Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Clockwork Angel Countdown August 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:47 am


Central Ohio’s Got Talent! August 28, 2010

How exciting! A first successful week of school is under our belts and we have a get-together planned for  Central Ohio KidLit bloggers at our favorite indy children’s bookstore. Not only that, but the event ties in with a great author visit and a trip to a favorite eatery.

How could it get better? It’s hard, but today news came through the KidLit blog pipe that  Julie Johnson of Raising Readers and Writers won NCTE’s Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in Teaching Writing! How does one find out they have won the award? With a phone call from none other than Katie Wood Ray!

Holy Cow!  I can’t even imagine answering the phone and hearing that southern drawl?

I first met Julie when I was fortuatnte enough to attend The Literacy Connection’s Carl Anderson visit 2 Aprils ago. Participants got to see Julie in action with Carl and her students in her Hilliard, Ohio classroom. A KidLit friend introduced us, it turned out she also had started a blog AND had taught with my former co-teacher in another life in another district. Small World!

Julie happens to be one of “them” that I refer to in my guest post over at Two Writing Teachers. If she happened to read that article, she probably didn’t know she was a “them” for me. Julie is one of “them” because she made the time for writing in her life both through the Central Ohio Writing Project AND her own classroom. She had a writing club! Ah…

One of her first posts on her blog was about the writing community her principal and fellow teachers were forming. Wow! The dedication…I still can dream of that day…

Congratulations Julie! What a deserving winner. May you continue to be an inspiration for people not just in your school, classroom, and community, but even further with the audience of your blog.


The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter August 26, 2010

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:11 am

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter

Middle Grade Fiction

ARC courtesy of publisher

release date September 14, 2010

“Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague.” Is the first line of the back cover. “In this wickedly dark, unusual, and compelling novel, Ellen Potter masterfully tells the tale of one deliciously strange family and a secret that changes everything.” back cover

“There were three of them. Otto was the oldest, and the oddest. Then there was Lucia, who wished something interesting would happen. Last of all was Max, who always thought he new better. They lived in a small town in England called Little Tunks. There is no Big Tunks.”

So starts the newest book by Ellen Potter, author of SLOB (one of daughter’s all time favorite books). The Hardscrabble Kids, Otto, Lucia, and Max end up on an “adventure” to London when their father inadvertently sends them to stay with their aunt, who just happens to be out of town.

Chapter subheadings such as this one from Chapter Two “In which Otto finds something interesting, Lucia listens to nothing at all, and more  stuff happens” or “In which we finally meet The Kneebone Boy. Sort of.”move the book along nicely in a manner you can see where the author has earned her comparison to Dahl or Snicket.

Great setting such as Little Tunks, Snoring-by-the-Sea or the Castle folly, as well as endearing supporting characters such as Saint George and Hattie

Originally the cover made me think the book might be about zombies, which now after listening to The Forest of Hands and Teeth, made me go back to my notes that I had made earlier this month. I think I have a serious zombie prejudice. “Almost didn’t read this book because the pale children made me think the was about zombies,” my notes revealed.

Hmmm…I thought I hadn’t given zombies much thought before. It must have been back there in my subconsious somewhere.

A great read, that will have kids wanting to know if the Hardscrabble children will be having more adventures. A must for school and classroom libraries.


Mockingjay Drama continued August 24, 2010

Filed under: books — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:17 pm

Now I must go get in the car with my other disappointed friend and drive to Columbus to get it! GRRRRRRRR

Here she is happy after we arrived at B & N!


Pre-order Drama-Amazon Let Us Down!

Filed under: books — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:15 pm

You are now connected to Kristina from

Me:Why hasn’t Mockingjay arrived? I pre-ordered it in April and now am told it’s not coming for 3 days! Grr Hello?

Kristina:Hello my name is Kris. I would be happy to help you.

Me:Hi Kris, I was expecting Mockingjay to be delivered today as this was the release day and I had pre-ordered it.

Kristina:Let me take a look at it for you.

Me:When I have pre-ordered in the past highly anticipated books (example-Harry Potter, it always arrived that day.

Kristina:It looks like when you placed that order you selected our free super saver shipping. So it shipped out today, but it’s going to take 5-9 business days for it to actually arrive.

