Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ok, I realize it's been months since I wrote, so here's the low-down. I'm still working at Kumon, still teaching the tiny ones, the cute ones, the ones that get so excited about learning, yet forget to cover their mouth when they cough (I've been less sick this year, I think I'm building up an immunity). I'm no longer working with the high schoolers with special needs. In August I was offered a job as an aide for K-4th grade in a small school
(one teacher per grade), this also came with some teaching when teachers were out. As I'm much more geared toward the little ones, I took this and love it! I'm planning and teaching guided reading, administering RtI interventions, doing informal interventions and helping out in classes in general. The staff is full of wonderful teachers, the school is full of technology and I was welcomed with kindness, it is great!

Ok, on to what I really wanted to write about: Reading.

If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know I love it and that I don't spend enough time doing it and that that makes me sad. So one of my goals for 2013 is to read 20 books in the year. I figured if I aim for 2 a month and miss a couple, I will still hit my mark.

Since I have a 45 minute drive to work each day (and consequently from it), I have started listening to audio books. They are wonderful and I can inter-library loan ones our humble library doesn't own. At first I was really disappointed. Our library's selection is decent- sized but I kept checking out books that looked wholesome from the cover and the synopsis on the back, but were far from it. I took 3 books back before I decided to stick to Christian books, children's books, ones that had been recommended by someone I trust or by Christian bloggers (I follow quite a few). So I started a book list. If you are interested, it can be found on my pintrest page here. What do I love to read? Wholesome fiction. So I decided to branch out, read some non fiction, some classics as well as fiction. 

Well, almost one month in here is my progress: I haven't read any of the books on the list. Now, before you lecture me about broken resolutions, let me tell you this: I have finished 3 books. 

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith- Shortly after developing my list I realized there weren't any fantasy books on it. I thought, "Oh, well, I'll do that next year" then I was given this book as a gift. It's a vampire book. My first thought was, yikes! Now, I didn't read Twilight, but I watched the movie and wasn't thrilled. But I decided since this was gifted to me and I didn't have any fantasy, that I would give it a shot. Wholesome factor (on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being family friendly), I'd give it a 2. There was minimal swearing and no inappropriate moments. However, this is a vampire book, so there were bites, deaths and vengeance. My first thought was that the author wasn't very descriptive and that her writing was subliminal because of it. On second thought, I'm not sure that I would want some of the things in the book described in great detail, as it would have been much more gory. Gore rating sits at a 3. In the end, the plot was there and the characters somewhat developed. Plot development and character development rate in at 2. The main character was obviously the most developed character, yet I didn't connect with her as I do in most books. There was something missing and I think it might have to do with the lack of adjectives and adverbs. If you love vampire books (I'm not sure how many have been written), you may enjoy this. I enjoyed it, but was well aware of the elements it lacked.

Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice- This book takes place in 1839 in a pioneer setting. I love books on the pioneer life. I'm not sure why, but there is something about them that makes me feel blessed by what I have. Although this is a children's novel, you should be aware that it displays the hardships of pioneer life in a very real way. There is death, but the dead are honored in such a way that dulls the vividness of the situation. Wholesome: 3.5; there may have been a swear word or two, I don't remember entirely. I'd say ages 10 and up could read it, although I would encourage parents to read and discuss it with the children, as there are some dark moments. The reading level is 5th grade, so it was intended to be for 11-12 year olds and up. Plot: 5 Excellent plot. It was sequential with some twists and turns that are unexpected, definitely not boring. Character development: 5. It gets a 5 if it makes me cry; because I only cry when I am really in tune with the characters. Gore rating: 3, due to some of the raw nature of portions of the book and the descriptions (although very well written). This gal got an A+ on descriptions. Now I'm one of those people who is bored by a half of a page describing the house, yet want something to "build the movie" in my mind. She gave the perfect amount of description without overdoing it. 

 Being Nikki by Meg Cabot- As I was looking this up, I just realized this is book 2, this will change what I was going to write a little. This book is borderline sci-fi, as Em's brain gets transplanted into supermodel Nikki's body. Wholesome rating: 2. There was some swearing, underage drinking and partying, talk of drugs and anorexia. At a reading level of fifth grade, third month (October), I'm not sure I would let my fifth grader read it, too much crazy stuff. Gore level: 5, there is nothing gory about this book. The plot is ok, it could have thrown a few more surprises at me; I'll give it a 3, as it was about average. Character development was one of the areas I was going to criticize, but seeing as I didn't read the first novel, maybe some of it happened there. This book standing alone: I would have liked to get to know the "real Nikki" better and had more insight into Christopher. Character development (this book standing alone): 3. One thing that did annoy me throughout this book was that the author. . . . I don't know how to describe it, so I'll just give an example (not from the book, but something like what the author did). 'She threw the towel into the room out of frustration, finished brushing her teeth and called her mother while soaking her feet in the tub. When she was finished, she went to the other room to retrieve the towel, as she had thrown it there earlier.' Maybe it is just me, but if you already told me about her throwing the towel, you don't need to reiterate the point, I got it. She did this about once per chapter, and by the end it became annoying to me. This may not bother you, but it did me. Since I talked about the level of description in both of the other reviews, I will here as well. It was fine, not too much, not too little, but not outstanding either. 

On the list to start, as I picked them up at the library today (books on my actual list!): 7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (isn't the title interesting?!), Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh (fiction). I also picked up an audiobook (that wasn't on the list), as my audiobooks I placed on hold aren't in yet. But it is in the car, so I don't know the title, right off the top of my head. 

 So, I am happy with my accomplishments so far, and hope next month I will have at least two more reviews! 

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