Friday, September 30, 2011

Bookish delights :: 2 :: Never Judge a Book by its Movie

This is so true. Books > Movies... almost always.

I can only think of maybe two movies that were actually better than the books: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the ONLY Harry Potter book that I had to put down to take breaks from because I could not stand Harry in that book AT ALL. Blame it on the adolescent angst, but he was just so surly and mean all the time. Plus, he was constantly snapping at Hermione and Ron, who were the only people that were loyal to him. THAT pissed me off. It probably didn't help that it was also the longest book of the series, so there was a lot of mean, angry at the world Harry to put up with. Okay, okay... I know Harry was going through a lot at that time and ***SPOILER ALERT*** Cedric Diggory just died at the end of hte previous book., but still... it was a little too much for me. I liked the movie better than the book because they really kept all of that adolescent angst to a minimum.

I didn't read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was a kid. The first time I read it was in my children's literature class in college and even then I didn't completely finish it. *bows head in shame* It wasn't that I didn't like the story, I had a hard time with the language. The reason I loved the movie was the cinematography. Everything in the movie was so beautiful and majestic. It was definitely magical and it made me enjoy the story a lot more.

All in all, I am a huge, HUGE fan of the book versus the movie. There is something about being able to make your own mental pictures that no matter how great the movie, they just can't seem to capture everything the way I want it to be. Plus, once I watch the movie, it almost erases my own mind-movie and I can't ever picture them back the way I did pre-movie. For example, Bella will always look like melancholy Kristen Stewart in my head from now on (which is such a bummer, btw). Plus, a movie will never fully include all the little details that make it a complete story because of time limitations. Thus, movies generally tend to be a huge letdown, especially for me.

There might be a few instances where I like the movie just as much as the book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was extremely good and stayed true to the book), but very rarely does a movie win out over a book for me.

Are you generally a fan of the book or the movie? What movies do you like more than the book?

image courtesy of: Zazzle (You can purchase this tote and other totes with bookish saying at Zazzle because one can never have enough tote bags.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banned Book Week :: Sept. 24 - Oct. 1, 2011

We are in the middle of Banned Books Week and I just wanted to put up a short post in celebration of our freedom to read. I feel very blessed to live in a country where I am free to choose what I want to read without limitations or restrictions.

To learn more about Banned Books Week, you can check out the ALA (American Library Association) website here. Even though I am pretty conservative (especially as I get older), I do respect the right of people being able to choose what they want to read. I don't think anyone or any entity should be able to tell you what you can or cannot read. Reading is such a personal experience that it is hard to me to imagine it any other way. Personally, I am generally not a huge fan of books with tons of profanity or violence, but at least that is a choice that I can make for myself.

However, as a parent, I do think that it is your responsibility to know what your children are reading in order to make informed decisions about what you allow your children to read. I think that decision should be up to the parents. The same goes for what kind of TV shows and movies you allow your children to watch or games they play. As my daughter becomes a young adult, I hope to have conversations about the books that I might not want her to read because the mature issues in the book and I hope that it will be an open dialogue - not just me imposing my will upon her. I strongly believe the decision of what to read, watch or play is a decision for a family to make.

You can also find a list of the frequently challenged books via ALA here.

In celebration of Banned Books Week, Jen of "I Read Banned Books" and Inspired Kathy of "I am a Reader, Not a Writer" are hosting a giveaway hop. You can click on any of the following sites below to enter book-related giveaways. Enjoy!

Feel free to leave your opinion about banned books in the comments. I'd love to hear what you think!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Big e-Reader Decision :: New Amazon Kindles

Amazon just released it's new line of Kindles today! I have been anxiously awaiting this announcement for months now because I think the Kindle is the e-Reader I'd like to purchase. Plus, this would mean that I could finally the galleys that I get from NetGalley directly instead of on my computer.

An exciting piece of news is that you can borrow books from your public library directly onto your Kindle now! As long as it is a U.S. library that offers digital services from OverDrive, you can borrow books right onto your Kindle. Yay! You can read more about it here.

Please check out Amazon's website for all the quick tour videos. If you pre-order it now, it will start shipping in November. Right in time for Christmas! :)

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert BY ANY MEANS about e-Readers, especially considering how indecisive I've been about it for over a year now. These are just my thoughts and the information that I've gathered from digging through Amazon's website.

Here are some of the interesting features about the new Kindles:

Kindle e-Reader with Wi-Fi, 6"display

This model looks like Amazon's response to Barnes and Nobles' latest NOOK because it has very similar specs - 6 inches and e-ink screen. Amazon is touting is as the smallest, lightest Kindle ever. With special offers (aka ads) it is $79 and without it, it is $109.
  • Battery life: 1 month
  • On-device storage: 2 GB storage space for 1,400 books
  • Cloud storage: Unlimited for Amazon content (free!)
  • Interface: 5-way controller 
My opinion: I like the idea of have a really small e-Reader because of the convenience of being able to carry it around and the really low price tag makes it quite enticing, but I think I'd like a bigger e-Reader. (Especially since I always carry around a huge purse full of random stuff anyway.)

