Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Break Reading!

My spring break officially starts today at 11am! I am heading to Las Vegas with my mom and sister to visit my grandparents and plan on getting a lot reading in between the plane rides and relaxation time during our week there. This is what I'm bring with me:

And on my kindle, I hope to get to: 

I'm currently reading The Sea of Tranquility (and enjoying it!) and hope to finish it on the plane ride. Who knows which one I'll read next!

What are your spring break reading plans?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is one of my personal favorites, TBR lists! Below are ten books I'd like to read this spring!

1. Dangerous by Shannon Hale: She is coming to a bookstore near me today and I plan on getting her newest book, Dangerous, signed (along with The Goose Girl)!

2. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan: I read The Lightning Thief earlier this year and am looking forward to continuing the series!

3. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: A few students have gushed over this one and said I need to read it, so I am making a point to get to it soon. Maybe over spring break? Good plane reading?

4. The Forsaken by Lisa Stasse: Another student rec that sounds pretty good!

5. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger: I've been meaning to read this one for a while and am determined to finally read it this spring.

6. The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson: I am thinking about binge reading this whole series! Yay or nay?

7. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows: I have this on my kindle and am thinking of reading it over spring break

8. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: I've been meaning to read this forever and am thinking it's the perfect time because Leigh is coming to Michigan with the Fierce Reads tour in June!

9. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski: This one sounds awesome!

10. Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock: I need to finish DJ's story :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 368 pages
"Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.
" (Goodreads)

I really thought I would love Crewel. It's been in my classroom library for a while, the subject seemed really interesting, and the cover is pretty. It all added up to what I thought would be a win for me, but I didn't end up loving it as much as I wanted to.

Gennifer Albin has created a really interesting world here with Crewel, but I spent a majority of the book confused about what was happening. The idea of weaving time with matter is really interesting, but I didn't think the concept was explained enough. I also wish there was more background with Adelice's family at the beginning of the book. Apparently I needed more explanation about everything!

That all said, I don't think Crewel was a bad book by any means, just not my thing. I have many students who absolutely loved it and we even considered it for a book club pick last year. I was intrigued by the very end though; will I like Altered more than Crewel? Feel free to advise in the comments!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Popular Authors I've Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is near and dear to my heart, as I often am sad when I think about all the books I need to read and how I won't ever get to all of them! Here are 10 popular authors I have yet to read:

1. Richelle Mead

2. Melina Marchetta

3. Khaled Hosseini

4. Sherman Alexie

5. Stephen King

6. Neil Gaiman

7. Ally Carter

8. A.S. King

9. Tamora Pierce

10. Holly Black (I am currently listening to Coldtown now though!)

Monday, March 3, 2014

At School: Literacy Displays

As most of you know, in addition to being a reader, I'm also a high school English and Spanish teacher. I thought it might be fun to talk a bit about what my coworkers and I do at work to encourage reading and create a culture of literacy at our school. I thought I'd start with a post about one of the most fun things I personally am doing this year: a reading display on my classroom door.
Picture taken in January. Number is up to 51 now!

I borrowed/stole the idea from Jillian (thanks!), who tweeted about it a while ago, and have seen a few other people create these types of displays as well. It was easy to do it: I created a small sign that says "This school year, Ms. Farlie has read _____ novels! Have you read any of them?" I had it laminated and now I just update the number with a dry erase marker every time I finish a book. I print book covers four to a page and tape them up around the sign. I have to say, I really look forward to adding books to the door! I think it makes me read more :)

The display itself has inspired some great conversations with kids and I already know it's helping them discover more books. I notice students checking the display as they walk down the hall or as they come into class, noticing when I add another cover or if my number goes up a few after a long weekend or a snow day. Sometimes I overhear conversations about the door from students I don't even have, especially after school!

I love what this display has done to encourage talking about literacy and to introduce students to more books that they might not notice on the shelves. 50 Cent's Playground has been popular this year, partly due to students noticing the cover on the door as they walk in. I've also had quite a few questions about Marie Lu's Legend series and The One and Only Ivan. I love all of these books getting more exposure!

If you are thinking about creating a literacy display, I'd really recommend doing one like this where students can see it easily. I also have a "currently reading" sign in the narrow window next to my door, so my students are able to check both out as they walk by or in the door. Both are fun, simple, and informative and let me display my reading life for everyone to see :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 352 pages
"Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .
" (Goodreads)

Let me start by saying that this cover is weird! It's creepy and so white and the 2 colored eyes just weird me out. I know they redid the covers for Enders and I don't think they're any better. Just had to get that off my chest!

I read Starters because it's been popular in my classes. One of my students gave a book talk on it and when I asked how many others had read it, a lot of hands went up. Whenever my students really like a book and I haven't read, I always make a point to get to it soon. I read it over a couple days and enjoyed it, although it wasn't my favorite.

In a time with a lot of similar sounding science fiction/futuristic novels, I thought this plot was pretty original. Callie rents her body out to Enders so they can kind of relive their youths in younger bodies. I was entertained throughout most of the book, but felt like the writing started to falter a little toward the end. It was basically just an ok book for me; nothing outstanding but still a fairly fun book. I would say read it if you like the genre!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Publish date: 2005
Source: Classroom Library
Format: Paperback
Length: 377 pages
"Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves
." (Goodreads)

I feel like Percy Jackson might be the younger generation's Harry Potter. There will always only be Harry Potter for me, but Percy Jackson is a good second place. I vaguely knew about this series but never paid much attention to them since they came out at the end of my high school years and while I was in college, when I didn't read much and definitely was not keeping up on YA/MG lit. Rick Riordan's books are VERY popular with my students though, particularly this year's freshmen, so I figured I needed to read them. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked The Lightning Thief!

I don't know much about mythology, so I was a little worried going into the book, but I had no problem getting sucked into Percy's world! Percy is new to all of it too, so we get to learn with him and if you're like me, it's a nice introduction to the topic. I liked all of the side characters, especially Grover, and found it fun to follow their adventures. I'm definitely planning on reading the next book, The Sea of Monsters, although I'm told the Heroes of Olympus series is even better!

If you are looking for a fun adventure series with some heart, check out The Lightning Thief! Or am I the last person who hadn't read it until now?