Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Scout's Honor

I am Scout by Charles Shields is the biography of Nelle Harper Lee, famously known as Harper Lee the author of To Kill A Mockingbird. That book, and the movie, are definitely on the list of my personal top 10, so I was curious as to what I could learn about the author and what insights would be revealed towards this classic work of fiction. I knew that To Kill a Mockingbird was based on Harper Lee's life, but to what extent I was not certain. The book is a young adult companion book to Mr. Shields book, Mockingbird, a biography for adults. Reading this book gave me new insights into the importance of the book as well as to Ms. Lee's life and why things are as they are in the book. I highly recommend this as a quick read and to better understand To Kill a Mockingbird.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Endless First Chapter

We spend so much of our day reading- blogs, tweets, IM's, texts, posts- yet when it comes to sustained reading, that is, an in-depth article, research paper, or a book, we seem to get distracted so easily. Michelle Slatalla, columnist for the New York Times, laments that she too, found herself unable to get through a single page in a book,Homer and Langley ( available in the IMC) which was highly recommended by her friends. It turns out, sustained,deep reading is something that needs to be practiced. " Without books, I am starting to feel mentally flabby" she complains. But, thankfully, by PRACTICING her reading , each day she is able to focus and maintain her attention for longer periods of time, ADDED BONUS: she has rediscovered her passion for immersion in a book- and is no longer" mentally flabby" Read the entire article click here

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Catching Fire

I thought that this was even better than the first in the series. The emotion leaps off the page and you truly feel with the characters; Gale's sense of betrayal, Peeta's love, Katniss's fear. There were so many twists and surprises that it keeps you guessing until the very end. As with Hunger Games, the end is a major cliffhanger and annoyingly unsatisfying! I, along with everyone else who's read this book, cannot wait to read the next one.

Be Afraid!

I just began reading The Monstrumologist and it is like Cirque Du Freak on steroids. The horror is chilling, and I am telling you, very very disturbing. You definitely want to make sure to lock your doors before you pick up this book. Reserve your copy now! Click here to view a video preview

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Great and Terrible Beauty

This book is about a girl named Gemma, who lived with her mother in India. Gemma's mother is killed by some sort of shadow figure, so she is sent to an all girls school called Spence Academy. When she arrives at the school she realizes that her mother is still alive, and that she is a powerful witch. She travels to another realm and meets different magical creatures. She also figures out that she has to stop a powerful witch that is posing as a teacher at the school. Gemma needs to find out who it is and get rid of her...quickly and quietly. Along the way trusts are formed, friends are made, and another death might rip reality apart.

Gregor the Overlander

I read this book a while ago but it definately makes my top five list. It's about a boy who falls under NYC with his little sister and discovers a whole new world. In the beginning of the book Gregor is dubbed "The Warrior" and throughout the entire series he has to fullfil many dangerously adventurous prophecies. Suzanne Collins is by far one of my favorite authors. If you like Hunger Games and Catching Fire, than I strongly reccomend you read the Gregor the Overlander series.

The Great Ship of Knowledge: Learning Earth's Deathly History

The story opens with a group of space ships approaching a beautiful new planet, on the other side of the universe from Earth. We learn that on these ships are the last remnats of Earth's inhabitants- animals, plants, humans, and technology. Most of the humans on board of these ships are living in life cells, living a virtual life on Earth. They are learning Earth's Deathly HIstory. We learn that a terrorist group, called DOOMS-TEAM, has pummled America with nuclear weapons, and America along with her allies, has sent nuclear missels back. Now the whole world is destroyed in a WWIII. People are suffering from cancers and starvation, going mentally insane due to destruction. The book paints a bleak picture of a future Earth.The beggining of this book, the introdction, was a wonderful addition. It really helped to set the mood for the story. I liked the way it let us get to know the history of the story and the author behind it. The plot of the story was not very original, but the presentaion made it fresh and new. The book was filled with details that made it clear the author had a percise vision. Though this was William Bailey's first book and he has little writing experience, it was a good first effort. The describtion of destroyed Earth was truly terrifying, it especially brought a chill down my spine when describing NYC and Long Island destroyed, my home. The author really focused on the Midwest, where he is from, in descrbing the destruction, which was a little weird to someone not from there. It made it sound like the terrorists were trying to hit Detroit instead on of NYC or LA, which is a bit unrealistic. I found that although there were many details, there were only a few spots where the authour 'over-detailed', like at the Navy Seal Operation Sea Otter. The author showed many different perspectives, that showed a new part of the story each time. You really got to know the characters and feel for their struggle, this was made more interesting by the array of characters (from an albino Navy Seal to a Middle Easter heart surgeon). The plot kept many secrets and surprises, even after the end. I look forward to part two in The Great Ship og Knowledge trilogy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maximum Enjoyment! Maximum Ride

