Saturday, June 11, 2016

Oh, Oregon...

I just got back from the Oregon Coast, a place I've never been to before, and my trip was perfection. There's no way I could describe it to you that would do it justice, so let me just say this:



Sunday, June 5, 2016

Books and More Books

I didn't realize how long it's been since I posted...until today. I wrapped up my school year on Friday, and I am just now settling into my summer break. It usually takes me a few days to realize I have free time now.
I have been reading, of course,...I can't do without that and keep my sanity. I just haven't posted about them. I thought I'd just give you some quick blurbs about a few you may be interested in.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Wow. This book This book is classified as YA, but it packs a powerful punch. It is a historical fiction set around World War II. Powerful stuff. It's a bit too harsh for middle school, but it would be good for high school students and for any adult.
One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner
I really liked this one. Maybe it was because I love London, I've ridden the trains, and I could imagine the setting so well. Of course, it's not about the setting that makes it a good book, it's really about relationships and connections and how one person affects another. One incident on a train full of morning commuters sets of a chain reaction of events. It's also, pretty much, a "girl power" kind of novel. Although the main characters aren't girls, they are women. I found myself cheering more than once.
The Royal Ranger by John Flanagan
This is the twelfth book in the Ranger's Apprentice series. It isn't supposed to exist. The eleventh book, The Lost Stories, was supposed to be the last. Fortunately, two girls (mentioned in the dedication) must have begged the author enough to get one more out of him. I'm so glad they did! I loved reading about some of my most favorite characters again. I didn't have to go back and re-read any of the previous books. Will and Halt are the kind of characters my heart never forgets. I would also like to admit that I wasn't going to read this one. One of my students talked me into it. She loved it, and so did I. Thank you, Cassandra!
10:04 by Ben Lerner
Someone asked me if I'd read this one. He simply described it as "interesting," so I decided I'd try it. I don't think this book is for everyone, and I don't think it's a good as some reviews say it is. I swear, I think people give rave reviews about something odd sometimes because they think it shows them to be more intellectual than they really are. Truth be told, the book is not greatness. However, as a writer, I enjoyed it because it is further proof that what goes on in my brain is not insanity, it's just a writer's brain. Some of what he writes is genius (I highlighted those parts), some of it is total crap. Often times, his brain jumps the tracks in the middle of thought. Yep, total writer's brain. I would say that if you'd like to hear inside a writer's mind, this book is for you. It may feel, at times, like you're trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together with some of the pieces missing. I will tell you, none of the pieces are missing. But you may have to wait until the end to figure that out. At it's core, too, is a story about a unique and precious relationship.
The Promises She Keeps by Erin Healy
I listened to this one on audio for reasons I won't go in to. This is only the second book I've ever listened to on audio. I loved the audio narrator, Ann Harrison. I swear her voice made the book all the better. This is an odd book that I liked very much. You have to be an open-minded person to truly enjoy it. It has more odd turns than your average novel. I mean, how many books have someone with a terminal illness, an autistic adult, a witch, twins, gods and goddesses, God, quotes scriptures from the Bible, drugs, suicide, art, music, and love? It's a bit of a weird ride, but a good one.

The Grown Up by Gillian Flynn

If you're a grown up, you have to read this. Be warned, though, it IS by Gillian Flynn who wrote Gone Girl. She has a warped and dark sense of humor. It is a small book (basically a short story) that she claims George R.R. Martin asked her to write. It is wickedly delicious.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

This one is a treasure. How could it not be? There's a man who owns a barge that holds a floating bookstore on the Seine in Paris. The shop is called Literary Apothecary, and the owner has a talent for matching people to the books they need to cure them. For a book lover, does it get any better than that?! Unfortunately, the 'physician' has been unable to heal himself of what ails his own soul. Will he ever find a cure? This book is a wonderful, lovely, incredible journey. I will also tell you that the next books on my TBR list are the ones prescribed in this novel to different characters.

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

I don't do creepy. Not really. However, I got this book free on my Kindle because I am a Prime Member. I decided to give it a try. It is creepy, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't good. It kept me reading the whole way through. The book begins after the FBI has rescued kidnapped victims, so you know the end first. The rest of the book is finding out what happened and how the victims were finally rescued. To be honest, I've never read anything like this before, so I don't know if part of the reason I liked it was because it was so different from what I normally read. I enjoy being pushed out of my comfort zone.

Well, that's all for now. It's time to get moving and shaking and enjoying this lovely Sunday morning. I hope you're all are reading something that feeds your mind and your soul.

Happy reading!



I abhor bullies. I have for most of my life. This may be because at a crucial point in my own life, I was bullied. No one stood up for me,...including me. That was long ago, but it altered everything in my world forever. Because of my own experience, I have this internal switch that clicks on when I see someone being pushed around. And, trust me, adults are better at being bullies than children have the skill set to be.

When I raised children of my own, it was the one thing I could not tolerate. I would never allow one of my children to be a bully, and I taught them to stand up for themselves if anyone tried to bully them. There were many times I embarrassed my daughters, or other adults around me, because I refused to be a bystander in the neighborhood, in the schools, or in the church. I've stood up to more than one adult who tried to bully someone else's child or bully another adult, while others stood by unable to believe my...what? My courage? People who've seen me level the playing field have called it that. No, it wasn't courage. It was disgust. It was anger. It was "I'll burn in hell before I'll see you treat someone else that way!"

I get physically ill seeing another human being taking control and taking advantage of another human being. I shake, my stomach lurches, and all my brain knows is I have to stop it. It may have happened to me long ago, but I will never allow it to happen again - not to me or to anyone else around me. Not on my watch. Not ever.

You know, it's a good thing I am like I am. It is, in part, what makes me a good teacher. Sadly, I find myself fighting bullies on a regular basis with my job. I fight them for children who can't fight for themselves, and the children don't even know the bullies exist. But they do.

The institution of public education cares less and less about children and cares more and more about the 'business end' of education. Yes, education is BIG business. Often times, adults in public education are motivated by greed or power or position or political gain. Along with those people, there are many uninformed, inexperienced-in-a-classroom adults making poor decisions that affect children, and their futures, across America, all under the guise of "it's in the best interest of the children."

It's more than a full-time job to teach children, teachers shouldn't have to fight "the powers that be" on top of that. They should be supported and asked what would work best for their students. We've lost good teachers, and continue to lose good teachers, who just couldn't take it anymore. And, trust me, there are times I get tired and desperately want to give up the fight...

Now, you know why I don't.