Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Authors That I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List

Top Ten Authors That I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List (basically an auto-buy list is no questions asked..you love this author so much that no matter what they wrote next you'd buy regardless of genre or subject matter)

I don't buy a lot of books, so this is easy to make. For more Top Ten Lists today, head to The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Kate Atkinson - Jackson Brodie mysteries, plus her stand-alone books. She has new one coming out this spring with a lot of buzz

2. Andrea Camelleri - Inspector Montalbano of Sicily I cannot resist

3. Lisa Lutz - The Spellman Files are hilarious, and her co-authored book, Heads You Lose made me laugh. A lot.

4. Tracey Chevalier - Historical fiction from many perspectives, I still have a few to read, but I haven't found one yet that I havent' enjoyed.

5. Deon Meyer - South African mysteries, just excellent! If you like thrilling police stories, you must try him.

6. Bernice Morgan - Newfoundland author extraordinaire. She has only written a few books (Random Passage, Waiting for Time, Cloud of Bone) are fabulous

7. Sarah Waters - British author who has explored the Victorian age (Fignersmith, Affinity, Tipping the Velvet) and the World War 2 era (The Little Stranger, The Night Watch)

8. Marcus Zusak - I'd read his grocery list

9. John Green - He's got some real winners in his backlist, and is still very young. I expect to be able to read his books for many years to come.

10. Brian Selznick - His two books, Wonderstruck and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, are two of the most imaginative and spectacular books I've every read. He has invented his own genre of book.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

BOOK: I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza, 262 pages

First of all: the title. How perfect! I've actually had several former students who returned to teach at my school apologize to me for their behavior while in high school. Luckily, as frustrating as high school students can be, I know not to judge them on their time as teenagers in my class.

Reality Television: Did anyone else watch the A&E series, Teach based on Tony Danza's time in a Philadelphia high school? It was only six episodes long and aired in 2010, and the book covers the same material. Both the series and the book ooze with Danza's sincerity, and since I don't think he is a better actor than I imagine, I believe him. Danza took a lot of criticism for working as a teacher - it was only for the show, he just wanted to be on television, I actually buy his sincerity. (He originally thought he would become a teacher, but boxing and acting too over. At fifty-nine and out of work, he decided to try teaching for a year.) He continued to teach after the show gave up on him and his class for lack of drama, and finished his year.

Sidenote: Both Tony Danza and Jeff Conaway were on the 1970s television show, Taxi. Both reappeared on television in the late 2000s. Danza gave up his acting life to teach inner city students, and worked his butt off. Conaway appeared on Celebrity Rehab several times and sadly died in 2010. The ways their lives turned out could not be more different, and it increased my respect for Danza.

Danza as a teacher: Again, he truly wanted to do well. His respect for education and teachers is evident. He is however, an actor, with a 'look at me' mentality. All teachers need to have this to some extent if they are going to get up in front of a class of students everyday. He also acknowledged how much he talked and that his students kidded him about his big mouth. I think my biggest criticism of him as a teacher, is that he was more interested in teaching them lessons to learn from his mistakes, as opposed to creating a learner and teaching them how to learn. Again though, you can't argue that he wanted the best for his students, and really struggled with how invested he got in their lives, and realizing how little control he had over so much of their learning situations.

Criticisms: Many of the amazing things he was able to do (trips to Washington DC, New York and Broadway, video camera prizes for a poetry contest, elaborate scavenger hunts) were not realistic. He had the support of the production company, plus his money, to pull off some of these events. Hard for other teachers to compete with that. Also, his understanding of bureaucracy was terrible, and he was forever getting in trouble with the vice-principal for not following procedures, from simple things like signing in each day, to larger things, like not getting permission for students to take a field trip or having a drink at a bar while on the field trip.

The book: The book just flows along, and I really liked it. Danza isn't afraid to show the mistakes he made, and he made lots, or to talk about his sweat stains and how he completely forget he had a lesson plan on the first day! Each chapter has two sections: one about classroom and students, and the other about the staff and teachers. His respect for teachers and understanding about their frustrations never wavers. Knowing that there are people out there who do recognize the difficult position teachers are in, makes it easier to go in every day.

Monday, February 18, 2013

BOOK: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, 236 pages

This was the perfect light read for Valentines Day. First of all, speaking as a math teacher, I love the title! As a young adult book, it was very readable. Plus, love at first sight based on a friendship, so with a better outcome than Romeo and Juliet.

Hadley, seventeen, is reluctantly heading to London for her father's wedding when she misses her plane. She meets up with Oliver, a British teen heading home. They spend the long flight together, getting to know one another, mostly through Hadley's complaints and misery. Hadley is still upset that her parents have split up; she feels pulled between missing her dad and feeling disloyal to her jilted mom. Very common and understandable feelings in a too familiar situation.

The time in London is frantic and fast, a wedding,a funeral, several trips on the tube. Hadley and Oliver meet and separate several times, with Hadley growing up and coming to be more patient with her father and his new wife. It was predictable, but lovely. It felt like it could have been one of the plot lines in the movie Love, Actually, which is probably why I liked it so much. If you are looking for a short, sweet romantic book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight would be perfect.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

BOOK: Lola's Secret by Monica McInerney

Lola's Secret by Monica McInerney, 304 pages

Aussie Author Challenge

For readers looking for an author to replace the late Maeve Binchy, I may have found someone. Monica McInerney writes the same style of book, with homey, real people facing life dilemmas. Her island is Australia instead of Ireland, but the same comforting feeling of getting to know a family is here. She even used the same type of set-up as A Week in Winter, with different guests coming to spend some time at a family style hotel. The guests were less of characters than in Binchy's, but used to the same effect.