Hello - I cannot believe I did not read Maximum Ride until now. So many of you have said " Mrs. Roberts- read this book" but sadly I did not heed your advice for whatever reason. I really should have listened- I LOVE THIS BOOK! Great characters and a page turning plot make for maximum enjoyment. I hear that there is a movie in the works, which is too bad - it just couldn't be as good as this book. In a nutshell, 6 kids, ranging in age from 6-14 are living science experiments- their DNA has been recombined with avian DNA so they appear to be "normal" but they have bird qualities too, that is they can fly. They live on their own, and a brand of mutant evil "erasers" are out to kill them. Their adventures and emotions are so realistic, I feel as though Max, the main character(her full name is Maximum Ride) could walk into the IMC at any moment. She is a caring and funny leader of her "siblings" and her personality draws you right into her adventure. Please please please,,,, READ THIS BOOK!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wild Thing

Saw the film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are this past weekend and I highly recommend it. The story of a boy struggling with his inner demons which then manifest themselves into real "Wild Things" which he tries to control is fantastic. Certainly this is a film that goes deeper than the surface. It masquerades as a children s story but it is most certainly one that is meant for adults. The storyline is simple but the themes run deep. There was a wonderful OP-Ed piece in the NY Times about the film- here is a link:
Dave Eggers wrote the screenplay as well as a novel based on the picture book. I bought a collectors item copy which has a furry cover. May be a fun project to create alternative book covers. I would be interested to hear your comments about the movie.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Creepy" display

Come to the IMC to
'check out' ( wink wink library humor) the AWESOME display of books reflecting our favorite holiday- HALLOWEEN. The display was curated by Natasha G. and Princy P. and includes original poetry and prose as well as some of the scariest books available in the IMC. One word of advice- don't read them when you are home alone!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Another by Melissa Kantor

Just finished reading I Amanda by Melissa Kantor ( see prior post for Girlfriend Material). I must say, I blazed through this terrific page turner. Amanda is a Pippi Longstocking type of character who has managed to captivate three very different teens in a suburban High School. When Amanda goes missing, a variety of clues start appearing to each of the teens, which bring them together in their search to find Amanda. There is a website attached to this book and there is a sequel planned. Once again, Ms. Kantor has created very believable characters and a plot that keeps you guessing. I highly recommend this title for a quick and intriguing read.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome Back!

The IMC recieved a TON of new books- I cannot wait to get started reading the new fall releases. The problem will be what to read first. Please come on in to say HELLO and let me know what YOU read over the summer as well as what you plan on reading next.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Girlfriend Material-Wheatley Graduate

Summer is a perfect time to read about...summer romance on Cape Cod. Melissa Kantor, Wheatley graduate and author of many YA (that is short for young adult) books has hit a sweet note with her latest, Girlfirend Material. The plot may be a bit breezy, but the characters who struggle with first love, new friendships, awkward family situations, are all believable and compelling. I found myself caring what was going to happen and I was convinced I had met these teens before. This is a strong recommendation for a great read under a beach umbrella on a warm summer day.. or during the winter under your comforter counting down the days until summer!

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Summerry Summer Literary Blast Thingymabobber

I am thinking of having control over holding extreme exuberance. This might not help my case, but I know it's less risk than exuberance and talking about books I only read up to thirty pages of.

