Being Nikki by Meg Cabot

Being Nikki (Airhead) is the second book in Meg Cabot’s Airhead series.  I read and reviewed Airhead last March and enjoyed it a lot, but it left me wanting to know more about Em and Nikki.  When I received an ARC of Being Nikki I put aside the book I was reading and started in right away.  I knew I had a few students salivating for this one so I didn’t want to hold on to it too long!

Being Nikki picks up right where Airhead left off.  I enjoyed the first book in the series because it was a great mix of smart girl heroine + fun fashion chick lit (not an easy combination to pull off).  However, the second book was nothing like I expected, in a good way!  Em is still working as the world’s most famous supermodel after having a *SPOILER ALERT!  STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T READ AIRHEAD YET!* a brain transplant.  Em is struggling to lead her own (old life) and her new life as Nikki.  She is going to school, trying to see her own family as much as possible, and still jet-setting around the world for photo shoots and commercials.  Of course, no matter what she does she isn’t a typical teen.  Most high schoolers don’t have to walk the runway wearing nothing but a bra and panties during the equivalent of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.  

At the same time, Nikki’s body is starting to assert itself more.  Em finds herself melting for guys she despises, like Brandon Stark.  And she doesn’t fight it when she finds herself making out with Gabriel Luna.  But she is still completely in love with Christopher who thinks Em is dead and barely notices Nikki in school.

Everything changes when Em comes home to Nikki’s apartment and finds a strange man there.  It turns out Nikki has a brother.  A brother who can tell something is different about Nikki.  But more importantly, he tells Em that their (Steven and Nikki) mother is missing.  As Em begins to use her celebrity to investigate Nikki’s mother’s disappearance, more and more information about Stark starts coming to light.  Couple this with the fact that only Christopher can help them and he seems to have turned into an evil super villain and you have the makings of an edge-of-your-seat thriller.  

I was very surprised at how  much mystery and intrigue there was.  But I loved it!  Em continues to be a smart, strong heroine struggling to figure out who she is, like most teenagers.  Unlike most teenagers, her brain is one person and her body is another.  The twists and turns in the story kept me turning the pages and the cliffhanger at the end has me impatiently awaiting the third book the series, Runaway.  



*One of my former students, who read the ARC of Airhead in my class last year came back to visit me recently.  She told me she had just purchased Being Nikki  and, “It was amazing!  Better than the first one!”.  If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.  🙂


Books I Can’t Wait to Read!

I am so excited about a few of the books I received this week!

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater- I can not wait to read this one! And I a group of students drooling over it, too. From Amazon: “For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.  Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.”

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han- Jenny Han’s first novel, Shug, was very popular with my students last year. Her newest book has a gorgeous cover and sounds like the perfect summer read. From Amazon: “Some summers are just destined to be pretty.  Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer — they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along. “

The Brooklyn Nine by Alan M. Gratz- Baseball books are always popular in my class, and this one intrigued me. I’m reading it right now and love it! From Amazon: “Gratz (Samurai Shortstop, 2006) builds this novel upon a clever enough conceit—nine stories (or innings), each following the successive generations in a single family, linked by baseball and Brooklyn—and executes it with polish and precision. In the opening stories, there is something Scorsese-like (albeit with the focus on players, not gangsters) in Gratz’s treatment of early New York: a fleet-footed German immigrant helps Alexander Cartwright (credited with creating modern baseball) during a massive 1845 factory fire; a young boy meets his hero, the great King Kelly, who by age 30 is a washed-up alcoholic scraping by as a vaudeville act,  talented young girl stars in the WW II–era All-American Girls Baseball League and a card-collecting boy lives in fear of the Russians, Sputnik, and the atomic bomb. In the last two stories,  a Little League pitcher’s shot at a perfect game told with breathtaking verve; and a neat stitching-together effort to close the book.”

That’s only a taste of the books currently on my TBR pile. I’m hoping to get through them all this week!

The Lightning Thief Movie News!

Right now, my classes are reading Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1). I love ending the year with this read-aloud because it is a great tie-in to social studies, where they study ancient cultures. We read various myths together and this year I am even holding a Mythology Bee as part of our annual Greek Olympics!

Needless to say, I am thrilled that The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) is being made into a movie. IMDB has the project categorized as “in production”, with a release date of February 2010. Check out some of this casting!

Rosario Dawson … Persephone

Uma Thurman … Medusa

Catherine Keener … Sally Jackson

Pierce Brosnan … Chiron

Kevin McKidd … Poseidon

Sean Bean … Zeus

Logan Lerman … Percy Jackson

Steve Coogan … Hades

Melina Kanakaredes … Athena

Alexandra Daddario … Annabeth Chase

Erica Cerra … Hera

Pretty star-studded, huh? I am definitely looking forward to this movie and I think the series will be a big movie hit, provided they come up with a good script. Riordan’s books are the perfect combination of fun, comedy, and adventure, which should translate great on the big screen. I can’t wait!

Test Prep as a Genre

This year, for the first time, I taught test reading and test writing as genres.  We did brief two-week units of study for each.  I hate test prep and think it takes away from valuable real-life learning, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  A few months back, I read Better Answers after seeing Stacey mention it on her blog.  I used many of the ideas and suggestions in the book to put together a unit on test-reading as a genre and test-writing as a genre.  

This week is our standardized testing.  While walking around (bored out of my mind….) I was thrilled to see my students putting many of the strategies  we had learned into practice.  I saw them using the “hamburger” method of answering open-ended questions, the R-U-P-R method of reading and planning responses to writing prompts, and a few other strategies.  I walked around the room with a stupid grin on my face all morning.  

