Sunday, April 28, 2013

Banned Books: Part Five

This post is part of a series that I published on my old blog in September 2012. I have been reposting them here over the last month or so. 

Here are the top 61-75 most commonly challenged books from 2000-2009, according to the ALA. The bold ones I have read. My comments below the title. The links lead to their pages. In the case of a series, it either goes to a box set, or the first book in the series.

61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
Come on people, this is ERIC CARLE. Why on earth would he be on a banned books list?

62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard

63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney

64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park

65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien

66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
When I first read this book, at the age of ten, I had never really read about that time period from that perspective in a way that had really made much of an impact. This book did.

67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
I have not read this book, but the description sounds very intense.

68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
It makes me sad to see memoirs on this list. This really happened, and people need to know about it.

69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
I really liked this book. I think the message is great, and the story is well written.

70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen

71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
I think I read these when I was about six.

72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison should win some kind of award. Maybe "Most Banned Books." :)

73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
I am pretty sure you can guess what this is about.

74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold 
Peter Jackson directed the movie.

75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
Not what you think.

I have read 16/75 of the books for far. What about you? Have you read any of the ones I have not? If you post a short (1-3 sentaces) comment about he book in the comments I will edit it into the post. If possible, I want comments about every single book!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Homeschool Friday: My School Routine

Today, my topic is one suggested to me on Google Plus, and it is about my daily school routine. I am going to give you a quick look at my day, and how school fits in there.  My days vary quite a bit, with all the activities out side of the house I do, but here is a really basic outline.

I was trying to decide how to start this, and to me that the best thing to do would be to give you a day, just like it it happened. So, here is my Thursday this week. I was home for all but two hours in the middle of the day, so I felt like I really needed to try to use the time to get caught up on school. This might be more detail then you want or need, but it is a good look at a school day for me.

8:15 am: After getting dressed and eating some breakfast, I was now ready to start some school. I start out with a Biology lesson in which I read my text book and answer some questions. I don't have any labs with this section.

8:30 am: Now I moved on to an English lesson, in which I work on an essay I am writing.

9:00 am: Now that I am done with both of those, I take a break to do some writing on This is not school, but I do try to make time for it whenever possible. I feel like I can take the time to do this because I know I will have some more time to do school in the afternoon. If I had not had that time, I probably would skipped writing.

9:15 am:  I am done writing for now, so I am off to do some chores and maybe read a little bit and have a snack. I didn't write for very long, but I might do some more later if I have time. 

10:00 am: I make some tea, and decide to read some more. I used to read a lot, but in the last few years, school has taken over and I practically have to schedule time just to read for fun. Today is not too busy, so I try to be a little more relaxed then usual, and spread school out more.

11:00 am: I decide to just hang out until we have to go. The weather is absolutely beautiful (It is about 65 degrees, and sunny!), so I spend some time outside.

12:00 pm: I have stained glass class until 2pm at a friend's house. Her mother is teaching the class.

2:30 pm: I arrive back home, and make some lunch. While I eat, I do some reading for History.

I was trying to make notes of when I did stuff, because I knew I was going to do this post, but I forgot after this point. Between 3 and 5 pm, I did some reading, took a shower, and did some Latin.

So, there you have it. It is important to remember when reading this that this is an example of a day, and all my days are different. Take from it what you will.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

O Brother Where Art Thou

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou," and I loved it. Unfortunately, I do not have whole lot of time today, so this is not going to be a super long review. I am just going to go over the main things here. As usual, I am not going to go over the movie in detail here, so if you want to know more, click on the title to go to the Amazon page.

First of all, being a movie, and not a book, I do not feel like I can really judge it so carefully. I can't really disect the plot, or the acting, but I can certainly say that I loved it. It was hilarious, and so well done. Next, let's go on to the music, which I really enjoyed. It was light, and just beautiful.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is the Odyssey tie ins. I didn't really watch the movie expecting much in that department, though I knew, as you probably do, that it has its basis in the Odyssey. What it had was all the basic parts of the Odyssey that the majority of the population know: the Cyclopes, the Sirens, Circe (sort of), and of course the great journey back to Penelope. There is even a character who could interpreted to be Homer himself.

While that was neat, and more then I expected, I must admit that I had hope for a bit more, considering I just read the original poem last month.  There is so much more to the story then most people seem to realize, and I had sort of hoped that maybe there would be some references to the structure of the story in the actual book, or the journey of Telemachus, which takes up a good portion of the book. There was one reference to the George Clooney character (who is sort of Odysseus) as a "cool tactician" which people who have read the Odyssey and/or the Iliad will definitely appreciate.