Lola's Secret is actually a sequel to The Alphabet Sisters, and there are references to that book in this one, but without having read it, I still enjoyed Lola's Secret. Lola is the matriarch of the family, and she runs the family; she's everyone's favorite. Except her daughter-in-law. We get to know the granddaughters (the Alphabet Sisters), and great-granddaughters as everyone runs to Lola with their problems. One might even say that Lola gets overly involved, a tad too busy. She's a model, however, of an active senior, keeping mind and body and soul active.

 The title is a little misleading, as the secret wasn't that huge and my library made it even more misleading by slapping a 'mystery' sticker on the spine. I like my mysteries with a dead body, and it wasn't that type of book at all. It was a pleasant read however, and I've marked Monica McInerney's books as future reads in my library.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

READATHON: Snowmageddon Update

hosted by chrisbookarama

We got our storm! Lots of snow, and the forecast today is continuing blowing snow, and high winds. Day two of being storm-stayed. The treats I bought at Wal-mart on Friday in preparation of the storm have been discovered by the children (smarties, macaroons, corn puffs) and husband (beer) and we are just about out of snacks now.

the view from our front window

Reading has gone well. I finished Dressing Up for the Carnival by Carol Shields, a short story collection I have been reading slowing for a few weeks. I also read a few more chapters of The Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Ouellete, a non-fiction account of how useful calculus is, and I expect to finish it today. I am also making headway on Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. It's a historical mystery, set in 1171 England and the first of four books in a little series.

I took a break in reading yesterday to watch the Coal Bowl final. My son's (and my school's) basketball team made it to the final, and while they played a great game, the other team was a little better. The Raiders lost by 7. And now, they are stuck in Cape Breton with their silver medals. Today, breaks in reading will be taken for a little correcting, but overall, it's been a great storm as storms go. The RCMP have been advising everyone to stay off the roads, so everything is cancelled and there is no where to go. Reading and eating shall continue.

Oops, the family just found the garlic bread in the fridge, so off I go for more snacks.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

READATHON: Snowmageddon! 2013

Chrisbookarama is hosting an impulsive Snowmageddon! Read-a-thon because our East Coast is going to get walloped this weekend. Here's what she said on her blog:

What to expect from Snowmageddon! Readathon:
  • Reading updates
  • Gratuitous photos of snow, pjs, socks, and snacks
  • Weather reports
With the start of new semester at high school, I am up to date on planning and correcting, and now that I expect most sporting events to be cancelled on Saturday and Sunday, my week-end is looking pretty free. Although I do have a great pile of books I can work through.

The only break in my schedule is my plan to watch a livestream basketball game that my son is playing in. He's actually in Cape Breton with Chrisbookarama at the prestigious Coal Bowl. His team is going to be in the cross-over game tomorrow, and hopefully, the 2 pm final game on Saturday. The only problem for me is if there are any internet problems. We've been having some trouble with buffering some of the games so it better be working on Saturday. Feel free to cheer for the Charlottetown Rural Raiders along with us!

Weather forecast: strong northeast winds, snow at times heavy, and blowing snow will begin overnight Friday night and intensify on Saturday. Amounts of 20 to 30 centimeters are possible by Sunday morning.

And when watching the weather here, it's all about the winds! Anyone else want to grab a book and join?

Friday, February 1, 2013

CHALLENGE: New Authors Challenge

Hosted at Literary Escapism. I like to keep track of new authors read.

 Disclaimer: Artwork used (with permission) for the button is Anglerfish by Vlad Gerasimov. Please be sure to post a link to the artist when using the button – thanks!

The challenge will run from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.
You can pick to do either 15, 25 or 50 new authors.

New Authors in 2013
1. Russell Wangersky (Whirl Away)
2. Andrea Levy (Small Island)
3. Ada Leverson (Love's Shadow)
4. Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
5. Monica McInerney (Lola's Secret)
6. Jennifer Ouellette (The Calculus Diaries)
7. Ariana Franklin (Mistress of the Art of Death)
8. Jennifer E. Smith (The Statistical Probabiltiy of Love at First Sight)
9. Marina Lewycka (A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainain)
10. Alan Brennert (Moloka'i)
11. Flannery O'Connor(A Good Man is Hard to Find and other stories)
12. Kate Grenville (The Idea of Perfection)
13. Paul Murray (Skippy Dies)
14. Cheryl Strayed (Wild)
15. Emily Perkins (The Forrests)
16. Maria Semple (Where'd You Go Bernadette)
17. Zadie Smith (NW)
18. Mo Hayder (Birdman)
19. Susanna Kearsley (The Firebird)
20. Edith Wharton (The House of Mirth)
21. Stephen Emond (Winter Town)
22.  Maxine Kenneth (Paris to Die For)
23. Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity)
24. Jim Crace (Harvest)
25. Marcia Clark (Guilt by Association)
26. Richard Wagamese (Indian Horse)
27. Susan Elia MacNeal (Mr Churchill's Secretary)
28. Ake Edwardson (Death Angels)
29. Mark Mills (The Savage Garden)
30. Claire Messud (The Woman Upstairs)

Debut Authors
1.  ML Stedman (The Light Between the Oceans)
2. Sahar Delijani (Children of the Jacaranda Tree)
3. Suzanne Rindell (The Other Typist)
4. Kristel Thornell (Night Street)