Kindle Touchscreen e-Reader with Wi-Fi / 3G, 6" E-Ink Display

Touchscreen! YAY! Everything is touchscreen nowadays and every time I've had the Kindle in my hands before, I would find myself poking at the screen even though it wouldn't do anything. I'm so used to using my iPhone that it's hard to have a huge screen that you can't poke around at. :)
  • Wi-Fi: With special offers, this one costs $99 and without, $139
  • 3G: With special offers, $149 and without, $189. (No monthly fees!)
  • Battery life: 2 months
  • On-device storage: 4 GB storage space for 3,000 books
  • Cloud storage: Unlimited for Amazon content (free)
  • Interface: multi-touch
My opinion: The Wi-Fi one would probably be the right one for me because I don't travel very often and don't really need the 3G capabilities. I'm a mama of a young little girl, so we stick closer to home nowadays. The size would be closer to the size of an actual book and I think that would suit me very well.

Kindle Fire

THIS is the tablet that everyone has been speculating about for a long, long time. The only thing that Barnes and Noble and Apple had on top of Amazon was the color tablet. Well, it looks like Amazon has their response! Amazon is raving about it's ultra-fast web browsing capabilities via Amazon Silk because of it's fast, dual-core processor. And unfortunately for Apple, Amazon Silk supports Adobe's Flash Player. Apple and Adobe need to make up already! This one costs way less than the Apple iPad and the NOOKColor at $199.
  • Battery life: 8 hours continuous reading, 7.5 hours video playback
  • On-device storage: 8 GB storage space for 80 apps, 10 movies, 800 songs or 6,000 books
  • Cloud storage: Unlimited for Amazon content (free)
  • Interface: multi-touch
My opinion: I can't seem to escape the lure of the color tablets. I mean, who wouldn't want all those capabilities between their fingers to play with? You could read, listen to music, play games, check your email, flip through full-color magazines, browse the web, and/or watch a TV show or movie! The lure is very, very powerful. My hubby keeps telling me that if I had a tablet, I wouldn't read on it. I hate to say it, but he's right. I'd probably be busy late at night playing Angry Birds instead of reading because I often find myself doing that with my iPhone already. (Even though in my defense, the iPhone is way too small to read on. hehe) I'm hoping that if I had an e-Reader that could only be used to read books, then I'd just be able to read and not be lured away by the games and movies. I do think it'd be cool to be able to read the full-color magazines though. Indecision at it's best (worst)!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

Author: Donalyn Miller
Genre: Nonfiction - Education

Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Publication Date: March 16, 2009
Source: Borrowed from the local library and then purchased

Did I like the cover?: I love the photo on the front cover of the little girl with her nose in a book. Very fitting for the book.

First lines: I am not a reading researcher. I am not a reading policy expert. I do not have a Ph.D. What I am is a reading teacher, like many of you.  

This book reminds me of: a book I wished I had read earlier in my career, but wasn't available because it didn't exist back then.

Book synopsis from Goodreads:
Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn't turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller's students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller's unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore. Instead, she helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended "kid lit" that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.

I absolutely loved this book. It was on my to-read list for the longest time and once the school year ended in June, I finally had the time and energy to read teaching-related books. I initially borrowed this book for our local library, but immediately purchased it after I finished it (in one evening) so I that I could have my own copy to write in and plaster with post-its.

This book was everything I was hoping for and more. This is the book I wish I was around when I first started teaching. It is no secret that I love reading and have loved reading for as far back as I can remember. One of the reasons I became a teacher was because I wanted to share my love reading with kids and instill that same love of reading within them. Even though I think I've done a decent job of sharing that with my students over the years with various things that I've implemented in my classroom, I loved that this book gave me practical ideas that would be easy to introduce in my classroom right away.

The hardest thing about being a teacher nowadays is the pressure to perform on tests. It's all about the test scores and subsequently, what we know to be "good teaching" goes by the wayside because there really isn't any time to do it. About a year ago, I was almost at the end of the year and realized that I just did not like teaching reading anymore. I dreaded that part of the day because it was so dull to me. It was all about reading passages and answering test questions. No wonder they were bored, I WAS BORED! My grade-level and I had a deep discussion about it and we decided we need to do read-alouds again, not because we wanted to teach some standard or whatever, but just to enjoy the act of reading and sharing a story together.  Go figure.

I devoured this book in one evening and then promptly raved all about it on my facebook to share with my fellow colleagues and teacher friends. I feel like it started a little "Book Whisperer" revolution amongst my closest teacher friends and several of them bought, read and also implemented ideas from the book as well. My grade-level team also read the book and we started off this school year with a mutual enthusiasm to create lifelong readers in our students.

My students plowed through the book tubs full of books from my classroom library on the first day of school. We all read together and it started my year on the right foot with reading at the core of my mornings. They are currently deeply into their 40 book challenge this year (and beating my measly 8 books) and on fire with the number of books they are reading. We have book commercials on Fridays and I love seeing how many of them are reading books that their peers have recommended. Even though sometimes I curse myself for doing them because they take up a lot of time each evening, my students and I converse once a week with letters that we write back and forth to each other in their reader's notebooks. I really know my students as readers. They come to me asking for recommendations and it delights my heart when they dig through my classroom library each day looking for their next favorite book.