Me:That was not the case with Harry Potter #7-I just pulled that order

Kristina:Just one minute while I take a look at that. Do you have the last four digits of that order?


Kristina:Thank you. I’m sorry I’m not seeing that order. What’s the full order number?

Me: ***-*******-***1643 preordered in February mailed July 19 for July 21 release day Had it before noon

Kristina:I’m sorry about that. I don’t see that order here. Sometimes we are able to get the orders there in a couple of days with super saver shipping, but it can take up to 9 business days for it to get there.

Me:I will be blogging my complaint later this evening. I’m a big Amazon fan and know this is not your personal fault but I am not happy Amazon should have communicated that they were going to do this pre-release differently. I would have ordered it from the bookstore that is two blocks away from me instead of pre-ordering on Amazon.


The possibilities a new school year brings August 22, 2010

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:50 pm

A good friend of mine got a job teaching fifth grade in a nearby town. He got his job Friday. School starts Monday. I know this happens all around the country each school year, but it has me thinking.

I spent the day providing an orientation for the new teacher of our districts. I had the opportunity to look over years of new teacher orientation information. I was able to talk to all the people over the summer who had a part in orientation in the past. I spent out drafts of the outline for the day. And revised. And revised, and revised. Then was able to reflect back on all the things I wish someone had told me for my first school year (a whole other post) and then tuck those tidbits in throughout the day.

He spent the day procuring a job for the new school year.

Where else is there a job that requires you to be able to do the same job on Day 1 of year 1 as Day 180 of year 35?

Let’s say he was hired Friday to start Monday in a bank. Or in a law firm.

He would go to his first meeting Monday and orientation or the training period would begin.  Someone would make sure he understood the specific culture/expectations for his new workplace. Even though he would come with a wonderful background of college and advanced degree learning, each bank or law firm would have their own rules and procedures they would start teaching him during his training period.

My friend, and other teachers around the country, will be assigned a mentor. An experienced teacher who will answer questions and hopefully have time to look out for him. The mentor will, of course, have their own classroom and all the full responsibilities to come with it.

While most new teachers are trained in classroom management, communication, and many other important “non-academic” areas, my friend and all new teachers will need to be ready to go when the kids arrive. He will need his classroom management plan and lesson plans for the first day. The kids (and their parents) don’t want to know that he spent all weekend trying to get ready. It’s expected.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Another layer-it’s not as easy as just deciding for himself what he will expect within his own classroom walls. He will need to make sure it complements his team members’ management plans and supports his building plan. It’s Sunday before school starts Monday. While he might be lucky and find a teacher in the building willing to take the time to explain some of those nuances, he might have to wait until Monday morning, and then try to make revisions during lunch on Monday. Of course he won’t have a computer log-on of his own yet, but he can probably use someone else’s computer.

When it’s all said and done, he will do great when those kids walk in the door, and they’ll never suspect he even broke a sweat trying to get ready. After all, isn’t that what all teachers do to make sure the new school year is ready for the kids?


Fall Book Titles I’m So Excited About August 16, 2010

Filed under: books — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:40 am

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-Made Disasters by Lenore Look

Tell the Truth B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra & J. Otto Siebold

Dust Devil (sequel to Swamp Angel)

Calico Dorsey Mail Dog of the Mining Dog by Susan Lendroth

Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming

Thumb Love

new series additions:

Century Quartet-Star of Stone by P. Baccalario

The Tapestry book 3- mythology, fantasy, & mystery by Henry Neff

Storyteller by Patricia Reilly Giff American Revolution -it alternate with present day girl and one during the American Revolution-a photograph of the two look very similar

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea   John Irving wrote the blurb-how can I resist?

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner    courageous girl character

Masters of Disaster-Cleveland, Ohio- by Gary Paulsen–crazay adventures


New Graphic Novel August 15, 2010

If you teach second through fourth grade, add The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung Fu Cavemen From the Future (what a crazy title/premise) by George Beard and Harold Hutchins (The Creators of Captain Underpants) (aka Dav Pilkey) to your list of new books to pick up for your classroom library. It just came out August 10th and runs $9.99 in a sturdy hardcover and no annoying dust jacket for your students to take off and lose.

