Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not your typical self-help book. In a world where keeping up with the Jones', moving up the ladder, and always putting your best face forward (literally...FB, Insta, Snap, you name it) is the "norm", Manson challenges us to prioritize what's really of value in life and living for those values. It's about understanding that suffering is a part of life, realizing that everyone is not special, and accepting that we must take responsibility for our lives.

Entertaining, enlightening, and profane!

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Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Starr is a teen who is torn between two worlds - the ghetto where she lives and the prep school suburbs where she attends school. She has two sets of friends, and even two sets of family - her immediate family (a father who's a former gang banger) and extended family (Uncle Carlos who is a cop and lives in a gated community). These worlds collide when she finds herself as the witness to the shooting death of her childhood friend, Khalil, by a white police officer.

The event becomes a media sensation. Does it really matter that Khalil may have been a drug dealer? That he's being called a Thug? He wasn't even armed! With protests and riots taking over her community, Starr must speak the truth - no matter the cost.

The Hate U Give brings a personal take to what we've been seeing plastered across the headlines for years. It's raw, and honest, and needs to be read.

*not recommended for young teens due to graphic language

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: Winger

Winger Winger by Andrew Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ryan Dean West (Ryan Dean is his first name, not a first/middle combo) is funny, athletic, smart, and a 14 year old Junior at Pine Mountain school (he considers it an alternative boarding school). He's in love with Annie, living in housing for the biggest delinquents at a school filled with delinquents, and about to tell the story of his Junior year with filled with teen angst, lust, Rugby, testosterone, friendship, and tragedy. You'll definitely want to stick around for this one!

*the language is strong [but authentic], so maybe not for younger teens

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Review: The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy.

The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy. The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy. by Tom Rinaldi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Powerful, emotional, inspiring!

It's not often that a book brings me to tears, but this one sure did. It could be because I vividly recall the minute by minute drama of September 11, 2001, or maybe it's because Welles' story is simply heartbreaking.

Throughout his story from his days as a kid in Nyack, NY who carried a red bandanna with him always (as his father taught him), to his passion for sports and volunteer firefighting, through his years at Boston College then on to the financial hub of Wall Street, Welles was not perfect, but he was simply good - a good person. After Welles died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, his mother just couldn't accept that she didn't know what his last moments were like. Yet survivor stories shared glimpses into the tragedy, and several pointed to a mysterious man with a red bandanna who helped save them. This man proved to be Welles, and his story deserves to be shared with all.

A must read!

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review: Wonder

Wonder Wonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Auggie Pullman is is not your average 10 year old. Born with a facial deformity that has defined pretty much every facet of his childhood, Auggie is about to set out on a new challenge - 5th grade! Being the new kid at any school is hard enough, but after being home-schooled his entire life, and being the kid who everyone stares at, he knows this hurdle is going to be a big one.

With the support of his mom, dad, and sister, Auggie manages to make a few great friends, learn how to deal with bullies, and show that courage is something amazing!

A simple but emotional read!

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: Bang

Bang Bang by Barry Lyga
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even though he was only 4 years old, Sebastian knows what he did. He knows about the gun. He knows his baby sister is dead. He's lived with the guilt his entire life. But soon it will be over. A gun started this nightmare, and a gun can end it.

This quick, yet engrossing read, will have teens flying through the pages.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: The Singing Bones

The Singing Bones The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed reading (and viewing) this book. I loved the simple art characters that accompanied each of the Grimm tales - or more appropriately accurately - the essence of each tale. The brief excerpts of each tale will have readers wanting to read each in its entirety (just go online to find them), and the paired sculptures are simply beautiful.

I kept finding myself wanting to share the book with each of the English and Art teachers I work with because I can see some amazing projects coming to life both in writing and art classrooms.

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