Thank you, Donalyn Miller, for helping me to create the classroom of readers that I always dreamed of.

It was an fantastic read and I highly recommend it to teachers who love reading and want to create a classroom of lifelong readers. While it shared some theory and education philosophies, it definitely provided a lot of practical tips and ideas that were easy to implement into my classroom. The way Miller writes makes you feel like you're having coffee with an old friend. Her love of reading pours out of this book and it is so contagious, you can help but catch it and want to pass it on. Get this book now, you won't be disappointed!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 16

My hubby and I live in apartment and thus there is minimal space for me to store all of my books. I've filled up most of the shelves we do have and have started a few piles here and there. While cleaning this past weekend, he cleared out some space on our shelves (aka made double layers of books) so I could put my piles away.

I am a lucky girl to have a man who supports my book addiction.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bookish delights :: 1 :: Keep Calm and Read a Book

Keep calm and read a book. Amen to that!

image from Pinterest (If this image belongs to you, please let me know and I'd be happy to give you credit. I couldn't find who it belonged to after going through tumblr after tumblr.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goodreads :: New Personalized Recommendations Feature!

My favorite book-related social website is by far... Goodreads. It is definitely the most comprehensive and user-friendly of the many that are out there. It also has the most users out of the other social networks for readers. This past week, they launched a new component to their website that I've actually been waiting for and it looks great!

Goodreads now offers personalized recommendations a la Netflix-style! One of the things I love about Netflix is that it is easy to rate the movies that you've seen and now that I have close to 900 movies rated in the system, it is almost scary how accurate and spot on their recommendations are about how I'd rate movies I haven't seen yet. I am SO excited that Goodreads has started the same kind of feature, especially since I'm always in search of the next best book to lose sleep over and fall deeply in love with.

On your front page, you can easily find your "personalized recommendations" on the top right hand side. It will have a box with the number of books you've rated so far. I'm thinking, the more you rate, the better your recommendations will be. According to the email I received from Goodreads today, you need to rate at least 20 books to get started.

Once you click on that, you end up at a personalized page of the shelves that you have made so far in Goodreads.

This shelf feature makes me want to go back and re-organize my books onto better shelves. This is not good for my OCD-tendencies! This is from the email:

Step 3: Refine your recommendations.
  • Pick your favorite genres.
  • Group books that belong together on custom bookshelves. For example, you might create shelves called "women-historical-fiction" or "spy-thrillers-WWII" or "green-nonfiction." We'll recommend more books that are related to the group and help you explore the topic further.

I think that's something I might do on a lazy Saturday when I'm just clicking away on the Internet.

Here's a snapshot of my chick-lit shelf. I've already added several books to my want-to-read list, as well as rated several books that I forgot that I've read and haven't added to my Goodreads yet. (Just like you do on Netflix!)
It's so simple to use. You just click on "want to read" and it automatically goes to your "to-read" list. Rating is simple as well. You just click on the star rating and it saves it to you "read" list.  Genius!

It's a little mind-boggling to think about how they are actually able to do this. According to their email, this is how they do it:

Using a secret sauce (a.k.a. proprietary algorithms) and 20 billion data points provided by the world's largest community of readers (that's you!), our recommendation engine analyzes both books and, more importantly, the people who read them.

All in all, I had fun poking around this new Goodreads feature this past weekend and see a lot of potential for it in the future. As an avid Goodreads user, I am so stoked that they finally launched this because I am always in search of a new book to read and looking for book recommendations. I think as the more people use it, the better it's going to get at matching you to books you'd like. Can't wait!

Let me know if you decide to check it out and friend me on Goodreads if you haven't yet!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 15

I saw this on Pinterest and fell in love with it immediately. I do have a strong affinity for any kind of nook, especially a reading one, but I love the color scheme of this room. Plus, wouldn't it be such a sweet place to get all cozy with some blankets, a book and some jazz music? *daydreaming*

image courtesy of Manolo for the Home

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox :: 2

 In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where you can post the books that you've received, purchased, won in a giveaway, borrowed from the library, swapped on PaperBackSwap, etc. For more information, click here

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

To Read :: A Tale Dark and Grimm

I added this book to my to-read list a couple of months ago because the cover caught my eye and I am actually really looking forward to reading it. I saw it posted on Scholastic's Book Box Daily blog and I'm planning on purchasing it soon. My students love The Sisters Grimm series and I think this will be a great addition to my classroom library.

Title: A Tale Dark and Grimm
Author: Adam Gidwitz
Publisher: Puffin; Dutton Juvenile (November 2010)
Genre: Fantasy 


Summary from Goodreads:
In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.

Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after.

I can't stop looking at the cover art. I hope the story is as good as it sounds!  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 14

I love the colors of this baby room. I think it would be cute to have a a few shelves on the wall in the tree mural. It wouldn't be practical, but it'd be a nice place to put little baby knick knacks. Thoughts?

image courtesy of Whimsical Walls

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekend Photo :: 10

May we always remember. We will never forget.

May God always continue to bless America.

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