Thursday, November 29, 2012

THIRSTday - Starters by Lissa Price

Today is THIRSTday: a beverage and a book.

Starters by Lissa Price and Kuerig's Tully's French Roast. Reviewing for 8th Grade book club meeting today.

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Monday What are You Reading 11/26/12

Check out Teach.Mentor.Texts to see what other teachers and librarians have read these past weeks.

In the Past
It's been a MONTH since my last IMWAYR and I've only read 8 books.  Besides working on a couple of presentations, I've just not been interested in reading. I was able to pick up some recommendations from twitter (thanks @KRWLucy and @KelleeMoye) and hope those will provide my jumpstart. I'm not worried, though. It happens every few months then I'm right back in it!

I finished reading Insignia by SJ Kincaid with Maria for our November Batty About Books.  Check out Parts 1, 2, and 3.  We'll have our final post on Saturday.

I truly enjoyed Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley with illustrations by the great Dan Santat.  You need to check that one out!

I made a small dent in my Mock Printz reads by finishing The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.  We are discussing it this month on Goodreads.

Overall - 2 adult books, 1 picture book, 1 middle grade, and 4 YA novels.

In the Present
I'm reading a book written by a friend and I'm loving it! I hope she pursues getting it published! Great YA contemporary romance in the style of Sarah Dessen.

I'm thisclose to being done with the audio of Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery and I can't wait to recommend this one to any staff working with autistic students. Combining facts about autism and farming with Temple's life offers a way to personalize autism as well as learn how to work with students you come in contact with.

In the Future
I have some nonfiction reading I want to do: Bomb by Sheinkin, Moonbird by Hoose, Invincible Microbe by Murphy and I have some Mock Newbery and Mock Printz reads I need to finish.  I especially look forward to reading those suggestions from @KelleeMoye - Drama by Telgemeier, Capture the Flag by Messner, Year of the Beasts by Castellucci and Bitterblue by Cashore - all book s just laying around waiting for me to pick them up!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Batty About Books - Insignia by SJ Kincaid - Pt3

Batty About Books
Insignia by SJ Kincaid

After a short break Maria and I are back tackling Insignia by SJ Kincaid.  Maria's responses are in purple and she has a different take on this part over at Maria's Melange!

We’ve covered 1/2 the book so far.  Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you want to catch up.  

Maria and I wanted to start talking about book covers. As we are all so visual, it pays for a company to make a book eye-catching but you also want the cover to speak to what’s inside the book.  So, we’ll be adding a segment where we talk about the cover before and after we read!

I wasn’t attracted to this cover.  The red background with the white lettering, while shouting science fiction, did not pull me in.  I would not have given it a second glance without a twitter buddy’s recommendation.  Once I picked it up and read the back, I wanted to read it.  Word War III? Secret weapons? A blurb by Veronica Roth of Divergent fame??? Closer look needed!  That’s when I noticed the computer chip-like background and the 1s and 0s (which Tom mentions whenever he’s trying to tap directly into a computer location). The cover reminds me of The Matrix but red instead of green. Yes! That’s exactly it. Definitely Matrixy.

On to Part 3 - pg. 223-332
This week we see Tom going through some changes.  We are also introduced to a magic word - and we still don’t know what it means! There’s also some primping, some exercising, and a whole lot of sewage!

First off let me say that my feelings for this book have not improved. It’s just not my cup of tea.  I’ve tried to put my feelings aside and just read the book, but then the writing style gets in the way. It’s uneven.  So, I ask that you read my part with a grain of salt keeping in mind that this is not my book.   I will be quick and try to keep this spoiler free. What’s really funny is that I often get nervous when I like a book and someone else doesn’t. So I have had to try to focus on whether I was enjoying this book or if I was trying to spot the things that are making you not like it. As I generally take on the “mediator” role in any group or conversation, I have to watch that tendency here.

Another interesting thing is that you raved about Ready Player One. I’m listening to it now, and enjoying it, but I don’t think it is one I would rave about. The “info dumping” has gotten a bit old. 

