Monday, March 30, 2015

The Pacesetter by Jerry M. Fisher

Genre: Adult, Biography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I requested this book when I found out about it for several reasons. The first is that I've always had a love of racing, thanks to my father. I was born and raised most of my young life in Indiana. I've been on the track at the Indianapolis Speedway. It was one of the most terrifying and exhilarating times of my life. According to my mom, my dad worked the pits in Indianapolis and Kokomo. Another reason I wanted to read the book was because I had just learned that I had a distant cousin, Harry Knight ,who was part of the early racing in Indianapolis, racing in the first two Indy 500 races. He sadly lost his life in 1913 during a race in Ohio. These were the initial reasons I wanted to read the book. However there were so many more reasons to read this wonderful book.

I learned so much about the early years of the Indy 500 and the speedway just from reading this book.  Carl G. Fisher was a name I had never heard associated with it.  I am so glad I read the book.  He started out as a very poor boy.  He was considered stupid by many. He quit school at the age of six.  The problem wasn't that he was stupid, it was that he couldn't see.  This is something that was discovered later in his life. Not only did he create the Indy 500, but he was responsible for two major highways. The Transcontinental highway that crossed the United States East and West and the Dixie Highway went from Indianapolis to Miami.  He began to build up Miami.  Fisher Island is actually named after him. The more I read his book the more I became convinced that although he made a lot of money, it seemed to be more about the adventure, getting somewhere with his ideas.

Although all of these adventures were thrilling to read about,  nothing touched me like the story of an accident that caused him to fight for civil rights. One of his black workers fell into a vat of boiling tar. Carl himself drove the man in his personal car to the hospital.  He was told that they didn't treat "his kind" at that hospital. As he drove his worker to the other hospital, the worker died.  This was the fuel needed to make him work hard for equal rights.    This man made a lot of contributions to our country yet we know very little about him.  I think it is time we get the word out.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Everyone has Their Little Secrets by Michael Louthan

Genre: Young Adult, Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This book was such a grabber that I had finished it before I knew it. This story is take from Zoe’s diary. From this book we find a tee, Zoe dealing with more than she should have to deal with at her age. The first thing she has to deal with is her neighbor and brother’s friend Kirk.  For some reason he really likes to bully her every chance he gets.  He looks for opportunities when Zoe’s brother is not around to protect her.

Things take a turn when Zoe’s brother is shot and killed by Kirk. He claims it was an accident. Zoe and her family believe otherwise. From here it seems that Zoe’s life begins to spiral out of control. She begins to make some bad choices.  She deals with more catastrophic events.  All of this leads to another tragedy for the family. 

This is a must read book.  It will keep you asking, what else can possibly happen to this girl and her family?  Be sure before you read it you are ready for the answer to that question.  This is a definite must read for those who like coming of age stories.

About the author:

Michael Louthan was born in Enid, Oklahoma, and grew up in southwest Kansas. He graduated from Wichita State University (Go Shockers!), where he received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. For the last 20 years Michael has lived in New Orleans.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Student Saturday: Heroes of the Holocaust by Mara Bovsun Zullo Allan

Student Reviewer Logan C.
Genre:  Non-Fiction

This story took place in Europe uring the time of Hitler and the Holocaust. The main characers are Jews in hiding and Non-Jews willing to help them.

The major plot points are the survival or capture of the various people involved. The brutality of the Nazis was peppered throughout the book.
A connection that I have is that I hope that if I were in a situation like that I soulc bd zabl to help. I would recommend this book to history lovers, but prepare yourself for an emotional roller coaster.  I hated this book because of the horrible truths that it revcealed. It is horrible that people could be so cruel to each other

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I'm a Different Type of Apple by Kevin D. Elliott, Sr.

Genre: Young Adult, Adult Memoir
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

It is my belief that every teen should read this book. This memoir lays it on the line. Kevin Elliott, Sr. was headed down the same path his father had walked. The major difference is he made a choice to walk a different path. He constantly did an attitude check and then adjusted his attitude and thought process. The process was like stopping and analyzing what wasn't working and making a conscious decision to change it. He makes it clear that negative thinking can only take you deeper down the wrong path. This is a definite must read book.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Kindness Wins by Galit Breen

Genre: Non-Fiction, Informational, Teens and Adults
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I originally agreed to read and review this book because it sounded like something I needed on my school shelves.  I had no idea how right I would be.  This book was written after two major events in
 the author's life.  The first event involved an article she had written for The Huffington Post. She suddenly found herself a victim of cyberbullying.  The second event was her daughter wanting to post things to social media.  Because of her previous experience she realized how important it was to teach her daughter social responsibility on social media.   This review came at a most opportune time in my school year.  We recently had a group of kids making negative comments to each other through something as simple as clapping.  Clapping toward a person was the same thing as calling them a very negative name.  When I spoke to each of my classes and explained that this was a form of bullying and would not be tolerated and that administration had been alerted to this form of bullying it stopped, or so I thought.  Two days later a young lady asked to show me her Instagram. She was upset by the next level these students had taken the clapping.  They were told to mention the name of the person and to send the clap on through to their followers to gather claps.  She was very disturbed by this.  For this reason I am glad I read the book this weekend.

