Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books

Today I'm joining The Broke and the Bookish for their Top Ten Tuesday linkup.

Ten books I'd buy right this second if someone handed me a fully loaded gift card

This list is going to be tough to keep at just 10... I've got some new bookshelves going up and can't wait to fill them (not that I don't have enough books to fill them already, lol).

The crates just need to be stained and secured. Then I can start loading in books!!

So, I'm basically going to work off my Barnes and Noble wishlist. Many of them are pre-orders that are coming out soon (not soon enough! I think I need one of the Ministry of Magic's Time Turners so I can get my hands on them now!), but the ones on my wishlist are available now.

Now, if the book gods will kindly give me my loaded gift card, I'll be off to the bookstore!

What books would you buy with a fully loaded gift card?

Happy Reading :)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Wizardly Wonderful Week with a HUGE GIVEAWAY!

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!! 

Today is a wonderful day!!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been released and I have my copy!!

So once I am finished with this post I will retire to my chaise lounge where I will spend the rest of the day devouring this book! Sorry kids, you'll have to fend for yourself today. Mommy has lost herself in the wizarding world!

I've continued to spread the Harry Potter love into my classroom as I prepare for the upcoming school year. Last year I put up my HP pinwheels and fans...

And this year I'm working on a few more HP items. The Deathly Hallows was a HUGE book so I've still got a lot of pages left to work with!!

First up, an HP lantern to hang in my classroom:

I chose a large section of the book that still had the binding intact. Taking several pages at a time, I curled them in towards the center. Before hot glueing the pages to the center I ran a piece of sting through from the bottom to the top. I then tied some old beads to the bottom. I love the final look!!

My next project is one I am really excited about...

I made the signs out of the cardboard box from our new washing machine. Each sign will hold the name of a different fictional place: Hogwarts, Ember, Narnia, District 12... I can't wait to finish and hang it in my room!!

There is also a pair of Harry Potter themed lamps in the works. I'll post pictures of those when I'm finished.

So, Harry Potter kicks off the beginning of a great week!
Teachers Pay Teachers is hosting their annual sale starting tomorrow!

And I have a $10 gift card to give away!!
Enter below for your chance to win $10 to spend on resources for your classroom this year!! Might I suggest an awesome display of middle grades novel quotes ;)

Good luck, and happy reading!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Summer Reading 2016

SO much to read, SO little time! Hopefully the relaxed pace of summer will give me more time to read and write. This is an ambitious list, but I know I can do it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Red Queen

I recently read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. This new young adult series is about a girl named Mare Barrow. She is a poor thief from the Stilts, dreading her upcoming conscription on her 18th birthday. For over a hundred years Red soldiers have fought a Silver war, spilling their common red blood to protect their gifted, silver-blooded kings. Mare's story is one of bravery and courage. She stands up for what she believes in and will do anything for the people she loves. That's why it is so important for her to avoid being sent to war. For Mare's people, war means death.

You see, there are two kinds of people in the Kingdom of Norta. There are Silvers (Kings, Queens, Lords and Ladies) who have money, power, summer palaces and winter palaces. And there's everyone else, Reds like Mare, whose only purpose in life is to serve the Silvers. They are forced to be laborers, working hard for very little pay. The Reds outnumber the Silvers so why don't they fight back? Silver blood comes with supernatural abilities, powers that Reds don't have. Magnetrons can control metal, shadows can bend light, nymphs can control water, and strongarms have immense strength. But these are only a few of the amazing abilities silvers possess. 
Their blood is a threat, a warning, a promise. We are not the same and never will be. This is the true division between Silvers and Reds: the color of our blood. This simple difference somehow makes them stronger, smarter, better than us. (page 9) 
One day, Mare discovers that despite her Red blood she has a superior Silver ability, an ability that could save her or doom her. Of course Mare makes this discovery in front of the entire Silver community where all eyes were on her! No one can know of her Red blood, so she must turn her back on everything she has ever know, anyone she's ever loved, and lie to the world. Pretending to be a Silver princess, Mare is forced to hide her true identity. 

She has only one choice to make... 
...play along or join the rising Red rebellion. 

No spoilers here! You'll have to grab a copy of Red Queen to find out!

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy novel. Victoria Aveyard expertly creates a world where anything seems possible. She makes the Kingdom of Norta feel like it's the town right next door. Best of all, Mare's story does not end here! After devouring Red Queen, check out the sequel Glass Sword and the novella Cruel Crown. (The action and suspense really builds in Glass Sword!) Aveyard is still writing the third book in the trilogy and I cannot wait to see where Mare's journey ends!

