Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Our book club selection for this month was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. We were glad that we chose this book, because we all found it to be a “lighter” read than the other books we’ve done recently. We thought this, even though the basis of the book was pretty heavy – the placement of Japanese-American families into internment camps during WWII. It’s a love story that’s just as the title suggests it would be – bittersweet. We had a good discussion about what happened at that time in our countries history, as well as great discussion about the relationships between the characters in this story. I would definitely recommend this book – it’s one that has real substance without completely weighing you down.

I hosted this months meeting and had so much fun! I went with the Japanese/Chinese themes from the book and served: Asian salad, edamame, pot stickers, egg rolls, and sushi! I even created a cocktail using lychee (which is really great, by the way!). Of course, this is south Louisiana…and it is Mardi Gras…so we did have a Zulu king cake after the discussion. We only have a small window for those delicious creations, and Ambrosia’s Zulu is my personal favorite.

On the school front, I am extremely overwhelmed right now. Yearbook and our new school Book Club on top of the everyday madness is wearing me down, but I really am excited about everything that’s coming up. And I brought my National Board binder into the house and out of the trunk of my car where I was keeping it out of sight. That counts for something, right??

Finger Lickin' Fifteen

I don’t know if I’ll ever finish The Fiery Cross. I put it down again when I got my notice saying that Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich was in for me at the library. It’s been a while since I read #14, so I think I enjoyed Stephanie Plum that much more. Plus, this one is packed with Lula, Grandma, and Ranger, making it that much better! I’m a big fan of Ranger, by the way. In my mind, he’s Vin Diesel’s twin. Of course, Morelli isn’t so bad either because he looks just like Colin Farrell (Stephanie = Anne Hathaway, Lula = Sherri Shepherd, Grandma = Betty White). These books would make such great movies, or a TV series, if my vision of a cast was used. Fifteen books in, I no longer judge these books on the storyline. I judge them on the use of my favorite characters, how much the book makes me laugh, and the presence of memorable scenes. In my opinion, this is one of the better books in the series! But anytime Stephanie’s staying in the “Batcave”, I’m a happy camper.

By finishing the series (15 is the newest book), I was able to cross another task off my “101 Things in 1001 Days” list. Here’s my list, in case anyone’s interested: Tiff’s 101. I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions this year, I’m just going to keep at my list!

The Lace Reader

Once again, I barely finished the book before our book club meeting. I’ve got to start giving myself a little more time! We read The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. This really was a good book. I think we may have liked it better if we hadn’t read it immediately following The Thirteenth Tale, which is one of the best fiction novels of this generation, in my opinion. There were similarities between the two: the twin factor and the SHOCKER of an ending that makes you gasp out loud. Because of this, we couldn’t help but make some comparisons. We really felt that The Lace Reader didn’t have the resolution at the end or the feeling of closure that we liked so much in The Thirteenth Tale. Instead, the end left us with a few too many questions and a little too much confusion. The build up was so nicely written and detailed, but the end just felt rushed.  Would I recommend it? Sure, it’s a good read. But if I’m suggesting to someone who doesn’t read often and wants something really great: go with The Thirteenth Tale.

On a library note, I’ve been feeling kind of down since I heard about something rude that a teacher said regarding the library – basically she’d like my job because it’s so easy. It’s so upsetting when I put so much of myself into what I do and try so hard to be a resource to the teachers, to find out that some of them think I do so little. How do you find enough confidence in what you do so that jabs like this don’t bother you?

I'm exhausted!

I have not stopped since I’ve gotten back from Atlanta and the Renaissance Learning Symposium! I learned so much at the Symposium – bottom line is that Accelerated Reader MUST be a classroom program, not a library program. I’ve been trying to take as much of the program application upon myself because I don’t want the teachers to feel like I’m putting more work on them, but in doing this I have been doing the program an injustice. In order for this program to be implemented with fidelity, we must (1) have a minimum of 20 minutes of SSR time daily, school wide and (2) teachers have to use that time to monitor the reading of their students. Otherwise, we are just spinning our wheels. I have also been exposed to the incredible resources that STAR Reading presents for RTI. I think that if we can get everyone on board with the AR program, we will see some incredible benefits. It’s time to do it right!

A few hours after arriving home, I went to by book club meeting, where we discussed The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.


I hadn’t read this book in several years, and I had completely forgotten the main points of the plot. I hadn’t forgotten how beautifully written it is. I savored the writting in this novel – it is absolutely beautiful. The various plot lines and many twists are woven together in a way that makes this book so easy to follow. I always recommend this book. If you haven’t read it, then you need to. And buy it, because it’s something you’ll want to keep so you can loan it to others and reread it yourself.

Immediately after book club, I went up to school for the Charette that is being held for the design of two new schools being built in my district. I’m so excited to be involved in this planning, even if it is not for my school. I’m so excited about what is taking place in my community! These new schools are going to be unlike anything our area (our state even, I believe) has ever seen.

