Who I Am [Not]

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I am as a teacher, and that’s really been greatly affected by those I’ve come across through various social media outlets over the last couple years. I made a video today that sort of talks about that. Check it out.

Basically, I am me, and that’s a really good person to be. I’m glad to be influenced by so many wonderful people, but they are them. I cannot be them, nor should I be them, because they’re already doing a really good job. I need to be me, because that’s the only person I can do a really good job at being. So I’m gonna do that.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts put their own spin on it by focusing on picture books to YA. Jen has been pestering me (and I mean that in the nicest sense of the word) to do this meme for a few weeks now, so I think I’ll go ahead and do just that today.

What I Read Last Week

Prodigy by Marie Lu

I loved this book, and I have a review forthcoming closer to the release date, which is set for January 29, 2013.
A big thank you to Jillian Heise and her #ARCtours!

The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin

I thought this was a great book as well. It is an issue book — the issue in this case being alcoholism. The book does a great job of focusing on how the disease affects the family members, and that they need help, too. I’ll post a full-length review soon, as the book releases this week.

What I’m Reading This Week

The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
(another #ARCtours book that I’m hoping to have in my mailbox today!)

Those are all my reading plans, but I’m sure more books will pop in and show themselves.
Have a great week of reading, everyone!

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

I knew when I read Angela Quiram’s Nerdy Book Club review of this book, I had to check it out. It seemed like it had all the things I needed for my incoming 8th grade girls: high school girl drama (which they can’t seem to get enough of), it’s written in verse (which I want to try to expose them to), and it might have a good message (and who doesn’t want that?). So I picked it up from the library, and read it. In about an hour or so. Or maybe it was two. I think I slept in between.

Anyway, the story is told to us through the poems of three different girls: Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva. They’re each different, spanning some of the common high school cliques. But they all have one thing in common: they dated T.L., the school all-everything jock and all-everybody jerk.

T.L. is a bad boy — the bad boy from the title. Each of these girls fall for him as he plays his games, and as soon as he gets what he wants (sex or the realization that sex isn’t going to happen), he’s moving on. To T.L., girls seem to be nothing but something to use, and to put up on a tally sheet. But this isn’t some John Tucker Must Die-esque story of him and how he sees the error of his ways. This is the story of the girls he has cast off.

Josie is the first in the story, but certainly not the first in T.L.’s string of girls. She falls — hard — and is hurt — badly. But she’s not going to just take it lying down. She’s going to warn others. So she begins to send messages to other girls, using a particular Judy Blume title in the library. Not everyone heeds the warnings, though, however true they are.

Each of these girls has her own story, and each of these girls learns a very important lesson about themselves and about boys along the way.

What I really liked about this book is that it does go through just how the girls end up falling for him — seemingly eating out of the palm of his hand before they knew what was going on, not matter what their intentions were upon meeting T.L. They learn their lesson from this. Hopefully readers of this book can learn the same lessons without going through all the same experiences.

What I didn’t like about this book was how graphic it is at times. I think the message of the book is a good one for 8th graders heading off to high school next year. But I don’t think some of the scenes in the book are appropriate for 13- and 14-year old girls. Some will be just fine with them, but some won’t. I’m not sure if I’ll have this in my classroom or not; I’m leaning towards no.

I do recommend this book for high school girls, though. It’s a quick read, and it’s a good exposure to novels in verse. It may be a way for some of the Pretty Little Liars fans to get into books written in poetry, whereas they may not get into the same edgy stuff that Ellen Hopkins writes.

My rating: 4 out of 5 fish. 

On #summerthrowdown


We made it, everybody! What started as an idea just over a month ago has turned into a thing! An actual thing! And then it happened! THE IDEA BECAME A THING AND IT HAPPENED! <ahem> Excuse me. I’m prone to excitement.

So come with me, won’t you, dear reader, and join me on a recap of what this month of #summerthrowdown has been.

Oh, sure, you’re not even going to invite me along? Typical.

Look at that, everyone! We have a guest with us today: Cynical You. We’re glad to have you here, CY.


