New Reads in SORA!

Thanks to a great sale going on right now in Overdrive, we were able to purchase eight issues of The Avant-Guards. This is a sweet graphic novel series about some misfit college students who attend an art school and who decide to start the school’s first basketball team. These characters will put a smile on reader’s faces and make them appreciate their own friends’ quirkiness.

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Free Reads for May 2020

Since it is a new month, there are new free reads to download. Check out some of these great titles! Thanks Riveted by Simon Teen.

Some dystopian, romance, adventure and sci-fi. I personally have enojoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, and Want.
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It is always a great day to be a Lava Bear!

Take a look at your BSHS staff and this message of hope!
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Free Books for April

These books are free to download all month long. Get them before they are gone! I would recommend Enchanted Air since April is Poetry Month. The selections are a mix of adventure, romance, paranormal, and contemporary. What are you in the mood for?

Thank you Simon Teen, This website also has fun quizzes and other great information to fill your bibliophile heart. Be sure to subscribe to their newsletter to continue to receive updates as the quarantine continues. #simonteen #rivetedlit

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2020 First Quarterly Wrap up

These are all the books that I read in January, February and March.

I read nine books in January.

I started the year with a re-read of The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas which I gave ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. There was also a lot of buzz around the fifth installment of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. I had to stay home two days back-to-back with sick children so I picked up the first one, read it in one sitting, and proceeded to do that for the following four. They are all under 200 pages and such fun stories that I felt like I was watching a Netflix series. In fact, I hope they make it into a miniseries. I gave each of those ⭐⭐⭐⭐and not five stars because I wanted them to be longer. I followed that series up with Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow. I picked this book as my inspiration for my 2020 reading challenge to read a book each month with the month’s name in the title. This book I gave ⭐⭐⭐ because it was the same concept as the Wayward Children with escaping through doorways, but not as well done. I wouldn’t suggest reading them back-to-back. And then I wanted to try and read a book with the number in the title of that month. For example, January is the first month so I chose books with a one in the title. February is the second month so I picked a book with two in the title. So my last books for the month were No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett, ⭐⭐⭐, and One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel, ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

I read six books in February.

The best book this month was the audio version of Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. I really hope we can get this book added to our social justice books groups at school. This is so great and powerful. In addition, I read X by Ilyasah Shabazz, ⭐⭐⭐⭐, also for the social justice book groups and The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, ⭐⭐⭐⭐. My read for my reading challenge was Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton, ⭐⭐⭐.5 (and the only book I could currently find with the word February in the title). And my number in the title selection was Between Two Skies by Joanne O’Sullivan, ⭐⭐⭐. I also have heard so much about To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han, ⭐⭐⭐⭐, that I felt like I needed to check it out myself. I loved it and quickly watched the Netlix adaptation, which was also pretty good. I plan to read the other two books in the series so that I can watch the second installment as well.

I read four books in March.

I totally failed on my 2020 reading challenge in month three. I intended to read two more things that met the challenge, but due to school closures, I left them there. However, I have since been able to pick them up so I will add them to my April reading to get back on track. I listened to two books, The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper, ⭐⭐⭐⭐, and Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning, ⭐⭐⭐.5. I also finished two adult books, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

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Screen Casting with Loom

Right now is the perfect time to record yourself explaining a lesson or going over a presentation with students. Our district has encouraged us to use Loom. I created a test video of myself reading an ebook that I checked out using the SORA app that I shared in my previous post. Here is my example video. Please feel free to email me if you have questions, but I would suggest just diving in and testing it out for yourself. Make sure to have whatever you want to share with your students already open on your screen before you start recording to make it easier.

Test Recording — Watch Video

Our district librarian also created this video that explains how to get Loom on your computer. The possibilities are endless with this for remote learning and the turn around time is quick making this resource on of the best for creating content for Google Classroom.

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School is closed, what now?

Where do I find some books to read now that I can’t go to our school library?

At times like these when no two days are the same, at least we have iPads and there are free books to read online! Yay! Two really great resources available right on your devices are SORA (the little blue marshmallow guy) and stories through Audible.

In addition to excellent title choice provided by our local schools, students who have a library card can also add Deschutes Public Library to their SORA account using their library card number. Our local library is AMAZING and has added up to 15 simultaneous checkouts to many of their popular titles. Try this link to go directly to our district SORA collection. When it prompts you to log in, remember that your username is your firstlastname and your password is the super-secret one that you created to get on the wifi at school or log in to a computer.

