I bought this book on sale because every time we pass through Amarillo we pass a sign guiding us to "Historic Route 66." I've even gotten lost in AmarI bought this book on sale because every time we pass through Amarillo we pass a sign guiding us to "Historic Route 66." I've even gotten lost in Amarillo and ended up on Route 66. Combined with my love of a good ghost story and my knowledge that Amarillo has some nice haunted places, I thought I'd found a fun read.
I was wrong.
One of my gripes with nonfiction ghost books is when the author builds on the knowledge of others. For example, many authors will write something like "orbs have been captured by photographers" or "in many pictures you can see a mist" without providing any evidence. If there are so many photographs of ghosts floating around, for heaven's sake! find one and get permission to use it. I understand that a book isn't the proper media to provide EVP evidence but books are excellent for photographic evidence.
This author not only failed to provide photographic evidence, it doesn't appear that he even visited any of the points on Route 66. His bibliography at the end of the book consists mostly of websites with a few books thrown in. I don't remember reading of any personal interviews. The few photographs which did appear were properly credited to someone else.
Another of my gripes is that the author left Route 66. I noticed that particularly in Kansas. To his credit, Route 66 only passes through 13 miles of Kansas so he had to leave the Route in order to find some good ghost stories (and they were good! I love learning about local history), but after leaving Kansas the author seemed to feel that it was perfectly fine to leave the Route whenever he felt like it.
Texas, in particular, was ridiculous. He mentions the ghosts of Arlington, Denton, Mineral Wells, and Granbury. I live five miles from one of those ghost stories; I know for a fact that it takes me nine hours drive to Amarillo and Historic Route 66. I've read Phantoms of the Plains: Tales of West Texas Ghosts; I know there are ghost stories in the Texas Panhandle. (Arlington, Denton, Mineral Wells, and Granbury are located in North Texas, not the Panhandle.) While the author disclosed the distance from the ghost story to Route 66 in the Kansas chapter, he failed to do the same in the Texas chapter.
Since I bought the book to learn more about Route 66 in Texas, I was very disappointed that there wasn't much information about haunted Route 66 in Texas. Because the author seemed to be an armchair researcher, I was disappointed by the quality of the research. Because he seemed to have deviated considerably from the topic of the book, I found him untrustworthy.
I'm glad I got this book on sale. I'd have felt terribly cheated....more
I have read my first e-book! My school's librarian purchased books from MackinVia and this was one of the books I read. For reading young adult fictioI have read my first e-book! My school's librarian purchased books from MackinVia and this was one of the books I read. For reading young adult fiction, I actually prefer e-books now whereas before I'd been a firm believer in physical books before.
I didn't get the full benefits of the book since I was learning how to operate the system as I read. It took me a while to figure out how to make stuff bigger and highlight and allow the book to read to me.
I'd only offer this book to more mature students or those under special circumstances. It addresses some tough issues: mental issues, abandonment, foster care situations, friendship, fitting in, and attempted rape. However, I can see where some of my students may need some of these issues addressed in an nonthreatening manner.
I think I'll be getting this book in hardcover and adding it to my "mature" shelf....more
I don't remember how I found out about the author, Mel Glenn, an English teacher at a high school. However, I do remember reading one of his books andI don't remember how I found out about the author, Mel Glenn, an English teacher at a high school. However, I do remember reading one of his books and thinking "I have got to read more of his stuff!"
I'm not into poetry or mysteries. However, the death of a teacher by a sniper lured me into the story. The story unfolds through free verse from many perspectives which reminds us that even characters in a story can be multi-dimensional.
I really enjoyed this short read. I just wish it were written with fewer expletives so I could use it in my classroom....more
I've had this book on my home bookshelf for years. I don't remember ever reading it and the stories were unfamiliar so I can only assume that I neverI've had this book on my home bookshelf for years. I don't remember ever reading it and the stories were unfamiliar so I can only assume that I never got around to reading it even though it's been faithfully waiting for me for a long time.
Unfortunately, the wait dated some of the columns. Even more unfortunately, some of those dated columns are still true today, especially the one regarding computer service.
Based on a series of columns about home life in Texas, it bears a resemblance to Erma Bombeck, one of my favorite writers. Even though I don't have children of my own, I'm able to sympathize because I teach middle school and have hundreds of students on loan to me on an almost daily basis.
I think one of the hardest parts for me is the same complaint I have with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When the book is divided into chapter based on a theme, and the theme is a hard one such as the death of a loved one, well, those chapters are difficult ones to read through. I know it's hard to bring levity to a topic like death, cancer, or divorce, but I needed a break from the tragedies.
