Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - Day 16

My list of favorite books that I read in 2011.  I have always taught younger kids, so I have been trying to read some old classics too.  Not all of these books were printed in 2011, just that I read them in 2011.

11.  Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, Not Buddy  This is an old one that I just read this year.  I loved it.  It is historical fiction and Bud is such a sweet main character.

10.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book  I listened to this book on audio twice.  The author reads it himself with his wonderful British accent.  It just fit the book so perfectly.  Nobody Owens must learn to live among the living and the dead.  Wonderfully spooky with lots of action for the younger end of young adults.

9.  The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Mysterious Benedict Society, #1)  This book was just plain fun!  A young boy who doesn't really fit in anywhere makes it through a series of strange tests to make it into this society of really gifted kids who go on a mysterious adventure.  This is book one of a trilogy and I would love to read the other two.

8.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief  I put this one here in my list because I know I loved it, but I read it back at the beginning of the year.  This is one that I want to reread.  I thought the characters were very well developed.  Even with the horrific subject matter, it was such an endearing book.

7.  Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Home of the Brave  This little book was a very good surprise.  It is written in free verse and is a historical fiction book about a boy who comes to America without speaking the language, doesn't know what a store is, or anything.  I found a movie trailer for this book that I included on my blog post on this which brought tears to my eyes.  (link found on my book reviews page)

6.  Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Mockingbird  This is a book that I think every teacher should read.  It gives such a clear voice to a student who struggles with an autistic/asperger's-like diagnosis.  I fell in love with Caitlyn.

5.  The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #1) I am not a fan of sci-fi, but this one I truly enjoyed.  It was thought provoking and quite realistic on the science/medicine front.  How far would you go to saved a loved one, how far would the government let you go, how far would the loved one want you to go?

4.  Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Matched, #1)  This cover pulled me in.  I ended up listening to the audio version and loved it.  The reader did an excellent job with her voice and interpretation.  As soon as I finished it, I had to go find the second in the series, Crossed.  Problem:  I have to wait to read the third until November 2012.

3.  Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak  I had heard so much about this book and its banning from school reading lists that I didn't want to read it.  Once I learned more about these lists through my MLS program, I couldn't wait to read it.  I think that Laurie Halse Anderson did a fantastic job of taking such a sensitive subject as rape and treating it with respect, dignity, and grace.  The book is not focused on that one event, but on Melinda slowly finding her voice again afterwards.  I think it is a truly remarkable book.

2.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)  What can I say...the whole trilogy...I couldn't put them down!! 

1.  ??? by ???

Tune in tomorrow...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Reading & Blogging Goals - Day 15

My 2012 Reading Goals:

1.  To keep track of my reading on Goodreads for the enitre year. 
2.  Last year, I met my goal of 100 books read, but I counted picture books.  This year, I want to read 100 books, not counting picture books.

My 2012 Blogging Goals:

1.  To write a review for every book that I read.
2. Frequently add informational links to my book review posts so that they are also learning tools for students.
3.  Add the books that I read, not only to Goodreads, but also to my blog's 2012 Reading List.
4.  Do a more thorough job of linking the titles and reviews of the books I read on my Book Reviews Page.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Collage - Day 14

Today's challenge is to put the books we have read into a collage.  I can see that there are tons of ways to accomplish this and I will have to play around with it more.  But, for this challenge, this is what I came up with:

I went through my year's reading and pulled most of the young adult and middle grade books that I have read.  It is not totally complete, but this number of books worked well with the collage format that I used.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

26th Page - 26th Line - Day 11

My reading challenge activity today (December 26th) is to look at the book I am reading and type the sentence that appears on line 26 of page 26.  Love it!

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

"...up.  Miss Walter gone tell this woman everything Miss Hilly been spreading..."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Favorite Christmas Book - Day 9

Today I am to pick a favorite book with a Christmas theme or setting.  I intended to read some Christmas books this year, but I am reading The Help and haven't gotten to Christmas books.  I absolutely do not remember any single title that I have read in the past.  They just seem fun while I am reading them and then they leave my memory, I guess.  So, I will have to go back to what I know...Children's books.

