Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's Almost Here!

Despite all of the craziness with work and my personal life, I still decided to sign up for NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) again this year.  Yes, that means I'm going to attempt to write a novel in a month.  That's 50,000 words in one month.  Am I insane?
Last year I only made it to about 3500 words over the course of November, so I have much higher hopes for myself this year.  The problem is--I still don't have a storyline, which is the same problem I had last year. 

Joel C. Rosenberg came to our church this evening and was discussing scripture and how it relates to the End Times, in addition to telling us about his latest book The Twelfth Imam.  I've always found this topic fascinating and his enthusiasm for sharingGod's Word brought back my own thirst for knowledge.  He also mentioned how he came up with some of his topics, which I thought was pretty neat too.  I went ahead and signed up for his newsletter, so maybe something that comes across will spark ideas for my story's plot.

Did you sign up for NanoWriMo this year?  (It's not too late.)  If you did, let me know and I'll put you on my buddy list.  Maybe we can all succeed in our 50,000 word goal through the buddy system.  Good luck and happy writing!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

One is the loneliest number...

Have you ever been so stressed out that you couldn't even form coherent words or thoughts?  That's the way the past couple of weeks have been for me.  It's pretty scary when my students have learned how to interpret my hand-gestures and grunts to figure out what I'm trying to tell them.  (It's like charades every day.)

I thought things were getting better because my anxiety and stress were decreasing, and then my Principal dropped the bomb on me this week.  Due to budget cuts and a decreasing student population (we have 1837 students now), my secretary is being moved from the Media Center to the Guidance Office.  That means I have to run our HUMONGOUS library on my own.  Really? 

I guess I have a cape hidden somewhere on my person and that I embody some superhero power (at least that's what I'm telling myself) because our Guidance Office has 7 people in it that could feasibly rotate for an hour each day to cover their secretary position, and there's only me in the library. Really? 

So, tomorrow will be my first day trying to run the library without help.  Please pray for me because there are many things I have to re-learn how to do because my secretary always did them for me.  Please pray for my secretary because she doesn't exactly want to go to Guidance either--they're not the friendliest bunch.  And please pray for our students because ultimately they're the ones that are going to suffer as a result of this change.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball

WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to Ashley Boyer and Staci Carmichael of Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a review copy.***


Expertly weaving together fantasy, romance and Biblical truths, Donita K. Paul penned the best-selling, fan-favorite DragonKeeper Chronicles series. After retiring early from teaching, she began a second career as an award-winning author and loves serving as a mentor for new writers of all ages. And when she’s not putting pen to paper, Donita makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys spending time with her grandsons, cooking, beading, stamping, and knitting.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458997
ISBN-13: 978-0307458995


Christmas. Cora had been trying to catch it for four years. She scurried down the sidewalk, thankful that streetlights and brightly lit storefronts counteracted the gloom of early nightfall. Somewhere, sometime, she’d get a hold of how to celebrate Christmas. Maybe even tonight.

With snowflakes sticking to her black coat, Christmas lights blinking around shop windows, and incessant bells jingling, Cora should have felt some holiday cheer.

And she did.


Just not much.

At least she was on a Christmas errand this very minute. One present for a member of the family. Shouldn’t that count for a bit of credit in the Christmas-spirit department?

Cora planned out her Christmas gift giving in a reasonable manner. The execution of her purchasing schedule gave her a great deal of satisfaction. Tonight’s quest was a book for Uncle Eric—something about knights and castles, sword fights, shining armor, and all that.

One or two gifts purchased each week from Labor Day until December 15, and her obligations were discharged efficiently, economically, and without the excruciating last-minute frenzy that descended upon other people…like her three sisters, her mother, her grandmother, her aunts.

Cora refused to behave like her female relatives and had decided not to emulate the male side of the family either. The men didn’t buy gifts. They sometimes exchanged bottles from the liquor store, but more often they drank the spirits themselves.

Her adult ambition had been to develop her own traditions for the season, ones that sprouted from the Christianity she’d discovered in college. The right way to celebrate the birth of Christ. She avoided the chaos that could choke Christmas. Oh dear. Judgmental again. At least now she recognized when she slipped.

She glanced around Sage Street. Not too many shoppers. The quaint old shops were decked out for the holidays, but not with LED bulbs and inflated cartoon figures.

Since discovering Christianity, she’d been confused about the trappings of Christmas—the gift giving, the nativity scenes, the carols, even the Christmas tree. Every year she tried to acquire some historical background on the festivities. She was learning. She had hope. But she hadn’t wrapped her head around all the traditions yet.