I felt like copying a few of the chapters to send in the family newsletter, especially the chapter on appreciating the seasons in Texas....more
Much of my Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has been stolen by students. However, when the school's Buy-One-Get-One-Free Book fair rolls around, I optimistMuch of my Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has been stolen by students. However, when the school's Buy-One-Get-One-Free Book fair rolls around, I optimistically buy a copy of the latest in the series in the hopes that I'll have the complete series again someday.
I read the book in one sitting. It took less than an hour. I don't think it's me--it just didn't feel as thick as some of the earlier books. There were times when I had to hold back laughter (I was in the school library) but it wasn't quite the laughfest I remember from some of the previous books.
I enjoyed the book and I know my students are enjoying their copies, too. We'll see how long this one lasts on the bookshelf....more
I read A Dog's Journey before I read this one. To tell you the truth, I found A Dog's Journey to be the sweeter story. On the other hand, da-yum! ThisI read A Dog's Journey before I read this one. To tell you the truth, I found A Dog's Journey to be the sweeter story. On the other hand, da-yum! This was a good book!
The first person point of view was beautiful. The love and loyalty and humanity in the reborn dog struck some real chords.
Being a cat person, I especially appreciated the dog's view of cats.
The district provided me with this book as a hi/lo reader for my struggling readers. Quite frankly, it's inappropriate for my middle school students.The district provided me with this book as a hi/lo reader for my struggling readers. Quite frankly, it's inappropriate for my middle school students. Even Amazon notes that it's for 9th grade and up so I'll only allow really mature students to read it.
I can easily see why it's inappropriate for middle schoolers. In addition to the usual post-apocalyptic anarchy, there's drug abuse, an attempted rape by an adult, and senseless violence.
All that being said, I liked the story. It's enthralling and could easily hook a kid on the series. The drama is high. There's a great blend of personalities. There's the everlasting threat of death.
I enjoyed the book. I may even read the rest of the series....more
A student walked by and looked at the cover as I was reading. She asked me if she could read it next.
I have to say that I was not particularly impressA student walked by and looked at the cover as I was reading. She asked me if she could read it next.
I have to say that I was not particularly impressed at first by this book. It was a district recommendation and I've been burned before by their recommendations. I was wrong.
I loved the book. I had a hard time putting it down to teach! The blend of narrative and poetry with the poetry being used to add to characterization was enthralling. Watching each character come to life through changing viewpoints kept me going.
I am now looking forward to watching my students fight over this one! Who's going to read it next?...more
This is one of those books which was just sitting on my shelves when I realized that I (finally) recognized the author as the author of Esperanza RisiThis is one of those books which was just sitting on my shelves when I realized that I (finally) recognized the author as the author of Esperanza Rising. Had I realized it earlier, I would have been recommending this book to more of my students.
In a way, it's a coming of age story because a shy child finds her voice and learns who and what she is made of. In another way, it's a lovely story of discovering the same girl finding her roots.
Naomi is a child of abuse, even if she doesn't remember the abuse. She and her brother are the by-products of alcoholism and drug abuse (which was really appropriate since it's Red Ribbon Week), resulting in some kids who are not the norm.
Naomi is also a child of mixed heritage. She learns to embrace both sides of her family while creating her own identity.
I really liked this story. I was reluctant to put it down. Now I understand all the fuss about Pam Muñoz Ryan....more
There are times when I need some really light reading. Books such as this fulfill that need.
This was a quick fun read. Once upon a time, I could readThere are times when I need some really light reading. Books such as this fulfill that need.
This was a quick fun read. Once upon a time, I could read a Regency romance in about two hours. I'm out of shape; it took me almost twice as long as it used to. Still, it was fun. The heroine was perky. The hero was handsome. The bad guy only medium bad.
I'm keeping this book for the next time I need something quick and fun....more
After reading this book, I realized that the publishers are re-releasing a bunch of Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy books with different titles. i call thisAfter reading this book, I realized that the publishers are re-releasing a bunch of Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy books with different titles. i call this switch-and-bait because I get excited to see a new title out by a favorite/trusted author so I buy it only to learn that it's just an old book re-packaged.
I was disappointed in this book. The writing is up to par but the cover misled me. The sub-title suggests that the book is about Sir Thomas Moore's daughter. I wondered how I'd never heard that Meg Moore was a king's favorite.
As I read I realized that I'd never heard that Meg Moore was a king's favorite because she wasn't. The story is really about Sir Thomas Moore told by two of the women in his life: his first wife and his eldest daughter.
