Housecleaning: Bloggiesta-style

Bloggiesta-S15I am super behind on everything (and by everything, I mean grading, of course). Still and all, I am going to try to carve out some time to do stuff around my blog for Bloggiesta. I’m digging the fact that it’s a week this time, so I can really do 15-30 minutes a day on some stuff.

My to-do list:

1. Import reviews from old blog — I forgot I had started a blog over at blogspot when I jumped into book blogging and was trying to figure out where I wanted to hang my hat. As such, I want to get those posts/reviews over here so everything is all in one place.

2. Make a button for roundup posts — for visual interest, you know.

3. Header — I want a header! I need to find the original pic I use for my gravatar and turn it into a header. Or find someone to do it for me. I know what I want it to say and how I want it to look, so I’m practically halfway done.

4. Make posts/pages for 2015 challenges — Right now, I have my 2015 challenge listed on my goals page, but it’s too long and cluttered, and it makes me insane. So I want to either create a page/post for each individual challenge or make a page/post just for the challenges. Probably the latter since it’s less work.

5. Collectible quotes w/graphic — I really want to start sharing book quotes I collect, so I want to schedule a few of those and possibly make a graphic.

6.  Write a blog post or two — self-explanatory

7. I also will look through the mini-challenges and see if any catch my eye.

It’ll be interesting to see if I get ANYthing done, considering how so very behind on grading I am right now.

Good luck to everyone else participating!

February 2015 Reading Roundup

I finished 10 books this month! This year is off to a winning start.

The Untelling by Tayari Jones (adult)
The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak (children)
Relish by Lucy Knisley (adult, graphic novel)
Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian (YA)
Fairest: Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer, read by Rebecca Soler (YA, audio)
Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding (YA)
All Fall Down by Ally Carter (YA)
The Dancers by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Anne Rockwell (children, picture book)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (middle grade)

One was for my TBR challenge, so I’m at 4/10 there. Two went toward the Diversity on the Shelf challenge so I’m at 10/25+ for that one. And add two more for my adult read challenge, so I’m at 3/15 there. Not to mention that I knocked one more out for my current passion project.

I even wrote a review this month! Fancy. The plan is to schedule reviews/discussion posts for two or three of those books for next month.

On to March! Spring break is this week, so should get quite a bit of reading in. I’m also hoping my numbers stay pretty consistent next month.

How did everyone else’s reading go this month?

January 2015 Reading Roundup

Hey, so I finished 12 books this month! Much better than last January when I only read two. I also made some progress towards my reading challenge goals.

Books read
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (YA)
Cress by Marissa Meyer, narrated by Rebecca Soler (YA, audio)
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (YA)
Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona (YA, graphic novel)
Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas (YA)
Saga #1 by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples (adult, graphic novel)
Skim by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki (YA, graphic novel)
Where Does the Day Go? by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Leo Carty (picture book)
The  Candymakers by Wendy Mass (MG)
Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne (YA)
The Dragon Takes a Wife by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Fiona French (picture book)
The Dirt Diary by Anna Staniszweski (MG)
Fly, Jimmy, Fly! by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Moneta Barnett (picture book)

Continue reading

Winter 2015 Mini Bloggiesta

BloggiestaI didn’t plan to participate in this weekend’s mini bloggiesta, yet here I am doing little things around my blog. So, this is me, making it official.

My to-do list:

1. Make my front page easier to scroll by adding “read more” links to the posts on the front page. (This one was inspired by my students. We did our blogging lesson, and a couple of them said how hard it is to navigate blogs with really long posts on the front page and that it’d be better/more attractive if it was only a preview.) √

2. Change 2014 to 2015 in my copyright widget. √

3. Change my theme. √

4. Schedule 2-3 posts. √

5. I have actually already read through skimmed some of the mini challenges, so I may go back and pay more attention to them–especially the meme and creative book reviews posts. √

Good luck to everyone on finishing your to-do lists this weekend!