Old Standby: 
This one is an old favorite that I read every year to my class when I was teaching pre-k.  We always had a great time reading this one while eating our cookies on our Christmas party day.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas

My kids old favorite: 
This was my kid's favorite when they were young.  It is a short and simple story of baby Jesus told from the animals point of view.

Who Is Coming to Our House? (Sandcastle Book)

New favorite of the library kids where I volunteer: 
I heard this one being read in the reading alcove and the librarian and student's were loving it.  I will have to check it out to read for myself, but it is obviously a Christmas book about the ever-popular bad kitty.

A Bad Kitty Christmas

My new favorite find: 
Let me start by saying I have three boys.  I bought this for my little niece and didn't read it until I got home.  I am not such a fan of the old Llama Llama book, but these new ones have much more storyline to them.  This one is adorable as Llama Llama has to wwaaaiiittt for Christmas and go through all the Christmas preparations.  Too cute!

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hit or Miss - Day 8

Today's challenge:

Sometimes books can surprise us in a good way and sometimes they can surprise us in a bad way. A book you might have been waiting to come out for a year could be a total bomb once you finally get to read it and a book you drag your feet about reading can turn out to be the best book ever. Today let's explore those books. Create a blog post featuring a HIT and a MISS.

My HIT is definitely:


I was "afraid" to read this book.  I had heard so much about it as a "censored" book.  When I had to choose 3 censored books for Young Adult Literature class, this was one that I picked.  I absolutely loved this book.  I was so impressed by Laurie Halse Anderson's way of dealing with such a sensitive subject as rape.  The integral part of art class and the symbolism of creating a tree really touched me.  I thought this was a fantastic read!

My MISS is:

The London Eye Mystery

I thought this would be a good pick for a mystery.  I think it was on a previous Bluebonnet or Lone Star list.  I was wrong, I did not enjoy it at all!  I thought it was so unrealistic and so slow - such a disappointment.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favorite Character of 2011 - Day 7

Today I am to decide on a favorite character from a book that I read this year (that's tough). Then use some pictures to create my post.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

I think I would have to choose Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.  Katniss is introduced to us in this first book of the trilogy.  I like how she is so strong in such horrible situations, yet she is still a girl, still a sister, still a daughter, still torn between two boys.  I know I will have to see the movie when it comes out, though it makes me sad that after the movie I will always picture Katniss as Jennifer Lawrence.  My rendition of Katniss in my head will be forever lost.

This was another book I had purchased right before I began my MLS work which I didn't have time to read.  When I took my Children's Lit. class, this was on the list.  I loved it and read the next two between summer sessions over the long 4th of July weekend. 

Book Title Synonyms - Day 6

Today I had to figure out ten book titles by the synonyms given.  Some came pretty easily, others were tough.  I used Amazon and to give me some ideas.  Here is the list with (my guess) next to it.  I have the answers below the list in case you want to give it a try.

1. INTERSTATE TO HADES                                  (Highway to Hell)
2. THE UNENDING GRIN                                     (The Eternal Smile)
3. FEMALE ABDUCTED                                          (Girl Stolen)
4. CARDINAL MITTEN                                           (Red Glove)
5. FIBBER                                                                    (Liar)
6. THE UNENDING SMOOCH                              (The Eternal Kiss)
7. THE STERLING CUTLASS                               (The Silver Sword)
8. ASSASSIN ITALIAN FOOD                               (Killer Pizza)
9. MURKY EXISTENCE                                          (Dark Life)
10. SMALL MALE SIBLING                                   (Little Brother)

And the answers are:

Highway to Hell
The Eternal Smile
Girl, Stolen
Red Glove
The Eternal Kiss
The Silver Blade
Killer Pizza
Dark Life
Little Brother


I won the Book Title Synonyms today!  Yippee!  I get to choose a book : )!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Create a Cover - Day 5

Today's challenge is fun!  I learned three new websites to use for this one; a fake name generator, a random word generator, and a new photo editing site free to use and then I could save the new picture to my computer.  For this one, I am going to copy the directions at the bottom of this post so that I will always have them : ). The bottom line is that I had to create a book cover with my new author name and a picture retrieved from Flicker.  Then, I had to write about my new book.  Here it is...sure to be a bestseller, I'm sure!