This book has taught me a parent of grown children and a teacher several things.  First I need to make sure I check and double check my own responses.  I need to take time to address my students on the issue of social responsibility on social media.  I've seen several of them on Facebook and I have had private conversations about what they are posting.  It seems that I should just assume that not all parents are going to teach their children and I will do so. This week is our last week before Spring Break and end of the quarter.  I am going to dedicate one of those days to this lesson.

Lessons can be taken straight from her table of contents.  We must always remember that there is someone on the other side of the screen.  One of the most important things she talked about was not talking about someone's body.  That means good or bad.  My favorite was Chapter 6, "If You Wouldn't Say It or Show It to Your Mama, Keep It Offline". This is the one I am going to start my class with.  I need to remind my students that "The Internet Isn't Permanent, But It Is Public and It Is Loud" (Chapter 8).  Students don't think about this at all. Chapter's 9 and 10 are the other two that I find so important to discuss with my students.  Chapter 9 is called "Just Because You See It, Doesn't Mean It's Yours".  Kids seem to have a real problem, as do some adults, understanding this. Finally, Chapter 10 teaches that we are responsible for every word we write online.  Just because we post something as anonymous doesn't mean we aren't responsible.  I guess I've always figured if I was ashamed to put my name to it then I didn't need to post it.  

This is a book that all parents and teachers should read and share with their kids.  It is probably one of the most valuable books around.  It teaches lessons that not only kids but adults need to know as well.

About the Author
Galit Breen was a classroom and reading teacher for ten years. She has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in human development. In 2009, she launched a career as a freelance writer entrenched in social media. Since then, her work has been featured in various online magazines including Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. Breen lives in Minnesota with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously spoiled miniature golden doodle. You can learn more about Galit by visiting:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Student Saturday: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Student Reviewer: Logan C.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

The characters are twelve year old Hugo, Isabelle, the toymaker, the stations inspector and Hugo's uncle. The setting is at the train station, the toymaker's house, and in the toymaker's shoe.

the major plot points are that Hugo is taught his uncle's craft after he is orphaned. His uncle goes missing and Hugo has to keep the clocks working. He found an automator in the fire that killed his father. They realize that the toy maker was a movie maker in the past.

Some connections I had with this book is that Hugo is my age, and likes to explore, take things apart, and make new things. I would recommend reading this book because even though it's thick it is really a quick read. I thought the book was better than the movie because the characters seem more real. This book also uses real antique photos as well as award winning drawings.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Noble Paradise by James Crawford

Genre: Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. the opinions expressed here are my own.

This book hooks you from the beginning. So let me give you a warning. if you are looking for a feel good book; put this one down and find something else to read.

We have David Noble a single father raising two kids. This book touches many ares in my own past. Like David so many single parents try not to involve their children in the ugly parts of a divorce. He tries to provide support and balance to his children's lives. David's ex-wife, tired of paying child support and wanting her daughter listens to friends who tell her how she can get the kids back and destroy David.  It is a shame that this happens not only in books but in real life. They use the past of David's girlfriend as part of the ammunition. David has to battle not only his ex-wife but the accusations that so many of his friends are willing to believe. Anytime lies are told and children are caught in the middle, you know that things are going to go terribly wrong.  Will the tragedy that David must face bring about a change and possible healing?

For me the indicator of a good book is how well it ramps up my emotions. This book put them over the top. I was furious with Kim, David's ex-wife and all of her friends.  I was sad for David and all that he had to go through because of lies. Mostly I was angry that these children were caught in the middle of something that was not their fault. This is a must read book and one a recommend.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient Civilization by Ryan Pyle

Genre: Photographic Journal
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Ryan Pyle is well known around the world through his writing for newspapers and magazines and his wonderful photographs. In his book Chinese Turkestan he is able to capture the everyday life of the Chinese people, and give us a look at what few would ever be able to see.