UPDATE:

I finished everything on my list, including finding a theme that I’m happy with for now and scheduling two posts. New semester = new students blogging every week, and I plan to blog along with my students, so I’m glad to get a head start on that.

I’m already thinking about tasks I can accomplish for the next, week-long, Bloggiesta. Hmmm.

I’m tired.

I missed posting last week because I was grading, grading, grading.

And I was all set to post something this week, but then the Ferguson decision happened and the shooting of Tamir Rice happened, and I was consumed by rage and so many words that I couldn’t even get them out.

What it all boils down to is that I’m tired.

It’s exhausting being a black person in America. I cannot keep having the same conversations where I have to keep asserting my worth and the worth of my family and the worth of my child and my friends.

I have so many words that they are all inadequate to express my rage and frustration and grief.

So I am infinitely grateful to the people who are able to articulate their rage, frustration, and grief. To the ones who write think pieces and explain over and over and over and over and OVER again that Black lives matter, that diverse fiction/media is important, that racism has not gone away and here are all the ways we can see it playing out over and over again.

A student asked me on Tuesday if it was wrong for him to be nervous about going to FSU (there was a shooting there), and I told him, no it wasn’t wrong. But I also told him that he was probably in more danger just walking down the street. To which he kind of shrugged and nodded.

That’s why I’m tired. Because we both know that’s true, and so many other people are still failing to see that that’s the reality we live with. Those people are instead choosing to condemn us because we’re upset and angry.

So, yes. I’m tired.

I’m tired.

Grading.

My goal has been to post once a week since I require my students to do so. And I have been doing really well! And then…grading. Sooo much grading. In fact, I have entered what I like to call grading hell. Grading hell is that point when there is nothing to do but grade. I mean, yes, there are other things to do, but the grading that isn’t being done is all-consuming.

This is what grading hell looks like.

This is what grading hell looks like.

 

The grading becomes ever more all-consuming when other things are going on that make it hard to get to grading. Things like my kid having activities. Or having to do lesson planning/class prep. Or standing committee meetings–that require their own prep. Or other commitments that I made before realizing that I would be in grading hell.

So life, basically.

I have a rule that I don’t grade on weekends, but I had to break that rule last weekend. I also broke it this weekend. I had a three-day weekend and spent basically all day Friday grading. Because I know how to have fun.

The good news is that I made a very significant dent in the grading. The bad news is that I am still not done.

Still. Not. Done.  The stack on the right is what I finished. The stack on the left is what I still have left to do.

Still. Not. Done.
The stack on the right is what I finished. The stack on the left is what I still have left to do.

Anyway, I’m taking Saturday and Sunday off from grading and hoping, hoping, hoping that next week will be more conducive to making even more of a dent in that left pile. The dream is that I’ll be finished with it completely by Friday. (That is the dream.)

We’ll see how it goes. I mean, I would really love to be able to watch some TV shows as they air this week. Or even one! That would be nice.

So, this still counts as a post for the week, even if it is slightly off-topic.

Reboot

I have been largely MIA this summer because…summer, you know. Anyway, I require my composition students to keep weekly blogs throughout the semester, so I figure I should do the same.

Their first assignment is to introduce themselves, but this blog is pretty established, so instead I’m going to talk about some of the things I plan to do during the next sixteen weeks. In my first post of the year, I said I wanted to vary my book reviews and try to get excited about blogging again, so I have listed a few ideas that should help me do just that.

1. Recommendation Wednesday – a few months ago (March? April?) on Twitter, Sarah from Clear Eyes, Full Shelves put on her tiara and declared Recommendation Tuesday a thing. I said it was brilliant, and I wanted to do the same, but I never did. (She, of course, has posted tons of recommendations since then.) I’m doing mine on Wednesday since I often participate in Top Ten Tuesday and don’t want to over-commit my days. #bloggerproblems

2. Movies Based On Books – I watch a lot of movies based on books. I have thoughts about them. Sometimes I have seen the books; sometimes I haven’t. Either way, they fit the whole book blogger deal.