I wonder if NOT having read Ready Player One first would have changed things for me? Though my beef isn't with the story - which I like - it's the execution.
The Good
Tom gets to fight with Medusa. I like that they are becoming friends even though they haven’t met yet. It’s refreshing to read about a building relationship instead of an insta-romance. I agree. I’m finding their relationship very entertaining also. I like that she is happy to keep beating him.

The Bad
I was let down with the ending of the virus battle. I wanted more man!

They cut the old neuroprocessors out of the adults that went crazy and re-used them??? SCARY! I expect to hear more about that! Also, the student’s memories are stored on the processors? (232) So if Beamer’s get removed, will he only remember his life before or after the Spire? This whole idea is crazy scary, but seems so plausible. Can’t you just picture some government doing this?


Tom threw out the word ROANOKE and heck breaks loose! What does it mean? Will we find out in this book? I was so fascinated by this! I have to admit, I’ve read a bit more now and they do talk about it... I’ll be curious to hear what you think when you get to that.

Dalton says - “once the lot of you are public...” What are his and Vengerov’s plans???? Is Dominion planning domination?

The Ugly
First, Why did Tom get in the car without using netsend to let Vic know what was going on? His earlier feelings about Dalton should have prevented this from happening.  Also, he was gone a long time and no one knew? If Dalton used Tom’s GPS to track him, wouldn’t his friends use it to look for him too? (247) Yes, I was surprised that he didn’t say anything to Vikram - but he was so intent on finding a way to keep this life that I can believe he would get into the car for the chance to get sponsored.

Second, no one at the Spire suspected or noticed anything? One whole month went by! I agree on this one, although I think it may be because we were getting Tom’s perspective. I bet his friends did suspect things were weird. There is some evidence that they were getting annoyed and suspicious (though I don’t think I marked any specific passages so I can’t find direct quotes). Wyatt, for one, seems to feel there is something wrong with him.

Lastly, I get the impression the author doesn’t like any of the characters. Teenaged boys? They are immature and easily provoked by saying they can’t do something. Teachers? Evil and will use their position for their own amusement including “getting back at” students with assignments. Adults? Evil or blind. They are just promoting their own interests. No real feelings for anyone else. Also, the ones in charge don’t notice anything. Teenaged girls? If they are smart, they are mannish and uncouth.  If they are pretty (and they can’t be both) they will use their looks to forward their agenda or they are shallow like the ones we see in the mall (294). I honestly did hope we would get more with Heather so that she would have a chance to redeem herself. I’m fascinated by Blackburn - but I’m not actually “liking” him as I move into section 4. I bet you’ll really hate him now!

Overall for Part 3
It just felt implausible. I’m heading into Part 4 still holding out hope for redemption. I commented on a few things I felt were unlikely, but it sounds like I’m a lot happier with this book than you are. Hopefully our next book will be more up your alley!

Monday, November 19, 2012


1 Book 1 School Battle of the Book
I know, I know. The blog has been strangely quiet! I did my FIRST presentation (outside of my school) on One Book, One School at the Indiana Library Federation Annual Conference! So glad it's over.  That took some time as I do not like speaking in front of people! But, we had a great turnout and things went well! Special shout out to @libraryfanatic and @gopherlibrarian.  I enjoyed hanging out with them again!

I'm getting a blog makeover soon and have been thinking about what I want to do with the blog.  What types of information would be useful to people as they look for books to read.  There are MANY bloggers out there and quite a few are teacher-librarians.  So what can I add that isn't already being said somewhere?

Book News
National Book Awards - Goblin Secrets by William Alexander won the Young People's Literature Division
I haven't read ANY of these yet but I'm happy to note that I have almost all of them here to read soon.

Goodreads Mock Printz - Reading Ask The Passengers by AS King and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I'm happy to note that I finished The Raven Boys and will get to ATP before the end of the month.  I'm wondering if this group has reached the end of it's time since SLJ came out with Someday My Printz Will Come and it offers a more detailed forum for discussion?

