Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I own the most books of

29 Jul


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week they post a new list for bloggers to answer.  This week’s topics is Top Ten Authors I Own the Most Books Of.  I am particularly looking at the authors I have the most books from in my classroom library.  As the majority of my collection is packed in boxes at school, I will do my best from memory with authors I know I have multiples of in my classroom library (in no particular order).

1. Laurie Halse Anderson 

I have copies of all five of her YA books, including multiples of some, plus her three historical fiction books in my classroom library.

2. Walter Dean Myers

Off the top of my head, I can think of 8 or 9 different titles I have from the great Walter Dean Myers.  His books really hit home with a number of my students and they love them.

3. John Green

I love his writing.  Students love his writing.  I keep copies of his different novels on the shelves for students to enjoy.

4. Jodi Picoult

I have read a few of her books myself and can always find her titles at book sales.  I have lost count of how many of her books are in my classroom library and they are pretty popular for students.

5. Ellen Hopkins 

She has 8 or 9 verse novels for young adults (with another on the way this year!) and I think I have at least 7 or 8 of them in my library.  Another popular author I like to keep stocked as so many students gravitate to her work.

6. Sarah Dessen

Sarah has many great books to choose from and she is one that is so popular I keep as many titles as possible on my shelves for my students.

7. AS King

I think I am at the point I will buy any book she writes.  I have four different titles from her, and they all go through the rounds among my students.

8. Patricia McCormick

Patricia McCormick deals with a number of different issues that are important for students to read.  I have copies of Sold, Cut, Never Fall Down, and Purple Heart by her.

9. Jo Knowles 

This is another author that deals with issues students want to read.  Her books are ones that keep my students glued until the last page.  I have four of her books.

10. Sharon M Draper

Draper is an author that has many books to choose from and again deals with topics students want to and enjoy reading.  I have at least 6 different books from Draper in my collection.

What authors do you have?

Rereading Harry Potter: Book 2

29 Jul

Last week, I completed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in my reread of the series.  To be honest, this book was my least favorite in the series the first time through.  That is not to say I hated it; I just felt less of a connection with this one than others.  However, I had a feeling I might view it differently as the events in CoS prove to be very important later in the series.  I do appreciate this one more now than I did the first time through.  

That’s one of the beautiful things about this series.  A testament to the ability of Rowling as a writer is how closely related each of these books are, even if it may take three or four more books to show how.  To create such an amazing world and continuing journey in this way is a feat to be admired and definitely one of the greatest strengths of this series.  

I am almost done with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  I already have a lot of thoughts strewing in my mind on that one.  Expect the next post in the next few days!

What are your thoughts on this book in the series?  

Panic: A Review

24 Jul

Title: Panic

Author: Lauren Oliver

Format: Hardcover personal purchase

Release Date: March 4, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads): Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

There is something about Lauren Oliver’s writing that I just love.  Her way with words always blows me away.  While the plot of Panic does have suspense and kept me at the edge of my seats at times, it is Oliver’s writing that keeps me glued to her stories. This is another beautifully written novel that I found very hard to put down.

I found the whole idea of this Panic competition fascinating.  I wondered what it would take for someone to want to do it.  Heather and Dodge were strong narrators to follow in their journeys because they are both in the competition for such different and personal reasons.  They view Panic differently and their views give readers multiple meanings of what Panic and living in Carp really mean.  I am usually a big fan of duel narration and I really enjoyed both narrators and how different they were.

One thing that did bother me about Panic was I kept asking, “Where are the adults?  They have to know about it by now.  Why does it keep happening?”  Maybe that is just a sign of my age now, but I I found myself asking that over and over.  Despite this, there is enough tension along with Oliver’s writing to keep readers intrigued and wanting to know what will happen next.  The tension at the end had me trying to rush through pages to see how it would all work out.  This was a stay up late to finish type of ending.

I know there has been some comparisons out there to The Hunger Games.  While I can see where some comparisons might be made with this type of competition, I think when I do share this book with students I am going to shy away from that comparison.  A book can be enjoyable on its own, not just because it is the next whatever.  I will focus on the tension and suspense that comes with this plot as opposed to it being another Hunger Games.

Overall, Panic was an enjoyable read and paced just fast enough to keep me reading and waning to know what will happen next.  I can see it being popular in the classroom.

4/5 stars

Rereading Harry Potter: Book 1

23 Jul

I few months ago, I talked about my love for the Harry Potter series.  I mentioned that this summer I wanted to reread the series.  As I am still battling a bit of a slump (I will have bursts of reading a lot for a couple weeks then find nothing to hold my interest), I decided there is no time like the present.  I am so happy that I did!

I finished book 1 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the day after I started reading it again. I was immediately drawn right back into Harry’s world.  One great thing about reading these again is that there was so much I forgot about!  There are small parts of the plot that the movies left out and it was really felt like reading the book again for the very first time.  Plus, with the knowledge of the entire series, there are many little clues and hints I pick up on that meant nothing the first time around.  It really is an interesting feeling to feel both like reading for the first time and going through with a “expert eye,” if you will.

I think one of the parts that mean the most to me is the character of Snape.  He was always one of my favorites and I was full of theories about him from the very beginning.  In general, he is such a complex character, much like we are all complex people.  It is nice to look at one of my favorite characters again from the beginning to experience his development once again and being aware of those tiny nuisances that will mean so much.

