Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Middle School The Worst Years of My Life Giveaway

I'm a day late, and more than a dollar short when it comes to this giveaway, but this book, Middle School The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson was a favorite book my son and I read together last year. We also read the sequel, Middle School Get Me Out of Here, and now there is a third book! You can find them here on James Patterson's Website. I was wondering what to giveaway as part of World Reading Night, and after reading the Salon piece about the "book industry bailout" James wrote about the decline of bookstores being a national problem, I knew this was it. So, if you'd like to be entered to win this book, please leave a comment, and be sure to include your email address. This giveaway is valid for US and Canda only, and winners must respond to their notification email within 48 hours. Good luck to all! Also, visit James' site called ReadKiddoRead  to find great book recommendations for the kids in your life. Winners will be announced Monday, April 29th

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Good Woman by Jane Porter

The Good Woman by Jane Porter had me from the very beginning. From the start, you will want to take this book along with you everywhere you go! The fact that it is a part of a series makes it even more appealing to adult readers. I remember being engrossed with the Hunger Games trilogy, and loved that I could continue to read more about the characters, and see where the stories would take me. The fact that I've found a Chick Lit series is beyond amazing. I'm a happy reader. Jane is an absolutely lovely person, and that makes me want to shout her praises from the mountaintops.All of her sweetness aside, the book is fantastic, so click anywhere it says "The Good Woman" for ordering information...but wait, there's more! Hint *giveaway*
This story is about Meg, the quintessential older sibling. Much like myself, she strives for perfection, and doesn't deal well with any bumps in the road. She is born into a family of girls, and they are all as different as the day is long. Meg has always played it safe. Always. You can hear the voices of her sisters mocking her perfection, "Meg, she's always so perfect. Wholesome Meg, she never does ANYTHING wrong." She's never been the risk-taker. If she took risks, her younger siblings would have followed her lead. Meg would have given them permission to act out. Growing up as the oldest in my own family, it's tough when you want to do something, but think better of it because you know it's "not the right thing to do." It is pressure we put on ourselves. We THINK that's the way our parents or siblings want us to behave. It's not about what we want, it's about what everyone thinks of us. We are our own harshest critic. Sigh...

What happens to the person who always plays it safe? Do they always stay on the straightened arrow, or does temptation beckon them from their will to play it safe? The Good Woman explores the relationships between husband and wife, family, and what happens when you choose to no longer play it safe. Risk-taking is a double-edged sword. To find out what happens, you must read The Good Woman!

To celebrate my love for this book, I have 2 copies to giveaway. The book is so, so good you won't want to miss this juicy read! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on the blog, with your e-mail address. Only one entry per person, U.S. and Canada only. Winners will be chosen by Monday, April 22nd.

You can find out more about Jane on her website including all the awesome books she has written! She writes a blog, and hosts tremendous giveaways.

Hope you enjoy! xo

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen

I finished reading The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen on Friday night, and it has been a real stretch for me to wait this long to post about it! I wanted to wait until right before its publication date (tomorrow, April 9th!) so that you can order this book pronto!

Here's the gist:

A group of old college friends get together for an all-expenses paid trip to Jamaica. By all-expenses paid, I mean Dwight, the resident millionaire, is footing the entire bill. Leer Jet, chef, private villa? Yes, Dwight has it all! The trip was planned to celebrate Dwight's birthday, and has been micro-managed by Pauline, Dwight's alpha wife. Pauline has made sure every t is crossed, and every i is dotted, but when she needs to leave the island unexpectedly, well, as the saying goes, "when the cats are away the mice will play." You find out that not everything is as wonderful as it appears. There is a lot more to their relationship than meets the eye.

Tina and Gio are married, and just slogging through the daily grind of life. We have all been there. Kids, bills, just trying to do it all. Tina feels she cannot be honest with Gio about her frustrations, and it's taking its toll on their marriage. She loves Gio, but she also doesn't want to feel guilty about wearing yoga pants every day! Girl, you have our support. Wear those damn yoga pants! Raising kids is hard work!

Allie and Ryan are the picture-perfect couple. In my mind I imagined all of her perfectly framed family photographs, and her Shutterfly albums for every occasion. She has it all, and she is kind-to boot. She's the girl we all love to hate. Oh, I see, you pre-addressed envelopes for thank you cards to write after your kids birthday? How very efficient of you. (bitch!) I'm lucky if mine ever get done! When Allie's perfect facade begins to crack, you don't feel vindicated, you feel saddened for her. Does she have ALS? Would that cause someone to break down like Allie did? Hmmm...all things you will want to know.

And then there's Savannah...the loosey-goosey, soon-to-be divorcee. She flirts with all the men, and flaunts her assets. Now, I've never experienced divorce first-hand, but I sure hope I don't behave like Savannah does in the aftermath of her husband's infidelity and betrayal. Don't get mad, Savannah, get even! haven't you seen the First Wives Club? Getting even is sort of what she ends up doing. Aren't you intrigued?

