Thursday, February 4, 2016

Teacher Tip Thursday


The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt

I was fortunate enough to attend a training by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst that was centered around reading non-fiction, but much of what we covered during the training was relevant to teaching fiction as well. I am the type of teacher who needs to jump in right away and try something out, so I went in to a 5th grade classroom this morning, and did a reading lesson using The Spider and the Fly poem by Mary Howitt. Here is a compilation of the signpost I used, as well as some other strategies to aid students in gaining understanding of the text. The signpost we used was "Words of the Wiser" because much of what we read has an over-arching moral or message embedded in it. It was a wonderful lesson, and I welcome any questions. have a fabulous Thursday.

Sketch to Stretch 
parlour

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Signpost "Words of the Wiser"

SWBS Statement
Please note that this SWBS was written by an EL who recently arrived here from China. I was amazed at what she did during this lesson, which is why I chose her work to feature here. 

Image result for notice and note
Notice and Note by Kylene Beers & Robert E.Probst

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Spotlight Feature: Platinum Doll by Anne Girard

Spotlight Feature: Platinum Doll
The story of Jean Harlow, famed movie star comes to life in this book by author Anne Girard. Read the synopsis to discover a if this new book is all you have been waiting for. 
Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, Platinum Doll tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film.

It's the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen.

With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it. 

Featuring a glittering cast of ingénues and Hollywood titans—Clara Bow, Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Howard Hughes—Platinum Doll introduces us to the star who would shine brighter than them all.

On sale from MIRA Books and available January 26, 2016

Author Anne Girard
Diane Haeger, who currently writes under the pen name Anne Girard (Madame Picasso), holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA. A chance meeting with the famed author Irving Stone 25 years ago sharply focused her ambition to tell great stories from history, and write them only after detailed research and extensive travel to the place her character lived. That determination has provided a fascinating journey that has taken her from the halls of Chenonceaux, to a private interview with one of Pablo Picasso's last surviving friends, and most recently an invitation inside Jean Harlow's home.

Since the publication of her acclaimed first novel, Courtesan, in 1993, a novel that remains in print today, her work has been translated into 18 different languages, bringing her international success and award-winning status.

Platinum Doll, a novel about Jean Harlow, is her 15th book. She lives in Southern California with her husband and family.
Connect with Anne via her website, Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads:
Facebook: facebook.com/annegirardauthor
Twitter:@annegirard1

To order your copy of Platinum Doll, please visit one of the links below: 


Happy Reading!

Monday, February 1, 2016

No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Refearn

No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn
Grand Central Publishing 
Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

I am very excited to celebrate a new book written by Suzanne with you, dear readers! Suzanne is one of my favorite authors, who knocked it out of the park with Hush Little Baby. If you haven't read Hush Little Baby, please add it to your TBR list immediately. You can read both of Suzanne's books this month, and I promise you will be satisfied. Now that my plea's have been voiced, I will tell you I enjoyed reading her new release, No Ordinary Life. Suzanne skillfully immerses the reader into the world of Hollywood starlets, and the pressures that mount in a world that is always changing, and incredible fickle. Faye's desperation to change her life's circumstances drive her, and subsequently her family, into a life of fame and a solution to their financial difficulties-but with consequences attached to those decisions. It is a bit of a cautionary tale, but for those who choose the glitzy Hollywood life, it will read like a memoir. I will not spoil the ending for you, but I encourage you to read the synopsis for yourself, and then find the ordering link at the bottom of this page. 

Synopsis
"Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family. 

Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives."


 Author Spotlight
Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

To order a copy of No Ordinary Life, please visit one of the following links:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson


Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
Harper Collins Publishers

A look into the world of the New York City ballet, its mounting pressures and ideals set by the industry that forces the dancers on a quest for perfection. Many times, the perfection is unattainable, and readers will be immersed into the culture that is utterly enthralling. Set in 1977, it is a throwback novel, but also completely relevant and contemporary. A young girl seeks solace from her parent's divorce through ballet, which offers her the power and control she lacks in her home life. This leads her in to dark places, and a compromising of morality. Fast-forward to Kate's world, where not much in the industry has changed and girls experience the same pitfalls in this dark world. Please read the following publisher's excerpt on Girl Through Glass.

Synposis
"An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming of age in the cutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and the quest for perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence.
In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parent’s divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her mentor.
Over the course of three years, Mira is accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet run by the legendary George Balanchine, and eventually becomes one of “Mr. B’s girls”—a dancer of rare talent chosen for greatness. As she ascends higher in the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, touching dark places within herself and sparking unexpected desires that will upend both their lives.
In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance at a Midwestern college, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and capsizes the new life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man she’s long thought dead, Kate is hurled back into the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind.
Told in interweaving narratives that move between past and present, Girl Through Glass illuminates the costs of ambition, secrets, and the desire for beauty, and reveals how the sacrifices we make for an ideal can destroy—or save—us."
Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Suzanne is a middle-school student rife with the typical trouble that a young girl faces when the unthinkable happens. As a young girl, a lot seems unthinkable, but this particular event is truly a life-changer for Suzanne. The very foundation of her world is shaken. The story that follows the tragedy tracks the aftermath of a broken friendship, and a broken heart. While the story is of Franny and Suzanne's friendship, there are many other characters which add so much depth to the book. There are a *few* adult themes in this book, so if you are cautious as a parent with that sort of thing, I would encourage you to preview this book for yourself before letting your young reader grab a copy. This book offers not only a peek into middle school life and troubles, but also a fascinating glimpse into facts about jellyfish. I blew through this book in a single day, and thought it was really well done. 