Oh, and it was The Amazing Dancer's 17th Birthday this week!!! She's growing right up!

So, I've just been laying low but I will be back soon. In the meantime, tell me what you are looking for in a book/library related blog! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Recipe for Trouble by Sheryl and Carrie Berk - Review and Giveaway

Berk, Sheryl and Carrie. Recipe for Trouble (Cupcake Club, 2). Sourcebooks, 2012. 192p. $6.99. 978-1402264528.


Summary (provided by publisher)

The Peace, Love, and Cupcake Girls are ready for a new school year, but are they ready for the, well, drama? When Lexi lands the role of Juliet in the upcoming performance of Romeo and Juliet, she couldn’t be more excited, but when she finds out the leading man opposite her is her secret crush, Jeremy, the PLC gang sets its sights on match-making.

Things go quickly awry, though, when Jeremy throws away the “Bake Me I’m Yours” cupcake Lexi anonymously gives him. That’s not all! It seems that Jeremy has a few odd habits. For one, it turns out he doesn't eat any desert during lunch period. Then they notice that he keeps a stash of nuts with him at all times. Not to mention his over-frequent visits to the nurse’s office. What could be up with Jeremy?

What MGAnnie Thought

I read Recipe for Trouble, The Cupcake Club by mom and daughter authors, Sheryl and Carrie Berk. I loved it! It was about a girl named Lexi who really likes a boy. She also is busy and stressed with her cupcake club and her school play. She plays Juliet, and her crush is Romeo in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Could there be any more drama for a 5th grader? As a 5th grader myself, it was a fun read, and I would suggest it to 4th-6th graders. I loved how there were many references to Shakespeare and drama. I can't wait to try some of the recipes with my mom! I am looking forward to reading more books in this series, Winner Bakes All sounds fun! In all, this book was baked to perfection!

About the Authors
Sheryl is the founding editor in chief of Life & Style Weekly as well as a contributor to InStyle, Martha Stewart, and other publications.  Her daughter, Carrie, cooked up the idea for THE CUPCAKE CLUB series in second grade. Carrie maintains her own cupcake blog, featuring reviews, photos and recipes of her culinary adventures, called Carrie’s Cupcake Critiques (

follow Carrie!

TWITTER! @CBCupcakeCritic 

You can read Recipe for Trouble for yourself! Just fill out the form below! One Entry per person. US ONLY. from November 5 - November 9, 2012 11:59pm

Names and Addresses will be removed at contest end. book will be sent direct from publishers.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Batty About Books - Insignia by SJ Kincaid - Pt2

Here we are for Part 2!
Batty About Books
by SJ Kincaid

(Katherine Tegen Books, 2012. 464p. $17.99. 9780062092991)

We're halfway through Insignia with more questions and some answers.  Maria, whose thoughts are in purple, talks more about the science connections, gender roles, and historical aspects over on Maria's Melange.  We also ponder what the author's role is in portraying parts of the teen life. 

Part 2 - pg 117 - 223

I wasn't enthralled with Part 1 of Insignia by SJ Kincaid because I thought the author focused too much on looks and humiliation.  I liked the idea of war being fought by human-controlled machines though, so looked forward to Part 2. I’m actually a little bit MORE disappointed! I know we are only 1/2 way through but I’m having a hard time seeing how this book will redeem itself. I don’t want to have big personality and idea changes - they need to be gradual for me believe in them.  But, enough about that, let’s get to my objections.
Maria: I was hoping we would have gotten more into the action in this chunk of the book. I wonder if I’d feel differently about the pacing if I had just kept reading... guess I’ll find out soon!

