Reading tent

Last year, in my classroom, we had a reading day. All we did, all day, was read. Well, we did go to the library and do some yoga, but mostly, we just sat outside under the trees and read. Children love technology, but they also love books and trees.

This year, we picked today for our reading day. Unfortunately, it rained all day. Since it’s almost the end of the school year, there was no switching to another day. I wanted the kids to have a special day, so I decided to make an indoor tent. I figured if we couldn’t go outside, we would make the most of inside.

I didn’t take any pictures as I was setting it up (the kids were in gym class). I didn’t have a plan, just an idea. I tied string to the cupboards, then tied the other ends to chairs behind the bookshelves. I added some Christmas lights and some curtains and fabric (surprise, surprise, it was all pink). The whole thing was held together by many, many clothes pins. On the floor, I used old duvet covers and rugs, along with all of the pillows and cushions we have in the classroom.

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When they came back to class, the kids were pretty excited. I got a lot of “Oh wow!” and “Thank you!” It was nice to see them so happy to have a special place to read.

I went in there with them to read a story, then I left them with their pillows and books. They didn’t want to come out for lunch! We went to the library in the afternoon (in the pouring rain), then they went right back in the tent until it was time to leave. I promised we could leave it up for the rest of the week.

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I used to make tents with sheets and blankets all the time when I was little, and this reminded me of how much fun it is!

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Divergent – Book to movie

In January, I went out for dinner for a friend’s birthday. We went to a Chinese restaurant and the first thing I saw when I walked in was the book “Divergent”. I mentioned I wanted to read it, then pretty much forgot about it as we sat down and proceeded to birthday it up. It was only later, when I was leaving, that I saw the book still on the table. I asked the owner about it, and he said it had been there for about a week. Then, he said these magic words: “You can have it, if you like.”

I read the book and saw the movie, then reviewed both. I wrote about the book as I was reading it, so it’s not really a review, but my thoughts on the story. I’m not revealing more than what you can see in the trailers for the movie, but if you really, really, don’t want to know anything about the story before you read the book or see the movie, maybe you should skip this post!

Book

Page 17

Wow, This book is going to be good, I can feel it. It’s kind of like The Hunger Games, but it’s not. There’s a girl, and she has to make a choice, but somehow I have a feeling that’s where the similarities will end. They mention the Sears tower, so the story takes place in what used to be Chicago. There are five factions. When you’re 16, you take a test to determine which faction you should chose.

Page 48

Holy crap, things move fast in this book. The girl’s name is Beatrice. I don’t know how I feel about that.  The test does not work on Beatrice. She is divergent. She choses a different faction than the one she grew up in. She’s pretty brave, I probably wouldn’t have done that, especially after her brother did what he did.

Page 60

Beatrice changed her name to Tris. I knew that name was wrong.

Page 209

I’ve been reading for most of the afternoon, but who needs a clean house anyways? Being divergent is dangerous. Of the five factions, Beatrice shows aptitude for three. There is Abnegation, which is selflessness (where she grew up), Erudite, which is the pursuit of knowledge, and Dauntless, which is bravery. She chose Dauntless. I probably would have been Amity, which seems to be hedonism. There’s also Candor, who only speak the truth (like the citar in Moulin Rouge!)

She’s going through initiation. If she fails, she’ll be factionless. There’s a lot of fighting and blood and people being mean.

Page 345

My neck hurts. Also, it’s 12am and I work tomorrow. It’s not easy kicking butt and being awesome. (We’re talking about Tris now, not me.) Why do people always pick on the smart, strong heroine? Oh, yes. Jealousy.

Page 462

I wonder, if this were real, if I would be content to be Amity, like I first thought. They’re not mentioned much in the book. As much as I want to be happy, I don’t want to be bored, either. I don’t think a system like this would work for very long, which is probably why it’s cracking in the book. Tris is Divergent, therefore she’s considered dangerous, a rebel. She threatens the system because she doesn’t fit into a mold. Sounds like high school, or society in general, don’t you think?

Page 487

What? No, it can’t be done yet! What happens next? Although I knew it would end without an ending, I thought I had a few more pages left. Argh! Store is closed, must wait until tomorrow.

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Movie

I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed it, and it was pretty true to the book. Obviously, there were some parts of the book that didn’t make it into the movie, but that always happens. I kept comparing it to The Hunger Games, because some of the basics of the story are the same. I liked the Hunger Games more than Divergent, but it was still a good movie.