My school's summer reading is still a task for me. The AP Core reading involves a select work of fiction, a select work of nonfiction, Habits of Empire, about American expansionism and imperialism, and the reading of newspaper articles and the creation of an annotated bibliography. I have read Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye which was her first novel and is an engrossing piece of the most extreme of emotions concentrated into poetic narrative and the sharpest of prose. I have also read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, the second of his three internationally bestselling works of social science, this one focusing on the formation of snap judgements, and how the exterior and interior, and conscious and unconscious parts of the mind, create snap judgements. At times I felt Gladwell might be pushing it a bit with his personal and highly casual narrative of describing events and people, pinning down his core points, and pointing out the significance of a few things with some Steinbeckian repetition, but he is nevertheless convincing for his ability to point out that things DO work out without such certain focuses that have been so passionately developed.

My AP American, which is the third book, is hard to come along with. It's like picking up the thousand-some page Palmer & Colton Euro textbook again (People who have known my pains, hear me!) and reading a chapter each day. As for the newspaper articles, I've read two and must read three more... I have reached exuberance.

This has not slowed down my immersion in reading. I have been dilligent in finding things to read, and I have been successful. One novel I read was Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, which many of you should know about for its attack on the working conditions for the workingman and capitalism, and its last minute, hasty advocacy of socialism at the very end. Over a hundred years old, it is still a shocking masterpiece, and a classic by many means, exposing the terminal illness that afflicts the person in any position of the work of corrupted capitalism. This I read in a Barnes & Noble Classic edition. Another book I bought in B&NC was Kafka short stories, including 'The Metamorphosis,' which I found to be the utmost attack of the world at large with all the absurdities that this story was able to afford, including a man turned cockroach and other uncomfortable degradations.

Another book I remember now is Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, which surprised me with how Hemingway stuck to the same narrative in his posthumous Paris memoirs as was present in all of his other works. I was stunned by all the characters surrounding him in his budding literary career, including haughty Gertrude Stein, Ford Madox Ford, T.S. Eliot, for whom Ernest and some other friends create a fund for bailing him out of his sad little wage job so he could write all his famous poems, his wife and baby, and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda. I swear that when I read each descriptive and mellow scene, I could imagine all of his work assembling together over the years, being ready to be produced. In short, I was blown away.

Next comes to mind Knut Hamsun, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1920. I read Hunger, a semi-autobiographical novel about a young Norwegian writer struggling to produce work and live decently, failing to do so, wandering the streets of present day Oslo, pawning his clothes and other things, undergoing spells of madness, talking about death, and scorning till the very end, inwhich he sees the city he is leaving in all its glorious light. It is based on his ten years spent in squalor, compressed into a few months of fictitious first-person narrative. The strange diversity of the subject at hand was what manged to catch my attention. The crazes he goes through are some of the most disturbing events in literature.

My present project is Ishiguro, yes, the man who wrote Never Let Me Go. I am reading his 1995 Kafkaesque social epic The Unconsoled, which I have found to be as highly disturbing and almost as absurd as Kafka himself. (Then again, all Ishiguro writes about is social drama). I read about 20 pages a day, and so over 200 pages will be done in less than another 14 days.

I am quite confident that things will work out in the weeks that follow, including the first of school. It'll be crazy, but I know that I have my cushions and my umbrella.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer Reading

By the time the summer rolls around, I have a stack of books by my bedside and a cue of titles on my Kindle to read. I have just finished listening to Impossible by Nancy Werlin which I highly recommend. The story is a tale of generations of women who are cursed... the curse they bear is that they will become pregnant at the age of 18, give birth to a daughter and then go crazy. But what if the curse can be broken? Is it impossible? Although the tasks that need to be accomplished seem insurmountable, true love and cleverness may be enough to break the curse. I have also read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks which was a page turner. I am almost finished with Lowboy which is about a schizophrenic young man who runs away from home and does not take his meds. The main character,Will Heller, allows us into his brain in such a way that you cannot help but feel confused and empathetic. The book is like a bad accident- you are afraid to look, but cannot turn away.I am not sure this is a book for everyone- it requires patience and attention, but it is well worth the effort. Another book that I am currently reading is The Soloist which is also a movie playing in the theaters. This is the story of a brilliant violinist, who also suffers from mental illness. He is discovered living on the streets by the author, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who can't help but be drawn into this talented and troubled mans life. The writing style is pure newspaper reporting- bare and to the point, but the story more than makes up for the lack of literary accomplishment. I think I will go read right now... what are YOU reading?
UPDATE: Finished The Soloist- very readable, heartbreaking... here is a blogpost from ALA online( American Library Association)-Steve Lopez, the author, spoke at the summer ALA conference ALA Blog

