Friday, December 31, 2021

A Long December...Maybe This Year Will Be Better Than the Last

I have clearly not been much of a pandemic era blogger, but I can't resist the annual urge to pick my favorite reads of the year and look at my statistics overall.

Here are the books I gave five stars to this year, loosely organized by genre. 


  • Poe retellings
  • Really long titles
  • OBOB and CYBILS "required" reading always finds me some new favorites
  • Comfort re-reads of favorite fantasy novels
  • TV inspired reads (Bosch, Shadow & Bone)
  • Interconnected short stories
  • Dry spells with much less reading than usual


On Jan 1st, I'll post my annual collection of charts and graphs.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November in Review


My Reading

# of books read: 11
Bests In which I tell you all my favorite reads and make up categories so they each win something
  • Best November re-read: Scorpio Races
  • Best interconnected short stories: Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town
  • Best dystopian journey book I never would have picked up if it weren't nominated for OBOB*: The Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
  • Best classic I'd never read before: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  • Best book from my ALAN** box so far: His Hideous Heart
  • Best Audiobook set in the Pacific NW that managed to write hopefully about a foster kid without annoying the heck out of me: What I Carry
  • Best graphic novel that is an updated spin on a classic: Nancy Drew and the Palace of Wisdom

Bookish Events and Happenings

*OBOB = Oregon Battle of the Books, and in addition to running a club at my school, I also volunteer on the selection committee. Nominations are wide open to anyone, so we wade through the 85 or so titles for a few months before making our 12 choices (or 16 for 3-5th and 6-8th grades). Even though I teach and coach middle school, I like to read the high school choices, because, well, because I like YA better than MG. I'd read about 30 of the nominated books, and I rather foolishly signed up to read another 24 between now and February.  I only chose books that sounded good to me, many of which were already on my TBR and/or in my classroom library, so it's a win-win, really.

**ALAN = the Adolescent Library Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English (You can see why they went with an acronym.) NCTE is a huge and exciting conference that I've attended twice, but I didn't think it would be as valuable in virtual format. ALAN is tacked on to the end of NCTE, and I'd only been once. It is more passive, in that authors talk about their books and we just listen and fangirl/boy. This seemed like a better fit for Zoom, so I signed up. The big draw for ALAN is the book box--publishers give each attendee some 30 new books and ARCs, randomly selected from the most recent works of the authors who are there. So YES I got 30 new books for my classroom AND I got to hear Tiffany D. Jackson, G. Nehri, Leigh Bardugo, Mindy McGinnis, Yamile Saied Méndez, and dozens more talk about their craft, their inspiration, and the work of pushing back against censorship and white supremacy.

I also found out that I got a $500 grant I'd applied to for my classroom library. Very exciting, especially as First Book is created to make new books affordable for classrooms in need, and because Powell's agree to give me 20% off for this specific purchase. So I'm getting about 65 books for my 500 bucks. 

On the Blog

Apparently, I read instead of blogging. I posted ONE TTT post y nada más. 


Well, the world continues to be a dumpster fire for the most part, but I'm doing okay. Here's a few things going on. 
  1. I told my daughter I'd knit her a sweater, then it turns out I chose a pattern that has some stitches I didn't know (increases + short rows), so it's taken me three false starts. I'm hoping this one takes, and I'm not expecting to actually get it done by Dec. 25.
  2. We've been taking occasional dusk walks in hopes of seeing the owls along the nature trail by our house. This weekend we saw a nutria (invasive species, but still kinda cute) and a salamander instead. 
  3. I tried two new recipes at Thanksgiving--gluten free crumb crust for the dairy free pumpkin pie, and a gluten free apple crumble. Lots of food allergies and so forth in the extended family. I wasn't sold on either of them, but you can definitely make a delicious pumpkin pie using coconut milk in lieu of condensed milk.
  4. We started watching Wheel of Time. I never read the books. So far I'm enjoying the story and the world building but haven't gotten very invested in the characters themselves. 
  5. My daughter has her first "date" tonight. In quotes because they're going to walk up to the middle school and shoot some hoops after school, so that's pretty low key. We wouldn't even know it was a date if she hadn't told us. I'm trying to play it cool, but AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. As I mentioned last month, she's in a whole different social sphere than my husband and I were in high school, so I'm not super confident in how to navigate this stuff. 
I'm looking forward to December. I always and forever love summer best, but December and the festivities associated with it help a lot with winter blues. 

My monthly summaries are always linked to the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up on Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight, as are terrific blogs' monthly reflections.  Nicole and Shannon usually put together a fun scavenger hunt giveaway too, so go check it out!

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

TTT: Great Character Quotes


 TTT (Top Ten Tuesday) is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: Top Ten Memorable Things Book Characters Have Said.