3. Teaching Thursday – I recently combined this blog with my teaching blog and want to expand beyond my Lesson Plan Friday posts. So Teaching Thursday will be a place for me to talk about teaching stuff that’s not related to lesson planning, basically.

4. Mini reviews/reading round ups – Longform reviews are too much pressure (even if it is pressure I put on myself). (Another candidate for #bloggerproblems). Not that I will never do longer reviews, but I will definitely be doing more mini reviews.

5. Pet peeves/opinion/discussion posts – I have lots of opinions about a lot of things related to books. Probably I should start talking about them here.

Oh, and it’s possible I may post about TV sometimes. Maybe. I haven’t decided yet.

So, yes. Those are my ideas. I’m posting them to help hold myself accountable. And to show my students that it’s possible to write 300 words (with links) about something you care about–or have to do for an assignment.

Word count: 370

Bloggiesta!

So, I decided at the last minute to sign up for and participate in Bloggiesta. I have no plans for this weekend, so the timing is perfect.

My planned to-do list:Bloggiesta Spring 2014

  • participate in the PicMonkey challenge to make some buttons for my new/ongoing features
  • update my 2014 challenges list with books read
  • update my reviews by author page so that it’s current
  • write four or five posts I have swirling around in my head
  • participate in the Blog Post Bingo challenge
  • update my about page
  • do something about my layout–not sure what yet
  • investigate a different hosting service since hosting w/Wordpress limits what I can do with my blog

That list is a little insane, and I realize I probably won’t complete all of those items, but I should make a pretty healthy dent.

Excitement!

Finish line update:

  • I wrote two posts, not four or five. I’m still calling that complete.
  • I think I found a solution to my layout problem, so that’s a plus. Looking at getting a theme from Creative Whim when I switch my hosting
  • I’m still not sure what hosting service I’ll use yet. I need to get more feeedback from some trusted peeps on that one.

And that’s that. All in all, a rather successful weekend. I was also able to participate in the last Twitter chat, which was a lot of fun. Thanks so much to Suey and Danielle for all their hard work in organizing and hosting such a great event!

Sorting Hat: Scandal

Yes, this is a book blog. But my other love is TV, and sometimes the two will overlap, especially when I start thinking to myself, “Hmm, I wonder which Hogwarts House these characters will be sorted into?” (Harry Potter reference, for those not in the know.) And then my mind keeps mulling it over, which turns into a blog post.

ScandalSo for my first official Sorting Hat post on the blog, I turn my attention to Scandal, the latest soap offering from Shonda Rhimes.

The above links are pretty thorough in breaking down the houses, but, in summation, this is how I view them.

Gryffindor – mostly concerned with doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, have a deep sense of justice

Ravenclaw – super duper smartypants who love solving puzzles and just being smart

Hufflepuff – hard workers who want to be recognized for being hard workers, loyal

Slytherin – have a deep sense of self-preservation, think the ends justify the means and the means justify the ends

Of course, these are simplistic baselines. Overlap can happen. I’m basing the sorting on what I think the characters’ most obvious traits are. YMMV, of course.

Pope & Associates

1. Olivia – Ravenclaw — She’s a fixer and being a fixer means putting all of the pieces together and frequently being the smartest person in the room. Most of her cases are huge puzzles that need solving, and she’s not concerned with justice for justice’s sake. She wants the truth of the moment to speak and figures out how to get her clients the results they need.

2. Harrison – Ravenclaw — No lie, Harrison totally reminds me of Gilderoy Lockhart. He’s super smart, and the show has set him up as Liv’s second in command. Like Liv, he looks at how the pieces of the puzzle fit together and uses his wits and ability to problem solve more than anything.

3. Abby – Hufflepuff — She’s loyal and hardworking. I haven’t seen anything that indicates Abby wants more than to be appreciated for the work she does. She doesn’t always agree with Liv or have that same sense of fixing the problem (she’s fine with people taking the fall if they are terrible individuals), but she does what’s asked of her for the sake of the practice and because she believes in her friend.