My son (rising third grade) is so excited he can hardly stand for me to stop typing so he can get his hands on it. A great graphic novel to help some of the kids make it until Diary of a Wimpy Kid 4 comes out this fall!

The boys are from Cleveland, Ohio and are part of a four book series. You can also hop on over to his website Dav Pilkey’s Extra Crunchy Website of Fun and learn how to draw the characters and other such fun!


Out of my comfort zone… August 14, 2010

Filed under: audiobook,book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:34 am
Tags: ,

I started to listen to The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, smack on the heels of finishing the audiobook of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I listen to them with teeth gritted, half-wincing

Here’s how turning The Forest of Hands and Teeth on for our last drive to Michigan for the summer went:

Hubby, hitting pause during disc 1. “You know this is a zombie book, right?” (Incredulous and excited that I would pick something so up his alley, and so not mine.

“What do you mean? Before we started the CD we talked about what Unconsecrated meant and never once did you mention Zombies!”

“Couldn’t you tell from reading the back of the book?”

“No! What clues are there that it was a zombie book? You know I’ve never seen a horror or zombie movie, much less read a zombie book! I just got over my vampire fear with Twilight! Werewolves-also okay because of Jacob. Faeries-fine, Harry-Potter like demons-no problem, but ZOMBIES??!! You know I never even wanted to see E.T. because the alien guy freaked me out!”

I did end up listening to The Forest of  Hands and Teeth. I couldn’t remember anything I’d read about it (obviously) but knew it kept coming up as a highly recommended YA book, often when dystopian or post-apocolyptic settings came up. I had to reserve it at the library and wait two months! So…I agreed to give it a try, even though it was so out of my comfort zone.

Despite my severe zombie-phobia, I did find the premise of the books interesting enough that I went to the library to check out the companion book within days. I say ‘interesting’ because I don’t “love” them or “enjoy” them, but I can’t stop because I need to see what is going to happen!

It’s funny, as educators, we are so often trying to get kids to read out of their comfort-zone genre, but are often unwilling to do the same thing ourselves.

First Light by Rebecca Stead-wouldn’t have read it if someone had told me it was “science fiction”. Loved The Last Town on Earth, even though I wasn’t in the mood for historical fiction.

What got me past my initial turn-off? Recommendations of friends and people whose reading opinions I respect.

So am I saying, yes, force kids to read genres they “don’t want to”?

No-I’m saying, never underestimate the power of an excited, sincere recommendation for a child when you tell them, “I was thinking of you when I read this book. I know it’s not your typical pick, but I really think you should give it a chance.”


‘Smart Chicks’ YA Author Tour Ready to Roll

Filed under: Uncategorized,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:31 am

‘Smart Chicks’ YA Author Tour Ready to Roll.

It’s quite the big deal: 18 authors, 12 days, 11 cities. Kicking off on September 13 in Austin, Tex., and wrapping up on September 25 in Brampton, Ontario, the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour is entirely organized and funded by the participating paranormal romance writers. The grassroots tour was masterminded by Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely series) with the help of Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld series), both of whom will appear at every event, as will a third headliner, Alyson Noël (the Immortals series). Aside from this trio, the author lineup will change at each venue, with six to nine Chicks in attendance. Here’s how it all came together.

Marr, one of the driving forces behind the group tour, will appear at every event.

The seeds of the tour—so titled to emphasize the strong, capable heroines in the authors’ fiction—were planted in June 2009, when Marr was slated to take part in several group author events for her publisher, HarperCollins. “In addition to that, on my own I had set up group signings during the RT Booklovers Convention in April and during BEA in May,” Marr says. “And my friend Kelley Armstrong and I were also signing together during RWA. So the idea of group touring was on my mind.”

During that BEA, Marr mentioned the idea of doing a multi-author tour to Holly Black, who Marr recalls “indicated that she thought it sounded like fun.” From there, Marr broached the subject with Armstrong, who says, “I jumped right in. Melissa and I then came up with a wish list of who, besides Holly, we wanted to be with us on the tour and where we wanted to go. Our wish list was so long that we didn’t get nearly down to the bottom of it before we had a full lineup.”
The criteria for making that list were quite simple. “We included authors whose books Kelley and I have enjoyed because of their strong female protags, and then we read books by some debut and up-and-coming authors,” Marr says. We then started sending out invitations, and in short order had even more authors than we expected. Almost everyone said yes.”

