> One More Stamp: August 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Top Ten School Freebies

  Top Ten Tuesday is a meme supported by the blog The Broke and the Bookish that is so brilliant that I am both jealous and in new of it every time I come across it!  It involves two of my favorite things.  Books and lists that delude me into thinking that I have everything under control.

           This week it is Top Ten School Freebies, which I am interpreting as Top Ten Books that supplement the subject. Brace yourself for teacher nerdiness.  Not even joking.  One of my goals this school year is to list a list of books to complement each of the subject’s unit.  I didn't limit myself to ten books because  I am the boss of this blog.  

Science Bootcamp: We use standardized methods to understand natural phenomena and communicate our knowledge about it accurately.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeeline L'Engle
I can't say anything about this book that hasn't been said before.  It is possible that this book contains about 95% of all my knowledge of Physics and has ensured that "tessering" is something that I secret want to do.

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass
Never has a solar eclipse been so  full of life lessons.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
This is an odd book and I am still torn about it.  I really liked the writing and I loved Calpurnia but I struggled with the plot.  Was something supposed to happen? 

English Language and Literature
Persuasion/You CAN always get what you want: Using appropriate structures and supports will help you persuade others.

Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan
A group of students learn to write their own stories to show and understand who they are.

Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
The roots of activism and how understanding others leads us to understanding ourselves.  Beautiful.

Fractions, Decimals & Percentages: We use a standardized system to quantify objects and order them based on the perceived value
What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez

An Abundance of Catherines by John Green
Is is me or is the real question this book poses, "Why has this 17 year old had 19 girlfriends?"

Mazerunner and Who Dat?
         These were pretty much no brainers. While I am not a huge fan of the series, middle schoolers LURV them.  I had one boy who came to my bookclub every week and no matter what topic we were talking about brought up these books.  

Languages/ ELA
What makes us or breaks us?: An individual’s attitude and/or actions can make a difference in a community, a society, and in the world.

The Language Inside by Holly Thompson
There aren't a lot of YA books dealing with Ex-Pat life but this novel in verse shows the disconnect that some third culture kids experience with themselves and their home countries.

Habbi by Naomi Shihab Nye

Physical and Heath Education
Fitness: Physical change requires balanced choices

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
What does sport mean to you?
Knights of Hill County by Tim Tharp
Football and the decline of the American male.

Slam! by Walter Dean Myers
You really can't go wrong with Walter Dean Myers

Individuals and Societies: 
Hungry for Change: Big change comes from small changes
Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food Love and War by Annia Ciezadlo
I want to be friends and travel the world with this woman.  This is a charming manifesto that sets out to prove that food is culture and that sharing is brings even unlikely people together.

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan

MAD- Music, Art, Drama
The Beatles: Musical expression can be used to identify the particular features that define individuals
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Leila Sales is pretty hit and miss with me.  I was charmed by Past Perfect but underwhelmed by Tonight the Streets are Ours.  This Song Will Save Your Life highlights all of the things that I love about this author and also explores the power that music can have in your everyday life.
If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman
I will auto buy and devour anything and everything that Gayle Forman writes.  These are some of the most sensitive books about identifying yourself and living as a musician that I have read.  Also?  All the tears.  
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly 
Words cannot express how much I love this book. I love Andi in all her sad anger.  I love the Paris setting which takes you past the postcard perfect images.  A Christmas setting, mysterious boy, and a link to the French Revolution?  Sign me up.  Never has music been so much of a character.   To the point where I went online to find the playlist and individually downloaded each song from iTunes.  
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
Buffalo/Western New York (holla!), the Blizzard of '77 (is this something that people outside Buffalo even remember), and a boy from the Tuscarora Indian Reservation (whose voice is spot on to my reading) blend into an emotional, funny, and heartfelt book. And yes, music is a big part of Shoe's story. More people should read this book!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

This book was amazing and you should read it.  It was deliciously creepy and unsettling; Sensual but not gratuitous; Romantic without being trite. 
Karou is about 1000 times cooler than I am.  It is true. And yet somehow I do not hate her for it.  She was an independent and strong main character who not only wasn’t abrasive but managed to be thoughtful, likeable, and vulnerable.  I read a lot and I feel as if female leads who are strong and don’t annoy me are this white whale that I am constantly searching for.  Maybe because my standards are so high for them.  Male MC basically have to get through the book without being a dick to get a pass.  I know that this is a terrible double standard.   Is is because female character represents more than the space on the pages of the book that they inhabit to me? 

This isn’t a book where things are obvious.  I spent the first half of the book trying to figure out what the hell was going on.  Liani Taylor dumps you in at the deep end of the pool and just assumes that you can swim.  It wasn’t that the writing was unclear, it was that everything was inferred.  Karou is a mystery even to herself.  The use of third person past tense was perfect here.  Exposition is given in snatches and the reader builds a picture of Karou even as she is building a new picture of herself.

The writing was lush and textured.  I felt as if I could physically touch everything.  It didn’t feel as if the book had an unusual amount of description and yet everything was so perfectly realized.  Liani Taylor also managed to make the whole world that she had created feel fresh. The idea of denominations of wishes was brilliant.  I know that I have never read anything like that before. Yet it sort of slid into place as if it was some concept that I had always been told. 

The last 1/3 of the book was relentless.  I was reading at a frantic pace as if stuffing the words into my head fast enough would quiet that internal voice chanting, “What will happen? What will happen? What will happen?”  I was so focused on the plot that I know I missed out on the writing itself which is a shame because that is exceptional.  I will be rereading this again very soon to give myself a chance to properly appreciate it.

I must read the next book.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book Review: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody

A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Series: No
Release date: August 2nd 2016
Rating: I don't like her

“Obviously, I didn’t know the couple’s names or anything about them, so I made up my own names and gave them backstories.”

Yup.  Basically, this is what I spend my life doing.  Does anyone else over fixate when they run into sentences like this?  Small personality quirks of your own that you find in books. 
Onto actual things about the book:

Ellison Sparks is a sixteen year old high school junior who is not having a good day.  And getting to the end of the day was just the start of the story. 

I am not sure how I feel about Ellison.  There were lines (starting with the opening line) that were incredibly relatable.  I also liked that there was some character development.  The Ellison and the start of the book grows and learns.  But I felt as if I wanted her to be more.  I think that it came down to a case of the author telling and not showing.  “I feel angry and confused.” As opposed to showing us how Ellison was angry and confused. 

One theme that was explored was the idea of changing yourself to fix the expectations of the people around you.  I think that if you aren’t really sure of who you are and what you want yet it is really easy to just become who other people think you are.  Week of Mondays shows how who other people think of you impacts your own view of your identity.  It also explores what happens after you become aware of this. 

There are, of course, obvious parallels to Before I Fall but A Week of Mondays is much lighter and less “important” for lack of a better word.  Ellison is much less internal and angst ridden than Sam.  It made for a quick read but I am not sure that it will stick with me in any way.  If you were going to choose between the two Before I Fall is a far superior book.

The romance in the book is cute if pretty predictable.  I think that that part of the book was overlooked a bit with all the plot points that had to be tied up every “day”.

Final verdict: Cute, readable, but nothing earth shattering.