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Expo America

Well, I had a thrilling day meeting book publishers, listening to authors and editors, and grabbing galley copies of books for The Wheatley School IMC. My shoulders are killing me from lugging around a thousand pounds of books and catalogs, but it was well worth it. Once I conquered the traffic of the Long Island Expressway, and I mean conquered, I entered the cavernous Javits Center in NYC. Two huge floors of books- I was like a kid in a candy store. At my first stop, I met a librarian from Cleveland and we shared our top titles that we are dying to read. This was while we were waiting to hear Charles McGrath of the New York Times moderate a discussion between John Irving (The World According to Garp) and Richard Russo (Empire Falls), They discussed their writing styles, both storytellers, and if they write to please others- no, they write to please themselves. It takes them about 5 years to write a book, so they both commented on how important it is to care about their characters- after all, they will be living with them for quite some time. Both authors also commented on their love for Charles Dickens as a storyteller. Neither man reads many other current authors, only for lack of time due to their focus on writing both their novels and screenplays. Then it was off to scour the shelves to see what forthcoming titles I MUST order for the IMC. Later in the afternoon, I attended an YA editors BUZZ session. Six top editors book talked their newest most favorite book due out in Fall 2009. It was spectacular. I was able to snag the galleys for three of the books mentioned, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, which sounds like a perfect book for all us Hunger Games fans, as well as those who love The Giver and The Uglies. In addition, I snagged Viola in Reel Life by bestselling author Adriana Triiani, which focuses on a girl from Brooklyn New York who has to attend boarding school in the small town of South Bend Indiana while her documentary filmmaker parents are shooting in Afghanistan for a year. Finally, I got a hold of The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander and I cannot wait to read it. Set in Texas, it is the story of a 15 year old girl who is tired of waiting on the sidelines of life and wants to ride on the hood of the shiny pickup truck in the annual parade in Proper County. Becoming the Sweetheart also involves participation in the Future Farmers club and our protagonist becomes involved with her lovable Rooster, Charles Dickens!
I have a bunch of other titles, so come into the IMC and check out my haul!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Claudia Gray and I at Barnes and Noble

This evening I went to Barnes and Noble in Manhasset to meet and listen to Claudia Gray, the author of Evernight the first book in a series of 4. She was very funny, honest, and easy to talk to. She autographed her newest book,Stargazer, for The Wheatley School IMC.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I am so in love with my new Kindle, V. 2.0 that there could not be enough snow days to satisfy me. For those not in the know, a Kindle is an electronic E-book reader which is available exclusively through Essentially, you "order" a book through the Kindle store and within minutes the content is delivered to your reader. The Kindle is the size of a small paperback book, is extremely lightweight and user friendly. Bestsellers run about $9.99 for each title. Available content includes newspapers and blogs and many other applications. ( I just got mine this weekend so I am not a user expert). I do know that I can change the font so I can read without my glasses, bookmark text I find interesting and carry a whole library around with me in my bag. A book lovers dream.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Challenging, but enjoyable

Now, this is a book that is very hard for any high school student to read, at least for Wheatley. It ought to be described as "intellectual's prose" or something. It's called The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbary, translated from French by Alison Anderson. It's crammed full with vocabulary and also proper nouns.
Anyway, the plot focuses on two different people: Renee, a 54-year old concierge of an eight-apartment building for the rich, stating in her second journal entry: "I am a widow, I am short, ugly, and plump, I have bunions on my feet and, if I am to credit certain early mornings of sefl-inflicted disgust, the breath of a mammoth;" and then we have Paloma, an amazingly smart 12 1/2 year old girl occupying one of the apartments with her mother, diplomat father, and obnoxious sister (all whom she promptly cuts down to size), loves haiku poems, and plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday by setting her apartment on fire and taking an overdose of sleeping pills while no one is around.