The worst part was shopping.

Frenzy undid her. Order sustained her. And that was a good reason to steer clear of any commercialized holiday rush. She’d rather screw red light bulbs into plastic reindeer faces than push through a crowd of shoppers.

Cora examined the paper in her hand and compared it to the address above the nearest shop. Number 483 on the paper and 527 on the building. Close.

When she’d found the bookstore online, she had been amazed that a row of old-fashioned retailers still existed a few blocks from the high-rise office building where she worked. Truthfully, it was more like the bookstore found her. Every time she opened her browser, and on every site she visited, the ad for the old-fashioned new- and used-book store showed up in a banner or sidebar. She’d asked around, but none of her co-workers patronized the Sage Street Shopping District.

“Sounds like a derelict area to me,” said Meg, the receptionist. “Sage Street is near the old railroad station, isn’t it? The one they decided was historic so they wouldn’t tear it down, even though it’s empty and an eyesore?”

An odd desire to explore something other than the mall near her apartment seized Cora. “I’m going to check it out.”

Jake, the security guard, frowned at her. “Take a cab. You don’t want to be out too late over there.”

Cora walked. The brisk air strengthened her lungs, right? The exercise pumped her blood, right? A cab would cost three, maybe four dollars, right?

An old man, sitting on the stoop of a door marked 503, nodded at her. She smiled, and he winked as he gave her a toothless grin. Startled, she quickened her pace and gladly joined the four other pedestrians waiting at the corner for the light to change.

Number 497 emblazoned the window of an ancient shoe store on the opposite corner. She marched on. In this block she’d find the book and check another item off her Christmas list.

Finally! “Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad, Books,” Cora read the sign aloud and then grasped the shiny knob. It didn’t turn. She frowned. Stuck? Locked? The lights were on. She pressed her face against the glass. A man sat at the counter. Reading. How appropriate.

Cora wrenched the knob. A gust of wind pushed with her against the door, and she blew into the room. She stumbled and straightened, and before she could grab the door and close it properly, it swung closed, without the loud bang she expected.

“I don’t like loud noises,” the man said without looking up from his book.

“Neither do I,” said Cora.

He nodded over his book. With one gnarled finger, he pushed his glasses back up his nose.

Must be an interesting book. Cora took a quick look around. The place could use stronger lights. She glanced back at the clerk. His bright lamp cast him and his book in a golden glow.

Should she peruse the stacks or ask?

She decided to browse. She started to enter the aisle between two towering bookcases.

“Not there,” said the old man.

“I beg your pardon?” said Cora.

“How-to books. How to fix a leaky faucet. How to build a bridge. How to mulch tomatoes. How to sing opera. How-to books. You don’t need to know any of that, do you?”


“Wrong aisle, then.” He placed the heavy volume on the counter and leaned over it, apparently absorbed once more.

Cora took a step toward him. “I think I saw a movie like this once.”

His head jerked up, his scowl heavier. He glared over the top of his glasses at the books on the shelves as if they had suddenly moved or spoken or turned bright orange.

“A movie? Here? I suppose you mean the backdrop of a bookstore. Not so unusual.” He arched an eyebrow. “You’ve Got Mail and 84 Charing Cross Road.”

“I meant the dialogue. You spoke as if you knew what I needed.”

He hunched his shoulders. The dark suspenders stretched across the faded blue of his shirt. “Reading customers. Been in the business a long time.”

“I’m looking for a book for my uncle. He likes castles, knights, tales of adventure. That sort of thing.”

He sighed, closed his book, and tapped its cover. “This is it.” He stood as Cora came to the desk. “Do you want me to wrap it and send it? We have the service. My grandson’s idea.”

Cora schooled her face and her voice. One of the things she excelled in was not showing her exasperation. She’d been trained by a dysfunctional family, and that had its benefits. She knew how to take guff and not give it back. Maintaining a calm attitude was a good job skill.

She tried a friendly smile and addressed the salesclerk.

“I want to look at it first and find out how much it costs.”

“It’s the book you want, and the price is eleven dollars and thirteen cents.”

Cora rubbed her hand over the cover. It looked and felt like leather, old leather, but in good repair. The book must be ancient.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Which?” the old man barked.

“Which what?”

“Which part of the statement am I sure about? It doesn’t matter because I’m sure about both.”