Kelley Armstrong also helped organize the tour, which is entirely funded by the participating authors.

Bookseller response to the tour was equally enthusiastic, leading Marr and Armstrong to expand the tour from the originally planned six or eight cities to 11 (there will be two events in Houston). The authors publicized the tour on Facebook, and Marr sent an e-mail to booksellers she knows. “I wrote, ‘I know you do good events and I’m wondering if you’re interested.’ They all said ‘yes!’ Then booksellers I didn’t already know reached out, and readers requested we visit their cities, so we added a few more stops.”

The organizers then sent out a questionnaire to the authors to help them decide who would attend which events and eventually devised the schedule, taking into account authors’ preferences and some stores’ specific requests for authors. “In some instances, we scheduled authors to appear at events near their hometowns, since they prefer less travel,” says Armstrong. “But some authors told us to send them anywhereexcept close to where they live.”

The authors hired Media Masters Publicity to help with the tour’s rather daunting logistics. Karen Wadsworth, a partner in the firm, eagerly tackled the organizational challenge. “Making sure the 12 hosting booksellers and 18 participating Chicks stay informed and organized is priority number one for us,” she says. “Spreadsheets, detailed itineraries, and open lines of communication have been key.”

Melissa Marr with fans at a Miami appearance.

As the launch of the tour approaches, Wadsworth notes, “We are now immersed in the details, like making sure the Chicks, who are coming from all corners of the country as well as overseas, are wherethey are supposed to be whenthey are supposed to be there.” To promote the tour, Media Masters is sending participating bookstores posters, t-shirts, and swag baskets to give away, and has been contacting local press and librarians to help spread the word. “This has been a terrific experience,” says Wadsworth. “We can’t wait to tackle Smart Chicks Kick It Tour 2.0!”

Also upbeat about the tour is Suzanne Dupree, young adult program coordinator for Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. The bookstore is hosting nine authors (Mary Pearson, Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, Margie Stohl, Kami Garcia, and Carrie Ryan, in addition to the headliners) at a September 21 event at Encinitas County Library. “This is the first time we’ve had this many authors at one venue,” she says. “Our store provides the books for publishers’ booths at Comic-Con, and we’ve been joking that this is our mini Comic-Con.”
The bookseller, who began organizing the event in March and expects some 300 fans to attend, has ordered copies of nearly 60 different novels for the signing. “A lot of these authors are big favorites of our staff, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the tour,” she remarks. “I think these authors are the smartest chicks in the world to do this on their own—it’s a great idea.”

Armstrong signing books at Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati, one of the stores that will host the tour this fall.

Barbara Hudson, PR and events coordinator for Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati, will host six Chicks on September 24. She anticipates between 150 and 300 attendees, and has ordered a significant number of books for the event. “I tend to go heavier with the buying when there are multiple authors, since people are often being introduced to new authors they decide they’d like to read,” she says. “These are big-name authors, and with this group it’s going to be electric. Hearing their conversation will be the biggest and best part of the evening.”

Indeed, the authors hope that the tour events will engender lively conversations among them and their audiences. At each venue, the participants will briefly introduce themselves and their books, and then a Q&A session will take place before the authors sign books. “We will encourage people to ask us broader questions about writing and books in general rather than about specific books or series, so that all of us can answer and take part in the conversation,” Armstrong says. “When readers come up to us during the signing, we’ll be happy to answer questions about individual books.”
Marr understandably has high expectations for the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour. “It is an excuse to spend time with some great women, to visit booksellers and librarians, to chat with readers, and in all, have fun,” she says. And she hopes that fans, too, will enjoy the events. “Ideally, we’ll all walk away thinking, smiling, and glad we spent some time together. It’s no different than time with friends or family: it should nourish our spirits in some way.”
In addition to the authors mentioned above, tour participants are Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Jessica Verday, Kimberly Derting, Melissa de la Cruz, Jennifer Barnes, Jackson Pearce, and Jeri Smith-Ready.