You won't want to miss this newest book by Sarah Pekkanen. I read Skipping a Beat last year, and loved it!! She's a fabulous, amazing author.

Don't forget to click on the link at the top of the page to order The Best of Us. You're not going to scroll back up, are you? Okay, fine! Here The Best of Us on Amazon.

Want to test your luck, and enter to win a copy? Some sites are offering giveaways:
Chick Lit Central-The Blog
Great Thoughts

Poor Sarah is one of many authors involved in a battle between S&S and Barnes and Noble. Not having your book seen on the shelves at B&N totally stinks, and it is a shame that more readers are not aware that there are great books being published by S&S, and because of this battle, they'll remain unseen. Support these people:
Amy Hatvany
Randy Susan Meyers
My book club's pick for April is The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers.

I have a SIGNED copy of Amy's book Heart Like Mine that I bought to support her, and I'm giving it away here! One entry per person (U.S. & Canada only). You will be entered twice if you are a member of my blog. Oh yeah, you know you want to! Check back on Friday, April 12th to see the winner's name posted. The winner will have 48 hours to claim the book (once notified that they have won) to send me their information.

Thank you, loves! As always, keep reading.
*This is my honest review. I have not been compensated in any way for this review. An early copy of this book was given to me by the publisher Simon & Schuster (Atria Books).*


Friday, April 5, 2013

Key Word Dance- A Strategy by Lori Oczkus

I recently went to a professional development seminar with the wonderful, and talented Lori Oczkus. She has a new book out called Best Ever Literacy Survival Tips: 72 Lessons You Can't Teach Without. You can click on this link to order the book from Amazon. She has another book our called Reciprocal Teaching at Work  through the International Reading Association's Website. You can find that here. I learned so much from her, and one of the best strategies I have used in my work with intervention students has been Key Word Dance. It is a difficult task to teach concept vocabulary words to our students. They may remember them after hours of study and practice, but we all know that students have a much easier time remembering these words when they are paired with a hand motion. I call my hand motions "TPR", which stands for Total Physical Response.

We all have students in our class who are wiggly, and have a difficult time sitting in their seats for a prolonged period of time. For some, a prolonged period of time is 5 minutes, for others it may be 10 or 20. Pair students who are antsy with concept vocabulary that can, at times, be obscure and you have yourself a recipe for disaster!

So...I have an awesome strategy for building vocabulary. Here are the steps:

1. Write down concept vocabulary words on index cards
2. Review the index cards with the students, and assign each word a hand motion. I also do this while they are reading to reinforce my hand gesture.
3. Select 6-8 students from the class to come and form a "conga line"
4. Assign one student to be the band leader
5. Put on music (I chose Gagnam Style by Psy) and have the students start marching around the room.
6. The band leader will hold up the vocabulary index card. The students in the conga line respond by doing the hand motion and saying the word. 
7. The band leader will change the cards every 15-20 seconds, so the conga lines needs to stay ready! They also need to continue to do the hand gesture, and saying the vocabulary word until the card is changed by the band leader.
(Oczkus, 2009) Activity cited from 72 lessons book.
It is so much fun! Hope you like it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst (Teaching Voice)

Lulu and the Brontosaurus, by Judith Viorst was a pleasant surprise for me. I chose this book last week at Vroman's Book Store in Pasadena from the clearance shelf. I figured since it was on sale, I'd give it a chance. If I didn't like it, no sweat!  I chose to read this book to my third grade group as they were assembled on the carpet in front of me, read-aloud style. I knew from the start that I had made the right choice in picking this book up. 

The take-away for teaching that came from this book is teaching VOICE. I had always used picture books in the past for teaching voice, and it was very successful. I had never really employed the use of a chapter book for this purpose...until now. Lulu, the main character, has a remarkable voice. By remarkable I mean that she is very memorable. The students understand that she is demanding, incorrigible, and selfish. They hear this voice not only in what she says, but in how she acts. In contrast, the brontosaurus, Mr. B, is kind, and gentle, and assertive. He also perseveres as is evidenced when he follows Lulu out of the forest. 

There are also three different endings that the author writes. The reader is able to choose which ending they liked best. My third graders debated between 1, 2, and 3, but the majority of my students liked the third ending the best. I preferred the second. :) That was a fun little twist, and also a great way to hone in on the fact that sometimes authors debate which ending would be best for a book. Offering the reader three different endings was a decidedly wonderful treat!

I also use some other mentor texts to teach Voice in writing:
Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks! by Nancy Loewen

Today I Feel Silly& Other Moods that Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis

Bad Boys and Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini

Anything David by David Shannon!

These Voice Cards from Scholastic are amazing! You could have the students draw a card after sharing your mentor text, and try to re-write from that perspective (voice). So much fun! 
Enjoy, my fellow educators and readers!