I will drop shorts posts throughout the rest of my reread about what stood out to me or how my feelings have changed over time.  I am looking forward to see where this part of my reading journey takes me.

Are there any books or series you reread again and again?  Have you reread the Harry Potter Series before?  I’d love to hear some thoughts on your favorites you always go back to.

My Last Kiss: A Review

22 Jul

Title: My Last Kiss

Author: Bethany Neal

Format: Personal purchase hardcover

Release Date: June 10, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads): Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss–the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died–is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made–good and bad–that led to her last kiss.

Bethany Neal’s suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

I actually got to meet Bethany through a friend at an author event earlier this year that we had both attended. I was very bummed that due to a crazy schedule, I did not get to go to the release event for My Last Kiss. However, as soon as I had my birthday gift cards in hand, My Last Kiss was the first book I grabbed off the shelf at the bookstore.  I finished it in two days.

The very first page pulled me in Cassidy’s story.  My Last Kiss begins just as Cassidy realizes she has died – though it takes her some time to accept she is dead and learn what exactly that all means.  She has no memory of not only the night she died, but the weeks leading up to it as well.  She tries to figure things out by visiting her family and friends.  Through flashbacks that suck her into those memories and a connection with her boyfriend, Ethan, Cassidy is trying to piece it all together to find out what really happened, who her true friends are, and who is her killer.

I really was intrigued by the flashbacks Cassidy has.  What I found interesting is that they do not come in order.  They alternate between the night of her death and moments from those weeks leading up to her death.  It was an engaging reading experience to be right along with Cassidy as she tries to connect each event to the ones she had before and understand the bigger picture.  I also loved some curve balls thrown into the plot; there were times I thought I knew exactly what had happened only to find out I was pretty wrong.  While I was starting to piece it all together the end, I still was surprised by the whole reveal.

I appreciate how real the characters are, even when dealing with an after death plotline.  The characters are flawed, Cassidy especially.  A number of characters besides Cassidy make decisions that they later regret and have to live with the consequences.  I think there are situations that teens can relate to even with the suspense/mystery added to the characters’ lives.

There were just a few parts, mainly in the beginning, where the plot felt a little “jumpy” and I was confused about what was going on.  However, the suspense kept me in and I wanted to continue reading to know what would happen next. I am definitely looking forward to sharing this title with my students in the new school year.

4/5 stars  

We Were Liars: A Review

29 Jun

Title: We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Format: Personal purchase hardcover

Release Date: May 13, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads): A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

So I have been hearing about this one for months.  All I knew was that it was amazing and no one wanted to talk about what it was actually about.  I am so glad that no one did and I avoided as much as I could about this one.  This review will be a bit different so I can try to tell you about it without telling you about it.

One thing I can share is that Lockhart’s writing is beautiful.  Just beautiful.  Her descriptions and the language she uses blew me away.  I have not read narration like this in such a long time.  I found myself rereading parts to take it all in.  There are sentences that I can still remember even now after finishing it.

The story is strong, too.  Mystery.  Suspense.  Coming of Age.  There is a little bit of everything in here – but I cannot tell you what it all is.  I just can’t.  I want you to be able to enjoy it the same way I did.  I want you to have to chills and yell out in surprise.  I hope that is not giving too much.

This is one of the hardest reviews I have ever written.  I know there is not a lot here, but trust me, you want to read this book.  And once you do (or if you already have) please talk about it with me.  It is still running trough my mind a few days later.  Great read for this summer that I cannot wait to share with students in September.

4.5/5 stars

Why choice?

23 Jun

I know, I know…it has been far too long since I have given an update.  The end of the year was crazy, as I am sure many fellow teachers also faced.  It was also a little draining.  I am still in a little bit of a slump, but feeling re-energized with a little break and time to myself.  I hope to get some more thoughts and reviews going again this summer.

I did have some uplifting moments at the end of the year.  In my Lab class, students did a reflection on the class.  I am always looking for input in my classes to help me reflect and figure out what I can do to better support my students and reach my goals of creating readers and writers.  Students are so honest when you ask them for their thoughts and opinions.  It has helped me immensely in this class especially.

There is a particular reading question I ask this group of students: What were your opinions about reading when you started this class?  Have they changed?  Why or why not?

A few students in this group really surprised me with their answers.  They gave amazing reasons for why choice is important in reading.  More than one students admitted to not liking reading at all, and while they are not great lovers of reading now, they see there are books that interest them that they may want to read.  Other students stated that a positive in the class was the variety of books they had to choose from.  Two responses really stood out to me the most:

I always was a big fan of reading, but I thought we were going to have to read baby books. Instead Mrs.Crawford let us choose what we wanted which I thought was very cool.

Reading was boring and lame until I read Dope Sick. I’ll only read books like that because I connect with no problem.

This reminded me why I do what I do.  I am the “crazy reading teacher” because I truly believe in choice and the power of it.  This choice helps students change their expectations of a class.  It also helps students find those books.  The second student I had worked with for a good majority of the year.  He finished that book and was proud to have done so.  I am glad I could see that experience for him.

Choice changes students.  I am glad I was reminded that to help wrap up the year on a good note.




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