Archive | October, 2018

Guest Blogging today

31 Oct

I’m the guest blogger on The Hub today. Come on over and see what’s up.

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2018/10/31/mary-shelley-read/

Here’s a hint:

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All Hallows Eve Eve

30 Oct

I have long disliked Hallowe’en. It is complicated, but let me just say  I still like to include the apostrophe and that the day AFTER Halloween can be hard for teachers. When I taught elementary school, we didn’t dress up – had pyjama day instead.

Middle school is a whole different kettle of fish. It is not as smelly as that implies, but we take Hallowe’en seriously. And I finally have a costume I am excited about.

I found this gem at Macy’s.

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I already had the perfect teacup.

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If you still can’t figure it out, maybe this photo will give you a better idea.

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I’ll post a picture of me in full D.U. regalia tomorrow. I intend to channel her spirit as I teach. I hope the kids enjoy my Halloween hijinx.

Frankenstein’s Frankenstein

29 Oct

Last week, eavesdropping on book club conversations, I overheard a boy admit to his group that he’d read ahead and finished the book. “It was rainy, so I stayed in my pyjamas all day and just finished it.” My heart soared.

It was another rainy weekend here, perfect for reading knitting and a lot of pyjama time. I finished Catherine Reef’s biography of Mary Shelley,  The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator Mary Shelley.  It is a long title for a slim volume.

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Publisher’s Summary: On the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, comes a riveting biography of its author, Mary Shelley, whose life reads like a dark gothic novel, filled with scandal, death, drama, and one of the strangest love stories in literary history.

The story of Frankenstein’s creator is a strange, romantic, and tragic one, as deeply compelling as the novel itself. Mary ran away to Lake Geneva with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was just sixteen. It was there, during a cold and wet summer, that she first imagined her story about a mad scientist who brought a corpse back to life. Success soon followed for Mary, but also great tragedy and misfortune.

Catherine Reef brings this passionate woman, brilliant writer, and forgotten feminist into crisp focus, detailing a life that was remarkable both before and after the publication of her iconic masterpiece. Includes index.

This week’s book talks 10/22-26

26 Oct

Monday

Squirm by Carl Hiaasen

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Tuesday

Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald

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Wednesday

Solo by Kwame Alexander

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Thursday

Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard

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Friday

Putting Peace First by Eric David Dawson

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Beowulfish

25 Oct

Yesterday, I taught my students the word euthanasia. I’d given them a new list of Latin and Greek stems and eu – meaning good – was on the list.

The eponymous Boneless Mercies of April Genevieve Tucholke’s new books are tired of their lot in life – giving a good death to people. In this loose retelling of Beowulf,   we get to learn the story behind each of the Mercies as they make their way towards the monster.

The book had a bit of a slow start for me, but it picked up about halfway through. Although there is a lot of death, it isn’t gory – that would have been a dealbreaker for me. The actual Beowulf  homage only takes up the last eighth of the book. The setting of the story is Norse -ish. The people are called the Vorse. Grenfell is Logafell. You get the picture, but it gives Tucholke to alter the plot to suit the story she wants to tell.

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Publisher’s Summary: Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

Learning on the Go

23 Oct

Driving home last week, a few days after my one-on-one lesson on all the features of my new car, I found myself stuck in traffic. This was no bother, I always have an audiobook on the go and I lost myself in the steampunk world of my book, Arabella, the Traitor of Mars by David D. Levine, while I crawled along the Sunset Highway. And then I got distracted.

What would happen if I adjusted my headrest, I wondered as Arabella and Captain Singh led Martians and colonists to independence. I pulled up on the headrest, a device not designed for short drivers like me. Suddenly, the back of my head could fit in the space between the bottom of the headrest and the top of the seatback.

Not ideal, but not as big a problem as Arabella and the Captain were facing. I reached up to push the head rest down, Instead of pushing the headrest back to its original position, my action caused it to tip forward. Now, I was sitting with the headrest perched on top of my head, and, try as I might, I couldn’t get anything to budge.

The traffic crawled along and I knew Arabella wouldn’t be daunted by as small a problem as this. When traffic stopped for a moment, I reached over and grabbed the owner’s manual from the glove compartment. I waited for the next lull to find the right page.

Tilt the head restraint once as far forward as it can go. The head restraint will automatically return to the fully upright position.

I did and it did. Success!

The next part was trickier.

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As I stopped and started through traffic, I tried to find the little button the manual assured me was there. Poke and prod as I might, I couldn’t find that darned button. I continued the drive home with my head nestled in the space between the seat and the headrest.

Once home, I jumped out of the car and could see the button immediately. One push and Presto! the headrest was back to normal and I was happy. I had to wait a few more days to finish the audiobook, in which Arabella returned Mars to a new normal – independence from the British Empire. Arabella and I were both satisfied with that happy ending.

 

Halloween is in the air

22 Oct

My costume is ready and – spoiler alert –  I won’t be a ghost or a vampire. They are, however,  the topics of two fun (middle school aged) graphic novels I read this weekend.

In Sheets by Brenna Thummler, one of the main characters is a ghost. The other is a girl holding her grieving family together. This is a serious story of loneliness, grief and invisibility.

Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen-year-old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes and laundry…always, always laundry.

Wendell is a ghost. A boy who lost his life much too young, his daily routine features ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a dangerous need to seek purpose in the forbidden human world.

Find out what happens when their worlds collide.

Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner, is sweet, funny, and chock full of Twilight  references.  It is about fandom and first crushes. All I have to say is, are you sure you teachers are what they say they are?

Publisher’s Summary: It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown or had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harbored for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires?

When AJ and Nia are paired up for a group project on Transylvania, it may be AJ’s chance to win over Nia’s affection by dressing up like the vamp of her dreams. And soon enough he’s got more of Nia’s attention than he bargained for when he learns she’s a slayer.

Now AJ has to worry about self-preservation while also trying to save everyone he cares about from a real-life threat lurking in the shadows of Spoons Middle School.

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