Cora felt her armor of detachment suffer a dent. The man was impossible. She could probably order a book online and get it wrapped and delivered right to her uncle with less aggravation. But dollar signs blinked in neon red in her mind as she thought how much that would cost. No need to be hasty.

Curtain rings rattled on a rod, and Cora looked up to see a younger version of the curmudgeon step into the area behind the counter.

The younger man smiled. He had the same small, wiry build as the older version, but his smile was warm and genuine. He looked to be about fifty, but his hair was still black, as black as the old man’s hair was white. He stretched out his hand, and Cora shook it.

“I’m Bill Wizbotterdad. This is my granddad, William Wizbotterdad.”

“Let me guess. Your father is named Will?”

Bill grinned, obviously pleased she’d caught on quickly. “Willie Wizbotterdad. He’s off in Europe collecting rare books.”

“He’s not!” said the elder shop owner.

“He is.” Bill cast his granddad a worried look.

“That’s just the reason he gave for not being here.” William shook his head and leaned across the counter. “He doesn’t like Christmas. We have a special job to do at Christmas, and he doesn’t like people and dancing and matrimony.”

Bill put his arm around his grandfather and pulled him back. He let go of his granddad and spun the book on the scarred wooden counter so that Cora could read the contents. “Take a look.” He opened the cover and flipped through the pages. “Colored illustrations.”

A rattling of the door knob was followed by the sound of a shoulder thudding against the wood. Cora turned to see the door fly open with a tall man attached to it. The stranger brushed snow from his sleeves, then looked up at the two shop owners. Cora caught them giving each other a smug smile, a wink, and a nod of the head.

Odd. Lots of oddness in this shop.

She liked the book, and she wanted to leave before more snow accumulated on the streets. Yet something peculiar about this shop and the two men made her curious. Part of her longed to linger. However, smart girls trusted their instincts and didn’t hang around places that oozed mystery. She didn’t feel threatened, just intrigued. But getting to know the peculiar booksellers better was the last thing she wanted, right? She needed to get home and be done with this Christmas shopping business. “I’ll take the book.”

The newcomer stomped his feet on the mat by the door, then took off his hat.

Cora did a double take. “Mr. Derrick!”

He cocked his head and scrunched his face. “Do I know you?” The man was handsome, even wearing that comical lost expression. “Excuse me. Have we met?”

“We work in the same office.”

He studied her a moment, and a look of recognition lifted the frown. “Third desk on the right.” He hesitated, then snapped his fingers. “Cora Crowden.”


He jammed his hand in his pocket, moving his jacket aside. His tie hung loosely around his neck. She’d never seen him looking relaxed. The office clerks called him Serious Simon Derrick.

“I drew your name,” she said.

He looked puzzled.

“For the gift exchange. Tomorrow night. Office party.”

“Oh. Of course.” He nodded. “I drew Mrs. Hudson. She’s going to retire, and I heard her say she wanted to redecorate on a shoestring.”

“That’s Mrs. Wilson. Mrs. Hudson is taking leave to be with her daughter, who is giving birth to triplets.”

He frowned and began looking at the books.

“You won’t be there, will you?” Cora asked.

“At the party? No, I never come.”

“I know. I mean, I’ve worked at Sorenby’s for five years, and you’ve never been there.”

The puzzled expression returned to Serious Simon’s face. He glanced to the side. “I’m looking for the how-to section.”

Cora grinned. “On your left. Second aisle.”

He turned to stare at her, and she pointed to the shelves Mr. Wizbotterdad had not let her examine. Mr. Derrick took a step in that direction.

Cora looked back at the shop owners and caught them leaning back in identical postures, grins on their faces, and arms crossed over their chests.

Bill jerked away from the wall, grabbed her book, rummaged below the counter, and brought out a bag. He slid the book inside, then looked at her. “You didn’t want the book wrapped and delivered?”

“No, I’ll just pay for it now.”

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to look around some more?” asked Bill.

“Right,” said William. “No hurry. Look around. Browse. You might find something you like.”

Bill elbowed William.

Simon Derrick had disappeared between the stacks.

William nodded toward the how-to books. “Get a book. We have a copy of How to Choose Gifts for Ungrateful Relatives. Third from the bottom shelf, second case from the wall.”

The statement earned him a “shh” from his grandson.

Cora shifted her attention to the man from her office and walked a few paces to peek around the shelves. “Mr. Derrick, I’m getting ready to leave. If you’re not coming to the party, may I just leave the gift on your desk tomorrow?”