This book would make a great addition to your middle/high school classroom library. The Accelerated Reader level is 5.2 and the content is not too mature for your advanced middle school readers (no need to worry about language or sexual themes in this series). I put 2 copies of this out in my 5-6th grade classroom and they were snatched up right away. My students are making great connections between Mare and Katniss (Hunger Games). One student even said that "Red Queen helped to fill the void left behind when she finished the Hunger Games Trilogy!"

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Scoop + a GIVEAWAY!

I had some new things to share so I decided to link up with Teaching Trio for this week's Sunday Scoop and to give away a copy of my new TPT product!!

This week our school is participating in Renaissance Learning's Read Quest

Our school uses the STAR assessment and one great component of that is Accelerated Reader (AR). Students can independently take quizzes after reading any novel or story in our text book. The quizzes are quick (only 10 questions each) and provide a quick check of the student's comprehension.

On Friday, February 26th, the site is hosting Read Quest to see how many AR quizzes students can take in one day. My class participated last year and it was a lot of fun. They took quizzes on their own books that they recently finished and they also read to younger students, then helped them take their first quiz. My 5th and 6th graders will be doing the same thing this year, reading to students in 1st and 2nd grade.

I'm also using Read Quest to help kick off a month long reading celebration! Our 2nd Annual Battle of the Books will begin next week!
Here's a picture of last year's bracket:

Our new bracket (with all new books) will be going up this week. I'll post some pictures once it's finished. You can read more about last year's Read Quest and Battle of the Books {HERE}

Now, about that giveaway I mentioned... :)
This year I revamped my classroom library. I wanted to go for a more mature look since I would be teaching in the middle school for the first time. I teach reading and language arts and wanted to bring my love (more like passion) for books into the classroom.

So I started compiling a list of great quotes from Young Adult and Middle Grade novels. I've posted them on a wall in my classroom to pique student interest. I wanted them to see that a book is often more than it's cover.

Students LOVE the quote wall and it often leads to exploration of the featured books! Mission accomplished!

My gift, to the first person who comments on this post, it's a free copy of my Read Together Quote Display!

Here is one of my favorite quotes...
So, leave your comments below and I will contact the lucky one who comments first with their freebie!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I looked UP

Sometimes books evoke a strong reaction from the reader.

I threw this book onto the other side of the couch with a WTF that was a little too loud for 10:30pm and sleeping children in the house!

I just finished reading We All Looked Up, by Tommy Wallach. This book had been on my radar for a while, stuck in the never ending queue of my Barnes and Noble cart. However when I came across it at Target during a recent grocery shopping trip I couldn't resist.

First of all, the cover is minimalistically beautiful and so soft to the touch. One look and I knew it had to be mine!

I binge read this book, polishing it off in less than a week (while also being a full-time working mommy of 3 little ones). Wallach's clean, clear writing reads effortlessly, making it possible to loose yourself within his pages for hours. This part below, was so good that I stuck it up on my classroom wall:
The best books, they don't talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you'd always thought about, but that you didn't think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you're a little bit less alone in the world.
The story follows four teenagers as their lives intertwine while awaiting the arrival of an asteroid that has a 66.6% chance of wiping out the Earth. The characters see this as an opportunity to shed the labels that have controlled their young lives; the athlete, the slacker, the overachiever, and the promiscuous girl. It's like the Breakfast Club except that impending doom is all that is waiting on the other side of the library doors.

Challenges plague each character as they try to achieve their end of the world goals. Controlling parents, distant parents, partying, riots, and even a stint in prison doesn't break their spirit. Wallach makes you care deeply for each character. SO deeply in fact that the ending will leave you speechless. Then, when the words finally do come, you will find yourself venting to your husband as he's trying to fall asleep. The real reason why your blood pressure skyrockets at the end....

Spoiler alert!!!
I REALLY don't want to ruin this book for you, however the author spoils the end on his website too, so I figured it was ok for me to do the same here.

The book just ends.

It's the day that the asteroid is expected to hit, the characters are together, they "all look up", and then it ends. Does the asteroid hit or not?!?!!

At first I was furious. How could he end the story here? I flipped the last few pages back and forth, over and over again, thinking that maybe I had missed something that would suddenly appear. But then, after processing it for a few moments, I realized that the ending was perfect. It was too expected to go for the "happy everyone lives" ending and if he went with the "tragic everyone dies" ending then there would be no narrator left to tell the story. Ending it where he did leaves our beloved characters still intact and our minds racing with possibilities. What more could you ask for?

Recommendation: Must read! While I discussed some details of this book with my 5th - 6th grade students, I will not be releasing it into general population in my classroom. The concept of this book and the mature themes (teenage partying, sex, drugs) make it more suitable for the high school crowd. This book will live on my mature readers shelf where any brave soul who borrows from there knows they need parental permission first.