Friday, February 26, 2016

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

If you have not already had the chance to read Caroline Kepnes' YOU, hurry out and get yourself a copy. You will need to read the first one to make sense of just who Joe is in the novel. What makes this man tick is both twisted and seductive at the same time. First I must offer a warning, dear readers, about the graphic nature of what is featured in this novel. It is not for the faint of heart!

"YOU is a terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone GirlAmerican Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery." 

I know that grabs your attention, so I will continue with my caveat. There is foul and graphic language, and detailed descriptions of horrific events. All this to tell you that I really enjoyed reading them! There were times I thought to myself, "I should not be enjoying this as much as I am." These two novels were delicious, and I devoured them like a Sprinkles Red Velvet cupcake. Joe is the quintessential bad guy who looks good. While listening to the audio version of YOU, I was utterly mesmerized by Santino Fontana's narration of Joe's character, and I couldn't wait to finish the story. When I was finished, I could not contain my excitement at the thought of Joe's story having a continuance. Caroline Kepnes' portrayal of this crazed man is unparalleled in modern literature. These are two hot books that you should read, but consider yourself warned! Page-turning reading is up ahead.

You by Caroline Kepnes 

The Important Thing About Being a Girl

This may be the most conversation that we have about girls and sex. It has been a rough go reading this book only because I lived through so many of the scenarios depicted in this book. I can stand with conviction and tell you that i will definitely have different conversations not only with my daughter, but also with my son as a result of this book. The prolific use of technology and devices as a means to humiliate and pigeon-hole girls into categories that rank them based on their beauty and worth is not only disturbing but tragic. This book "offers a clear-eyed picture of the new sexual landscape girls face in the post-princess stage—high school through college—and reveals how they are negotiating it. A generation gap has emerged between parents and their girls. Even in this age of helicopter parenting, the mothers and fathers of tomorrow’s women have little idea what their daughters are up to sexually or how they feel about it." This is the part where we, as parents, come in to the picture. Ignoring or turning our backs tot he needs of our children does not mean they are not engaging in sexual acts, and (gasp!) posting about it, but that they are more than likely doing it behind your back. So much has changed in the landscape of parenting, and I am struggling to keep up. But I'll be damned if my children grow up not understanding the implications that the choices they make have on them, their peers, and their futures. "Drawing on in-depth interviews with over seventy young women and a wide range of psychologists, academics, and experts, renowned journalist Peggy Orenstein goes where most others fear to tread, pulling back the curtain on the hidden truths, hard lessons, and important possibilities of girls’ sex lives in the modern world." The frustrations I felt while reading this book were reminiscent of those that I felt while reading Missoula by Jon Kraukauer. It is just maddening to me how little progress we have made with regard to equality of treatment of boys and girls with regard to sexuality and objective treatment of girls.  
"While the media has focused—often to sensational effect—on the rise of casual sex and the prevalence of rape on campus, in Girls and Sex Peggy Orenstein brings much more to the table. She examines the ways in which porn and all its sexual myths have seeped into young people’s lives; what it means to be the “the perfect slut” and why many girls scorn virginity; the complicated terrain of hookup culture and the unfortunate realities surrounding assault. In Orenstein’s hands these issues are never reduced to simplistic “truths;” rather, her powerful reporting opens up a dialogue on a potent, often silent, subtext of American life today—giving readers comprehensive and in-depth information with which to understand, and navigate, this complicated new world. " A worthy, important and worthwhile read.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Teacher Tip Thursday: Non-Fiction Text that Excites Readers!

For many years I struggled with non-fiction text on a personal level, and motivating my students to love it was a challenge. Why? Students were given a multitude of books to select from my fiction stack of recommendations, but when it came to non-fiction texts, my selection was abysmal and it was my fault. I never really broadened my own reading horizons and read non-fiction, so I don't know why I was surprised when my own students never grabbed a non-fiction copy off the shelf. In recent years, that has changed, and I read more non-fiction and I have tried to pass that love along to the classrooms I teach in. I wanted to share some great non-fiction titles so that you can read them yourself, and then pass that love on to your students! Go forth and read non-fiction, my fellow bibliophiles!

For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Great Depression comes the astonishing tale of nine working-class boys from the American West who at the 1936 Olympics showed the world what true grit really meant. With rowers who were the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew was never expected to defeat the elite East Coast teams, yet they did, going on to shock the world by challenging the German boat rowing for Adolf Hitler. 
At the center of the tale is Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, whose personal quest captures the spirit of his generation—the generation that would prove in the coming years that the Nazis could not prevail over American determination and optimism.
This deeply emotional yet easily accessible young readers adaptation of the award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller features never-before-seen photographs, highly visual back matter, and an exclusive new introduction.