To sum it up, I loved the movie, and I highly recommend it. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Homeschool Friday: An Update

I am sorry there was no Homeschool Friday post yesterday. I had a plan, but it some how did not happen. Anyway, here is an update about my plans for Homeschool Fridays going forward.

1. I am going to start only posting in this series every other week, which will help me stretch out my topics longer. This way, I won't run out of ideas until like October, by which point I will hopefully have some new ideas.

2. This is going to start next week, which will be about how an average school day is structured. After that, I will probably go in to various school subjects, but no promises on exactly how that will pan out.

3. I am considering doing some other planned series on the off Fridays, but I don't know what yet... Any ideas?

4. I was also thinking about doing a live blog homeschool week at some point. That kind of ties in with the question about the average school schedule, except it would not just be the school I was doing.

That's it for today. I hope to get a few posts out in the next few weeks in adition to the Homeschool Friday ones, including a book review, a movie review, and the rest of the Banned Books series.

Sorry this post was so short. See you later this week. :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate

Today, I am reviewing The One and Only Ivan, the book which won the 2013 Newberry Medal. I chose to read it for a variety of reason, the main one being that I saw Katherine Applegate speak at a Children's Lit Conference in my town about a month ago. Also, it did win the Newberry, so that is definitely one up for it. The final reason is that it is based of the true story of a gorilla who lived in a mall for 27 years before finally being taken to a zoo. That story line would never had attracted me except for the fact that the real mall where Ivan lived was about two hours from where I live. Ask any adult in this area, and they all know who he is, whether or not they ever saw him when they were a child.

I think it is important to have reasonable expectations for any book you read, and that is especially true for this one. I think that this book is quite good for what it is. I am much of a fan of Katherine Applegate, or of her husband, Michael Grant, but if I forgot about that bias that I have, and tried to fairly judge that book against others of it kind that I have read, I think that it was quite good.

I'm not sure if it makes a lot of sense to judge this book in three ways (character, plot, and writing) like I do with most books, so I will just do them all in one sentence. The characters were good, and mostly believable, if you find talking animals believable; the plot was good, and did a good job of combining fact with fiction to make a good story that was still true to the facts; and the writing was well done for its target age. The writing could bother you if you were expecting it to be written for adults or teenagers, but it is not. It is written in a way that kids can understand and appreciate with out challenging them so much that they get frusterated.

So, my advice is, if the synopsis sound interesting to you, read this book, but keep in mind the intending audience, especially if you are not in it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Banned Books: Part Four

This post is part of a series that I posted on my old blog in September 2012. I am redoing them here over the next few weeks. Part one, part two, and part three. 

Here are the top 46-60 most commonly challenged books from 2000-2009, according to the ALA. The bold ones I have read. My comments below the title. The links lead to their pages. In the case of a series, it either goes to a box set, or the first book in the series.

46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
 Yet another classic I have not yet read.

47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
I think the title probably tells you all you need to know about this one. Believe it or not, I have not read it, and do not plan to. :)

48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
I had not heard of this book before, but after reading the Amazon description, I intend to read it soon.

49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
Yikes. Creepy looking.

52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson

53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco

54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole

55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
One of my all time favorite books. When I first read this book, at the age of eight, it was the first time that a book made me think in a way that I was unaccustomed to.  It made a big impact on me.

56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester

57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause

58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going

59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes

60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

That's it for today. Come back tomorrow for 15 more books.

I have read 14/60 of the books for far. What about you? Have you read any of the ones I have not? If you post a short (1-3 sentaces) comment about he book in the comments I will edit it into the post. If possible, I want comments about every single book!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Homeschool Fridays: Help Wanted!

Sorry, there is not going to be a full Homeschool Friday post. Instead, I am going to talk a little about what I am thinking about doing for Homeschool Friday in the future.

My general plan is to start next week by posting about each school subject that we do, one by one. I will probably do Math, History, Science, English, Art & Music, Latin, Physical Education, and Logic. Are there any other academic aspects of homeschooling that you have questions about? Let me know, and I will do a post on that subject.

After I finish with that, I am not really sure what I will go into next for these posts. These will take me through the last week of May, and maybe a little longer, so I will be good until then for sure. I think that that is close enough to summer that I will probably talk a bit about homeschooling laws and testing (that should be about two posts), and a bit about how we do summer, and how homeschooling fits into that. That will take me to the end of June, or the beginning of July.

So, all of that was to say that some time in early July I will be out of topics. Do you have any ideas for topics? I actually have a few more ideas then are written here, but they are not quite ready for the internet, and so  I can't count on them.

