Wednesday, November 30, 2011


A few weeks ago I posted about Ally Condie's book Matched. Well, this is the second one! And as much as i absolutely loved the first book, I thought the second was even better! Crossed is completely packed with action and adventure. It's also told from both Cassia's and Ky's point of view-which was really cool because you finally get to see what Ky has been thinking and feeling this whole time. 

Cassia has to find Ky. She knows that he is somewhere in the outer provinces thanks to her sort. Leaving Xander will be hard, but Ky is her true love even if Xander is her match. A miracle seems to come when herself and a few others are transported to the outer provinces and lucky for her Ky was at the camp too according to a young boy. But he isn't there now. With the help of a new friend Indie, they will have to make the long trek through the carving to find Ky while talk of a rising is on the horizon. 

After running from the camp he was at with Vick and Eli, two other aberrations,during a firing, he must make his way to the carving to get back to Cassia. Parts of his past haunt him as he travels and he begins to remember all the pieces of the last rising and how his father was possibly the Pilot, the leader of it all. But he doesn't want any part of the rising. Ky doesn't trust the rising or the society. He is looking for the farmers who have been living on the land for centuries. Will he somehow make it there and find Cassia? 

I loved this book and actually pre-ordered it. It definitely recommend this book and it's one you want to have in your bookcase to come back too. Are you headed to the book store yet?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


If you read Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly (if not, you should), then you will adore her second book Amplified. This book caries true emotion. I felt everything the character Jasmine felt. I thought that this was a very unique story yet completely possible. Amplified is amazingly written and has great character development as well as depth. 

Jasmine must figure out how to survive now. After getting kicked out by her dad for not wanting to go to college, Jasmine has to find a way to further her music career and more importantly find a place to live...even if that means trying to convince three guys and one awesome girl Veta that she is an amazing guitar player who is perfect for their band C-Side. Jasmine discovers that being in a band is a LOT harder than she thought it would be. There is also the fact that she lied to them about having performed live before. The only thing that is keeping her in the band is Veta who has faith in her, and Sean who may be a possible boyfriend...

Will Jasmine be able to really face what's bothering her and holding her back? Or will she break under the pressure?

I LOVED this book and it is already sitting in my book case. This book was just released so hurry fast to get it before they are all gone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wow! Ocean! by Robert Neubecker

I just returned from a long weekend in Chicago, the site of the 2011 National Council of Teachers of English conference. I came back with 20 pounds of new books!!! I have many friends in the literacy world who work all over the country, and this conference offers us a chance to catch up, reconnect, and share new books we just love. The idea for this one came from a new friend who teaches kindergarten in Ohio, Mandy Robek. She is a new rock star to me, and I believe you will see why when you read this fantastic book.

I love how the author tells this story through pictures and labels. A trip to the ocean becomes a lively home of experiences and animals here.  Each page is filled-- and I mean filled-- with drawings of the beings one would encounter in the ocean. The author added labels to this picture book (unlike in his first book Wow! City!), and those elevate the book into new arenas. The illustrations are remarkable and remind me of the pictures so many of my kindergarten students used to create, and the label of the animals is right there on the animal: brilliant.

I could so see using this as a mentor text-- which I may, so look out, grad students. I also can see this read aloud leading young learners forward into the links between reading and writing: the text inspires me to want to go create. Find this one: you won't be disappointed. Thanks to Mandy for introducing it to me!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sing Me Home by Jodi Picoult

I just finished up my first Jodi Picoult book, Sing Me Home. Alysa has read one of her earlier books, My Sister's Keeper, and she wrote an entry up about her experiences with it, and we saw the movie several times here at our house. Side note: When Alysa gets jazzed about a movie, she watches it over and over, studying it, enjoying it, peering deeper into its message. I love that she does that; in a sense, she becomes an expert of the movie. So I thought she really liked Jodi Picoult, saw this new book from her earlier this year, and bought it for her. She read the cover and maybe started it but never stayed with it. I wondered why, so I read it.