Well, you’re here anyway, so let’s make the best of it, yeah?

Whatever. Let’s just do this.

I’m not sure what’s into Cynical You today, but let’s proceed.

After 30 intense days of reading, 161 teachers and librarians combined to read 2,869.25 books! That’s an average of–

That’s not even true.

::sigh:: What do you mean, CY? Are you suggesting these teachers and librarians are being dishonest?

No, of course not. But you say they read 2,869.25 books. That’s grossly underestimating the number of books read.

Well. . .yeah, you’re actually right. Since some books counted as less than a full book, we probably read quite a bit more.

Yeah, but not more than 3,000.

I doubt you there, CY. I have a feeling we read over 3,000 books, though I can’t prove it.


Anyway, as I was saying, based on the numbers we have, these teachers and librarians averaged 17.8 books each, which is a pace of over one book every 2 days for each participant!

You rounded that number, didn’t you?

Yes, well, I don’t think most of the readers here care about the exact value. The rounded number carries a lot more meaning here. (And look, I’m trying to run a professional post here, okay? I’m probably going to have more readers here than I usually have, and I want them to enjoy their time here. I’m a bit behind on my reviews, so I want to make sure they know there’s still good stuff here. Can you just let me get through this?)

You said “here” a lot of times in that paragraph. But go on. It’s your funeral.

Thank you. So, with those numbers, I think it’s safe to declare #summerthrowdown a huge success! Congratulations, teachers and librarians! We won!

Whoa. Whoa. WHOA. What do you mean “we” won? Wasn’t #summerthrowdown a competition? I mean, didn’t somebody win and somebody lose? Hold on. I’m going to go look at the spreadsheet. Yeah, right there, it’s clear as day that the–

CY, YOU SIT YOUR BUTT DOWN AND SHUT YOUR MOUTH! I don’t know what #summerthrowdown you were watching, but there is not ONE single person or team that lost. NOT ONE. We read, officially, close to THREE THOUSAND BOOKS. And you’re going to come on here and tell me that with results like that, somehow somebody lost? As if their reading wasn’t good enough? HOW DARE YOU.

Yes, it is true that the librarians averaged more books read per person than the teachers did (18.82 to 16.63). To them, I say congratulations! You averaged 18.82 books per person! And to the teachers, I say congratulations! We averaged 16.63 books per person! That blows my mind.

Now, CY, you’re welcome to stay here, but if you’re going to be negative towards any group or any individual participant in #summerthrowdown, I will ask you to leave. No questions asked. Are we clear?

Y-yes. Yes, sir.


So, what’s next? Seems like there is a lot of inertia here. And now it’s just over? That’s kinda lame.

Well, that’s just the thing. #summerthrowdown Round One is over. But we’re not done.

Wait: Round One?

That’s right. Round One. So get ready, everybody! Because #summerthrowdown Round Two is right around the corner!

Right around the corner? No time to catch our breath?

NO! Keep reading, everyone! Round Two will begin this Sunday, July 22, and will take us over the next 4 weeks, ending on Saturday, August 18th. The spreadsheet is waiting for people to fill it out, so go ahead and add your name! Click here to begin.

4 weeks? Why not a full month?

Well, a full month only makes good sense if it’s. . .well, an actual month. So we decided to go with 4 weeks. Plus, this way people have a chance to recover before their school years begin.

I see. And who’s this “we” you speak of? I just see one of you.

Sure, I’m the only one here right now, but #summerthrowdown is a culmination of all the participants.

So you asked all 161 people what to do for Round Two?

Well, no. Four of us are heading this up: Jillian, Sherry, Kathy, and myself.

Did you just link to yourself?

Well. . .yeah. I didn’t want to feel left out.

Whatever. Now, I read a pretty long book during #summerthrowdown, and I was pretty upset it was only worth 1 book. Is that going to be fixed?

Fixed? Now come on, CY. No leading questions here. Your finished book counted as a book, did it not?