Synopsis
"This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist!

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don't just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory--even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy's achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe...and the potential for love and hope right next door."

Happy Reading, young (or older) ones!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

My Winter is Booked! #mywinterisbooked


Join the Book Sparks Winter Reading Challenge!
These are the books everyone will be reading this winter. The list includes TARGET RECOMMENDED READS, an INDIE NEXT PICK and a GLOBE AND MAIL BESTSELLER. And you can read them first — only with BookSparks! 



Target Recommended Read

Losing the Light by Andrea Dunlop

When thirty-year-old Brooke Thompson unexpectedly runs into a man from her past, she’s plunged headlong into memories she’s long tried to forget about the year she spent in France following a disastrous affair with a professor.

As a newly arrived exchange student in the picturesque city of Nantes, young Brooke develops a deep and complicated friendship with Sophie, a fellow American and stunning blonde, whose golden girl façade hides a precarious emotional fragility. Sophie and Brooke soon become inseparable and find themselves intoxicated by their new surroundings—and each other.

But their lives are forever changed when they meet a sly, stylish French student, Veronique, and her impossibly sexy older cousin, Alex. The cousins draw Sophie and Brooke into an irresistible world of art, money, decadence, and ultimately, a disastrous love triangle that consumes them both. And of the two of them, only one will make it home.

Target Recommended Read (2)

The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City.

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.


Target Recommended Read (3)

Somewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany 

What happens when two sisters who were torn apart when their young mother abandoned them—and grew up in tragically different circumstances—reunite thirty-five years later to find her?

Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn’t even know her birth mother’s name—only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie’s own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie is determined to unearth the truth about her roots. Brooke Walker doesn’t have a family. At least, that’s what she tells herself after being separated from her mother and her little sister at age four. Having grown up in a state facility and countless foster homes, Brooke survives the only way she knows how, by relying on herself. So when she discovers she’s pregnant, Brooke faces a heart-wrenching decision: give up her baby or raise the child completely on her own. Scared and confused, she feels lost until a surprise encounter gives her hope for the future.


Target Recommended Read (6)
Come Away With Me by Karma Brown

One minute, Tegan Lawson has everything she could hope for: an adoring husband, Gabe, and a baby on the way. The next, a patch of black ice causes a devastating accident that will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Tegan is consumed by grief—not to mention her anger toward Gabe, who was driving on the night of the crash. But just when she thinks she's hit rock bottom, Gabe reminds her of their Jar of Spontaneity, a collection of their dream destinations and experiences, and so begins an adventure of a lifetime.

From the bustling markets of Thailand to the flavors of Italy to the ocean waves in Hawaii, Tegan and Gabe embark on a journey to escape the tragedy and search for forgiveness. But they soon learn that grief follows you no matter how far away you run, and that acceptance comes when you least expect it. Heartbreaking, hopeful and utterly transporting, Come Away with Me is an unforgettable debut and a luminous celebration of the strength of the human spirit.



Who's in? 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Podcasts You Need in Your Life

It goes without saying that many readers have an aversion to audio books-I know I did for a very long time. It's not that I had an aversion to it per se, I was ill-equipped with an attention span that was better suited to a single task, like driving to my destination. For example, I just couldn't remember anything I had just listened to, and ended up having to either quit the audio altogether, or continue returning to the same spot in the audio where I lost touch (where was that again?). I am talking about audio books you popped in the C.D. player of your car! I have some fantastic recommendations for podcasts which I think are fabulous, and will even hold the attention of people like me. The best thing is (drumroll) podcasts are FREE! Just subscribe to the channel, and all the episodes will stream to your phone or device. There's also a request I have that many of you will tell me about podcasts that you love in the comments section below.

For Book Lovers
All About the Books (Book Riot)
If you are looking for the latest and greatest in reading topics, and you love hearing about books-start listening to All the Books! hosted by Book Riot. You'll create lists of books to add to your TBR, as well as feel like you are in a room surrounded by a group of fellow book lovers.   

Books on the Nightstand (Anne Kingman and Michael Kindness)
This podcast is my personal favorite, but no mother actually says that, right? What I love most about this podcast is that they also offer readers audiobook selections in addition to their "paper" book choices. They talk about recently published books, and topics of discussion range from "Re-Reading reconsidered" to "Air B and Bookstore." This podcast is now a Tuesday night ritual for me.

For the Mystery Lover in You

Serial (This American Life)
My friend Nancy got me hooked on Serial last year when it was the story of Adnan, a young man currently serving jail time for murder. Lets just put it this way-I hid in the bathroom at work to finish episodes of this podcast. It is one that leaves you wondering week after week what will happen next. I am currently in the second season of this podcast, and the person they are profiling the story if is none other than Bowe Bergdahl. It is utterly fascinating, and I cannot get enough of Serial. 