He glanced at her before concentrating again on the many books. “That’s fine. Nice to see you, Miss Crowden.”

“Crowder,” she corrected, but he didn’t answer.

She went to the counter and paid. Mr. Derrick grunted when she said good-bye at the door.

“Come back again,” said Bill.

“Yes,” said William. “We have all your heart’s desires.”

Bill elbowed him, and Cora escaped into the blustering weather.

She hiked back to the office building. Snow sprayed her with tiny crystals, and the sharp wind nipped her nose. Inside the parking garage, warm air helped her thaw a bit as she walked to the spot she leased by the month. It would be a long ride home on slippery roads. But once she arrived, there would be no one there to interrupt her plans. She got in the car, turned the key, pushed the gearshift into reverse, looked over her shoulder, and backed out of her space.

She would get the gift ready to mail off and address a few cards in the quiet of her living room. There would be no yelling. That’s what she liked about living states away from her family. No one would ambush her with complaints and arguments when she walked through the door.

Except Skippy. Skippy waited. One fat, getting fatter, cat to talk to. She did complain at times about her mistress being gone too long, about her dinner being late, about things Cora could not fathom. But Cora never felt condemned by Skippy, just prodded a little.


Once inside her second-floor apartment, she pulled off her gloves, blew her nose, and went looking for Skippy.

The cat was not behind the curtain, sitting on the window seat, staring at falling snow. Not in her closet, curled up in a boot she’d knocked over. Not in the linen closet, sleeping on clean towels. She wasn’t in any of her favorite spots. Cora looked around and saw the paper bag that, this morning, had been filled with wadded scraps of Christmas paper. Balls of pretty paper and bits of ribbon littered the floor. There. Cora bent over and spied her calico cat in the bag.

“Did you have fun, Skippy?”

The cat rolled on her back and batted the top of the paper bag. Skippy then jumped from her cave and padded after Cora, as her owner headed for the bedroom.

Thirty minutes later, Cora sat at the dining room table in her cozy pink robe that enveloped her from neck to ankles. She stirred a bowl of soup and eyed the fifteen packages she’d wrapped earlier in the week. Two more sat waiting for their ribbons.

These would cost a lot less to send if some of these people were on speaking terms. She could box them together and ship them off in large boxes.

She spooned chicken and rice into her mouth and swallowed.

The soup was a tad too hot. She kept stirring.

She could send one package with seven gifts inside to Grandma Peterson, who could dispense them to her side of the family. She could send three to Aunt Carol.

She took another sip. Cooler.

Aunt Carol could keep her gift and give two to her kids. She could send five to her mom…

Cora grimaced. She had three much older sisters and one younger. “If Mom were on speaking terms with my sisters, that would help.”

She eyed Skippy, who had lifted a rear leg to clean between her back toes. “You don’t care, do you? Well, I’m trying to. And I think I’m doing a pretty good job with this Christmas thing.”

She reached over and flipped the switch on her radio. A Christmas carol poured out and jarred her nerves. She really should think about Christmas and not who received the presents. Better to think “my uncle” than “Joe, that bar bum and pool shark.”

She finished her dinner, watching her cat wash her front paws.

“You and I need to play. You’re”—she paused as Skippy turned

a meaningful glare at her—“getting a bit rotund, dear kitty.”

Skippy sneezed and commenced licking her chest.

After dinner, Cora curled up on the couch with her Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad bag. Skippy came to investigate the rattling paper.

Uncle Eric. Uncle Eric used to recite “You Are Old, Father William.” He said it was about a knight. But Cora wasn’t so sure. She dredged up memories from college English. The poem was by Lewis Carroll, who was really named Dodson, Dogson, Dodgson, or something.

“He wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” she said. “There’s a cat in the story, but not as fine a cat as you. He smiles too much.”

Skippy gave her a squint-eyed look.

Cora eased the leather-bound book out of the bag. “The William I met at the bookstore qualifies for at least ancient.”

She put the book in her lap and ran her fingers over the embossed title: How the Knights Found Their Ladies.

She might have been hasty. She didn’t know if Uncle Eric would like this. She hefted the book, guessing its weight to be around four pounds. She should have found a lighter gift. This would cost a fortune to mail.

Skippy sniffed at the binding, feline curiosity piqued. Cora stroked her fur and pushed her back. She opened the book to have a peek inside. A piece of thick paper fell out. Skippy pounced on it as it twirled to the floor.