And you ask me not to ask leading questions. . .. And yeah, it did, but it was worth the same as someone who read a book that was 400 fewer pages!

That’s a fair point. We do have a new system in place for that.

All right!

That didn’t sound too cynical.

Ah. I mean, um. . .oh?

Yes, we do. Here it is. There are no changes for books under 350 pages, but there are changes on the longer end.

0 – 49 pages: 0.25 books

50 – 149 pages: 0.5 books

150 – 349 pages: 1 book

350 – 549 pages: 1.5 books

550 – 749 pages: 2 books

750 – 949 pages: 2.5 books

950 – 1149 pages: 3 books

And so on.

So for every 200 pages past 150 pages, another 0.5 book is added to the value?

That’s the long and short of it, yeah.

I have a better idea.

Good for you.

What if we–

Nope. Don’t bother. This is what we’re going with.

Well, that’s kind of lame. What kind of leaders are you?

Not to toot our own horns, but we led a group that read nearly 3,000 books, so. . .not bad ones?

Whatever. I’m getting bored with this. Is there anything else?

YES! Of course! This post isn’t long enough already!

::rolls eyes::

We have two new badges for the new round of #summerthrowdown. So, if you’d like, grab the image, post it on your blog, and show your dedication to your team!







No fancy Twibbons this time around?

Au contraire, CY! For a new #teamteacher Twibbon, click here. If you’re in the League of Librarians, click here.

Looks like you’ve covered everything.


Seriously? That line?

We obviously want to thank everyone who has helped make #summerthrowdown Round One such a success. On Kathy’s blog, there is a raffle open to all those who participated. All the details can be found there, but the raffle will close on Tuesday, July 24th. Go enter now!

ALSO (because there’s just not enough excitement to contain), we are looking for people to do a guest post on one of our 4 blogs about #summerthrowdown. This post would be about your favorite books and other thoughts from #summerthrowdown. We only need 4 people, but if you’d like to be considered, please fill out the Google Form here.

Okay, this is long enough. I’m out of here.

Sounds good, CY. Thanks for stopping by. And thank you, oh reader, for stopping by as well. I hope to see you in #summerthrowdown Round Two!

Quick Links:

#summerthrowdown Round Two spreadsheet

#teamteacher Twibbon

League of Librarians Twibbon

Raffle for #summerthrowdown Round One — closes July 24th!

Google Form for guest bloggers

An adorable picture

Another adorable picture (with movement!)

Jillian’s recap post

Sherry’s recap post

Kathy’s recap post

Sherry’s Round 2 post

Waiting on My Mailbox

Waiting on Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. It’s a way for people to share upcoming releases they are excited about. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It’s a way for people to share what books they have received that week (or recently).

Waiting on My Mailbox is what I hope will be a one-time post placed right here on Wyz Reads.

It all started. . .well, truthfully, it all started in August 2010, when I moved into my apartment. The key for my mailbox was an interesting fit, and occasionally* required a little extra jostling to get into the slot. But it worked, so I thought nothing of it.

Then, one day sometime in 2011, the key just flat-out didn’t go in. But the next day, it worked, so again, I thought nothing of it.

(In case you’re wondering, I should probably have been thinking something of it. That isn’t the way keys are designed to work.)

Then, last week happened. Remember, there was a holiday, so there weren’t as many days to check the mail. Actually, that tidbit of information has nothing to do with this story. I mean, sure, I didn’t have to go to the mailbox as much, but that hardly impacts what’s going on here. So last week. My key failed me again. I tried it the next day. Again, nothing. Now, I’m a bit lazy (for those of you who are aware that “a bit” is a far stretch of the truth, I urge you to keep your mouths closed and your fingers restrained from your keyboards and phones. Thank you.), so I waited until after the weekend to notify my apartment complex that I would be needing a new key.

I called Sara (she might have an “h” at the end of her name, but I always envision it as “Sara”) at the apartment office on Monday, and explained that my mailbox key decided to stop working (and that the storm last week blew a piece of siding off the back of my apartment, but again, that really is not relevant to our tale). She understood, and placed in an order to have that replaced. “It should be ready by Wednesday.” Great!