If you are a homeschooler, do you think that there are any aspects of homeschooling that I should talk about that I haven't before? If you are not a homeschooler, what would you like to hear more about? Remember, these don't have to be super school related questions. Ideas that relate more to how homeschooling has affected parts of my life that are not academic are welcome as well.

Let me know what you would like to see! If I really feel like I am going to run out of things to do, I might switch Homeschool Fridays to being every other week, instead of every week. That would help things last longer, especially if you don't like posts like this. :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Camp NaNoWriMo Week One Update, plus Random Blog Stuff

I'm sorry this post is a day late, but life is CRAZY. For Camp NaNo, I am currently coming in at 5000 words, which is half of what my goal was to be at by this point. There are numerous reasons for this, the biggest one being that my life got a whole lot busier this week. Two stained glass classes and a print making class are all starting and they all mean several hours out of the house. That cuts in to my school time, and the end result is that I have less time to do things like write and play games and stuff like that. Another reason is that NaNoWriMo takes a LOT of self discipline, even with a smaller word count goal. I am realizing that while one month is a stretch, two might just not be possible.

Now, don't get me wrong here, I have by no means given up on Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I hope to get as close to my goal as possible, but I am realizing that that might not be something that happens, and that is okay. I am the kind of person who gets stressed out by things like this that are not getting done the way I want them to, so I am having to let go of this a bit, and make it less of a priority.

Moving on the "Random Blog Stuff," I have several updates about the blog. First of all, I have added my Shelfari book shelf to the right side bar. It has the books that I am currently reading on it, which will mean that it will probably have two or three most of the time. If you keep track of it, you will likely see a book show up on there, and then the review of the book will get posted a few weeks later, or maybe sooner.

Also, I have been pretty bad about making sure all the book titles in my posts link to their Amazon pages, so I hope to spend a few hours going through and updating my old posts soon. I also hope to get the pages along the top updated, and have my "Writing in Books" post up there, since I refer to it so often.

That's it for today. Just a basic update. :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Just One Day - Gayle Forman

Today I am reviewing Just One Day by Gayle Forman. To preface this, I will say that this is a bit of a "girl book." It is a romance, and so if that is not your thing, you probably won't like it. Then again, when I read the description I wasn't sure I would like it, but I did enjoy reading it. If you liked her previous books, If I Stay, and Where She Went, then you will definitely like this. Now, on to the review.

As usual, let's start with the characters. For the most part, I really liked the characters. In fact, I would say that characters are Gayle Forman's strong point. All the main characters were very well done. They were all very human, faulted, judging, and mysterious when needed. The farther you got out from the center of the story, the less developed the characters were, but that is to be expected. I was impressed enough with the main characters that I did not mind that some were not quite as good.

Now, on to the plot. It was pretty good, though not as good as the characters. It was pretty strong, but the break between the beginning half and the last half of the book was a little odd, and could have used a bit more to tie it together. The plot is what will lose some people, since the romance is a little strange at times, and is really the whole story. There really are not any good subplots, and the change of pace half way through doesn't exactly help that.

And, now for the writing. While I enjoy Gayle Forman books, it is not really for the spectacular writing, though it is certainly not bad. Actually, I think it is quite good, except for the fact that it is in the present tense. I know that that is popular now, but I find it very distracting and annoying. I am slowly getting used to it, but in my opinion, it decreases that value of any book. The Hunger Games was one of the first books I remember reading that was in the present tense, and it was so incredibly distracting that it really made me enjoy the book less.

So, there you have it. My review of Just One Day. Have you read this book? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments, and I will add it to the post.

Also, the next book I will be reviewing is The Grapes of Wrath. Have you read that? If you give me your comments, or questions about it, I will post/answer them in the review.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Homeschool Fridays: First Day of School

 This is a rerun that originally was published on my old blog, Living Homeschooled, in September 2012.

 For the last four or five years, we have always done something special for the first day of school. What exactly that means changes from year to year. Several years we have gone to a pottery painting place and painted pencil holders, and little boxes, and things like that. We also usually go out for a special lunch, or a treat of some kind.

Usually we start school on Labor Day, since my mom works at a community college, and so has that day off work. This year, we were in Oregon over Labor Day, and so we started on Sunday, Sept. 9 instead. Here is a look at our first day of school 2012:

We went to a bakery about five minutes from our house to get donuts for breakfast. We brought them back to eat. After breakfast, we went to start school. As tradition calls for, my sister and I each also got a gift of some kind. I got a new clip board a and a chocolate bar. She got a dog-drawing book with her chocolate.

