Category Archives: recommended reads

Recommended Read – Will & Whit

Will and Whit

Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge

I fell in love with Laura Lee Gulledge’s first graphic novel Page by Paige. The book spoke to me on so many different levels. As such, I eagerly awaited more material from her.

The title and cover art  might lead you to believe that this is a romantic tale but it really isn’t.  It’s a coming of age story about a teenage girl named WIlhelma. Everyone calls her Will though. Her passion is creating all sorts of lamps out of found objects. She is really good at it too.

And Whit isn’t even a person. It’s a hurricane that causes a blackout and forces Will to confront the shadows she had been dealing with secretly for close to a year.

This book is absolutely perfect. As I read it, I envisioned an animated series. I would love to see these characters spring to life beyond the pages of this great book.

This was the last book I read in 2013 and a great way to cap off a year of reading. It turns out that I read 61 books last year. The year before I read just a few more, 65. I wonder how many books I read this year.

My 2012 Reading Log

My 2013 Reading Log

Once Upon a Time VS Fables

I just finished watching Season One of Once Upon a Time.

Once Upon a Time Season One

I really had no interest in watching the show, and it’s not because I’m not interested in fairy tales. In fact, just the opposite. I love the idea of exploring these characters within a modern world and I love the themes within the stories.

The reason that I never gave this show a chance before now is that I was loyal to the a different series.

Fables comic book series

Fables is an award-winning comic book series that has captured my attention ever since I got wind of it. I have read all of the issues and am currently working my way through some of the spin-offs.

The series has all of the storybook characters we know and love together in the modern world. However, the rest of society has no idea that these characters are indeed real.

So, when I heard that a television series was being developed around the same premise, I had no interest in watching it. The comics had done such a great job with this story. I would have loved to have seen an adaptation of this story on my television screen, but I didn’t want to see another take on it.

I’m glad I gave Once Upon a Time a chance, though. It is not the same story, but it is still a good one. In this version, the storybook characters are sent to a land that has no magic. They are banished there with no memory of their past and are torn apart from their families and loved ones.

I love the fact that this season ended on a happy note. It was a fairy tale unto itself. It was well done with great performances. Rumplestitskin is absolutely brilliant.

Once Upon a Time VS Fables

Why choose? They are both great.

Little Women and Me – My New Favourite Book

novel, Little Women, Little Women and Me

I was at the library and this book called to me.

It was sitting on the top of a bookcase, proudly on display. It seemed to be saying, “Hey, Chase! This is just the book you want to read.”

Who am I to argue with a book?

I really loved the story of Little Women and especially the 1994 film version starring Winona Ryder, Trini Alvarado, Kirsten Dunce, and Claire Danes as the March sisters.

The 1994 movie and this 2012 book are based on the original novel by Lousia May Alcott of the same name. It was a great story and I really enjoyed reading it and its sequels after seeing the Hollywood version.

I think that is the reason why I gravitated to this book. It is about a middle sister named Emily March. She just happens to have the same name as the fictional family in Little Women.

Her teacher give her an assignment in which she is to chose any book and talk about something she would have changed in the story. She immediately thinks of two things in Little Women that never sat right with her.

She picks up the book and somehow gets sucked into the story. She has become the middle sister of the fictional March family. Everyone treats her as if she has always been part of the family.

Emily thought that she was merely dreaming, but when she doesn’t wake up and return to 2012, she realizes that she is indeed trapped in the novel. She then remembers the two things she wanted to change in the original story and tries to make things right.

The story follows the plot of the original novel very well with the only change being that Emily is along for the ride. She is able to change a few things here and there but she can’t figure out  how to leave the fictional world and rejoin her regular life.

She wonders what will happen to her when she runs out of story and the novel ends. She tries her best to exist in the fictional world and to change the two things she didn’t think were right with the story.

I won’t tell you anymore about the story because I don’t want to spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that I didn’t want to put this book down. It was an amazing read and I highly recommend it. Although, it might be best to watch the movie or read the original book first.

Look Again (Great Reads)

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

The premise of this novel was so scary that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to read it.

It starts when a single mother receives a missing child flyer in the mail. The picture on the flyer looks exactly like her adopted son, Will. The reporter in her needs to start digging and uncover the truth. The mother in her wants what’s best for her son. But she just wants to keep her family together.

I was captivated by this book every step of the way. It’s a great read, well-paced, and full of suspense.

I borrowed the audio book version of this novel from the public library. I was pleasantly surprised to hear an interview with the author at the end of the story. I like when this kind of stuff is included in audio books. It’s nice to be able to hear the author’s real voice, to get an insight into the writing process, and to enhance the overall experience of a great read.

Dear Zoe by Philip Beard

Far removed from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a smaller tragedy occurred. A family lost a three year old daughter in a senseless accident. They have a really hard time coping with their loss, especially when it seems that everyone else is focusing on a different loss.

To help her cope, fifteen year old Tess writes a letter to her deceased sister. The entire story is told through this one-sided correspondence.