Even better?  Kids who came to me this year as non-writers WROTE.  And wrote well!  I am so very proud of them!

I also noticed that my non-readers who have grown into readers this year were much more relaxed during testing this year.  They have confidence in their abilities now and even told me that today’s reading selections were “easy”!  Of course they weren’t easy- my students just had confidence in themselves as readers and their ability to correctly answer the questions put before them.  

So while I despise focusing on the test for an entire unit, I know that it’s necessary.  This year it served as a great reinforcement of the reading and writing they have done all year.  Standardized testing is a part of this generation’s life- the least we can do is give them the tools and strategies to succeed.  But without devoting too much time to “teaching to the test”.  It’s a fine line.

And now- the language arts portion of the test is over.  WOOOOOHOOO!

Shiver Contest

I rarely enter contests, but I want in on this one!

Someone out there in internet-land bought on an ARC of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater on eBay for $71.00


Seeing as not all of us can afford to (illegally) purchase the ARC on eBay, Maggie is running an awesome contest.   You should all go and enter! 

Make sure to blog about this contest and then comment on this post and tell her I sent you!Because the $51 ARC has inspired me to do a contest thingy. Here’s the deal. It’s running from May 8-15th. The idea is to convince as many of your LJ or blogger or wordpress friends to post about Shiver (you don’t have to pay them, although it might help). Winner is whoever manages to get as many of their friends to post and comment back here by 8 p.m. EST on the 15th.

And the reward? Okay. Here it is. First of all, you have to get at least 5 friends to blog about it to be eligible. Winner gets:

– a signed ARC of SHIVER
– 4 signed copies of LAMENT
– and for each of the friends that you got to comment, a critique of the first 5 pages of any of their manuscripts


And if any single person manages to get over 50 friends to comment, I’ll make it 3 ARCs of SHIVER and 8 copies of LAMENT. 

What is Shiver about?

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Pre-order this one now…..because I think it’s going to be huge. I already have a group of girls in my class clamoring to read it!  And once they start reading it I can foresee copy after copy being passed around.  🙂


So go!  And tell Maggie I sent you on this post.  

Megan McCafferty News!

Megan McCafferty’s “Jessica Darling” series (Sloppy Firsts: A Novel is the first book in the series) is one of my favorites. I was so sad when the final book came out last month, even though I loved, loved, loved the resolution to the series. I was mostly sad that I didn’t have anything else to look forward to from McCafferty. And then I read this announcement from HarperCollins:

Alessandra Balzer at Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins Children’s Books acquired World English rights to New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty’s new novel in a two-book deal from Heather Schroder at ICM. Bumped is a sharply funny and provocative dystopian novel set in a world where only teens are able to have babies, and are contracted by adults to carry them to term. Megan is best known for her Jessica Darling series, which started with Sloppy Firsts and most recently ended with Perfect Fifths.

YAY YAY YAY!!!!  I literally did a little happy-dance when I read the announcement.  Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that dystopian fiction is my favorite genre.  So dystopian fiction, written by one of my favorite authors?  Where do I sign up?! 

The only downside?  I apparently have to wait awhile to read it!  🙂

MotherReader’s Fourth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge!

Are you ready?  Do you have your TBR pile set to the side so that you can dive in for 48 hours between June 5th and June 7th?

What’s that?  You have no idea what I am talking about?  Why, it’s only one of my favorite holidays of the year- MotherReader’s Fourth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge!  

Here are the basic guidelines: 

  1. The weekend is June 5–7, 2009. Read and blog for any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday the fifth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday. So, go from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday… or maybe 7:00 a.m. Saturday to 7:00 a.m. Monday works better for you. But the 48 hours do need to be in a row.Edited to add: But during that 48-hour period you may still have gaps of time in which you can’t read, and that’s fine. In the middle of the three different challenge weekends I’ve had to go to work, attend a ballet recital, and drive for a Girl Scout event. You can certainly work around the other events in your weekend.
  2. The books should be about fifth-grade level and up. Adult books are fine, especially if any adult book bloggers want to play. If you are generally a picture book blogger, consider this a good time to get caught up on all those wonderful books you’ve been hearing about. Two graphic novels can be included in the reading. I’m not trying to discriminate, I’m just trying to make sure that the number of books and page counts mean the same thing to everyone.
  3. It’s your call as to how much you want to put into it. If you want to skip sleep and showers to do this, go for it. If you want to be a bit more laid back, fine. But you have to put something into it or it’s not a challenge.
  4. The length of the reviews are not an issue. You can write a sentence, paragraph, or a full-length review. The time spend reviewing counts in your total time.
  5. On your blog, state when you are starting the challenge with a specific entry on that day. This makes it easier to track the participants. Write your final summary on Monday, and for one day, we’ll all be on the same page, so to speak.
  6. Your final summary needs to clearly include the number of books read, the approximate hours you spent reading/reviewing, and any other comments you want to make on the experience. It needs to be posted no later than noon on Monday, June 8th.
  7. Sign up in today’s comments. You’re more than welcome to post the challenge on your site. Point them to today’s post to sign up. On Friday, June 5, I’ll have a starting-line post where you can sign in to say you’re officially starting the challenge.

Last year was my first foray into the reading challenge and it was awesome!  It felt so good to just set aside an entire weekend to do nothing but read and review.  My stats from last year:
Total pages read- 3498

Total hours- 19.50

Total books read- 17

So join us this year!  Head on over to MotherReader’s blog and sign up.  It’s a ton of fun!

Last year’s books