connor

My son received this graphic novel in his Easter basket and within two hours he was done reading it. As an avid fan of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, I knew he would like to learn a little more Greek mythology.

I joined a graphic novel challenge and this is the first book I have completed for it. I loved it. The artwork is amazing and beautiful. Plus, I learned a lot of Greek mythology myself. I feel that if I go to see the movie The Clash of the Titans, I will actually understand it better because I read this book.

Graphic novels are not for everyone but I would challenge you to give them a try. It may take you an hour to get used to the reading style but it is well worth it. You read a graphic novel by following the panels. Short panels you read left to right down the page but longer panels may consume both pages, so you read across the top of both pages and then back to the left side to complete the shorter panels. You also have to read the pictures or graphics. Don't forget to admire the artistry. That is what makes a great graphic novel. Listen to me, I sound like an expert. Trust me, I am not. My son on the other hand, devours graphic novels.

What I love about graphic novels is that there is a whole group of young people who are reading because of them. This is how I hooked my reluctant son into reading. I also love that the industry is now taking novels and turning them into graphic novels to reach a whole new group of people who are turned off or not interested in traditional books.

There is a discussion guide at the back of the book and factoids about the Greek Gods. Be sure to check out the website as there are teacher ideas as well. Most importantly, there are to be future books in the series. Athena, the Grey-Eyed Goddess has already been released. Guess who is getting it for his birthday in a couple of weeks?? I am excited to read it too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn is a author of 11 books on education, progressive schools and parenting. He is a former high school teacher who currently lectures at many universities in the United States. I was lucky enough to hear him speak and meet him on Monday, May 10th.

I have never read a book by Alfie Kohn and so his ideas about education would be new to me. I briefly leafed though two of his books before he started speaking. Kohn had a large impact on me on Monday.

First: I felt validated as a person and a teacher. Always a sign of a good speaker. Seriously he talked about how homework, tests and grades are detrimental to the learning process. So much of the homework out there is meaningless. Students of all ages should explore and create what they what to learn. Not what is teacher directed or expected.

Second: Classrooms should be student centered. The teacher is merely a vessel to guide students, not the all-knowing goddess of the classroom. Why do we need homework and tests? They do not prove that anyone has learned anything, only that students have jumped through designated hoops.

Third: AP classrooms are not conducive to learning. It takes the choices right out of learning. Students must listen, read and take a test. For some students, this is how they like to learn, for other students the AP model is way off base. Demanding a whole grade to step up to the challenge of an AP class is down-right nonsense. It is setting kids up to fail.

Thanks you Alfie Kohn for validating me as a teacher. I am going to see if I can move my teaching and my classroom into a more progressive model. I am getting off my soapbox now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Postman Always Rings Twice

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

Written in 1934 this short classic novel garnered lots of publicity for its mixture of sexuality and violence. The book was banned in Boston when it was originally published. Today, this book reads like a standard crime novel, fast paced, original and creative.

The expression "The Postman Always Rings Twice" is a metaphor that refers to the protagonist. The reader must infer that Frank may get away with the crime at first but fate keeps coming until you pay for what you have done. At least that's what I think it means. Just so you know, there is not a postman in the story and the titled expression is not used once.

This book is a type of story labeled Roman Noir. In other words, Roman Noir means English Gothic novel or detective novel and is also called Hard-boiled fiction. Basically these terms refer to the crime novels and authors who published in the decades of the 1920's and 30's. James M. Cain falls into this category.

The movie version, which I have not seen, stars Lana Turner and James Garfield. I am not sure if I will see it. Crime novels and movies about murder cause me to lose sleep at night but maybe since the film is a few decades old it will be OK. Hmmm, I will see if my library owns a copy.

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a book on the list: 1001 books to read before you die. It deserves a spot in the list mainly because of the controversy it caused when released as a Roman Noir novel. I love reading and learning about cultural history and this book was a pop classic of its time.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

South of Broad

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

This book was just released in paperback a week ago and I received a free copy in the mail from Random House. Yahoo! I love receiving free books in the mail. I have never read a book by Pat Conroy so I am excited to add a new author to my ever expanding "to read" list.

South of Broad was a NY Times bestseller in hardcover. According to the back cover the book takes place in Charleston, South Carolina and spans two decades. The book begins in June of 1969, and follows a group of high school outsiders as their lives unfold amid racism, class divisions, Vietnam and love. I anticipate this will be a great book group book. Looking forward to reading this so watch for a review in the future.

As always, Happy Reading!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Through the Looking-Glass

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

2010 is my year devoted to Alice. I have read Alice in Wonderland and have just finished Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There for the first time in my life. I don't recall ever viewing a film version of the stories, so these books are my first introduction to the brave character of Alice.

I loved the creative use of the chess game as a backdrop for Alice's adventures. Alice goes through the looking glass and begins making moves from a pawn to a queen. She has always wanted to be a queen (what little girl doesn't). This story is strategic and is equally full of exciting and strange characters complete with odd vocabulary, double meanings and living life backwards.

My favorite quote from the book: "There is no use in trying," said Alice, "one can't believe in impossible things." "I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Lewis Carroll wrote these books under a pen name. His real name is Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He wrote his stories for the "real Alice" a daughter of a colleague of his. Alice and her siblings begged him to write down his stories and so he did. Thankfully generations of children and adults have these books to cherish for many years. Check out The Lewis Carroll Society of North America at

To continue my journey with Alice, I plan to watch the film when it is released and to read the Young Adult novel THE LOOKING GLASS WARS. Until then I will continue my reading adventures.