I liked the choice of Shailene Woodley as Tris. In the book, it’s mentioned several times how small she is and how young she looks. Ashley Judd was as wonderful as ever as Tris’ mom. However, I had a bit of an issue with Tony Goldwyn as her dad. He’s the president of the United States! He’s not some Abnegation, selfless man who’s against fighting! (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you need to watch Scandal!)

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After I read the first book, I ran out and bought the other two in the series. They were ok, but nowhere near as good as the first book. I enjoyed the first half of Allegiant, the last book. There are some questions that have been brought up in the previous books that are finally answered. However, after that, I felt like the book dragged on a little. I still recommend that you read Divergent if you enjoy teen-lit series where the girl kicks butt.

 

Moloka’i

When I went to Costa Rica, I brought three books. I was gone for a week, so the original plan was to bring 4. However, apart from reading on the plane and while waiting around in airports, I didn’t read that much when I was there. It was hot, there was lots of sand, and there was too much to do!

Before I left, I took a trip with a friend to the bookstore to stock up. I ended up going on a teen-lit kick, buying  Anna dressed in Blood, Alice in Zombieland and Vampire Academy. While other people at the yoga retreat were reading books about finding inner peace, I had books about a ghost, zombies and vampires.

I did buy another book as well. When I picked it up and decided to buy it, my friend said “Really? Lepers?” What can I say, I was intrigued.

The book was Moloka’i, by Alan Brennert. I didn’t end up reading it while I was in Costa Rica. I started it yesterday and finished it this morning. Yes, it’s one of those books. You, know, the kind that draws you in, shutting out the rest of the world. It broke my heart, it made me smile and I now need to go to Hawaii.

It tells the story of Rachel, a young girl living in Honolulu in 1891. She’s 5 years old and she loves to ask questions, which drives most of the adults in her life quite crazy! One day, her uncle Pono is arrested on suspicion of being a leper. He is sent to Kalihi, a hospital, where he is kept in quarantine. Just as the family is starting to get over the shock and shame of having a relative with leprosy, Rachel’s mother finds a pink blemish on the little girl’s thigh.

Her mother tries everything she can to cure her daughter, while keeping it a secret. Hawaiians, at that time in history, were quickly dying of diseases brought over by haoles, white people. Having never been in contact with these germs, they had no immunity against them. Not much was know about leprosy, except that it was contagious.

Rachel is eventually found out, and sent to Kalihi, where she reunites with her uncle Pono. Small, afraid, and separated from her family, Rachel is poked and prodded by doctors for a year before they decide they cannot help her and she must be sent away to a leper colony on Moloka’i. She is ripped from the only life she has ever know and sent to an island where she expects to die.

When she arrives, however, she discovers a world apart from anything she has ever known. Her life is not always easy, but it is a life worth living. She watches friends die and her body being taken over by the bug. She loves, she grieves, but most importantly, she lives.

This book was so well written. It informative without being boring. I have long been fascinated by leprosy, and learning about it through the story of people’s lives was much more interesting than reading a textbook. The beginning of the story was intriguing, the middle captivating and the ending satisfying. If you’re looking for your next book to read, here it is.

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Book to movie challenge

In January, somewhere in the wonder that is blogland, I found this post. It’s a book to movie challenge. Basically, you read a book, then see the movie and review both. Is there anything more fantastic than this? I think not. There are different levels to the challenge.

Movie Fan – read 3 books and watch their movies
Movie Devotee – read 6 books and watch their movies
Movie Lover – read 9 books and watch their movies
Movie Aficionado – read 12 books and watch their movies
Movie Auteur – read 24 books and watch their movies

I think I’m going to go with movie devotee, so six books. You can change levels at any time, so I can always move up.

I’m not going to stick with movies coming out this year or books I read this year. For example, I read Gone Girl last year, and the movie is coming out this year, so it will probably make the list. Also, I just read Stardust, and I want to watch the movie. Both came out several years ago, but they are new to me, so they will make the list also. I might do a few books-to-tv-shows as well.

I’ve read and reviewed Divergent, by Veronica Roth, but I’m going to wait until I see the movie so I can post both reviews together. These are several books-to-movies that I hope to review this year.

Serena, by Ron Rash

The fault in our Stars, by John Green

Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn

Orange is the new black, Piper Kerman

If you have any good books to suggest, please do! (Even if there’s no movie coming out. I’m always on the lookout for good book recommendations!)

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Better you than me!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday from the Broke and the Bookish is “Top ten characters I’d never want to trade places with”. I often imagine myself as characters in the books I read, so it’s interesting to see who I wouldn’t want to be.

1. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games

It’s kind of obvious why. First, she lives in a world where the hunger games exist, then she has to participate. People die, people try to kill her. Sure, she’s a hero, but not because she wanted to be.

2. Lisbeth from The girl with the dragon tattoo

I didn’t like that book, and I didn’t read the others in the trilogy. Lisbeth’s been controlled and abused her whole life. She’s not happy. Maybe she becomes happy in the later books. If you’ve read them, let me know how it turns out for her.

3. Yvaine from Stardust

She’s a star, sure, that’s cool. But she falls from the sky and can’t go back. Plus, she doesn’t eat. I know all she needs is light, but as a mere mortal, I can’t imagine a life without cake.

4. Anyone from a Jodi Picoult novel

I enjoy her books, but they’re always centered around a problem. A big one. Everyone’s life is messed up, they go to court, they blame each other. No thanks.

5. Becky from Confessions of a Shopoholic

She loves to shop. I actually do to, but I get stressed out if my phone bill is late or if I owe someone 10$. I’d love to have as much nice clothes as her, but the credit card debt? Forget it.

6. Liesel in The Book Thief

It’s Germany, during World War 2. She loses her brother and her mother within hours of each other. Death is obsessed with her. Her adoptive family loves her, but her life is hard and sad.

7. Ayla from The Clan of the Cave Bears

She loses her people when she’s too young to realize it. She’s raised by people who are different, and who never fully accept her. She is cast out, has boy trouble and lives during the ice age, no it’s no picnic.

8. Beth from Little Women

If you haven’t read this book, spoiler alert. Beth is sweet and all, but she’s boring and dull. Then she dies. Yeah, not cool.

9. The women in The Dovekeepers

These are strong, independent women, which is rare for biblical times. However, such independence comes at a price. I’m impressed by them, but I would not want to be them.

10. Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood

Sure, Sookie is part fairy, she like vampire crack and they all love her. Eric is hot, Bill is handsome, and then there’s Sam, the warm-blooded shape shifter who also loves her. But people are always trying to kill her. She can read people’s minds and it drives her crazy. (I know True blood is the name of the tv show, not the books!)

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Holiday Readathon

It’s no secret that I love books. I also love, love, love Christmas. There’s nothing better than putting those two things together for a holiday readthon!

I’ve seen readathons online before, but I’ve never really joined in. I think I signed up for one once, but didn’t get around to doing anything about it! This one is hosted by WhoRuBlog and it’s not too late to join in the fun. There are several challenges being being hosted by other bloggers, but I’m not sure I’ll have time to do many of them.

I’m actually pretty busy this weekend, with Christmas parties and cookies, so my goals are not crazy ambitious. It’s just fun to set an intention. This is what I hope to accomplish during this readathon.

1. Read the short story Waking Kate, by Sarah Addison Allen. This might be a little tricky since it’s a free download to an e-reader and I don’t own one. Will have to see if there’s a way to read it online.

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2. Start my Chirstmas book of the year, Remembering Christmas, by Dan Walsh. I like corny, cute, Christmas stories. Hopefully it’s a good one!

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sneak some reading in before my guests arrive!

Gone Girl

When you’re a bookworm, you know what it’s like to get caught up in a story.  Have you read Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn?

I had my name on the waiting list at the library for a while, but I was 12th, so I wasn’t expecting it for weeks. Suddenly, it was available, and I only had it for a few weeks. Saturday was a rainy, cold day. It was perfect for reading.

I heard a lot about Gone Girl, but no one would really say what it was about. Everyone said the book was awesome, amazing, fantastic, and I just had to read it. But when I asked what it was about, no one would tell me anything.

Well, guess what? I can’t tell you anything about it either.

All I can say about the story is pretty much what’s on the back of the book: A woman goes missing and her husband is a suspect.

What I can tell you, is that this book seriously messed with my head. I could not stop reading it. I felt like I was being manipulated by these people. Sometimes, I got frustrated, shut the book, and put it down. I’d stare at it for a little while, then, unable to resist, pick it back up and keep reading.

I kept expecting to have one of those moments where I discovred I’d figured out a part of the story. I love those moments, they make me feel smart, like getting the answers right on Jeopardy. That moment never came. Never. The whole time, I had no idea what was going on, or who was doing what. All I knew is that somehow, they were making me think things. Think what they wanted me to. It wasn’t the author, it was the people in the book.

I think it might take a few days before I can read something else. I believe this is what’s referred to as a “book hangover”.

Now go, read it!

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