There is a raw beauty as you look at the old buildings in contrast to the new construction.  There is a lot of construction as old buildings are torn down to make better, earthquake resistant buildings.  When looking at these photographs you often feel as if you have traveled back in time.  There are horse drawn carts alongside old cars. There are large markets everywhere.  Many in the markets sell items they have learned to make from previous generations, such as knives and other metalwork pieces.  The people are predominantly Muslim.  There are mosques everywhere.  A lot of their customs are things we no longer allow in the United States, such as cock fights.  This look at old and new gives us the impression that time runs slower there.  As busy and bustling as things are, looking at the pictures creates the illusion that everything these people have not made a lot of forward progress.  It is as if they are stuck in a simpler time, however it still seems as hectic as today.

This is a wonderful book.  As I looked at the photographs I kept wondering what the people in them were thinking.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely read more by this author.

Links to his work:
Book Title: Chinese Turkestan (on Amazon)
Link : Click Here
YouTube Video of Images
Annenberg Centre for Photography Lecture (Los Angeles)
BBC World Interview - Ryan Pyle on Chinese Turkestan
HiFi HD Television Interview - Ryan Pyle on Chinese Turkestan

Monday, March 16, 2015

Determined: The Story of Holocaust Survivor Avraham Perlmutter

Genre: Adult, Autobiography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Avraham (Av) Perlmutter is an amazing man. As a young man his mother put him and his sister on a train, part of the Kindertransport, and sent them to the Netherlands.  It was the last time he would ever see his mother.  He and his sister were shipped from one refuge camp to another. Eventually they would be separated.  What is so amazing about this man is his attitude.  He was determined to survive like so many other Jews.  He lived life to the fullest. This book is his story of survival, perseverance, ad hope.  Multiple times Av had run into Germans. Most of them were with the Nazis. Many were caught up in something they wanted no part of, but had no choice in. As Av moved from one safe house to another he found may Christians who were willing to put their own lives on the line for the welfare of the Jews.  In this book he speaks highly of those people. He tells of how they hid him.  I was amazed at how much he thirsted for knowledge.  In one instance he asked the man hiding him to get him textbooks where he taught himself English, French and Spanish.  After being liberated he wanted to do more. He fought in the war that created the State of Israel. He was reunited with his sister who had survived a death march.  He wanted to further his education so he moved to the United States. He was not satisfied with just one degree.  He holds multiple degrees as do his children.  This man has done more for mankind.  I found it interesting that one of his goals was for he and some of his friends to meet Albert Einstein.  He set out to reach that goal and actually accomplished it.

Want an inspiring book to read?  This is definitely the book you must read. It is quick, only taking me two hours to complete. This is not only a great book for adults and for the classroom shelf, it makes a great resource for students.  This one I highly recommend.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Saving Mim: Charlie Kadabra Last of the Magicians by Nan McAdam

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Charlie Kadabra was abandoned as a baby. He is bullied at school and just can't seem to get a break, until the day his science teacher comes at him with a knife. Suddenly, he learns that things aren't what they seem. He is talked to by a white rabbit, he goes through a shiny curtain and ends up in another dimension. The girl who was always nice to him at school now has pointy ears and multicolored ears. Charlie learns he comes from a long line of magicians. He is Mim's last hope. If Dr. Pi has his way he will destroy Mim. 

This is the type of book I think my sixth graders will love. They will be able to relate to Charlie in so many ways. In this book they will take a journey with Charlie through the halls of school into a fantasy world. They will find a hero they ca root for.  I am definitely looking forward to the second book in this series.

Nan McAdam Bio
Nan McAdam has had a prestigious career in the agricultural and financial sales arena.  She trained, coached, and mentored individual sales, as well as sales teams, for over 20 years. 
As an author of two blogs, Nan has been a fan of self-improvement for many years, and has passed her knowledge of leadership, parenting, and how to live a more enriched life to the readers of her blog: Nan is also the author of an elder care blog:  http//  She has been published 78 times in numerous publications.

Nan has spent over 15 years caring for elderly loved ones.  In 2013, Surviving the STRESS of Your Parents’ Old Age, was published.  It is a non-fiction book born from Nan’s experience as a caregiver. 

2015 is destined to be another great year.  It is the year that Nan’s first children’s book will be published.  It is a middle grade fantasy adventure for ages 10 and up.  Charlie Kadabra, Last of the Magicians will begin a series with the first book, Saving Mim.

When Nan isn't caregiving or writing, she is spending time with her family.  She is married, has three adult children, and two grandchildren.  She makes her home in the midwest where she lives with her husband and 3 furry four legged family members.