Category Archives: Book Review

Authors…I would love to review your books!

Not only do I like reading YA books along with ALL other books, but I love to read and share with students, friends, anyone!  So, if you are an author and you would like me to read and review your book on my blog, please do NOT hesitate to contact me.  This will benefit me, I can build my classroom library as well as give my students great new books to read and share with others! And this will benefit you because I will be sharing my thoughts with the world, which could get you some great press!

Here’s what you can expect after you send me a book:  It can take me anywhere from 1 week to 3 months to review a book.  This means I may not finish a book by its publication date.  Between my family, lesson planning, and teaching full-time things can get busy. But I always try to read each book within the month that I get it.  Please keep this in mind when you ask me for a review.

So help me and I will help you! Thanks for your support keeping students on the right path, with a book in hand! 🙂

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Book Review: Beloved & Just Write!

I finished two books this week.  The first one I would like to talk about is Beloved by Toni Morrison.

Book review from Amazon.com:

Book Description

Publication Date: July 24, 2007
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
My thoughts:
Again, this is one of those books that I should have read years before and have not. I guess since it was not a required reading at my school or many colleges I had not picked it up, until this past week.  This book is one of those books that, for one you cannot put down and two, you often have to stop and think about the characters a little more deeply.  There were some parts that I read over a few times just so the information could sink in.  I rarely do this.  But this book has so much going on, so many issues that you often have to re-read a passage to grasp all that Morrison is trying to tell you as the reader.  I would definitely recommend this book to any and all readers.
Just Write: Here’s How! By Walter Dean Myers

Book Description from amazon.com

Publication Date: April 24, 2012

Practice, practice, practice. Now Walter Dean Myers, the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, walks you through the writing process.

Includes:

  • Examples from his writing and reading experiences
  • Walter’s six-box and four-box outlines for writing fiction and nonfiction
  • Excerpted pages from Walter’s own notebooks
  • An afterword by Ross Workman, Walter’s teen coauthor of kick
  • Writing tips from both Walter and Ross

Anyone can be a writer, with a little help from Walter Dean Myers!

My thoughts:

This is a great book for middle and high school students who have an interest in writing and even for those beyond school.  But it is written to the school age person.  Myers makes it a little more personal with stories from his own life and actual pages from his journals he used as he was writing one of his many different stories.  As a teacher I found some ideas in the book that I could use in the classroom for brainstorming.  I like how he breaks down his method and show you how simple it is to come up with a story outline.  This book could make those students who are leery about taking on writing a book more excited to do so.  This is a book that I plan on keeping in my classroom library, that way I can easily share with those who are interested in writing something longer than an essay!

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Book Review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar By Sylvia Plath

Book description (amazon.com)

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.

My thoughts:

Halfway through this book I kept asking myself, “why have I never read this before?”.  Really.  This book really tugs at your emotions and even to this day there are so many ways that young adults and adults alike can connect with, one way or another.  The story draws you in and keeps you turning the pages, well into the night (I couldn’t put it down)!  I hate when I read a classic that many others have read before and I have not yet.  Why is no one suggesting this book?  I know for sure that I will be urging my students to pick this novel up.  It would make for a great classroom discussion! If you have not read it yet, get it, and get reading!

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Book Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

First I have to say that if I did not know that Tim O’Brien was coming to my local library I might not have picked up his book at Barnes & Noble  last week.  But, I am extremely glad that I did. I found his book to be a great and very quick read.  His tales of Vietnam really get you thinking and at the same time are entertaining and heart wrenching.  On Thursday night I went to see O’Brien speak at a library event here in Jacksonville.  He is quite a humorous guy.  He made a lot of great points and one that he really wanted the audience to walk away with was that there is not always a big difference between a made up story and one that really happened.  He stated that those stories that are made up always come from what has actually happened but are not always true.  He wanted to make it clear that the story that is told may be better than the one that actually happened and that there is nothing wrong with that.  You can still feel the same emotions whether it be from a real or made up story.  All in all Tim O’Brien was great and I have always wanted to see an author in the flesh and I finally accomplished it! I hope to see many more!

Go pick up The Things They carried for yourself, you will enjoy it!  I plan on picking up more of O’Brien’s books to read over the summer!

Tim O’Brien signed my book!!

Amazon.com Review

“They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing–these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice…. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to.”A finalist for both the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Things They Carried marks a subtle but definitive line of demarcation between Tim O’Brien’s earlier works about Vietnam, the memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone and the fictional Going After Cacciato, and this sly, almost hallucinatory book that is neither memoir nor novel nor collection of short stories but rather an artful combination of all three. Vietnam is still O’Brien’s theme, but in this book he seems less interested in the war itself than in the myriad different perspectives from which he depicts it. WhereasGoing After Cacciato played with reality, The Things They Carried plays with truth. The narrator of most of these stories is “Tim”; yet O’Brien freely admits that many of the events he chronicles in this collection never really happened. He never killed a man as “Tim” does in “The Man I Killed,” and unlike Tim in “Ambush,” he has no daughter named Kathleen. But just because a thing never happened doesn’t make it any less true. In “On the Rainy River,” the character Tim O’Brien responds to his draft notice by driving north, to the Canadian border where he spends six days in a deserted lodge in the company of an old man named Elroy while he wrestles with the choice between dodging the draft or going to war. The real Tim O’Brien never drove north, never found himself in a fishing boat 20 yards off the Canadian shore with a decision to make. The real Tim O’Brien quietly boarded the bus to Sioux Falls and was inducted into the United States Army. But the truth of “On the Rainy River” lies not in facts but in the genuineness of the experience it depicts: both Tims went to a war they didn’t believe in; both considered themselves cowards for doing so. Every story in The Things They Carried speaks another truth that Tim O’Brien learned in Vietnam; it is this blurred line between truth and reality, fact and fiction, that makes his book unforgettable. –Alix Wilber –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Book Review: Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands

Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy

Author’s website/reviews/summary found Here.

 “[A] noteworthy debut…[and] richly detailed portrait of life in the racist South. McCarthy gives voice to the individuals whose ‘time in the fire’ was Florida in the early 50’s… appropriate for all who wish to reexamine this dark chapter in American history.” 

~Bookreporter.com

 In the orange-blossom scented spring of 1951, Reesa McMahon is awakened at dawn to learn that the local Klan has brutally murdered her closest friend and mentor, nineteen-year-old Marvin Cully. The killing of this gentle black man, who worked in the McMahons’ orange grove, will turn the genteel town of Mayflower, Florida, into a battleground. 

As violence erupts across the state, and Thurgood Marshall and Harry T. Moore of the NAACP join the McMahons to unmask Marvin’s killers, Reesa’s younger brother becomes the target of a Klansman’s bullet. Reesa’s search to make sense of her town’s soul-killing bigotry will pave the way for our country’s painful steps toward justice, equality, and guaranteed civil rights.
This book was something that I most likely would not have found on my own. There are millions of books out there, I am sure that I miss tons and tons that I should read every year! My mentor teacher is going to start reading this with her tenth grade class this coming week, so I went and picked it up so I could read ahead.  It is a story based around events that had actually happened here in Florida and is a great read along with a mini history lesson about what life was like here in FL in the early fifties.  I am really hoping that the students read along with this book, it is not as action packed as they like, but it is a great story that all should know.  This book has been compared to To Kill A Mockingbird and I can say that it is very comparable.  

I give this book ****

* Wish I never read this book.

** Okay read.

***This was  a good book

****Great book, recommend to all!

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Book Review: Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

We are currently reading this in our 10th grade class. For some the book is extremely easy and they finished it a few days after it was assigned. For others, getting them to read (any book) is like pulling teeth!  It is an easy, quick read (when they actually get around to reading it) and many enjoy the story and how life could possibly be one day if there were some major disaster, like the one encountered in Life As We Knew it.  I plan on using this book again in classroom, it would be perfect for the ninth grade classes as well and would consider for some middle grades.

There are two more books in this series.  The Dead and Gone, tells of the same disaster from a boy who lives in New York’s point of view.  The World We Live In, goes back to Miranda’s story and what has happened a year since the first book.  I have not read either but plan on checking those out from the library in the next few weeks!

Summary from Amazon.com

I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open.
High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, the way “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintry in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut!

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Book review: Incendiary & Fifty Shades of Grey

Incendiary by Chris Cleave

Overview (B&N.com)

A distraught woman writes a letter to Osama bin Laden after her four-year-old son and her husband are killed in a massive suicide bomb attack at a soccer match in London. In an emotionally raw voice alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor, she tries to convince Osama to abandon his terror campaign by revealing to him the desperate sadness—“I am a woman built on the wreckage of myself”—and the broken heart of a working-class life blown apart.

But the bombing is only the beginning. While security measures transform London into a virtual occupied territory, the narrator, too, finds herself under siege. At first she gains strength by fighting back, taking a civilian job with the police to aid the antiterrorist effort. But when she becomes involved with an upper-class couple, she is drawn into a psychological maelstrom of guilt, ambition, and cynicism that erodes her faith in the society she’s working to defend. And when a new bomb threat sends the city into a deadly panic (“It was a panic like the darkest dream and the more people ran out onto the streets the bigger the panic got like a monster made of human beings”) she is pushed to acts of unfathomable desperation—perhaps her only chance for survival.

This was really a heart-wrenching story. As a mother and wife you really feel for the main character.  And the way it was written, the whole story a letter to Osama Bin Laden, I have never seen before.  It really gives the book an overall feeling. If it had not been written as a letter than I think it would have not been as good as it is.

I give this book ****

* Wish I never read this book.  ** Okay read.  ***This was  a good book  ****Great book, recommend to all!

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Overview (B&N.com)

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

I have been hearing a lot about this book. Usually I do not ready the romance/erotic type books. But when a book is being talked about by everyone I become curious so I decided to download this one on my kindle.  At first I was wondering what all the hype was about, but I kept reading, and it got really good!  Maybe because my husband has been gone so long and I am all alone I found it hard to put down more than I usually have?  But either way it was a very quick read, engrossing, and I can’t wait for the other two in the trilogy to come out!

I give this book ***

* Wish I never read this book.  ** Okay read.  ***This was  a good book  ****Great book, recommend to all!

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