I continue to be fascinated by the Tudor world but I'm going to be more careful about the books I get. This one wasn't a keeper....more
I'm not a big fan of graphic novels but many of my students are. When I saw this book at the school's book fair, I thought it would be a good additionI'm not a big fan of graphic novels but many of my students are. When I saw this book at the school's book fair, I thought it would be a good addition to my classroom library.
I liked learning more about the French resistance. I don't think this aspect of WWII was ever covered in my history classes. However, I didn't enjoy the illustrations which I felt detracted from the story being told. Neither did I care for many of the characters, especially Marie -- a bratty, albeit intelligent, child.
The book did get me wondering about the children who participated in the French resistance. It also brought home the idea of neighbor-vs-neighbor in troubled times.
All in all, it's a sympathetic book demonstrating the multidimensionality of humans. We're more complex than we sometimes give ourselves credit....more
This is one of those books I had to talk myself out of putting down and walking away. I got it from my school's library. I wondered why it was in a miThis is one of those books I had to talk myself out of putting down and walking away. I got it from my school's library. I wondered why it was in a middle school library. It's possible it's for the GT kids; they often read books which I think are inappropriate for the age group but someone from up high has decreed otherwise. Think Into the Wild.
I've read John Irving (Author) before. He's not really what I'd consider kid-friendly. 'But I'd never read this book before. Maybe it is,'I thought.
I read those books in college because I was required to. But, honestly, the characters aren't real people. They aren't even people I'd want to know or associate with.
John Irving is a great literary trickster. He plays with the elements of literature. In this book, for example, he hits the reader over the head with foreshadowing and flashbacks over and over again. But I really didn't care. I didn't like the characters. I didn't like the story.
The cover said that this was one of John Irving's funniest works. The only part I found humorous was the description of the Christmas pageant. (I don't know what it is about Christmas pageants but they always make me laugh.) The rest of the story was boring (although it was supposed to be shocking).
I'd give this story no stars if it were possible on GoodReads. It's not so here's the one star....more
On the one hand, it was nice to see the full circle with Jonas, Gabe, etc. On the other hand, I didn't likeI'm not too sure what to make of this book.
On the one hand, it was nice to see the full circle with Jonas, Gabe, etc. On the other hand, I didn't like the addition of the magic man (trader). It was just a bit too Stephen King-ish for me where evil exists only to provide conflict.
When I first read The Giver, I remember being struck by such a young person being assigned the role of birthmother. I wondered what birthmother lives were like. I rather imagined them as cows: healthy, fit, and pregnant. I wondered how much breeding they were required to perform and what happened to them after they were bred (there was some mention of it in The Giver but not enough to satisfy me. It's similar to how I wondered about the parents. How did they feel about being put together solely for the sake of forming a family unit which would immediately disintegrate once the children left the home? How did Jonas' father feel about not being a father any longer? He was such a nurturing soul. This book answered many of my questions but left me with one big question:
I didn't know what to expect when I snagged this book off the class bookshelf. My students liked Holes far more than I did.
But I fell in love with thI didn't know what to expect when I snagged this book off the class bookshelf. My students liked Holes far more than I did.
But I fell in love with the characters in this book. Both Armpit and X-Ray were well-fleshed out and sympathetic. The introduction of Ginny really rounded out the soft heart of Armpit.
At the same time, the portrayal of the discrimination offenders face, even juvenile offenders, was realistic. I can see how hard it is to walk the straight and narrow when everyone is waiting for a misstep.
I'm so glad I bought a hard copy of this book!...more
I read this book because it's been recommended for one of my classes. It's totally cute!
I've had a few students who I think would have enjoyed this boI read this book because it's been recommended for one of my classes. It's totally cute!
I've had a few students who I think would have enjoyed this book if I'd known about it when they were my students. They were adventurous and gutsy, not quite ready to be a teen girl but intrigued by the idea. They weren't ready to navigate teen waters but they were paying attention to the world around them. They were girls who were still in childhood and almost ready for the next step. These are girls who weren't afraid to admit that they still liked Scooby-Doo.
The book has a nice touch of paranormal and a nice touch of romance. The main character is spunky and real. The premise is a bit unreal but, really, who cares?
It's just a cute book. I think I'm going to pick up a couple of other books in the series....more
Every so often, my district requires teachers to use books for curriculum which our district didn't buy. This is just such a book. It's in our curricuEvery so often, my district requires teachers to use books for curriculum which our district didn't buy. This is just such a book. It's in our curriculum but not on our campus so I bought a copy off of Amazon to see what exactly I'm supposed to be implementing every Friday.
