I Now Pronounce You Married!

I’m slowly getting back into “real” life over here. That means time to read, and not time spent wedding planning.  We are leaving for our cruise next week, but that means even more time to read!  (And on my iPad!  Expect an iPad review in the coming days).  Before I jump back into the swing of things, here are a few pictures from the day. :)

My shoes!  I am well-known for my cool shoes, so the wedding couldn’t change that!

first kiss as husband and wife :)

My water bottle escort cards.  The bane of my existence last week- so much hot glue!

Program fans! (thanks to my amazing florist for the last two photos! She has even more here)

we entered the reception to “Cheeseburgers in Paradise”  :)

Before heading home!

Thank you for all your well wishes!

I’m Getting Married!

Today I am here……


Getting married!


Then we will be celebrating here-


And here!

And even in here!

Hopefully it is not too hot, not too humid, and definitely not raining!

Thank you for all of your good wishes!


The Braid by Helen Frost

I was a huge fan of Helen Frost’s Diamond Willow (and reviewed it here).  I picked up The Braid because the main characters were the ancestor’s of Willow in Diamond Willow and I wanted to know more about them.

Sarah and Jeannie are teenage sisters in Scotland.  Extremely close, they are separated the night of the Highland Clearance of 1850.  Jeannie leave for Cape Breton, Nova Scotia with her mother, father, and younger siblings.  Sarah hides in order to stay behind with their grandmother.  Before they separate, the girls braid a few strands of their hair together, joining them even across the vast ocean.  While this is historical fiction, it deals with many issues that today’s teens are familiar with- teen pregnancy, parental approval, poverty, life, and death.

The story is great, but the real magic is in the poetry.  This is a verse novel, but it isn’t just any old verse.  The story is told in narrative poems alternating between the two girls’ viewpoints, with shorter poems between them connecting the two.  At the end of the book, Frost has an epilogue where she explains the poetic forms.  The poems are essentially individual strands in a poetry braid.  I don’t want to give it away entirely, but the revelation stunned me.  I immediately went back and reread the book!

I can’t want to share this with my new high school students.  While the story is accessible for middle school readers, I think the intricacy of the poems will be fun to share with my high school students.  This is a perfect example of a book that has more than one layer: readers can enjoy the story and also dig deeper for more.  It’s also a great example of a book that begs to be reread!  Highly recommended.

Cum Laude by Cecily von Ziegesar

I read von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl books as a teen and loved them.  I am a huge fan of the TV show.  Are they silly and fluffy?  Of course!  And I would never say they are the best written books.  But they were fun.  While the characters were sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) loathe-able, I found something to like about them over the course of the series.  So when I saw that von Ziegesar had a new book, Cum Laude, I didn’t even read the reviews. Well, I should have.

Ugh, I hated this book. I’m not sure if the publishers are aiming it at the YA audience or adult audience, but I think that’s a non-factor. It’s just UGH. I finished it, but just barely. I couldn’t stand a single character. Maybe that that was the point- they are spoiled kids who attend a small, liberal-arts school in Maine. But come on- shouldn’t they at least have some redeeming qualities? They all whine nonstop. They hate their lives. No one is happy. And even worse? We never really get to know any of the characters that well.

Don’t waste your time with this one. It isn’t even a fun, fluffy read. I felt like I just wasted my time reading it.

Spot the Plot by J. Patrick Lewis

Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles by J. Patrick Lewis is a great little picture book that every English teacher should have in their arsenal. Full of riddles that challenge the reader to “Name That Book”, it’s a great title for all ages. The books named in the riddles include Charlotte’s Web, Goodnight Moon, Madeline, and much more.

I used my copy of Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles at the end of this past school year. It was one of the last days of the school year. You know the days- nothing on the schedule but locker cleanout, the kids checked out mentally weeks ago, and no one wants to be there but we have to put in a half day. That morning, I pulled out my copy of the book. I decided to make a game of the riddles, knowing how competitive my students were. I copied the poems and divided the class into groups, giving each group a few of the riddles. I explained that the riddles all described famous children’s books, set the timer, and had them get to work. The group that finished first, with the most correct answers, won. The students assumed it would be easy and were shocked to find that Lewis made some of the riddles into real brain-teasers!

Like I said, this is a book every English teacher should have a copy of. It’s perfect for those moments when you need something for the students to focus on and you want that something to be fun and meaningful. Highly recommended!