From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of The Port Chicago 50 and Newbery Honor BookBomb comes a tense, narrative nonfiction account of what the Times deemed "the greatest story of the century": how whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg transformed from obscure government analyst into "the most dangerous man in America," and risked everything to expose a government conspiracy.
On June 13, 1971, the front page of the New York Times announced the existence of a 7,000-page collection of documents containing a secret history of the Vietnam War. Known as The Pentagon Papers, these files had been commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Chronicling every action the government had taken in the Vietnam War, including an attempt by Nixon to foil peace talks, these papers revealed a pattern of deception spanning over twenty years and four presidencies, and forever changed the relationship between American citizens and the politicians claiming to represent their interests. The investigation--and attempted government coverups--that followed will sound familiar to those who followed the scandal surrounding Edward Snowden.
A provocative and political book that interrogates the meanings of patriotism, freedom, and integrity,Most Dangerous further establishes Steve Sheinkin as a leader in children's nonfiction.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina's monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The riveting tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality.

Don Brown’s kinetic art and as-it-happens narrative capture both the tragedy and triumph of one of the worst natural disasters in American history. A portion of the proceeds from this book has been donated to Habitat for Humanity New Orleans.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

An affecting novel from author Julie Cantrell that will have readers believing in the power of redemption and the resilience of the human spirit. How one family can stay strong and endure gut-wrenching loss, and how another crumbles and implodes from the inside boggles the mind, and questions our faith in humanity and in God. As I was reading this book, I found myself furious with the main character, Amanda, but also feeling compassionate with her for what I know is the truth for us as mothers-we all just want our children to be safe, loved, and cared for. To have the ability to see their beautiful faces day in and day out is a privilege we often take for granted. This book was slow-moving at times, but the message is a powerful one. It will break your heart. Hug your children or whatever it is that you hold so dear. Life is fleeting, my friends.

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace. Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed. Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss. Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

This novel is one I will not soon forget, and I am sure you will feel the same way.
Happy Reading!

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe
Published by St. Martin's Griffin 

Today's feature is the paperback release of a YA novel titled The Tragic Age by author Stephen Metcalfe. The author brings to life a world where wealth and loss affect a family in a multitude of ways, and what it means to break free from the chains that bind you. It is a powerful message not only for teens, but for adults as well. Sometimes, we find, the difference between order and utter chaos is a messy line and is not as simple as it seems. One often thinks the solution to a chaotic world is to stay completely removed from it, but we all know that avoiding life is more complicated, especially when the life you have on the inside is more chaotic than life on the outside. Being a teenager is a challenge, it is, after all, "the tragic age." 

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn't always work- not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven't applied to college.
Billy's life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another's mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie's. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul.
With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.
Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is-Billy doesn't trust happiness. It's the age he's at. The tragic age.
Stephen Metcalfe's brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.

About the Author
Stephen Metcalfe wrote the production drafts for Pretty Woman, Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland's Opus, among others. His stage plays have been produced in New York and theaters around the U.S., Europe and Japan. He is an Associate Artist at the Globe Theater in San Diego, University of San Diego, and San Diego State University. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle
Published by HarperCollins
352 pages
How compelling is an opening line such as this? "This is a life told back to front." It makes you immediately want to mark this as "To-Read" on your Goodreads profile. It is amazing to think of how little we actually know about most of the people we are surrounded by, and reading books like The Good Liar doesn't make it any easier to build the bonds of trust! In this book, you take a con artist, a wealthy widow, and a grandson who knows that things do not seem right, and you have a masterful tale of suspense that will take you by surprise. Everyone has their own secrets, and often a dark past is difficult to hide. All of the things about your past that you try to hide, and perhaps should have seen coming are played out for the reader, and to oh my- how we benefit! I love when a book builds suspense for the reader and ploys you by taking a seemingly unsuspecting woman and placing her in the path of a con artist bent on taking all of her money and living out the rest of his days in comfort. 

"This is a man who has lied all his life."  
Roy is a conman living in a small English town, about to pull off his final con. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman and slip away with her life savings. But who is the man behind the con? What has he had to do to survive a life of lies? And who has had to pay the price?

"Reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith, The Good Liar is a page-turning story of literary suspense, weaving a masterful web of lies, secrets, and betrayals that unravels to a shocking conclusion."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Teacher Tip Thursday-Flippity Love

Bring in the technology that engages students, and provides teachers with the tools that are FREE and easy to use! For many years as a teacher I used so many different tools to be able to engage students in lessons, and have them interact with one another. Some of these tools were much more successful than others. I used popsicle sticks, playing cards, spoons, color name it, I have probably used it in my classroom. As we shift from a more "traditional" way of teaching, and by this I mean from the teacher as the "sage on the stage" to the "guide by the side", we must also shift the way we ask students to have meaningful interactions with one another. We need to incorporate more technologically saavvy ways for educators to generate groups, pairs, and interactions in and among students in their classrooms.

Introducing Random Name Generator!

You can choose to select a single student 

Groups of students

Pairs, Groups of Four

The possibilities are endless here! This tool uses a template through Google Sheets to record student names, and then you create this class portal of names for students to interact with! I am absolutely loving it, and so are the teachers in my district. Please let me know if you have any questions about Flippity, or if you have different ways you have been using this tool.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Teacher Tip Thursday

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt

I was fortunate enough to attend a training by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst that was centered around reading non-fiction, but much of what we covered during the training was relevant to teaching fiction as well. I am the type of teacher who needs to jump in right away and try something out, so I went in to a 5th grade classroom this morning, and did a reading lesson using The Spider and the Fly poem by Mary Howitt. Here is a compilation of the signpost I used, as well as some other strategies to aid students in gaining understanding of the text. The signpost we used was "Words of the Wiser" because much of what we read has an over-arching moral or message embedded in it. It was a wonderful lesson, and I welcome any questions. have a fabulous Thursday.

Sketch to Stretch 

Embedded image permalink

Signpost "Words of the Wiser"

SWBS Statement
Please note that this SWBS was written by an EL who recently arrived here from China. I was amazed at what she did during this lesson, which is why I chose her work to feature here. 

Image result for notice and note
Notice and Note by Kylene Beers & Robert E.Probst

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Spotlight Feature: Platinum Doll by Anne Girard

Spotlight Feature: Platinum Doll
The story of Jean Harlow, famed movie star comes to life in this book by author Anne Girard. Read the synopsis to discover a if this new book is all you have been waiting for. 
Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, Platinum Doll tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.

It's the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen.

With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it. 

Featuring a glittering cast of ingĂ©nues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

On sale from MIRA Books and available January 26, 2016

Author Anne Girard
Diane Haeger, who currently writes under the pen name Anne Girard (Madame Picasso), holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA. A chance meeting with the famed author Irving Stone 25 years ago sharply focused her ambition to tell great stories from history, and write them only after detailed research and extensive travel to the place her character lived. That determination has provided a fascinating journey that has taken her from the halls of Chenonceaux, to a private interview with one of Pablo Picasso's last surviving friends, and most recently an invitation inside Jean Harlow's home.

Since the publication of her acclaimed first novel, Courtesan, in 1993, a novel that remains in print today, her work has been translated into 18 different languages, bringing her international success and award-winning status.

Platinum Doll, a novel about Jean Harlow, is her 15th book. She lives in Southern California with her husband and family.
Connect with Anne via her website, Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads:

To order your copy of Platinum Doll, please visit one of the links below: 

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 1, 2016

No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Refearn

No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn
Grand Central Publishing 
Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

I am very excited to celebrate a new book written by Suzanne with you, dear readers! Suzanne is one of my favorite authors, who knocked it out of the park with Hush Little Baby. If you haven't read Hush Little Baby, please add it to your TBR list immediately. You can read both of Suzanne's books this month, and I promise you will be satisfied. Now that my plea's have been voiced, I will tell you I enjoyed reading her new release, No Ordinary Life. Suzanne skillfully immerses the reader into the world of Hollywood starlets, and the pressures that mount in a world that is always changing, and incredible fickle. Faye's desperation to change her life's circumstances drive her, and subsequently her family, into a life of fame and a solution to their financial difficulties-but with consequences attached to those decisions. It is a bit of a cautionary tale, but for those who choose the glitzy Hollywood life, it will read like a memoir. I will not spoil the ending for you, but I encourage you to read the synopsis for yourself, and then find the ordering link at the bottom of this page. 

"Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family. 

Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives."

 Author Spotlight
Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

To order a copy of No Ordinary Life, please visit one of the following links: