Friday, March 7, 2014

I have been reading but...

This March Break I re-read a Jodi Picoult book (the Tenth Circle) and really enjoyed it.  But I haven't had time to read for fun lately because, I've been reading:

Yes, I have taken the plunge into graduate studies and have started my Master's degree.  Why not add to the business of working full time and raising three children during hockey season?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What Am I Reading Now? 2014 begins!

A new year and new books.  Or at least some new book goals.  I am currently plodding along through the Game of Thrones.  I bought the first four books last Christmas (a year ago), started the first book last summer and kept picking it up and putting it down.  This Christmas break I picked it up again and have finally started to get into it.  I just find it has a LOT of characters and storylines to follow.  As soon as I get into one the point of view changes which frustrates me to no end.  But my goal is to finish and carry on the series.
The 2014 read I am really looking forward to is the third book in the Dustlands series by Moira Young.  I believe it is coming out in May.  The Dustlands books are by far my favorite of the Dystopian YA books that are so popular right now. 
My favorite author, Francine Rivers has a new book 'A Bridge to Haven' out in April that I am looking forward too.
A friend of mine has recommended the Uglies books that I will probably pick up as well.
What are you reading this new year?  What do you recommend?

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Oops!  I read this in November and forgot to post on it. 
Allegiant is the third book in the Divergent Trilogy, a dystopian YA series.  It concludes the tale of Tris Prior, a teenage girl who has chosen to live in a faction of society different than that of her family.  Just as she has chosen her faction to train in and be a part of, the society that she grew up in has started to crumble.  Tris is considered a dangerous person as she is 'divergent' meaning that she does not have a clear aptitude for just one faction, but three.  The other main character in the series is Tobias who is one of Tris' trainers.  He and Tris have developed a romantic relationship. 
This book is different from the others as it changes point of view between Tris and Tobias each chapter.  I did find this confusing at first as I was used to reading everything from Tris' point of view.  Having now completed the book I understand the author's purpose in writing this book that way.  There were many elements of the society around them that needed to be explained and the best way to do that was to use the two different characters.
I did enjoy this series and would recommend it to others.  I look forward to the movies coming out (the preview for the first I saw at the theatres before Catching Fire).  It is well worth your time.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beyond Belief - My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill

From the outside Scientology is one of those weird things that you wonder what it is really all about.  It is very secretive and the concepts that have leaked out just seem so bizarre that I wonder how exactly do people buy into this?
Scientology has been very good at PR and marketing.  It has the celebrity thing going for it, or, at least it did.  John Travolta is still a good frontman, but the bizarre behavior of Tom Cruise hasn't helped their cause recently.  You also have some well known scientologists leaving, most recently actress Leah Remini has made a public exit.  
I was very interested in reading this book.  In fact I was surprised to see it to publicly visible, knowing how much the people on the inside try to hide and downplay what happens on the inside of their world.
Jenna Hill is a survivor of the worst of Scientology.  She was brought up in it.  Most of her family have been Scientolgists at some point in their lives.  Her parents both held high ranking positions and her uncle is David Miscavidge, the current leader of it all.  This is Jenna Hill's personal accounting of her life. She was raised by the so-called church, living at the Ranch for most of her childhood, apart from her parents.  The story she has to tell is worth reading.  It is in many ways very sad.  Hers has been a life of controlled by others and full of brainwashing.  It amazes me that this organization continues to run with charity status attached considering all the atrocities it has inflicted on people.  I am glad that this young woman survived and found her way out.  She now helps run the website .  I highly recommend this book.  It is a fascinating look into one of he most talked about cults of our time.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

I was very happy to pick up The Next Best Thing as part of my summer reading pile.  I do enjoy reading Jennifer Weiner's books.  She is one author whose books I will purchase for my shelves rather than just finding them at the library.
As I started into this book I had the disconcerting feeling I had read it before. Just a couple of plot points triggered something in me.  But I know Jennifer Weiner is too good an author to plagerize, and it was driving me nuts.  I knew I hadn't read this book, but I had read it too, so I started to flip through.  Thank goodness Jennifer Weiner had the foresight to help me along here.  At the very back of the book was a short story she had published in 2006 called Swim.  Yes indeed I had read this before, a couple of times.  Ms. Weiner took her character, Ruth from that story and expanded it into this novel.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I could now continue enjoying this novel.  And enjoy it I did.
This is the story of Ruth, raised by her grandmother since the age of 3 when we her parents had been killed in a car accident that also disfigured her.  Ruth learned to write to express all that she felt and observed in life.  She and her grandma took a leap of faith to move to LA where Ruth could pursue her dream of writing for television.  Her grandma finds new life getting work as an extra and meeting her own special man.  The book does flip back and forth quite a bit to different times in Ruth's life, but mainly focuses on where she is right now on the brink of working on her own television program.  I really enjoyed the behind the scenes look at what goes into starting a new TV series.  Weiner took from her own experiences here working on her State of Georgia which aired for one season on ABC Family.  Overall I enjoyed this one and could relate to the main character's own insecurities.  This is one of the things I enjoy about Weiner's writing, she writes relatable characters well.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Calvin and Hobbes the tenth anniversary book

Thanks to our 8 year old son, my husband and I have been rediscovering our love for Calvin and Hobbes.  I kept all my collections from my youth and he had been enjoying those immensely.  He did find this gem at our library last weekend, one I don't own and hasn't read previously.
This is different from other Calvin and Hobbes collections.  It contains a lot of commentary from Waters about how he went about cartooning, including his battles with syndicates over licensing and publishing.  Calvin and Hobbes was truly a comic of genius proportions and I am glad to be enjoying it all over again.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Readers

Both my husband and my brother call me a bookworm nerd.  They mean it in the most loving way possible.  And it's true.  I fully admit and embrace my bookworm nerdiness.  I have fond childhood memories of being read to at bedtime, having (weekly) visits to the local library (and being on a first name basis with the children's librarian - Elsbeth you rock!), and reading well pretty much everywhere: in the car, on a boat, in the stairwell, outside, in the tub, on the put a book in my hand and I was a happy kid.  My kids are being raised pretty much the same way.  I read to them from the time they were in the womb and continue to today (they are 3, 6 and 8).  They too love books.  My 8 (almost 9) year old just finished grade 3 and loves books about hockey and survival.  He loves mysteries and adventure stories.  My 6 year old just finished kindergarten and loves books about dinosaurs and trucks.  He loves silly stories like Mr. Men and Robert Munsch books.  My 3 year old is not yet in school and loves books too. She loves books about cars and trains, fairies and princesses.  She recently discovered Fancy Nancy darling.
My husband and I encourage our kids to read as much as they can and ask questions about everything.  We don't answer them with a pat answer either.  If we don't know we look it up, together.  Questions like "Are there any 3 legged animals?" get answered (tripodalism doesn't occur naturally, only genetic defects or 4 legged amputees).
As a teacher, I want to encourage a love of reading in my students too.  Sometimes it feels as though I fight a losing battle.  It is pretty clear pretty fast which kids come from homes with a love of books and which only see books when the school sends them home.  Reading to and with your kids really makes a big difference.  This year I read my class several chapter books* and what really spoke to me (as it does every year) is how the kids who claimed to hate reading hung on to every word of these books.  They "hate" reading because reading has not been made a priority in their families and has become a struggle for them to do.  But they really, really love books and stories.  They just struggle to read them for themselves.  I want to encourage families this summer to get involved in books!  There is a reason that we teachers give kids books for Christmas and end of the school year gifts.  It is not so they can be dust collectors shoved under beds, it is so they can be read enjoyed.
Here are a couple of things I found on Pinterest that really show how much time spent reading books affects your child's education.

Not sure where to begin?
1) Check out your local library.  More than likely they have a summer reading program going on, complete with story times and activities for all ages.
2) Read to your kids at bedtime.  Remember the childhood classics you loved?  Share it with them.   Or find common interest books and magazines.  Reading is not just fiction, my kids loved fact books too.
3)  Have your child read to you.  Ask them questions like, "What did you think when this character...?" or "What do you think will happen next?"  and share your thoughts too.  It's like your own family book club.
It's never too late to share a love of reading with your child!

*Chapter books I read my class this year (grade 3):
-Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwell (watch it and compare with the Jim Carey movie, they are very different)
-The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Edwards
-The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
-Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
-The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
- The BFG by Roald Dahl
**Images courtesy of and

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