Amy has it all, or so it seems.  She is a cheerleader, an honor student, lives in the good neighborhood, and has a wonderful boyfriend, the captain of the football team.  But, her life is no longer what she thought, what she has come to expect.  Her dad lost his job, her mother threatens to divorce him, they will be selling their house and worse yet, her boyfriend is moving away.  Her life is cart wheeling out of control.  That is when she meets Sam Herron, a photographer who promises her a glamorous life.  He offers her money, fame...drugs to help her cope.  Will Amy follow Sam and forget her problems?  Will Amy forget what's really important?  Will Amy lose everything?

This is truly a heart-wrenching, yet heart-warming story of love, life, and family. - Kirkus Reviews

A fantastic coming-of-age novel by a debut author. - School Library Journal

Ha - what fun!?!?

Here are the directions with links:

1. Go to "Fake Name Generator" or click

The name that appears is your author name.

2.  Go to "Random Word Generator" or click

The word listed under "Random Verb" is you title.

3.  Go to "FlickrCC" or click

Type your title into the search box.  The first photo that contains a person is your cover.

4.  Use Picnik, or something similar to put it all together.  Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.

In terms of this activity, we're asking the participants to create the cover and write a short synopsis to go along with it.  What is your book about? 


Monday, December 19, 2011

Find a New Blog - Day 4

Today I am to find a new blog about literature that I enjoy.  I follow several blogs already, but I searched to see what else is out there...I found a GREAT one.  I have never seen this one before, though many of you probably have.  It is YABC or Young Adult Book Central. It turns out that there is actually a website too: website.


 I like how this blog has different people posting book reviews.  They seem to do a "Trailer Tuesday" and I have found lists of new releases here and there in the blogs.  I soon found giveaway contests, which led me to the whole website.  There is tons to explore!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Title Poem - Day 3

But, wait...I AM A

Yay!!!! My name was picked to win a free book! Yahooooey!!!

Ok, on to todays challenge.  I am to use titles from my bookshelf to create a poem or sentence.  Well, I can't take a picture of my books right now because I am not home.  But, I looked at my Goodreads bookshelf and picked some from there.  So, here is my poem, but I did not enter the drawing today.

[I'm] dying to meet you, transfer any small goodness when you reach me.
Jane, the dreamer, [had] great expectations.  [She was] wonderstruck!

I highlighted each book in a different color since I couldn't post a picture of the spines.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Book in Pictures - Day 2

So... I am participating in the Holiday Break Reading Challenge that one of my professors at SHSU is heading up with her friend.  It seems like it will be great fun!  For the challenge today, I had to use the book I am currently reading and find pictures that remind me of the book.  You could do this too!  What a great idea for creating a book report project. (Day 1 - we introduced ourselves)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I am finally reading it!!  I bought this book right before I started my MLS work and haven't had a chance to read it yet.  I refuse to see the movie until I read the book!  I am only on page 4, but here goes...

My Book in Pictures

It is about Aibileen who is a housekeeper.

The story opens with a crying baby
and her mama won't pick her up! 
Aibileen becomes
the primary nurturer and caretaker
for this child, Mae Mobley.

It is 1962, and bridge club day.
Aibileen gets the table ready for guests.

As the guests arrive, we are introduced
to Skeeter who has just returned from Ole Miss.
She is friendly toward Aibileen
which is unusual for the time.

And this is where I am in the book!
I am so excited to finally have time to read it.
I plan to spend some time today reading.