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynn Rae Perkins

I’ve been hearing a lot about this one- all good things- for months now.  I finally ordered it when school ended and I have to say, all those good things were warranted!  As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth is one for the ages.  Kid appeal?  Check!  Distinguished writing?  Check!  Fun almost comic-like illustrations sprinkle throughout the book?  Check plus!  I’m telling you- this is a book for everyone.

In As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth, sixteen-year old Ryan has been having a bad string of luck.  Seriously- every last thing that could go wrong has been going wrong.  He was supposed to spend the summer at camp while his parents sailed the Caribbean and put the spark back in their marriage.  Instead, camp is cancelled and he doesn’t open the cancellation notice until he is on the train.  Then the train leaves him behind when he steps off for some fresh air.  He is in the middle of nowhere (ok, he is in Minnesota, but still…).  He soon loses a shoe, his phone charger, and all contact with his grandfather back home.  His poor grandfather ends up hurt and can’t remember where he is.  His parents are blown off course.  And life continues to go wrong from there.

This one knocked me off my feet.  The story is perfection- who hasn’t had one of those days or weeks where every single thing that can go wrong, does?  And while a summary of the story might sound fantastical, it doesn’t read that way.  Each event plays off those before it and they are completely believable.  Cell phone batteries die, plans change, bankrupt companies are becoming more and more common, Facebook is a way to chat without really talking to someone, and nice people do exist.  Ryan’s situation gets more and more complicated in realistic situations that teens will see as a part of their own lives.  (Maybe not all in a few weeks’ span, like Ryan, but still…)

And the writing! My god, it’s like poetry.  This is full of distinguished writing and I can not wait to share it with my new high schoolers. However, it is also perfect for middle school readers.  I think this one will be on the shortlist for awards season this winter, and rightfully so.  It’s just one of those perfect books that has kid appeal and distinguished writing.  Those don’t come around too often, so pick this one up as soon as you can!

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater Review + Giveaway!

Last May I read and reviewed an ARC of Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver. I loved it and immediately upon closing the book I was desperate for the sequel.  I just closed the back cover on the sequel, Linger, and it was just as good as the first book in the series!

Grace and Sam are finally together. The only thing standing in the way of their happiness is Grace’s parents sudden interest in parenting. After being absentee parents for most of her life they have decided to set rules and one of them is spending less time with Sam. When they catch Sam sleeping over, Grace and Sam are forbidden from seeing each other. What her parents don’t seem to be concerned about is the strange illness that is slowly overtaking her body. Sam, on the other hand, is wracked with nerves and can’t figure out what is wrong with her. Plus, the poor kid is also dealing with the three new wolves that Beck turned before disappearing. One of those new wolves just happens to be a world-famous rock star. Someone people could, and most likely will, recognize. And this Cole isn’t too concerned about anything other than being a wolf full-time.

I love, love, love Sam.  What a fantastic character.  In this novel, he spends a lot of time thinking in lyrics and poetry, which I loved.  Apparently the audiobook includes Sam singing!  I did enjoy seeing Sam’s growth over the course of the two books.  He has been forced to mature, despite his emotional baggage.  He is still broken and damaged, but his love for Grace and Beck is slowly helping to put him back together.  It’s just a matter of when he will be made whole again, or if he can.

This book doesn’t have the same sense of urgency that Shiver did.  Shiver was all about if and when Sam would change.  Linger isn’t as fast-paced but I still found myself on the edge of my seat.  I was dying to know what was wrong with Grace.  The story built up slowly but surely, leaving me with tears in my eyes for the last 20 pages or so.  This is a much more dramatic book than the first in the series, but in a good way.  Needless to say, I am anxiously awaiting the next (and final?) book in the series- Forever.  Highly recommended


Want to win your own copy of Linger?  Click below to enter!  A winner will be randomly chosen next Tuesday and Scholastic will mail out a copy of the book!

Win your own copy of Linger!

Maggie Stiefvater’s website:

http://www.maggiestiefvater.com/

Maggie Stiefvater’s blog:

http://m-stiefvater.livejournal.com/

Author Twitter:

http://twitter.com/mstiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater’s Linger Book Trailer:

Scholastic.com official Shiver page

http://www.scholastic.com/shiver/

*review copy courtesy of the publisher

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