It’s a touching narrative and we learn a lot about Tess and her sisters through this letter. She learns a lot through the process as well. It just goes to show the power of writing.

There are a few scenes in here that are so vivid and real. A couple of them even brought a tear to me eye. I don’t want to spoil the story for you here so I won’t get into the details. Suffice it to say, this was a great read.

More Great Reads

Once again, I am keeping track of everything I read over the course of the year.

My 2013 Reading List

Last Reads of the Year

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

I love the concept of this novel. It’s about the man who first started to count and measure time. It started out innocently enough, but this one man’s preoccupation changed the entire world. As such, he became Father Time and it didn’t seem to be a blessing at all.

I whipped through this book and read it in a mere two days. It was a refreshing story, well-told and paced, and kept me gripped for three hours.

Time really does fly when you’re having fun or enjoying a great story.

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Imagine having to live at the dump, to pick through the trash and look for items of value. Imagine having to do this as a young child to support your family. It’s a world of unthinkable poverty in a third-world country and it is the daily life for three young boys who have an incredible story to tell.

The story is pieced together from a variety of first-person accounts. I recommend listening to this audio book version of the story since each character is voiced by a different actor. It makes it easy to follow along with who is telling each part of the story.

Usually, the boys don’t find anything of interest. It’s just a way of life for them but that all changes one day with a curious find that will have trying to figure out the secret of what they have discovered.

I enjoyed listening to this story and it is recommended listening!

Green Lantern Corps: Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns by Tony Bedard, Adrian Syaf, and Vincent Cifuentes

This is the 11th Green Lantern title that I read this year. I have enjoyed the series but since I have read them out of order, I already knew a lot of what happened in this story.

The story focuses on Boodikka and we learn about her past prior to becoming an Alpha-Lantern, a process that pretty much turned her into a emotionless robot. The story takes us even further back in time with flashbacks showing her just prior to becoming a Green Lantern as well.

Alpha-Lanterns were orginally meant to police the Green Lantern Corps. They were programmed to be logical and fair but they are now being controlled by an enemy threat. This is a new and dangerous threat that John Stewart and the rest of the Lanterns have to win against.

My Reading List 2012

That’s it.

65 books read in one year.

I have never kept a reading log for an entire year. That is a pretty impressive number of books, don’t you think?

I’m an avid reader with a digital bookcase now. I like that. I am definitely going to try this again next year.

See you in 2013 for some more great reads!

Speechless (Let’s Take Action to Make Things Better)

Sometimes we don’t stop to think about how much power our words have.

It’s easy to blurt something out that you really have no right to share, something that can hurt someone else, something that is probably better left unsaid.

Speechless is a novel by Hannah Harrington that explores this issue. The main character, Chelsea, has a really hard time keeping secrets. In fact, she doesn’t see any need to keep them whatsoever.

Until. . .

She shares a secret that incites violence, almost gets somebody killed, and in the process isolates her from her peers. That one secret had far reaching implications for quite a few people.

The novel is told from the bully’s point of view, but it’s hard to see her as a bully. After all, it’s just words. She doesn’t start fights. She isn’t violent herself. She just throws words around with reckless abandon.

She wishes she could take back her words. But she can’t. So she decides that since her words have hurt so many people, she just won’t speak anymore. She takes a vow of silence.

This is a great novel for teenage girls to read. I think this is an issue that really needs to be addressed. We often see boys bullying each other because they do it physically.

When bullying is done with secrets, gossip, shunning, and other silent ways, it can go unnoticed. It can also seem to be “not as serious.”

Hopefully that changes soon. We need to hear stories like this. We need to have this discussion. That is why I am thankful for books like this one.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is beautifully bound. It had a plain white cover with raised text on the front and back cover.

“The story is about how harmful our words can be. It’s also a story about how we can take action individually or with our friends to make our schools and communities better places for everyone. We can stop the bullying and gossip that hurts so many people. We can help ourselves and others feel better and more connected.”

Here is a way we can help spread the word about this topic.

Read the book, pass it around.

Earlier today, I asked if anyone wanted to read it and then pass it along. I received an email and will be mailing this book out free of charge to Betsy.

I’m asking her to sign her name on the inside cover and then pass it on to someone else with instructions to do the same thing. She told me that she already knows who she will be passing it on to. Hopefully, the reader after her will pass it along as well.

I hope we can get a few dozen autographs in this book. Wouldn’t that be cool?

We can also have a discussion about it here in the comments.

Please leave a comment or send me an email.

And if you want to find out more

The Write Start: Nurture Writing at Every Stage

I don’t often take my own advice of taking the summer off from teaching. I usually find something to read at the very least. I think it’s important to develop professionally and books are a great way to do so.

I found this book over the summer at the library. I wasn’t looking for a teaching resource, but it kind of jumped out at me.

The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories by Jennifer Hallissy.

There are some great ideas here that will get children writing. The book is aimed at both teachers and parents with ideas that would work equally well at home or in the classroom.