The Help

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Matched - audiobook

Product Details

I finished it and I loved it!!!  Kate Simses did a wonderful job with her reading of Ally Condie's Matched.  She made it easy to listen to, unlike many audiobooks that I have heard.  This is a fun dystopian book with a little romance.  It is also very thought provoking.  Cassia goes through her "matching" ceremony where she finds who the Society has matched her with to be her future husband.  The Society doesn't make mistakes...or do they?   The Society is control of everything...or are they?  In this book, we find ourselves considering what life would be like without choices, without freedom, without creativity, and, therefore, without independence. 

I purchased Crossed, the second of the Matched trilogy, and started reading it last night.  I read until I could no longer hold my eyes open.  I couldn't put it down, which I love!  So far, so - great!  This book has a lot more action, and I find that I am not rooting for a particular character, but for the pure survival of the rebels of the Society. 
Here is Penguin Young Reader's book trailer.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret - the movie

First of all, let me say that my expectations are high for the movie.  I read from this article that the author/illustrator is very happy with Martin Scorsese's movie adaptation of his book.  He actually said, "I feel like I am in the rarest position to be able to say I have a movie that's as good as the book..." (retrieved from the link above). I can't wait to see the movie! 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Caldecott Winner

Selznick, Brian. (2007). The invention of Hugo Cabret.  New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

I moved this book review up in my blog because my family is anxiously waiting to see the movie.  I will compare and contrast the movie to the book soon!
This is a really good book for so many reasons.  It doesn't look like the typical kind of book that would win a Caldecott Award until you open it up.  It is a large chapter book, but has pages upon pages of graphite sketched illustrations. Brian Selznick is the author and illustrator of this book!

 The illustrations are mesmerizing.  As you turn the pages, they sometimes zoom in and in and in to a close up.  The illustrations also move the story forward rather than just add a picture to what you are reading.  

The book also has a good historical fiction storyline which includes movie making and movie-maker Georges Melies, the automaton and its history, clock-keeping, train stations, and toy stores of the old-timey streets of Paris.

It is a great book for reluctant readers.  I remember back when the young kids who couldn't really read Harry Potter had to be carrying that big book around.  This book gives the students that same kind of satisfaction, but they will be able to actually read it.  It is great for the reluctant reader because of the numerous pages with large illustrations and the quick paced plot.  It keeps them moving and really feeling like they are getting somewhere in their book.  I enjoyed this book much more than I would have thought given the summary.  I hope to see another book like this from Brian Selsnick.

Pictures from:

Dying to Meet You

        Dying to Meet You Glog - created by Tracy H.
Make sure you roll your mouse over the different parts of this Glog!  Where you see a pink circle show up, click!  They will take you other cool places.  You can also scroll over word "pink Glogster" at the top and then click "enlarge".  Then you can read everything even better!

Art Seminars

During my time at Sam Houston State University pursuing my master's degree in Library Science, I had the opportunity to attend two art seminars.  They were fantastic.  They were not only learning experiences, but delightful days as well.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Waiting for Normal

Waiting for Normal

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Conner is a fantastic coming-of-age book!  I created a Wordle for this book in which I used words that remind me of the story.  This is a great way to do something different for a book report project, a review on a particular subject, or a presentation. 

Wordle is fun and easy to use!

A Museum Visit

I was lucky enough to travel to London with my husband.  One of the places we visited was the Courtauld Gallery located in the Courtauld Art Institute.  While I was meandering through the gallery, admiring the art, I found a little treasure...the pages of a very old children's book.

It is The Elves and the Shoemaker by George Halkett, 1883.  He illustrated with bright colors, strong outlines, and solid black areas that were popular at the time.  This was a relatively new picture book format at the time.  Before this, the books were highly educational in nature.  The history of children's books has always been intriguing to me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I love a challenge!!

