Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: We Are Okay

We Are Okay We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A relatable story of grief, friendship, and learning how to move forward after a loss. This is a character driven story, so don't expect strong plot lines to push the novel forward.

As Marin settles into the solitude of the empty dorms over the Christmas holiday, readers are taken on an emotional journey that explores her life with her loving but distant grandpa, her friendship with Mabel, her dead mother, and the many webs that weave between them.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: Homegoing

Homegoing Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lyrical and haunting, Homegoing is an epic tale of love, war, freedom, enslavement, and ultimately, family. Three centuries of life and death unfold beginning with the stories of Effia and Esi - half-sisters who are strangers to each other. Effia the Beauty is married to an Englishman, a slaver, and a life of comfort in the castle ensues. Esi is stolen from her village and imprisoned in the dungeons beneath the very castle her sister roams freely, to be sold and shipped to America. The generations of descendants that follow these two women are maps of history. American slavery, Civil War, northern Migration, segregation, civil rights, to modern day racial discord. British colonization in Africa, slave trade, and centuries of warfare.

A powerful read!!

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Review: It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer...I somehow have read too many YA mental illness books in a short span to truly appreciate this one to its fullest extent.

Is Craig a bit quirky? Yes. Does he obsess over making sure he is successful? Yes. Is he the smartest kid in his class? No. Does he need help dealing with all of the anxiety in his life? Absolutely.

Meet Craig Gilner, a NYC teen whose life becomes so much for him that he can't sleep, can't eat, basically can't function. When suicide seems like the only option, Craig checks himself into the local psychiatric hospital and soon finds out that he's not alone.

You may laugh, you may cry, this one may hit close to home for many.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: The Last True Love Story

The Last True Love Story The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Teddy (Hendrix), Corrina, Gpa, and Old Humper (the dog) set out on an epic road trip, and "you have to respect the road trip."

Teddy's goal is to record as much of his Gpa's history as he can before Alzheimer's takes his memories away. Getting Gpa back to New York, where he met and fell in love with Teddy's grandma, is a last ditch effort on Teddy's part to help his Gpa hang on to the memory of his grandma and their love.

Corrina's dream is to become a musician. She spends hours playing her guitar on the boardwalk as she dreams of finding someplace to fit in.

After a clandestine meeting, Teddy and Corrina hatch a plan to drive cross-country from LA to New York in search of something more. Teddy's quest centers on his Gpa, but along the way, he learns more than he ever wanted to about his dead father and why nobody talks about him. Corrina sets off to find her musical niche, but she too learns something about herself, her loneliness, and why she doesn't seem to fit in.

Ultimately, this is a lyrical story filled with song, friendship, budding romance, discovery, and memory. Highly recommended.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chrome's Incognito Mode is a teacher's friend...

A Chrome feature that I use regularly is Incognito Mode. When I want to see how something will look to others (without logging out of my Google Account), I simply pop open an Incognito window and check it out.

For teachers, Incognito Mode can be a valuable tool for a variety of reasons. Incognito Mode makes it quick and easy to check out how things will look and function in Google Classroom from a student's point of view. I use the Incognito window to login to a generic student account that is enrolled in my Classroom and see exactly what my students will see and how they will interact with the application.  Check out the short video below to see how this can be done.

Incognito Mode can also be used as a simple way for students to login to their Google Accounts on a teacher station for quick tech help, to print, or to do anything they need to do without requiring the teacher to logout of his/her account. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: The Smell of Other People's Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four stories that are woven together to create a timeless tale. Ruth, Dora, Alyce, and Hank are teens growing up in the wilds of 1970s Alaska, and each has secrets they've tried to keep from everyone they know. Their lyrical tales filled with tragedy, suffering, luck, hope, friendship, family, and love are simply enthralling.

Hitchcock manages to bring each story to life while leaving elements untold, which may leave readers wondering if there's more to come.

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