4. Quinn – Hufflepuff/Slytherin — Quinn was hard to place because she came in the practice a Hufflepuff, but she/we didn’t really know her past or anything. We still don’t really know what Lindsay Dwyer was about, but S2/S3 Quinn has revealed that she’s not just a worker bee; she has some sort of agenda, even if it’s make sure she’s never made a fool of again. So I could see her in either. I get a stronger sense of self-preservation than loyalty from her (I mean, if she leaves Pope & Associates, where will she go?), so I’m inclined to say Slytherin.

5. Huck – Hufflepuff — Even in Huck’s backstory we find out that he’s a good soldier who does what’s asked of him and is glad to be recognized for his hard work. He is extremely loyal (to country, to family, to friends), which is really his downfall. I’d even call it his fatal flaw. Also, you know he just wants to have a home and a family, and that’s it. Poor Huck.

6. David Rosen – Gryffindor — David is SUCH a Gryffindor. This was such a gimme. He is basically Harry Potter in lawyer form. (Also, I consider him an honorary member of the team, even if he is not technically a member of the firm.)

The White House

1. Fitz – Hufflepuff — Fitz thinks hard work (and lots of privilege, of course!) is enough. That’s why Defiance was such a shock/so painful to him. That’s also why he needs Cyrus, Mellie, and Olivia. They do strategy; he follows directions. He also has a deep desire for home and family, and thinks that would be enough. (I am ignoring that he is slime. That doesn’t matter. He is a huge ‘puff.)

2. Mellie – Slytherin — Obviously. I wouldn’t be surprised if that mic oops from this past week’s episode isn’t all part of some scheme for her to get more press and position herself for some sort of political storm. I WOULDN’T PUT IT PAST HER.  She always has an end game in mind, and she will always figure out how/what Mellie can get out of any situation.

3. Cyrus – Slytherin — More obviously. Cyrus can also turn on the charm and fool you into thinking that he is on your side. Also, his only loyalty is to himself and/or power.

4. James – Gryffindor — From what we’ve seen of Cyrus’s husband, I have him firmly in the Gryffindor camp. He has a deep sense of justice and chases the truth. Plus, you’d have to be brave to be married to Cyrus. I mean, seriously.

5. Sally Langston – Hufflepuff — All of the power plays she’s made have been mostly because she wants recognition. If she were a true Slytherin or Ravenclaw, she would’ve seen through Fitz’s emotional manipulation b.s. or actually had a plan in place that considered what would happen to her if he double-crossed her. But, no, she works hard and wants that to be enough.

B-613

1. Rowan/Eli – Slytherin — I mean. There is no right or wrong with this dude, only power. He is cunning and manipulative and will obviously do whatever it takes to deliver his end game. He’d argue it’s for the greater good, but, again, ends/means justify each other, period.

2. Jake – Gryffindor — This dude is all about his rogue missions and saving people even if it puts himself in jeopardy. He may be a little reckless is what I’m saying. He seems more concerned with doing what’s right even though he’ll probably get himself killed.

So what do you think? Did I get it right? Totally miss the mark? What houses would you sort the characters from Scandal into?

Wrap Up: Reading Challenges 2012

Don’t worry; this post is going to be short. Mostly because I failed spectacularly at all the reading challenges I signed up for. I didn’t complete a single one. Not one! No, not even the Harry Potter one. Which is fine, really. I mean, I did read The Count of Monte Cristo, which was the biggie. And I got rid of a bunch of books on my shelf that I wasn’t going to read anyway, so you know.

That said, the one thing I wanted to do this past year was read more contemporary YA lit. I was so over fantasy and paranormal and dystopia. Obviously, I still read a few from each genre, but I got back to what I love reading. Very smart.

So next year, I am not doing any reading challenges. I’m just going to read what I want, when I want. Which is what I did anyway. That doesn’t mean I won’t sign up for something that completely pushes me out of my comfort zone (Tea & Books, for example, did help me commit to reading a big ‘un), but I’m going to keep my obligations to a minimum.

Good luck to everyone else on completing all of your challenges!