Hallissy also differentiates each activity to include preschool children all the way up to elementary school students. I like her four stages of development that make each activity accessible to all. She calls them “Scribblers” , “Spellers” , “Storytellers”, and “Scholars.”

One strategy she proposes is called “Treasure Hunt.” This activity takes a bit of pre-planning from the teacher or parent. It involves setting up a small scavenger hunt of sorts. To do so, start at the point that you want the students to end up at and then write a clue to help them get there. Continue doing this until you have a good sized hunt for the kids.

The best part about this activity is how Hallissy differentiates it for learners of all stages. For the scribblers, you can use picture clues. For the spellers, you can use one word clues. For the storytellers, you can write sentence clues. And for the scholars, you can write the clues in riddles.

Once the students are familiar with the activity, they can then create their own “Treasure Hunt” for the parent, teacher, or other students to solve. I so love this idea.

I also like how her strategies get students working with writing in unique ways. The activities are laid out simply and are quite easy to implement.

More Good Reads

Ender in Exile (Recommended Read)

Ender’s Game is a science fiction classic and its sequel, which takes place some 3000 years later, is equally amazing.

The original books came out in the mid 1980s and sparked an entire series of novels. So far, there have been eight in total.

I found this hardcover of Ender in Exile in the discount section of the comic book store. I didn’t even know that there was a ninth book in the series, and one that takes place, chronologically, between the first and second books. I was so exited to see it.

Orson Scott Card is a very talented writer. I have read three books from the Enderverse, and two of his other original novels, as well as some of his work in the comics medium. In fact, the comics are currently telling an Ender’s Game prequel right now.

I absolutely love this series. I know that there are so many books out there vying for your attention and many of them are series as well. But I highly recommend this one.

Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead are two of the best books I’ve ever read. The latest novel, which bridges the two books together perfectly, is a nice edition to the saga. I really must get to work and start reading every book in the series. 5 more to go!

More Book Reviews

Scrabble Tiles, Word Games, and YA combine in "Mutiple Choice"

Multiple Choice is a novel by Janet Tashjian that I knew I just had to read. I found it in the school library and was immediately drawn to it.
It was one of those books that I just wanted to dive into and forget about everything else. Of course, I couldn’t do that. I was at school after all, so I borrowed it even though the library was technically closed at the time. It was late June and that’s the time librarians frantically try to account for every book that they started with this school year. Don’t worry I brought it back already and all is well. 
The story revolves around a fourteen year old girl who constantly obsesses over everything. 
“I wish my brain were a toaster. That way I could use it when I wanted to, and when I was done, I could pull the plug and shut it off. The reason I’m thinking about this is that I’ve just finished conducting a very important experiment. And after weeks of compiling and analyzing data, I have come to a scientific conclusion.98.762 percent of my time is spent obsessing. About what? Everything.Saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, wearing the wrong clothes. . .”
She loves to play word games and make anagrams. One day after playing a game of Scrabble, she decides to keep four letter tiles and put them in her pocket. She keeps an “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D” and uses them to help her make decisions.
Her creative real-life game of “Muliple Choice” leads her to do some interesting and bizarre things, but in a way it sets her free of her constant worrying.
The book is extremely well-written and I had a hard time putting it down. That’s why I am adding it to my Recommended Reads.

Graphic Novels of 2012 (Part 3)

I am blogging everything I read over the course of this year. It’s a pretty impressive list and it is continuing to grow.

Here are the latest graphic novels that I have read this year.

Marvel 1985 by Mark Millar and Tommy Lee Edwards

This graphic novel was originally published as a six-issue series in 2008. It is set in the year 1985 and takes place in our own world, a world where super-heros and super-villains exist only in the pages of comic books. The story revolves around a young boy who discovers that the villains of the Marvel universe have somehow made their way into his world and are camped out in a old house. The story is very well done in both the art and the writing.

Foiled by Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro

This book surprised me halfway through, but I won’t spoil it for you. The book revolves around a young girl who is essentially trying to find her place in the world. She is a fencer and has to deal with people who constantly don’t understand her sport. The art and story work well together. It did seem to end a bit abruptly though. It feels like it should be longer or at least part of a continuing series.

Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

This graphic novel takes place after the sixth film, The Undiscovered Country. Jim Kirk is near the end of his career but retirement doesn’t seem to suit him. He is a little disappointed when he isn’t appointed Commander in Chief of Starfleet and so he decides to go on one last adventure. This story was originally told in a novel but it is nice to have it as a comic as well.

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps by Peter J. Tomasi and Chris Samnee

This graphic novel tells some of the side stories from the Blackest Night Saga. My favourite tells the tragic story of one of the first Blue Lanterns and shows just how powerful hope can be. In the final story of this collection, the fourth wall is broken as Superboy from Earth-Prime goes to the offices of DC comics. This collection is more of a bonus for the biggest fans and not really connected to the larger events in the saga.

More Comics from my 2012 Reads List