We did our school work, and then ate the macaroni and cheese and fruit salad that my mom had made for lunch.

After lunch, we went to the Teen Game Day that the homeschool group does for the teenagers. We all get together once a month and play games. This time was really boring as none of my friends could make it, and there weren't any games I wanted to join.

After that, we went home and had pizza for dinner. Really bad food day, I know, but it is kind of nice to have a day where you really like every meal every now and then. Just not too often. :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Banned Books: Part Three

This post is part of a series that I wrote for my old blog in September 2012, and that I am posting here now. Part one, and part two. 

Here are the top 31-45 most commonly challenged books from 2000-2009, according to the ALA. The bold ones I have read. My comments below the title. The links lead to their pages. In the case of a series, it either goes to a box set, or the first book in the series.

31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
I have not read this book, but I might have to check it out. It looks good.

32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya

33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
I have not read this book, though it is on the bookshelf a few feet from me. I really want to read it soon, mostly because it was written by a local author, and takes place maybe 30 miles from my house.

34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
I probably won't read this book, it just isn't really the type of thing I usually like.

35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison

36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
I have not yet read this classic either.

37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
By the author of "It's Perfectly Normal" this book is very similar, but is aimed at younger readers.

38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles

39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane

40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
Yet another book on my To-Read list...

41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
A very good, moving book. Kind of makes you think, "Are we really like that?"

42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
I have not read this book, but Avi is an amazing author, so I am sure it is very good.

43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
I haven't read this, but come on, it's Judy Blume!

44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher

45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly

That's all for today. Come back tomorrow for 15 more books.

I have read 13/45 of the books so far. How many of them have you read?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2013: Week 0 Update

It is Tuesday, April 2nd, which means that it is time for my Camp NaNoWriMo update for the week. Really, I do not have a whole lot to say. My goal for the month is 30,000 words, and I am currently on track to meet that goal. I have not yet written anything today, and my word count is 1,042 words.

I did no planning at all before yesterday morning, and so far the story is going fine. I have a few ideas, and a few characters, and we will have to see what happens from there. Maybe it will go off in some crazy direction and end up being nearly plotless. That would be fine. I am not doing this to have a great story at the end. I am doing it to have some story and the end, and some more writing experience under my belt.

I am not sure what my posts will look like for the rest of the month, but I can promise that there will be a Camp NaNoWriMo update every Tuesday. I will try to keep up with Homeschool Fridays, but with writing and school, I can not promise that they will happen for the next few weeks. I will try to review books and movies as I watch or read them, but those reviews will probably be pretty short.

I do have some posts already written, mostly the Banned Books series that I am transferring from my other blog, so that is mostly what will be going up this month. 

So, expect one or two posts a week, and come back in May for a real blog again. :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Burning Blue - Paul Griffin

Today, I am reviewing the book Burning Blue. It is a teen mystery about a beautiful girl who gets acid sprayed on her face, and the search by a friend to find out who did it. If you want to know more about the book, click on the title to go to the Amazon page.

First up is the characters. For the most part they were quite good, though some of them needed more to seem real. The main character was great, and very human, but the farther out you got, the less fleshed out they obviously were. I personally thought that the characters were certainly good enough for the story.

Next up is writing. This book is, on my scale, a little better then the middle. If you are confused about this, check out the the "Writing in Books" tab at the top of the page. What this means is that I thought the writing was pretty good, but nothing spectacular. It was good enough to stand out a bit on its own, but not good enough for me to really be impressed by.

Last of all is plot. For the most part, I loved it. It was smooth, and the pacing was good. The surprise ending was fun, and the plot kept my attention all the way to the end. All in all, pretty good. My one complaint is on that may not bother many other people. The ending is not something that you could have predicted at any other point in the story. There were not enough clues for the reader to pick up on. Several parts of the ending were a little to far fetched for me. Personally, I think that the ending of a good mystery must be something that I, the reader, could have discovered on my own. That does not mean that any reader ever will find it out before they get to that point in the book, but on a reread, I want to be able to go 'Of course! How could I have missed that? It was here all along!' I want to get to the end and think 'That explains everything! How did I not get that before?' With this book, that can never happen. The ending is not something that I could have guessed. Again, the fact that I am bothered my this might just make me a snob, and it might not bother many people.

There you go. That's my review. I am sorry that it is shorter than most. That is because of Camp NaNoWriMo, which is sucking away my time all of this month. Expect less posts then normal, and the ones there are to be shorter then normal. I promise that everything will be back to normal next month!