I also have really been enjoying the selection of audiobooks that Audible has made available. In the past two weeks that have continued to add to what is available through their Audible stories, found here and it doesn’t require any log in.

As your @lavabearian, I will be attempting to update this space as frequently as possible, trying to create an avenue to still stay connected to students, provide resources for staff and students, and also continue to share my love of books. I hope you are all well and remember to reach out to anyone at school if you need anything. We will do our best to help any way we can.

At least now I have a reason to use this meme 🙂

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Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel


I am a sucker for a cool cover. I feel like the last few years have been the years of the ravens/crows as they are featured all over the place. This book is also very purple so I didn’t hesitate to pick it up.

This was my first read after finishing my service on the 2019 YALSA Printz committee. I needed something light and different from our other finalists. Unfortunately, this book was a huge disappointment. I think that is in part because I have read for the last 12 months with a very critical eye and with the award criteria in mind. This story was okay, but the writing was pretty green. Obviously this is the author’s first published work, but I think the editing could have been better. I found the word “rendered” used three times within two pages. That probably isn’t a big deal for most readers, but I couldn’t really get past that.

Angie has recently started living with her father after her mother dies of a drug overdose. They had been living inside of an old VW bus and Angie was well-adjusted to the nomadic lifestyle. She didn’t really know her father previously, but his life of predictability takes a bit to get used to. Then a new family moves into the house next door where a family had previously been murdered. Why would a family want to move into a house with that history? Well, apparently a family of harbingers of death. Along with them comes a murder of crows and a strange faceless man who is always surrounded by bees.

Curiosity gets the best of Angie and she quickly develops a friendship with one of the new neighbors, Reece, who attends her high school. Reece quickly earns popularity as a strong hockey player, but there is something mysterious about him and he seems drawn to Angie. She has always been known as the girl whose mom died of a drug overdose, but Reece doesn’t seem to judge her on that. Through a few conversations and strange encounters, Angie learns that Reece isn’t like other boys. He knows that something big is coming and encourages Angie to get her and her dad out of town. When the big thing does come, Angie isn’t ready for what it means for her, her dead mom, Reece, and her community.

I would say this book is for people who liked books like Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet by Joanne Proulx (coming out in movie soon), Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett, or The Croak Series by Gina Damico.

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2018 Reading Stats

I haven’t posted anything in over a year, sadly. I accidentally found my original blog start while searching for a link to my daughter’s classroom website. Looking back, it reminded me of how much fun it is to post reviews, library happenings, and new things that we have tried in the library. I think that looking at all of my reading for 2018 is a good way to jump back into the blogging world. So here are the stats. This document shows the title of each book I read for each month, the page numbers and the ratings. My next goal is to post my reviews of the books for each month. After that I hope to be able to continually post reviews for books I read starting with February 2019.

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The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

How many times have we all encountered a Riley? Someone dressed in a way that masks their gender and we don’t know, upon first appearance, if they are a boy or a girl?  As someone who works in high school, this isn’t as uncommon as people would think.  I encounter hundreds of students on a daily basis and every once in awhile I can’t differentiate gender on students.  However, this is the first time I have encountered a book that so clearly encompasses the voice and emotion of a genderfluid teen.  Riley wakes up every day and waits to see where the internal compass will shift.  Is it pointing more feminine or masculine?  What if one can’t decide? Then you do as Riley often does, dress in the middle, high-top Dr. Marten’s, solid jeans, band shirt and a beanie.  Let people decide for themselves.

Something has happened to Riley that has forced the decision to transfer from a private school to a public school.  The event was so traumatic that it forced Riley to be medicated to control the anxiety, shaking, and fuzziness that accompanies stressful situations like walking the gauntlet of the school cafeteria.  Maybe starting at a new school is just what Riley needs.  But maybe things aren’t different at all and high school kids will be high school kids and binary in their gender identification.  What if you don’t fit?

Garvin has written one of the best books I have read this year in keeping Riley’s gender neutral and readers don’t really know if Riley was born male or female.  In my experience in high school I think the vulnerability, bullying, and blogging aspects of this book are spot on to the experiences of some of my students.  This should be required high school reading in order to develop more empathy and truly understand the human experience from Riley’s perspective.

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