Lucky for my tired old brain, Goodreads keeps track of these things for me. Here are the ones that popped out to me today:

Saturday, October 30, 2021

October in Review


featuring a number of Halloween jokes, art, and tweets I've found

My Reading

# of books read: 7
Bests: In which I tell you all my favorite reads and make up categories so they each win something:

Best audiobook + best turns of phrase: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
Best sequel with foxes: Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City by Christian Heidicker
Best very quiet vampire book: All These Bodies by Kendare Blake
Best job forcing me to live up to the title: Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin
Best book I put off reading for way too long and am so glad I finally read: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Bookish Events and Happenings

I had my first meeting of our school's Oregon Battle of the Books club, then we had to cancel the next two meetings. It seemed like a very enthusiastic group of readers though, and it's a nice sized group too, so I'm optimistic. I also won an ARC of Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, got $50 credit at First Book for signing up for an author's newsletter, and got sent a box of books off my wish list, all of which is a boon to my classroom library and thus to my students. 

Also, Jordan Sonnenblick responded to one of my tweets. Given that usually nobody responds to any of my tweets, much less authors I admire, this was kind of exciting.

On the Blog

I started writing on my blog again! Just TTT posts for now, but it's a start. 


  • My kid went to homecoming with a bunch of friends. We are such different people, and I may or may not survive being the parent of a social butterfly.

  • I made green tomato chocolate cupcakes. They were delish. The tomato is really just a way to use unripe produce and adds moisture, not flavor. 

  • My husband and I went out for Thai food with a couple he's known since freshman year in college, and then we played a new-to-us board game (Splendor) at their house. It all felt very pre-2020. 

  • I got my booster shot and my flu shot. 

  • On Friday my co-worker who teaches in the next room over and I showed up in these outfits. Neither of us even knew the other was going to dress up.

Also, check out this amazing BookFace photo one of my students took while dressed as Rosie the Riveter.

My monthly summaries are always linked to the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up on Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight, as are terrific blogs' monthly reflections.  Nicole and Shannon usually put together a fun scavenger hunt giveaway too, so go check it out!

Monday, October 25, 2021

TTT: Boo!


 TTT (Top Ten Tuesday) is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow, head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is a Halloween freebie. So here are ten books I'm displaying for my students this week. I try to mix it up for them, so there's cute and there's creepy and there's scary. There's middle grade and young adult novels, old favorites and new titles, graphic novels and nonfiction--a little bit of everything. 

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
This charming graphic novel is actually the most directly Halloween-y of them all, given that it takes place in a pumpkin patch. 

The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig
It's got fake vampire teeth on the cover and real vampire chaos on the inside.

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Teen witch accidentally brings back dead enemies as she tries to solve her friend's murder.

The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller
I wanted to include a non-fiction option, so I picked up this excellent analysis of the infamous Lizzie Borden. 

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
A nice Day of the Dead touch, and one of my favorites of the past year. If your family expects only men to be brujos, what's a trans boy got to do to convince their family to let them work their own magic? And why is that ghost he accidentally summoned so cute?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 1-3 by Alvin Schwartz
Remember the good old days, when parents tried to ban these books because they are "too scary," instead of banning books because they represent actual human experiences being Black, gay, or an immigrant? Good times. 

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Puts the "graphic" in graphic novel. This is like someone took the Scary Stories books and upped the creep factor by 100.

Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall
I haven't read this one yet, but it's about a town where every 13 years, three 13 year olds disappear on Halloween, so it seemed very appropriate to include.

Fright Night by Maren Stoffels
This one has too much of a teen horror vibe for my taste, but my teens love horror, and the title sounds like a synonym for Halloween, so I included it.

Be Wary of the Silent Woods by Svetlana Chmakova
Just regular witches going to witch school at night (because it's regular non-witch school during the day), until something that scares even witches starts stalking the kids. Great middle grade graphic novel that I hope gets a sequel soon.

Monday, October 18, 2021

TTT: Favorite Illustrators


 TTT (Top Ten Tuesday) is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow, head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: Online Resources for Book Lovers
But I don't really have any, so instead I'm going to follow a thought prompted by last week's TTT, and share some of my favorite illustrators. This means this will be another mostly nostalgic, definitely children's and MG book post. I'm listing the books these illustrators worked on that I have read myself, although of course many of them did many other projects as well. Some are author/illustrators and some strictly illustrate the words of others. As I worked on this list, I started thinking of modern illustrators I also really love, so I'll save those for a later post. 

Garth Williams: The Rescuers, A Cricket in Times Square, several Little House books, Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, several Little Golden Books, etc.

Arthur Rackham: Alice in Wonderland, A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, A Midsummer Night's Dream, etc.

Ernest Shepherd: The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh

Tasha Tudor: The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, A Child's Garden of Verses

Robert McCloskey: Blueberries for Sal, Make Way for Ducklings, Homer Price

Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are, Higgledy Piggledy Pop!, In the Night KitchenLittle Bear, What Do You Do, Dear?, Chicken Soup with Rice

Kate Seredy: The Good Master, The Singing Tree, The White Stag, Caddie Woodlawn

Mercer Mayer: A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog series, Beauty and the Beast The Great Brain series. (But not the Little Critter stuff.)

Kate Greenaway: Mother Goose, Under the Window

Clearly, I've always been a sucker for pretty dresses and for pen line drawings. Do you recognize any of these?