“What is it, kitty? A bookmark?” She slipped it out from between Skippy’s paws, then turned the rectangle over in her hands. Not a bookmark. A ticket.

Admit one to the Wizards’ Christmas Ball

Costumes required

Dinner and Dancing

and your Destiny

Never heard of it. She tucked the ticket in between the pages and continued to flip through the book, stopping to read an occasional paragraph.

This book wasn’t for Uncle Eric at all. It was not a history, it was a story. Kind of romantic too. Definitely not Uncle Eric’s preferred reading.

Skippy curled against her thigh and purred.

“You know what, cat? I’m going to keep it.”

Skippy made her approval known by stretching her neck up and rubbing her chin on the edge of the leather cover. Cora put the book on the sofa and picked up Skippy for a cuddle. The cat squirmed out of her arms, batted at the ticket sticking out of the pages, and scampered off.

“I love you too,” called Cora.

She pulled the ticket out and read it again: Wizards’ Christmas Ball. She turned out the light and headed for bed. But as she got ready, her eye caught the computer on her desk. Maybe she could find a bit more information.

Dynamic Uno here:  Christmas is my favorite time of year.  The weather is cooler and everyone just seems to be in a great mood.  My problem is, I don't catch the Christmas spirit until a day or two before Christmas Day.  Maybe it's because I stress myself out at work or maybe it's because there's always one or two unexpected people that show up at the last minute that I hadn't planned for, but I can never really let myself relax and enjoy Christmas with the family.  If you're like me you're always looking for a way to start feeling Christmasy so you won't be looked upon like a grouch or a "scrooge."   If you want  that warm-fuzzy feeling then you need to read this book!

Cora Crowder is trying to finish her last-minute holiday shopping so she can mail her packages and be done with her obnoxious family for Christmas.  While she's searching for the perfect gift, Cora stumbles upon a bookstore on Sage Street and decides to go inside and she if she can find something to use as a gift.  As she pays for her book, one of her co-workers (her boss's boss to be exact) ,Simon Derrick, stumbles through the door searching for a gift of his own.  Later, both discover that they've been given a ticket to the romantic Christmas Ball held on Sage Street each year.  Over the course of a few months, Simon and Cora end up bumping into each other several times and strike up a friendship.  Will they become something more or will past problems prohibit any romance?  You'll have to read Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball to find out!

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball is a very quick and light-hearted read.  I enjoyed finding out more about Simon's family--especially is sister Sandy.  (She's a hoot!)  Cora reminds me a bit of me in that she's single, has a cat, and doesn't really get out and about too much.  Seeing the friendship develop between the characters was neat because it gave me hope that there would be someone just as charming as Simon out there for me.  (They do exist, right?)  I especially loved the two sisters at the dress shop.  I would love to go there and try on all of the dresses and costumes that they have in the shop--especially if I was able to interact with them :)  If you hadn't already guessed, I really enjoyed reading this book and I think you will too!

Let me know what you think!  Happy Reading!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happy Sweetest Day!

Since I'm not going to share my chocolate with you, I thought I would at least share some of my favorite songs...

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Dream a Little Dream of Me by Mama Cass Elliott

The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra

Sway by Dean Martin

Puttin' On the Ritz by Fred Astaire

Happy Sweetest Day!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Solitary by Travis Thrasher

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B & B Media Group as part of their blogger book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Chris Buckley and his mom are starting their lives over in Solitary, North Carolina, where his mother spent part of her childhood.  Having to face the reality of his parents' divorce and the loneliness of leaving his friends back in Chicago, Chris begins his new school in hopes of finding a friendly face.  After a run-in with the school bully and warnings from teachers and classmates to stay away the only nice person he's met--Jocelyn--Chris realizes that not everything is as it seems in the town of Solitary, and some thing or some one wants to keep him quiet for good.

Title: Solitary (Book #1in The Solitary Tales series)
Author: Travis Thrasher
Format: Paperback book
Genre: Teen/young adult; suspense; supernatural thriller
Source: Review copy provided by B & B Media Group.
Publication Information: David C. Cook/ August 2010/ ISBN: 1434764214/ 336 pages/ $14.99
Buy the Book: David C. Cook / Amazon
Find the Author online: Travis Thrasher/ Facebook / Twitter / MySpace / Blog

Why I Read this Book: 
I had read a few discussions in the blogging world about Solitary and it sounds like an intriguing book.  After all, I work with teenagers (young adults) and they LOVE anything that portrays realistic drama and the horrible things that can happen to someone in this life.  When Audra Jennings from B7B Media Group offered to send me a copy of the book to review, I jumped at the chance to read the book I had read so many good things about online.  (Thanks Audra!)

