Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Sunshine: Good News, Everyone! Edition

Before I get down to my week's reviews, I want to take some time to mention a few noteworthy events I've seen around the blogosphere--and one in my own life.

First of all, Colin is celebrating his first Blogaversary!  And, because he's a great guy, he's doing it with a giveaway.  I would never have guessed that Colin has only been blogging for a year--because that means that in September/October, when he was one of the first people to help bring me into the blogging community, he had only been blogging for a few months!  Thanks for your warm welcome back then, and here's to many happy returns of the day.

Second of all, a teacher/reader/blogger who I really admire had a pretty awesome week recently, with graduation and a really excellent author visit.  If you don't know about Kristen Pelfrey, her Angel Potatoes, and their Revolution, then you should.  Check her out.
I asked my students to help me share my news.  They made an interactive whiteboard posting.  I especially like the TV up top, and the section for comments.

And finally, my news--which is really not news for me, but which I haven't shared on the blog yet.  I have eight more workdays until summer vacation--and they'll be my last at my current school.  I didn't blog about it because I hadn't told my kiddos, and I know some of them read this blog (hi guys!).  Mr. S, being the rockstar law school grad that he is, has landed a job at a law firm in Buffalo, and sometime in August we will be packing up and saying goodbye to NYC.  Buffalo, poor, much-maligned Buffalo, is actually a really fabulous city, and I'm super excited to live there.  On the other hand, leaving my students behind...well, it's making me FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS this week.  There will be no graduation pictures on the blog, because I will be crying like it is Mockingjay and Looking For Alaska and The Amber Spyglass put together, and that means a very red and puffy Mrs. S.  And forget about saying goodbye to the juniors and underclassmen, who will be back in school next year (hopefully taking the TV Writing class I started, and/or participating in the theater program) without me.  So, while it's a change I'm really excited's definitely feeling pretty bittersweet as the school year comes to a close.

What I Read This Week: 

 An Old-Fashioned GirlAn Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a re-read from a long time ago. I found myself stuck in the subway with just the books I had on the Kindle app on my iPad, and flipped this open. Then I found I wanted to keep reading it. Louisa May Alcott is always chock full of morals and examples of good little girls, and this book is thicker with that than many of her others. But there's just something so lovely about her writing, and so sweet and earnest about her characters, that I can't help but love it. An Old-Fashioned Girl follows Polly, a poor country girl with rich friends in the big city. It's very much what you might expect in terms of plot--Polly shows up and is sweet to everyone and has some tribulations but overcomes them with spunk and a good attitude--but I would read Louisa May Alcott's shopping lists. So if you are a fan of Little Women, maybe consider dipping into the rest of her writing with this one.

DramaramaDramarama by E. Lockhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, so this was a lot of fun for me to read, as a theater teacher and former theater kid. When Sadye (née Sarah) heads off to drama camp, she faces a lot of the hurdles you might expect--shifting friendships, boy trouble, difficult directors--but Lockhart handles it so deftly that it feels new and unexpected. I love the line she walked with Sadye's two directors; both have elements of me as a teacher, and elements of teachers and directors I had as a student. Neither is all good or all bad, and both made me think critically about elements of theater (especially theater with young people) that I sometimes take for granted.

I think actually the thing I loved the most about this book, though, is kind of a weird thing to love. But in Dramarama...actions have consequences. And not in the usual way of "taking spunky risks pays off when they make everyone respect you more." Like, real consequences, big and small. That was so refreshing. Don't get me wrong: I often love to see spunky risk-taking pay off. But, wow, this was a really welcome alternative.

If you're a theater person, definitely pick this one up. It's a good summer read!

[Note:  Another teacher/reader/blogger I enjoy posted a student review of this book this week.  It was fun for me to compare, and I thought you all might like to as well.  Check it out over at Y.A. Love!]

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you've been reading my reviews for long, you may have noticed an unofficial metric I sometimes use is how nearly a book made me miss my subway stop, or how many times I almost missed my stop while reading it.

Well, thank goodness my students are often on the train with me. A few days ago, a student sat down next to me while I was reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns, we said good morning, and I went back to reading. All of a sudden, I heard him calling my name--from the open subway doors. At our stop. Oops. I darted off the train, but it felt like being woken up from a really vivid dream.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a top-notch fantasy novel. Elisa really grows over the course of the story, and I'm eager to see how she might continue to grow. I loved that the setting didn't feel like every other fantasy novel, and I was really intrigued by the way Rae Carson wove religion into the story without making it feel like a thin parable for current events. And the ending wrapped up the major plot points really nicely, while leaving room for the story to develop over the rest of the planned trilogy.

I'm definitely sorry I waited so long to read this--except for the fact that now I have less time to wait for the next book! If you've ever liked a fantasy novel of any stripe, pick this one up. It's that good.

EnchantedEnchanted by Alethea Kontis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enchanted is a fairytale re-imagining that really feels like a fairy tale. I mean, I pretty much love any kind of riff on fairy tales, since I grew up hip-deep in Andrew Lang's Fairy Books and their ilk. But Enchanted finds the best balance between something new (I never knew exactly where the story was going next, even though every single element was familiar to me) and something ancient and beloved (the mood was exactly, perfectly, sparklingly right for a grown-up reinvention of traditional tales.)

None of this is to take away from other fairytale-inspired stories I have loved. Cinder, for example, is so brilliant precisely because it doesn't feel like a fairy tale (even though it is one, or several.) But I was completely thrilled by how right Enchanted felt--like a dream where you're coming home to someplace you've never been.

View all my reviews

Waiting in the Wings: 

...You guys, I don't even know, my shelf is too full.  Maybe this:

Or this...

Or this...

  ...all of which have been sitting patiently on my TBR shelf for quite some time.  Thoughts?  Recommendations?


  1. Congratulations on the big news! Sorry that it means saying goodbye to NYC and your students, but it sounds like an exciting new opportunity. Awesome that hubby got a job right out of law school. :)

    1. Thanks! I'm excited for him at his new job--and excited for me, to have more time to write and bake and maybe look for a job in a bookstore to support my YAddiction!

  2. Congrats on the move and to your hubby! I hear Buffalo is a pretty cool place. :) Plus, you can walk around saying this:
    WHERE THINGS COME BACK looks really good--let me know if you like it!


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