Wow! What a book! The last book which inspired me this much was Harvey Daniels's Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles. My classes are multi-grades (6th-8th) so I may jump around a bit but the Take 5 are inspirational. Not all five ideas suit my teaching style but for every poem at least one lesson fit me and my classes.
I'm now looking forward to implementing poetry. But I still wonder why my district didn't provide the book to all campuses....more
I bought this book this summer on sale. It's one of those titles that's highly recommended for English teachers so I' thought I'd be a good little teaI bought this book this summer on sale. It's one of those titles that's highly recommended for English teachers so I' thought I'd be a good little teacher and read it.
The glimpses of life in 1970s-1990s Tehran are fascinating. The author, a native Iranian who had spent time in the US, lived through those years as a teacher of English lit. She was extraordinarily lucky that she was never arrested just because she was a woman, a teacher, and a professor of an unpopular-with-the-regimes subject. She recounts her life in a time of tremendous turbulence.
As a professor of English literature, her memories are tied to books, authors, and students' reactions. I haven't read the majority of the books in her curriculum so I was unable to make some of the connections that were made in the book.
Because she's working with memories, there are sometimes flashbacks within flashbacks which I had a difficult time following.
I found myself not liking her husband much because he, like many men in Iran, was unable to understand the lives the women were living. It's the stories like those told in this book that demonstrates what very different lives men and women can live within the same setting.
I don't think I'm going to keep this book but I have to admit to marking several passages for further consideration....more
**spoiler alert** As the third book in set in the world of The Giver, I didn't know what to expect. The first book is classic sci-fi/dystopian suitabl**spoiler alert** As the third book in set in the world of The Giver, I didn't know what to expect. The first book is classic sci-fi/dystopian suitable for the young reader. The second book was less sci-fi with overtones of fantasy (psychic abilities or magic--I couldn't decide). This book, though, did a nice job of blending the first two to create a coherent whole.
I was nicely surprised to find that Jonas is still alive albeit with a new name. I really liked that Matty has found a place for himself where he is accepted. I also liked that the reader learns that the former settings of the previous books have all been transformed through the works of the protagonists of the previous books and that the reader gets to watch the transformations in this book, too.
While I appreciate the symbolism, I don't think I care much for the Forest representing the closemindedness and meanheartedness of the Villagers. Reading this book was watching a utopian society degrading into a dystopian society. It was an ugliness I was unprepared for.
I'm curious about the trades which were insufficiently explained, in my opinion. Perhaps the author will explain in a later book but I find that a cheap ploy to pre-sell the next book.
I got this from the school library and I'll return it to the school library. I haven't decided yet it I like it enough to want to add the series to my class library....more
**spoiler alert** After watching the movie about The Giver, I was inspired to read the series. They're a quick read; after all, they're meant for uppe**spoiler alert** After watching the movie about The Giver, I was inspired to read the series. They're a quick read; after all, they're meant for upper elementary readers so the words aren't all that difficult but the themes can be complex.
In a way, it's a classic orphan tale with the opening taking place four days after the mother's death. The father disappeared long ago leaving behind Kira, a child who shouldn't exist. Kira is different/deformed in a society which doesn't value deformities or weaknesses.
Make no mistake, Kira's community is not kind to the weak. Exposure is expected to those who can't work within the community. Death and hardheartedness are expected and the norm.
I have a hard time when Kira's gift transforms from the gift of dyes, threads, weaving, and embroidery to a mystical talent. I have a hard time when a small piece of cloth becomes an early warning system.
I was expecting more sci-fi (albeit sociological sci-fi) and less mysticism/fantasy. It was rather disappointing for me. I felt like I was set up, even if the set up was in my own mind, because I was expecting more of Jonas' world.
The characters have depth. The world is brought to alive by a talented author. I just didn't care much for the mysticism....more
The Giver is, of course, a classic. I first read it in college; even then, I knew it was good. I was always, though, somewhat dismayed by the ending.
LThe Giver is, of course, a classic. I first read it in college; even then, I knew it was good. I was always, though, somewhat dismayed by the ending.
Last weekend, I saw the movie. Watching the movie made me want to re-read the book. More importantly, it caused me to want to read the subsequent books, Gathering Blue and Messenger. Even though both books have been out for years, I'd simply never "had the time." Now I'm going to make the time.
The book and the movie differed. An usher at the theater assured me, though, that Lois Lowry approved all changes in the movie. It's been 20 years since the book came out; technologies have changed; her ideas of the story have changed.
The theme, however, has remained the same: celebrate diversity....more