Tag 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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Life update and a few book reviews!

I want to say that I have had a lot of educational and teacher planning going on in my life in the last month. But, sadly, I have not.  I have just been busy doing the mommy and wife thing, with home maintenence on the side!  We have totally re-done our back yard! We extended it out ten feet, put up a shed, fenced the whole thing, made a kids play area and fenced that off so the dogs can’t get in there, put up a screen enclosure, spread out two dump trucks full of dirt, laid sod, and got a new patio table. That was all pretty much done in the last two weeks. I have never worked so physically hard in my life! I am a more of a read on the side and watch the work being done kind of person!  I am exhausted!  But I love my new backyard!

Last week was my birthday! Nothing exciting happened though. The girls and I just spent a quiet day at the beach, my husband had to work.  It was great spending the day relaxing after all that working.  And the day after I decided to purchase a mini van! I have been resistant to do so, but compared to other large size vehicles it was the best fit for having three little ones and their friends and I have to say that I absolutely love it!

Yesterday I checked the vacancies list again and noticed that quite a few new openings had posted so I made some calls and sent out my resume. Hopefully I can get some interviews lined up. I am so extremely eager to find a job!  This is seriously what I have been waiting to do my whole life and not having a job yet is killing me!  I am already planning out what I need to accomplish to get my room ready, what kind of forms and information I need to ready for the first few days, and much more. I do need to sit down and make a list so that i can be more prepared when I actually start getting things ready.  I went to the store yesterday and saw that all the school supplies are out already! That just gets me even more excited!

In between all the work I finally finished Game of Thrones (find it on Amazon.com here).

Image This was a bear of a book to get through. Not because it wasn’t good, because it was!  It was just long and very small print, and there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but all in all, a very good read.  I usually don’t really read these types of books, but a friend suggested it, so I picked one up and started in on it.  I actually picked up the second book  as well, but knowing how long it took me to read the first one I am going to hold off and fit a few shorter books in first!  It is kind of like a historical fiction/fantasy/sci-fi.  And I have to say I am not always a fan of making books into TV shows or movies but I can say that I think this will make a really good show. I have not yet had the chance to wactch, but one day when I get a some free time I plan on sitting down and watching.  Usually I like to give some plot in my book reviews, but it would be really hard, and really long to do so for this book.  But I do think that most readers would enjoy this book. Like I said I am not a sci-fi or fantasy lover at all, but this was a really good read!

I give this book ***

* Wish I never read this book.

** Okay read.

***This was  a good book

****Great book, recommend to all!

Book Description (from Amazon.com)

Publication Date: March 22, 2011
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.
 
The next review is for Bared to You by Sylvia Day.
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I also read this one because a friend recommended it. It is very similar to the 50 Shades of Gray series. I was going to look at the print dates on both because they pretty much have the same plot line, just with semi different characters. It was a decent read. I read it in just one day, so it is pretty short.  I just wanted a little summer read to clear my mind and relax before I moved onto something more serious!
 

I give this book **

* Wish I never read this book.

** Okay read.

***This was  a good book

****Great book, recommend to all!

Book Description (from Amazon.com)

Publication Date: June 12, 2012 | Series: A Crossfire Novel
“If I were to recommend any book today to readers who enjoyed 50 Shades…this would be the first one I would offer….scorching love scenes.”–Dear Author
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness…
He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily…
Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other’s most private worlds…and desires.
The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart…
 
I have another book to review, one by Tim O’Brien, but I am off to take the girls to the movies so that will have to wait for another day! Happy summer!

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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: The Outsiders and Dope Sick

The Outsiders By S.E. Hinton

 

 

S.E. Hinton’s 1967 classic, published when she was a freshman in college, is as appropriate and realistic today as it was then. Fourteen-year-old Ponyboy, his brothers, and his friends are poor outcasts–“greasers.” They have little but always stick together. After they’re victims of the town’s “socs (socials)–kids with lots of money, tough cars, and chips on their shoulders–everyone comes to realize how deep and serious their divide is. (S.G.B. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine– Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine)

I never did read this book when I was younger. Or if I did I do not remember.  But I am pretty sure that I would have remembered. I think that this book is still great for kids today as well as in the past.  The big idea of the book still exists out there today. The clothes, speech, and time may be different, but teens can still relate and I think that they would really get into this book.  It is not on the county reading list where I work, but I would suggest this to students to read on their own.

I give this book ****

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

Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers

From Publishers Weekly

Using both harsh realism and a dose of the fantastic, Myers (Game) introduces an inner-city teen in the jaws of a crisis: 17-year-old Lil J is holed up in an abandoned building, believed to have shot an undercover cop in a drug bust, while police officers assemble in the street below. As he searches for a way out, Lil J is stopped by Kelly, an eerily calm vagrant who invites him to cop a squat and check yourself out on the tube. Kelly’s TV not only plays scenes from Lil J’s life but projects what will happen if he sticks with his current plan: suicide. Shocked, Lil J considers Kelly’s question, If you could take back one thing you did… what would it be? Aided by Kelly’s TV, Lil J revisits pivotal moments and wrestles with his fate. As expected, Myers uses street-style lingo to cover Lil J’s sorry history of drug use, jail time, irresponsible fatherhood and his own childhood grief. A didn’t-see-that-coming ending wraps up the story on a note of well-earned hope and will leave readers with plenty to think about. Ages 14–up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
Walter Dean Myers is an author that I had never read before I started my student teaching. Not being around teens I had never really paid much attention to the books that they were reading. But now that I am working in a high school it is important that I know what they are reading, why, and also to read it myself so I know what books to suggest to what students. Walter Dean Myers is a great writer. I have read three of his books so far and they all have many real life themes that students can relate to.
Dope Sick is about a drug addicted teen. The school and students I work with don’t have these types of issues, that I know of, drug use is not prominent. But teens like books that will grab their attention. His books certainly do.  Students will read his books because they can be racy, they are short, and they are relatable. But what I can see is that they can take away a bigger message.  This book is telling the reader that it’s okay if you are going through life and you have not figured it all out yet. The time will come.  There is always hope and the possibility of change.

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: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Here is the description from amazon.com. I would rather copy this part and then state my own opinion of the book.

Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination.
Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone’s heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who’ve lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father’s grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother’s apartment. They are there to dig up his father’s empty coffin.

http://www.amazon.com/Extremely-Incredibly-Close-Jonathan-Safran/dp/0618329706

I think this was a good book. It has some great themes and use of symbolism.  But on a whole it was not my favorite read.  I am glad that I did read it but it is one of those books that can be confusing at times. Oskar’s mind is hard to figure out and if you cannot figure out the main character it can make the reading slow going at times.  I do think that the author did a great job at looking at the 9/11 tragedy in a whole new way. We have not really seen the emotions from a young child’s view before so in that way this book is unique.  The one pet peeve I really had about the book was the extremely long paragraphs! In some sections the paragraphs would go on for pages.  I understand that the author probably had a reason to print the book like that but sometimes it can make reading it a bit difficult. I have many interruptions (kids) during reading and, personally, I hate having to find my spot over and over again.  I would recommend the book, it is a good read, but seems like those who read it will really love it or just think it’s okay.  I am kind of in the middle.

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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