If You're Looking for Inspiration

School of Greatness (Lewis Howes)
I recently learned of School of Greatness, and I have to say I am very impressed. I appreciate his insight and wisdom, and the people he features on his show are equally amazing. I only wish I listened to them outside of my car so I could write down the many wonderful quotes that inspire me daily. Definitely worth every second you listen to!

That is all, dear readers! Please add podcasts you love to listen to.
Happy listening.




Monday, January 18, 2016

Spotlight Feature: All in Her Head by Sunny Mera

All in Her Head by Sunny Mera
Pub Date: November 10,  2015
If you have been searching for a book that will challenge everything you normally read, then I think this book fits the bill. The story line, the characters, and the way this story unfurls like curling ribbon is an oddity that is difficult to put in to words. Though this book is not for everyone (especially the parts including orgasmic labor), it is a quick read. Part of the Book Sparks Fall Reading Challenge, All in Her Head takes readers on a psychological journey, and this cover is a stunner! Read the following synopsis to decide if this book is one you would add to your TBR list:
 "As a young girl growing up in the Midwest, Sunny experiences the shame and stigma of scandal when her father is banned from their church for having an affair with the pastor’s best friend’s wife. As Sunny grows older, she begins to build the life she’s always wanted: she marries, buys a house, enrolls in graduate school, and soon has a baby on the way. But when she experiences the psychological phenomena of orgasmic labor, it triggers a chain of bizarre events, and she gradually descends into a world of delusion and paranoia. As Sunny struggles to separate the real from the unreal, she relies upon friends and family to ground her in truth and love―and keep her from going over the edge into madness."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January-New Year, New Titles

New year, new TBR being set here at the Simons' household. This morning as I was getting ready to go to work, I saw my daughter holding a book as she was walking around getting ready. Be still my heart! That's how I feel when I start a new year on my Goodreads profile-I just want to read as many as I can. That being said, here are some exciting titles that I can't wait to read that are available this month:


The Longest Night by Andria Williams
Release Date: January 12, 2016 
In this absorbing and suspenseful debut novel—reminiscent of Revolutionary Road and inspired by a little-known piece of history—a young couple must fight to save both their marriage and the town they live in.

In 1959, Nat Collier moves with her husband, Paul, and their two young daughters to Idaho Falls, a remote military town. An Army Specialist, Paul is stationed there to help oversee one of the country's first nuclear reactors—an assignment that seems full of opportunity.

Then, on his rounds, Paul discovers that the reactor is compromised, placing his family and the entire community in danger. Worse, his superiors set out to cover up the problem rather than fix it. Paul can't bring himself to tell Nat the truth, but his lies only widen a growing gulf between them.

Lonely and restless, Nat is having trouble adjusting to their new life. She struggles to fit into her role as a housewife and longs for a real friend. When she meets a rancher, Esrom, she finds herself drawn to him, comforted by his kindness and company. But as rumors spread, the secrets between Nat and Paul build and threaten to reach a breaking point. 

Based on a true story of the only fatal nuclear accident to occur in America, The Longest Night is a deeply moving novel that explores the intricate makeup of a marriage, the shifting nature of trust, and the ways we try to protect the ones we love.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Release Date: January 12, 2016 
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

These are the books at the top of the stack begging to be read! What does your TBR stack look like? 
Happy Reading!



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Super Soul Sunday: Audiobook Edition

Audiobook Spotlight: Intentional Living
This audiobook spoke to my heart, because I have been in a period of odd transition. I am in the limbo of my job, and I feel a little like a buoy out in the middle of the ocean. I am holding my place in the world, but I do feel a little like I am floating along, without a greater purpose. I will start this year with a grateful heart, but more than that-in 2016-I will start. I will live my life with intention and be more focused on what it is that sets my heart ablaze with love, excitement and enjoyment. I am creating a "happiness habit" (see work by Sean Achor) that helps me to see, on a daily basis, the love and abundance I am surrounded by every day, every minute, every hour. John C. Maxwell is a master at his craft, and this audiobook is a great way to turn your life in a new direction. Absolutely a game-changer!
Synopsis
"We all have a longing to be significant. We want to make a contribution, to be a part of something noble and purposeful. But many people wrongly believe significance is unattainable. They worry that it's too big for them to achieve. That they have to have an amazing idea, be a certain age, have a lot of money, or be powerful or famous to make a real difference.

The good news is that none of those things is necessary for you to achieve significance and create a lasting legacy. The only thing you need to achieve significance is to be intentional. And to do that, all you need to do is start. You can't make an impact sitting still and doing nothing. Every major accomplishment that's ever been achieved started with a first step. Sometimes it's hard; other times it's easy, but no matter what, you have to do it if you want to get anywhere in life.

In INTENTIONAL LIVING, John Maxwell will help you take that first step, and the ones that follow, on your personal path through a life that matters."

Happy Listening!