Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reveiw: "Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I tried, I really tried. I like how the dialogue and action flow. I like the characters. But I do not like how each chapter flits between various point of views. I found myself asking "Who is this person?" every time I set the book down, then tried to pick it up and read it again. If you don't have time to just sit down and read the entire book, which I don't, then it becomes tiresome to try to remember all the people and situations.

I rated the book three stars, because I really did enjoy the writing. But I do not recommend this book unless you do not mind the changing POVs.

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Review: "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda" by Tom Angleberger

The Strange Case of Origami YodaThe Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I must admit, this book was not what I expected. The story begins with a boy trying to decide if the Origami Yoda is real, as in can the finger puppet channel the Force to produce good advice. I love how the author, Tom Angleberger, uses various fonts and simple pictures to convey information from different characters in the book. But mostly I love that this book provides entertainment - I laughed out loud several times.

I recommend this for both kids and adults looking for a light, entertaining book.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: "Cowboys v.s. Aliens"

"Cowboys v.s. Aliens" is a modern telling of a traditional Old West story: Man wakes up in desert with no memory. Man gets to town and causes trouble. Man saves townspeople from aliens, regains memories, and helps townspeople fight the aliens.

What makes this movie so extraordinary is that the director manages to make an action movie with subtle character interactions. Daniel Craig, who places the man with no memories, does a fantastic job with his character's personality. The more he remembers, the stronger the personality. Harrison Ford also plays a three-dimensional character. He's not a nice man, nor is he the typical Western bad guy. The scenes where these two men play off of each other sizzle on screen from sheer chemistry.

There is only one plot twist in the movie, with the rest of the plot guessable as you watch the screen. But the story unfolds so easily that you look forward to each scene, suspending disbelief without having to work at it.

All in all, I'd give this movie 4 out of 5 stars.

Review: "The Sorceress" by Michael Scott

The Sorceress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #3)The Sorceress by Michael Scott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As the third installment of "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel", "The Sorceress" delivers more action, characters, and plot twists. The story begins with Pernelle still on Alcatraz while Nicholas and the twins look for help in London. Scott manages to develop the main characters even more in this novel - we learn about past twins, Elders, and those who came before the Elders. We learn that Pernelle has a reputation (which buys her a bit of breathing room).

The action moves along at a steady pace in the novel as well, though not so fast as to lose the reader.

I want to say more, but I do not want to spoil anything for readers of this series. I will say that you need to read the first two books first, as much of this novel will not make sense without the background.

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Volunteering at School

Welcome to the first week of school! As your child or children return to the classroom, I encourage you to volunteer at your school. I know that this seems hard sometimes, especially if you work outside the house. But you will reap rewards both immediate and long term.

I know this because I am a dedicated school volunteer at both my elementary school and middle school. I have volunteered as a room mom, a PTA committee chairperson, a media center helper, a front office helper, a parent reader, art room helper, field trip chaperone, copy parent, and classroom helper. I have walked kindergarten students to class the first week of school, and I have done hearing and vision tests on first and fourth grade students. Sometimes, I see my kids while I’m volunteering at school. At other times, I don’t see them at all (which is good when I’m working in the front office).

I am certain that you have heard the rhetoric about volunteering, and how good it is for your school. But what no one focuses on is how much this effects your relationship with your kids. Even when I don’t see them, my kids like that I volunteer. It makes them happy, knowing that I spend time at the school for them. I end up sitting with them at lunch more often, where we talk about the school day so far. And I feel that volunteering has strengthened our relationship, helping us stay close as they get older.

Volunteering at the school is also good for me. By being at the school, I get to know my child’s teachers better, which helps immensely if there is a problem because we already have a working relationship. I also get to meet the administrators, so I feel more comfortable if I want to ask them a question. Volunteering raises my overall comfort level at school.

So I implore you to give it a try. Even if you only show up at the holiday party or read in your child’s classroom once, it will be worth the effort.

How To Talk To Your Child's Teacher

As school begins, I want to address a topic that I hear about every year - how to discuss something with your child’s teacher. I hear about this from friends - I have even been asked how to discuss a problem with teachers. So I asked some teachers what advice they would give parents, and this is what I heard.

1. Know your student. This advice surprised me, but apparently some parents show up at school not knowing simple things about their child. Teachers want you to spend time with you child, learn their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes. It makes a conversation go better if the teacher isn’t trying to talk to a parent about how their child hates math when the parent thinks their child loves math.

2. Come prepared. If you want to discuss your child’s reading level, bring a list of current books that your child is reading at home. If you want to discuss a test where you disagree with the grading, bring the test along with you.

3. Remember, the teacher wants your child to succeed as much as you do. This is not an adversarial relationship. While I strongly feel it is a parent’s job to be their child’s advocate, that does not stipulate that the teacher is your opponent.

4. If there is a situation, please speak with the teacher before going to the principal. You end up annoying the teacher and the principal if you go to the principal first.

5. Let the teacher know why you want a conference, including all questions or concerns that you have, in advance. Chances are good that the teacher will know about any problems, but it is courteous to send out this information so that the teacher can be prepared.

6. Ask your teacher at the beginning of the year how he or she wants to be contacted. I have had teachers who want you to send notes, teachers who want phone calls, and teachers who want emails. Find out your teacher’s preference, and use it.

7. Also ask your teacher when he or she has planning time during the day. Typically, this is the time a teacher has for parent conferences. By getting this at the beginning of the year, you’ll know all year long what time you’ll need to get off for any conferences.

8. Arrive on time.

9. Leave on time. If you feel that a situation is not resolved because you need more time, ask the teacher for another conference to finish the discussion.

10. Bring your child with you, if your child is old enough (middle or high school age). When your child reaches an age where she or he can participate in a conference, let it happen. That removes the “he said, she said” that can occur when you and the teacher are discussing such topics as homework or projects.

Freaky Friday News: Unicorn Licenses

Los Angeles County Gives a Young Resident a Unicorn License Last month, a resident of Los Angeles county, Miss Madeline, sent a handwritte...