Both characters share very intelllectual minds, embrace Japanese culture, keep closeted their superior minds over society, and write in journal entries social, artistic, theological, philosophical, and cultural criticisms and commentaries and finely detailed happenings in their building. When a new resident arrives, a Japanese gentlemen titled Monsieur Ozu, both persons' lives and plans are put into completely new environments in which they find themselves exposed and beginning to look at things anew.

I suppose this would be a read more for college students or something, but I was truly able to enjoy this book. Even though I refused to pull out a dictionary every time I came across unknown words, I was able to feel everything. It's funny, scornful, elightening, and also inspiring.
You can most definitely find this in Borders or Barnes & Nobles and Jo Beth recently brought it into the IMC. It has praise from numerous magazines and newspapers, national and foreign, and is oficially an international bestseller. I'd have to put this up as one of the greatest books I've ever read.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dairy Queen

This is one terrific little book. DJ, a farm girl from Wisconsin, where cows and football rule, tells her story with a clear and humorous voice. She is a typical HS student with older brothers who were stars on the school football team. DJ also shares a passion for football, and all sports. Unfortunately, her father is no longer able to take care of the farm due to hip surgery, and all the work falls on DJ. A former track and basketball star, her dreams of team sports are lost due to the demanding schedule of running a farm. At the same time, Brian, the QB from the opposing school's football team, has come to Scwank farm to help DJ with the chores- by order of his coach. Neither Brian nor DJ are happy with this situation, but DJ could use the manpower and Brian is supposed to learn the meaning of work, or his coach will not let him play. Over the course of a summer, DJ and Brian work side by side, and eventually, come to help each other, and form a very unique relationship. DJ and Brian earn each others respect by being true and honest, but still being teenagers. DJ eventually takes on the role of Brain's trainer, and DJ decides to go out for the boys football team- I kid you not! The beauty of this book is the dialogue and characters- they are so endearing and true. I cannot wait to read the sequel The Off Season

Thursday, February 5, 2009


The B.A.A. has selected Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro as our next "group read". Ishiguro's book is haunting, both in his subject matter and his writing style. As a reader, the story envelopes you - and you find yourself part of the unraveling truths that the main character discovers, as she reflects upon her years as a student in the cloistered world of Hailsham, a private school where studetns were always told they were "special". Now they are discovering what "special" really means. The B.A.A. welcomes new memebers- we meet Wednesdays after school. Stop by the IMC to pick up a copy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SOOOO many books, so little time

Today the IMC received 266 NEW BOOKS- I was like a kid in a candy shop. Thanks to Daniella K. who helped, ( well, she did most of the work) select great Graphic Novels and Manga. Dr. Dillons 8th graders made some terrific suggestions during our last book talks, and some of those titles have come in-The Pretty Little Liars series, Pendragon series, Serafina 67 and others. Whatever your preference in reading is- there is something for you in the IMC-Come CHECK IT OUT! Literally.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Catching up on reading

The December break was a great time to catch up on some reading. I reread Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, and loved it as much the second time. The BAA selected The Art of Racing in the Rain as their next title and I blazed through that. The story of a family dealing with love and loss, told through the voice of the family dog. As a companion book, some of us have opted to read Marley and Me, and those who have read it sigh " oh, that is such a great book- and the movie was great too!" soooooooo I will read that next. I had been recommending The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society to so many and finally had the opportunity to read it myself. LOVED IT! The story unfolds in a series of letters between the main character, Juliet, and inhabitants of the island of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. The islanders recall their experiences during the German Occupation of WWII, and it is through their correspondence that both Juliet and I fell in love with them.
I am now reading Neil Gaimans' The Graveyard Book which has an unusual premise- a graveyard full of compassionate ghosts are raising a child. To paraphrase an famous quote "It take a whole graveyard to raise a child" Stop by the IMC and let me know what YOU are reading!