It is an interesting read, weaving newborn death, same-sex relationships, conservative religious views, and compassionate relationships together. Picoult focuses the book on a marriage gone south, aided massively by the monstrously devastating loss of a child and two adults who just can no longer find their love for each other through their ongoing lack of being able to successfully conceive a child together. Once the relationship ends, the female from the marriage, Zoe, ends up falling in love with a woman who is a counselor at the high school where Zoe serves as music therapist for emotionally-distraught students. I loved the tie in of music therapy, loved it. I haven't read many- ahem, any- books with music therapists and I loved the weaving in of this professional role. Max, the ex-husband, falls wobbles back into his alcoholic ways but then finds Jesus, moves in with his brother and sister-in-law, and recenters a bit. A bit-- that is all I will give you there-- he is a wobbler to me!!  It is the "finding Jesus" part that offers the most heft for this book, with a trial detailing who gets the leftover three eggs from Zoe's body to attempt to create another fetus: Zoe and her partner or Max's brother and sister-in-law. The courtroom work is brutal, and Picoult seems to have done her homework on many fronts. For me, the trial drug on, but I reckon that is what they do: they take forever to solve a tense and at times ugly situation where two sides just can't see truth when it hits them.

I liked reading this book, and I like Picoult's writing style. It was a good escape read for me, and I certainly sought out finishing it when I was two-thirds of the way through. I can see though why the beginning wouldn't necessarily capture Alysa. Sure, it is good work, but the subject matter just might not be something that piques her interest--- yet! For me, I will keep an open mind for Picoult's other works, and I have an idea that this winter break, when I so desperately plan to not work (or at least work less!), one of her other books may just be sitting in my lap!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Secrets of Truth and Beauty

I loved this book. I thought it had the perfect combo of everything. I also really liked how the main character was accepting who she was for the majority of the book. Secrets of Truth and Beauty by Megan Frazer was very well written and made me very sad when it was over. I felt like i was a character in the book as well and was meeting all the other characters. The emotions of the main character were channeled very well throughout the story. If you want the perfect read, this is your book.

After a disaster power point presentation trying to prove that outer beauty doesn't matter and neither does her beauty pageant past, Dara Cohen is suspended from school to think about the points she made in her presentation. Dara begins to think about the sister that she found out she had a few years ago. Her parents strongly believe that Dara should never meet her sister Rachel and that forgetting she ever existed is the best choice, but Dara knows that this can't be true. Yes, her mom is a pretty cruel person who often tells her that she isn't pretty, that she needs to lose weight, and thinks back to when Dara was in shape, but how could her sister be that bad? Dara decides that she needs to meet Rachel. Life at home is crumbling fast and Dara needs someone to turn to. After doing some research she finds that her sister is living on a goat farm in Massachusetts. As she spends the remainder of the school year and rest of the summer with her sister, she begins to learn more and more not only about Rachel, but about herself. With the help of all of those at Jezebel farm, Dara begins to see the beauty she has within and without. There will be many new struggles, but unlike before, she has someone to help her through them.

I loved this book. I am definitely adding it to my book case to read over and over again. I really just thought this was a treat to read and hope you will too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

just one thing by Rick Hanson

This is one of my early- morning reads right now. I read one entry a day and then write a little bit, hoping to set my intentions in a way that opens me to others and what is possible in the world. While I have one other book that I ALWAYS read in the morning, this has been a great addition for me. I read one entry a day.

What I appreciate about Hanson's work is how simply he breaks down a piece of possibility. The book has 52 chapters. I know he writes a weekly newsletter, so I wonder if these are his fave pieces from that newsletter but I don't know. I can imagine slowing down to read one a week, rereading the chapter frequently through the week to invite change into your life. I like reading one entry a day but it feels a tad overwhelming. I can imagine myself actually going back and rereading it, one entry a week. I can see that being potentially more powerful.

It's funny: I thought I could write alot about this book, but it is such a small process, smaller than I originally thought, a small entrance that he writes about that I find it hard to tell you more. It is worth picking up and see what you think if you are looking for a new daily- or weekly--reflective read.