Holiday Break Reading Challenge
   Dec. 16 - Jan. 1
A reading challenge over the Christmas break!  What fun!!  I can't wait to see what the activities are.  I will be out of town and very busy with lots of family, but I sure hope to hop on here each day and join the fun...and, of course, WIN!!!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Matched (Matched, #1)

Matched by Ally Condie keeps calling my name.  I have seen it in the stores, on the Lone Star list, and many of my classmates have read it.  I am finally done with all my required reading at the moment.  I was heading out the door a couple days before my family for a 3 1/2 hour drive to Marble Falls for Thanksgiving.  I realized that I didn't have an audiobook checked out from the library.  I canNOT waste 3 1/2 hours in the car without an audiobook.  I realized that I could purchase an audiobook with my Kindle and plug it in through the iPod plug in my car to listen to it.  Yayy!!  I got Matched and can't wait to get back in the car to drive back to Marble Falls for Christmas so I can hear more!!  So far, so good.  I am enjoying it.  I am not allowing myself to listen for all the short jaunts across town.  I want to listen, uninterrupted!

Friday, November 11, 2011



Anderson, L. (1999). Speak. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Wow!  This book is one that I have heard so much about but have never read.  I was glad to have the opportunity to read it.  I had heard so much about the censorship of the book that...I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't it.  This was very well written and in an extremely tasteful manner.  I like how the book focused on Melanie trying to cope on a daily basis instead of the whole book being about "the traumatic incident" and Melanie reliving it over and over.  I like how the reader could hear Melanie's voice even though Melanie couldn't use her own voice yet.  I also loved the tree from art class that threaded throughout the entire book following Melanie's progress.  This is a great book for any student, but especially for those who have had a traumatic event causing them great depression.  You are not alone!  Melanie's experience was a rape during a high school party where she then called the police.  Her classmates only know that she called the cops, broke up the party, and then treat her as an outcast

Retrieved September 20, 2011 from .

Friday, November 4, 2011

Heist Society

Heist Society (Heist Society, #1)

In the Heist Society, by Ally Carter, Katrina is a strong, independent, woman who wants to lead a clean life leaving her family's business behind.  She comes from a family of art thieves; living a rich, intriguing life of high style and glamorous travel all over the world.  She cons her way into a premier boarding school to stop living the life of crime...until her father is accused of stealing from the wrong person.  She is the only one able to steal the art back to save her father.  Will she choose to help him?  Will she succeed if she does?

Thursday, November 3, 2011



What I have written does not do this book justice.  It is a fantastic book that allows the reader to see what is going on in the mind of someone who has something like Asperger's Syndrome.  I loved this book.  I consider myself knowledgeable about many differences that students have.  But this book is so powerful, I believe that everyone should read it to get a real sense of the daily life challenges that some people face.

This story begins with the realization that Caitlyn and her dad are suffering the loss of Caitlyn's brother.  We quickly find out that something is different about Caitlyn.  She categorizes everything!  For instance, she knows she needs to Look At The Person, or she knows that life is different now beginning with The Day Our Life Fell Apart.

Caitlyn has to learn how to behave in a more "appropriate" way, but she also has to learn to deal with the loss of her brother.  She doesn't really have the help of her father who is swallowed up in his own grief.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gregor the Overlander

Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles, #1)

If you like a little mystery and a little fantasy, this book is for you.  Gregor is an Overlander and must find his dad in the Underland.  What is the Underland you ask?  It is the land under the ground.  What do you think you will find in the Underland?  You will find spinners, crawlers, fliers, and gnawers...  How will Gregor ever stay alive, never mind find his dad?!  There is also a prophecy written in riddle form and Gregor just may be in this prophecy.  Can you help decipher its meaning?

Little Blog on the Prairie

Little Blog on the Prairie

Cathleen Davitt Bell has written a wonderful 21st century version of Little House on the Prairie!  Can you imagine no television, no phone, no internet (or computers), no electricity, and not even a real bathroom?  Can you imagine sharing a tiny house with your whole family, meaning you share a bed with your sibling even if they are a boy and you are a girl?  On top of all that, you have to work hard to grow your own food, milk your own cow, and churn your own butter!  And they call this VACATION!!!  There are teens in this book that do not think this fits their idea of vacation either.  You will have to read this story set in modern times with a vacation in a place and time of the 1890's.  You will find out if anyone ends up cheating the reality of the 1890's...