Last week, I didn’t share what I was reading to my classes.


For second grade, I read The Most Unbelievable First Day of School. This is part of the Herbster Reader series by Herbie Thorpe, who is from Louisiana! I have the entire series (both sets) and my kids love it. This is a great series for 1st and 2nd grades, especially struggling readers. Last year, Herbie Thorpe came to my school and did a presentation about his books for my 2nd graders. It got them so excited about the books. My new 2nd graders needed to get excited, too, so I shared this book with them. They loved the story, and I know that Herbie Books will never stay on the shelf for long.


For my 3rd grade, I read Dolley Madison Saves George Washington by Don Brown. This is one of the LYRC books. For me, it’s okay. It’s a great story, but some of it (particularly the quotes used) are over the heads of my students. My advanced classes tend to enjoy it more, but they also devour lots of nonfiction. I don’t think this will be the book voted as the state favorite, although it does have lots of possible uses in the classroom.

My Take One! box came in the mail today, but I don’t have it in me to dive into it tonight. Not after a 12 hour day at school (just one more evening of this charette, I don’t think I could handle any more).

I really am starting to ramble now, I believe, so it’s time for me to call it a night.

Fourth Comings

I woke up with a terrible headache and a stuffy nose. NOT what I need with my Hanson concert two days away, Monday night football party five days away, and conference in Atlanta just over a week away. And I usually read while I’m eating my breakfast, but I finished Fourth Comings yesterday, and left Diary of a Wimpy Kid at school. I’m blogging about it instead.


Fourth Comings is the 4th installment of the Jessica Darling Series. Jessica is out of college, looking for meaningful employment, and deciding if she should accept Marcus’ proposal of marriage. Where the last book (Charmed Thirds) covered Jessica’s years at Columbia, this book covered about a week of her life – in painstaking detail. The style of the story was a little different, since the diary was addressed to Marcus. Overall, I liked it but didn’t madly love it. My favorite of the series so far has been Second Helpings, which I think has a balance that the last two are lacking. I’m ready to read the last novel of the series and find out what happens. I’m sure it will be a cozy, happy ending, which is exactly what I want.

Fourteen + 3(rather, Thirds) = Chick Lit Overload

As I was finishing up Charmed Thirds this afternoon, I thought, “Has it taken me an entire week to read this book?!” After a minute of confusion, I remembered that I finished Fearless Fourteen on Thursday. Yeah, it was that memorable. Here are my thoughts.


I love the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I’ve been reading these books for several months. They are absolutely hilarious, and I love that they make me laugh out loud. The series is a go-to recommendation for reading that’s just plain fun. However, I can never read more than two in the series in a row without needing a break. By number 14, I’m getting a little frustrated. How much longer can the uncommitted relationship of Stephanie and Joe go on? How much longer will she play this game with Ranger? How many more cars can she get defaced? For me, this was definitely not a memorable addition to the series (obviously, since I had forgotten that I’d even read it just a few days after finishing). Not enough Grandma Mazur (my favorite) and too much of the same old, same old. Do I want to read Finger Lickin’ Fifteen? Heck yeah. I’m hoping that something outside the norm will happen in it! Am I running out to buy it so I can dive into it? Nah, it’s on hold at the public library and I’ll read it whenever it comes in.

I needed another easy read, so I moved on to another series that I’m into, the Jessica Darling books by Megan McCafferty.


These are fun, easy reads. A fellow book lover friend suggested these books many times before I finally picked one up. I immediately fell in love with Jessica Darling, a brainiac high schooler with a generally negative outlook on life who overthinks everything. She completely reminded me of myself! Jessica is growing up in this book, which covers her college years. I liked and disliked it equally for the way that it just skimmed past big chunks of time. There were parts where I wasn’t loving it, but overall it was a fun read. And the end left me wondering, so I’m going to go straight into Fourth Comings, which is sitting beside me as I type. So on with the mindless reading! My TBR pile has enough heavy material in it, so I’m going to enjoy the chick lit while it lasts.

The 19th Wife

Today was our book club meeting. We discussed The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. I was determined to finish the book before our meeting and I (barely) did.

Here’s the synopsis from

It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of her family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how both she and her mother became plural wives. Yet soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death. And as Ann Eliza’s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan’s search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love, family, and faith.

It was a very interesting read. Once I got into it, I started wondering how much truth there was to the story. This story is a work of fiction that’s based on some real historical figures. Both the past and present story lines made for interesting discussion. It’s unbelievable that polygamy is still something that happens in our country, that women and children are still living in such situations. The isolation and brain washing that must take place for people to accept this lifestyle as commanded by God is completely unfathomable. One of my book club members watches the HBO show Big Love and was telling us a little about it, and I’m definitely going to have to watch it. This is an interesting topic,  sad reality, and I think The 19th Wife is a very well written book.