I feel as if I keep reading the same things over and over and over.  I understand Kincaid doesn't want us to forget important stuff but this is a little bit of overkill for me.  We read repeatedly that they are owned by the military.  We’d heard it from Neil and the social worker in part one and now we have Beamer mentioning it as well as Tom thinking it.  The Achilles - Medusa connection was mentioned 4 times in 60 pages (p. 125, 159, 184, 187) as well as the mentions during battle. And how many times will I hear about the food and water patents? I don’t feel as if I need to remember or pay attention because the author will just tell me again.
Maria: Yes, I felt like this second chunk gave us a lot of repetitions. I also commented on some of the “info dump” aspects of the tactics class. Again, I wonder if it would have bothered me if I’d just been reading right through instead of stopping to take notes?

The focus on looks troubles me. Heather using her looks to get what she wants. The continued discussion on Wyatt. Wyatt’s role in the King Arthur sim. Wyatt’s parent’s reactions. Tom’s memory of his mom. “She couldn't believe such an ugly creature came from her.” (170) Tom’s reaction to being told they were turning off the growth hormone.
Maria: This is one of those instances where I wish I had a teen perspective. I know the appearance thing bugged me a lot, too, but I also remember (vaguely) feeling this way as a teen. So at what point does a book need to veer from actual teen experience? We want kids to see themselves in the characters, but we also want them to learn better ways to feel and experience life. I don’t know where the balancing point is, and I’d be interested in exploring this idea more. Meg (in Wrinkle in Time) spent an awful lot of time bemoaning her hideous appearance. Is that the same? I was more disturbed by Tom groping himself in his Guinevere form. I asked myself, “is that would a teen boy would do?” Then I realized I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to know the answer to that question! Hahahah! Good points. Where is the balancing point? How much becomes harmful? Must it always be helpful? Why was it ok in Wrinkle in Time?

This was huge for me. I was already disturbed by Kincaid using Blackburn’s character to humiliate Tom for laughs but I was completely appalled in this part.  First, the description of Nigel’s facial tic (which could also go under looks), then Dalton’s reference to him (174), then the virus that was named after him and used to embarrass him and make everyone else laugh (213).  
Maria: Yes, I wasn’t pleased by that at all. I kept waiting for someone to stick up for him! Again, I wonder at what point we stop reflecting actual teen behavior (which, sadly, I think this is) and start showing alternate positive choices. Is an author responsible for reflecting reality or altering it? I wanted there to be negative consequences for this behavior, at the very least.

Then, the whole Beamer incident where we learn that needing help from the social worker is a cause of shame. (154, 213) And I won’t even mention Blackburn saying use your dislike of each other to create viruses. (199)
Maria: Yes! We cheer for girls when they get active roles, but we also need to see boys being allowed to express vulnerability without shaming.

Eliot’s complete change of heart! Based on what we have been told (repeatedly) about his character, I didn’t believe his actions in the Troy scene.
Maria: I agree. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop - for Elliot to reveal what he hoped to get out of allowing Tom to take on that battle. When it didn’t happen, it felt like Elliot wasn’t being portrayed consistently.

Self worth: normal = nothing = worthless (213) WHAT????

Despite the negative above - there were still some things I liked about this part!
The Duel: I LOVED this. I could totally picture them standing around sending codes with glee. The virus names were so funny.  
Maria: “Worst duel ever” (214) I completely cracked up when I read this. I loved how Wyatt is schooling them all. I’m cheering for Wyatt now - forget everyone else. I want a book about her. YES, she is my favorite and I hope to see her role get even bigger and better! Maybe she’ll feature in the sequels!

Obsidian and the role they will play in upcoming parts. The potential for “insider trading” is huge here. Also, this part somehow brings to mind the merger of Random House and Penguin as well as the one of  Disney and Lucasfilms. What does all this combining of resources do for the consumers?
Maria: Yes - this is another great link in to current topics. I bet we could teach all of current events, and many history lessons, by tying into science fiction texts.

The “lessons” about past reasons for war and how we ended up in World War III. Agreed - though I thought the scenes ended up too long. I started to get bored before the lesson was over.

I look forward to the next part to see how all of this plays out. Will I feel better next week? I can’t wait to find out.


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