Sunday, March 13, 2016

Teaching Is Exhausting

We have a new math teacher at our school, replacing one who is on a mysterious "leave of absence."
However, the new guy has been an instant hit at the school: all the girls thing he's hotter than Hades and all the boys think he's cool because he has so many tattoos.  The teachers feel confident that because the fellow only recently left the Marines, he is unlikely to be cowed by obnoxious teens.
He's doing well, even for taking over mid-year as he has.  Of course, he has plenty of support from the rest of the faculty, as we are a school which works together, not against one another.

Friday we celebrated Pi Day with pie before beginning our afternoon meetings, and the following conversation occurred:

New Math Teacher: *enters room and drops onto a chair* I am EXHAUSTED!
All More Experienced Teachers In Room: *knowing laughter*
New:  No, really!  Six months ago, I'd put a 40 lb pack on, hike 10 miles, come home and drink a 6-pack.  I'd be FINE.  Now, I go home after school, drink a glass of milk, and collapse for a nap!  It's UNREAL!
All: *loud laughter*
Science Teacher: It'll get better.
Me: No, it won't, but you'll get used to it!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Book Review: Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

There was some steampunk.  There were some paranormal creatures.  There was a lot of guilt about how whites treated native tribes in the Old West.  There was blood -- and gore and cannibalism.
The plot worked OK.  The pacing was OK.
The characters were cartoonish.  Seriously, I felt like this was some kind of steampunk melodrama and that Dudley Doright would soon appear on the scene to save the day.
I had to force myself to finish the book because I didn't care about any of the characters or their fates or motivations.  They were all potentially interesting, but this whole book seemed to be the work of someone who'd gotten lucky with their first book; the writing was immature, with no depth.

However, there were no major errors.  So, if you feel like a steampunk/old west/paranormal beach read, this might be for you.  If you can make yourself finish it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Book Review: Front Lines by Michael Grant

This book is a true alternate history book: no magic, no paranormal, just what would be historical fiction except that a huge change has been made.  In this case, the huge change to history is that the Supreme Court has allowed women to be enlist/ be drafted into WWII.
I found this change to be a very timely thing, as the actual possibility of women's registering for the draft sometime in the near future has recently been suggested (and thrown conservative news comments sections into a tizzy).  I really liked how Grant presented the obvious but often overlooked fact that many girls/women simply wouldn't have the physical strength necessary to make it into combat anyway.  In Front Lines, this is made very clear.
The book has three main protagonists whose stories weave together.  Each girl is very well drawn out as a character, as are the personalities of the supporting characters.  I felt this was a real strong point in the book.
I also loved how the main military conflicts followed were all set in Tunisia.  It's easy to find historical fiction set in Europe during the War, not so much so with the Pacific Theatre, but Africa?  I'd never heard of a book's covering that part of the War before.
Grant seems to have done quite a bit of research.  True, I'm no expert, but I was delighted to read a supporting character's description of the Pacific war hero, General Douglas MacArthur.  On page 231, Grant has a character say, "The general... well, I shouldn't say it, but he's a pompous ass and a showboat...."  I've never read such a thing in print --ever!  But my father, who fought with the unit temporarily assigned to protect MacArthur, has spent 70 years making fun of the general for staging photo shoots in perfectly pressed trousers weeks after the battles were over.  (In those days, there was no instant sharing of pics, so the public was more easily fooled.)
I really liked this book, and I would have given it five stars, but the end is ... lame.
Grant gets us through the battle, lets us know who made it out alive, and then he just stops.  Not even one of the numerous subplots is resolved.  The narrator never identifies herself (or possibly himself), which is even more aggravating that the protagonists with no names in The Invisible Man and Rebecca.  I'm guessing this is a set up for a sequel, but since the book begins and ends with teasers at the end of the war, it all just feels wrong.  And cheap.  It's as if Grant thought, "Oh, the book's getting too long; I'll just stop here."  Boo! Hiss!
Other irritating things include: 1) the book is written in present tense, which is SO ANNOYING, 2) Grant uses "fug" for the F-word throughout the book and "Nigra" for the N-word -- which makes his tone condescending (there are other ways to let readers know what's been said without actually printing the words, if he's concerned about losing his YA readers or making their mommies mad), and 3) in spite of Grant's attempt to be all trendy and cool by writing female protagonists, it's clear he's Mr. Macho Male and too squeamish to deal with the major problem a girl in fighting situations would have: menstruation.  (Kotex and Tampax would have been wondrous and new to country girls entering the army, but pads were held in place with garter-like belts.  Girls would worry about rashes, smells, disposal, leaks, cramps, etc.  This would have been huge!  Grant's characters appear not to menstruate so that he doesn't have to mention "icky" things in a book which includes headless corpses and intestines spilling out. *rolls eyes*)
On the whole, however, this is a very good read, and I enjoyed it.


Yes, it's been awhile.  Sorry.
Three of my immediate family members have had some serious health problems.  Then my own body decided it was feeling left out and developed a few new weirdnesses requiring multiple doctor visits (during which time, two of my favorite doctors decided to relocate, forcing me to find new ones).
 And school is .... well, in a unique situation.
You see, I've taught at a traditional junior high (grades 7-9) for many years.  And, at the end of this year, our school will be absorbed into the nearby high school, becoming a second campus as the high school shifts from 10-12 to 9-12.   There has been a good deal more durm and strang than usual with registering the 7th graders for a different junior high for 8th grade, registering both 8th and 9th graders at least a month earlier than usual for high school, and the interviewing of teachers for different job placements (as we cannot continue to teach at a school which no longer exists).  As I have not yet been placed, I live in limbo, not even yet able to pack up my numerous files and such in order to move... somewhere.
All this means I haven't done one speck of writing or editing since last autumn.  I've done a good deal of reading, though, so I'm going to try to post some book reviews and not let this blog die. :)