What I Liked:
As someone who has moved many times throughout my life, including right before my senior year in high school, I can relate to Chris's situation of trying to fit in and find your niche in the throes of high school life.  It's hard enough being a teenager without the added complications of your parents splitting up and your mother drinking herself into delirium.  Add to that the "strangeness" of the town of Solitary and the school bully constantly hunting him down and Chris is in one big pickle.

I was pretty much hooked in the story after reading the first few pages.  I wanted to find out who these people were and what they were running from in the woods.  When I finally met Chris and his mom, I could relate to their situation--especially the drastic move away from all of their family and friends and then having to try and break into the high school cliques. 

I enjoyed the sheer mystery of trying to figure what was going on in and with the townspeople.  Why did they act so disinterested?  Why are the teachers and other residents so afraid of Gus' dad?  Why is Chris' mom having nightmares?  What's the deal with the creepy preacher?  And, why is Jocelyn so secretive?  I want answers to my questions regardless of how scary they might actually turn out to be, so I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out.  (Yes, I did keep the light on a few times while reading.)

The play lists in the back of the book were a pretty neat addition--even if I recognized only a few of the bands.

What I Didn't Like:
Jocelyn's character is a bit of a tease information-wise.  There were points where I thought she was going to tell Chris her "secrets" but then she'd stop and not say anything at all.  I realize that it was a technique used by the author to create suspense, but as an adult, it drove me crazy.  However, teens will relate to it because they've kept or told each other secrets before.  Aside from this minor detail, there wasn't anything that I disliked.

Overall Impression: 
Solitary holds a lot of secrets that I can't wait to learn.  As a first young adult novel, Travis Thrasher has definitely tapped into the teenage perspective.  I know several teens that are interested in reading the book just because they've seen the cover and wanted to know what it was about.  After I started telling them about everything that was happening in the story, they've asked to borrow it when I finished the book.  Needless to say, I am ordering more copies for our library.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Let me know what you think about the book in the comments section.  Happy Reading!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

TEACH with Tony Danza

I’ve been watching the show Teach with Tony Danza because, hey—it’s Tony Danza. Okay, so maybe that’s not the only reason. I’m actually interested in finding out what his first year of teaching is like compared to what mine was like. In case you haven’t seen the show on A&E (it does come on pretty late), Tony Danza is living in Philadelphia and is teaching English at Northeast High School. Before he actually started acting he went to school to be a teacher. (I know crazy, right?) In any case, he’s teaching 10th grade English at this inner-city high school and is failing miserably at this point.

Yes, another reality show, but I had hoped this one would be different. I had hoped that the show would let the public know how hard the teaching profession really is. That it isn’t an easy thing to connect with your students, and to meet their needs when they’re all at different levels within the same class. I think the makers are trying to show how tough it is, but what I’m really seeing is how much Tony Danza cries over everything that happens. Yes, teaching is an emotional roller coaster. In fact, I cried every day and threatened to quit at least once a week because the stress and the pressure is overwhelming.

The thing that upsets me about this show is that it is only showing one class period. You see, he only has 26 students. It’s not showing the normal workload of a veteran teacher; one that has 7 classes because they’re on t-payroll because the county won’t hire another teacher to take on the extra workload. One that has over 160 papers to grade each night which become more when the standardized testing is right around the corner and the teacher has to make sure his/her students are prepared. I mean, let’s face it. If we all had to teach only one class a day and could use the rest of the time to  hang out with our friends, attend meetings and staff developments—we would all be spectacular teachers. Instead, I think the public is getting robbed because they are assuming that he has a normal workload and it’s not even close to what it should be.

The first week of the show was extremely slow—mainly because they had to bring in all of the characters and key players in the show (students and what the purpose of it was). I decided that I would give the show a few more chances before I decided to move on with my time. After this week’s episode, I’m not quite sure I want to continue. I mean, you can see that Tony cares a lot about the kids and that he’s trying his hardest to connect with them, but I think many of the interventions are staged just to try and show how inept he is at teaching. Sorry—but I really don’t think that makes for great television. Teaching is hard enough without having editors make a mockery of the things teachers go through on a daily basis. I will give the show one more week, and if things do not improve, I’m moving on.

Have you watched it yet? What do you think of the show?