Fast forward to Wednesday (AKA “mailbox day” AKA “Woden’s Day” AKA “today” (if you’re reading this post on its publication day, anyway). I call. The key is in! Hurray! They call. Just kidding! 5 other mailbox keys are in! Mine. . .is not. Should be ready by tomorrow. Hurray?

And so I wait. But why am I bothering to talk about that here?

Now we get to the part of the story that makes this the absolute worst time in the history of mailbox keys to stop working for mine to have stopped working: my Sister Classroom. Jillian Heise, aka “The Sister Classroom” (who tweets at @heisereads and runs an absolutely fantastic book blog at Heise Reads & Recommends) is awesome. And as part of her awesomeness, she went to the American Library Association Annual Conference and snagged some ARCs for her to review, for her students to enjoy, and for other teachers to review and enjoy as well. She sent me 2! She is so wonderful like that. She sent me The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson and Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. And they are currently sitting a mere 100 feet from my apartment! In my likely overflowing mailbox. Separated from me by a thin sheet of metal, sealed shut with a lock that I have the working key to. Well, formerly working key.

And so I wait. And I wait. And I wait on my mailbox [key].

*Note for Gae Polisner: this is that time!

Half #summerthrowdown (AKA #summert or # u m r h o d w )

Personally, I’m a fan of  s m e t r w o n. I don’t know who smetr is, but he/she/it won!

Anyway, congratulations everybody! We have made it to the halfway point of #summerthrowdown! When Jillian and I did our original #throwdowns, we had no idea what it would become. When Sherry and Kathy hopped on board to get #summerthrowdown going, we had no idea what it would become. Well, we’re only halfway through, and I, for one, am blown away by what it has become so far!

Honestly, our goal was basically to have someone other than the 4 of us sign up. When I made the initial spreadsheet, I left room for 50 teachers and 50 librarians. I figured that would be more than enough space. After all, we’re busy over the summer. We vacation, we plan, we hide ourselves from the Internet. There’s #bookaday and #TeachersWrite going on. I know Jillian and I have the world of respect for what Donalyn Miller does with #bookaday, and #TeachersWrite has a lot of interest behind it (not to mention Gae Polisner, Jen Vincent, and Kate Messner). I figured we’d have about 20-30 per side.

Well, as of Midnight July 2 (that’s Midnight Eastern Daylight Time starting the day, not ending it), we have had 150 people (69 teachers & 81 librarians) read 1259 books! That’s an average of 8.40 books per person, which means over the course of these 14 days, 149 people have been averaging about 0.60 books per day each. We are on pace to read 2697 books by the end of the day on July 17th.


As of Midnight July 2, the librarians hold a slight edge over the teachers, 8.94 to 7.62 books per person. Time to step it up, #TeamTeacher!

One sort of really important note. If you have not been updating the spreadsheet (which can be found here), you will see your name is in red on the spreadsheet. We will be contacting you via Twitter. If we don’t hear back from you today, we will be removing your name from the list. We need to be sure the averages are fair to all those involved. But we do want you to be a part of this! So please, be sure to update your totals with every book you read. The more we all read, the more we all win.

Another also important note: we here at #summerthrowdown can’t seem to leave well enough alone. So when Maria tweeted this:

We knew we had to do something. So, if you take a look at the spreadsheet, you’ll notice an extra column has been added to the right of your individual totals — Favorite Book Read. Simply put in the title and author of your favorite book you’ve read during #summerthrowdown in that cell. If you read something better, simply replace it.

The best part about this, though, is that you’ll be able to see what other people have really enjoyed. So take a look at what we’ve all been reading, and then get going on your next book! If you hit a reading rut (and we know they happen!), give one of those favorites listed a try and see if that doesn’t break you out of your slump.

So let’s go everyone! We’re halfway home. Let’s bring it in all the way! Go #TeamTeacher! Go #TeamLibrarian (but, you know, not quite as much). Go #summerthrowdown! Go read!