Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Power of Habit by Eddie de Jong

Genre:  Nonfiction, Self Help

The author has created a book that effective helps people look at their habits, both good and bad and make decisions that will improve their life.  The book contains links to sites where you can get more help or info.  I’ve read multiple books like this throughout my life.  Like the author I was a very shy person and was comfortable sitting someplace alone with a book.  Books like this have helped me throughout my life.  They brought me out of my shell and made me the person I am today.  I think I liked this, more than any of the other books I’ve read because it was more user friendly.  I didn’t feel like the author had written over my head.  This is a book that should be required reading from high school on up. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who needs to get their life in order.


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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Three Children's Books by Kyle Fuhrer and Illustrator Bethany Tallack

Billy Bob the Dog & Torkelson Turtle in: The Ancient Art of Asking

Fiddler’s Green is hopping.  Everyone is busy. That is everyone except Goober Ninja.  He can’t find anything to do.  He wants to have fun but everyone is too busy.  The town had a major problem. They were too busy to play, but too afraid to ask anyone for help.  Goober decided to use his super ninja powers to help his friends.  Each time he helped out the mob of people chasing him grew. How could he be in so much trouble just for helping? What will happen when he finds himself in a dead in alley?  Maybe they both have a lesson to learn.

Good Food Gone Bad

Billy Bob the Dog and Torkelson the Turtle are cops in Fiddler’s Green.  Hypnotherapy was the evilest villain they had to deal with. When Bob and Torkelson’s friend Smallfridge tells them he thinks it would be fun to eat nothing but junk food, Hypnotherapy decides to steal all of the healthy food in Fiddler’s Green. Hypnotherapy hypnotizes all of the store owners. They lock away the healthy food leaving only juk food. Everone ate so much junk food they got fat and lazy. This allowed Hypnotherapy to play tricks on everyone. Luckily for fiddler’s Green Torkelson the Turtle didn’t eat junk food. It was up to him to save Fiddler’s Green.

The Magical Imagination of Smallfridge: The Leap of Space

Smallfridge is a young boy who likes to bounce on his bed before going to sleep each night. On one particular night he bounces himself into space where he has all kinds of adventures.  He visits the Moon, Mars and Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto. He drinks milk from the Milky Way then catches a ride back to Earth on a shooting star. This is a simple story with simplistic illustrations that make it a great bedtime story.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Suitcase Filled With Nails: Lessons Learned From Teaching Art in Kuwait by Yvonne Wakefield

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

From the back cover:
Artist and arts educator Yvonne Wakefield leaves a secure career and home life in the Pacific Northwest, so opposite to the climate and landscape she finds when she moves to the little desert state of Kuwait. For six years she will teach art there, to university aged Muslim women, and negotiate tribal and misogynistic land mines set by detractors who are threatened by anyone, especially a spirited American woman, who encourages freedom of expression. More than a good read, Suitcase Filled with Nails is filled with insights on working, living, and coping in a culture that transcends prevalent Middle East stereotypes.

My Thoughts:

I’m surprised by all that I read, and then to realize that after all she went through she continued to go back year after year. I feel I got a better look into life in Kuwait, even if it was told just from her side of it.  I believe there is more than one perspective to any story, and this is hers told from her experiences.One thing I admire is that no matter what happened she continued to fight for those she taught.  I know, even though I am an educator, I would not have the guts to go where she went and do what she do.  I believe that not only did she enrich their lives but they enriched hers.

I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Student Saturday: Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher

Student Reviewer: Dylan S.
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

I finished reading the book Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher. I had seen this book in my elementary school but just never bothered to pick it up and read it. I think this book was excellent and it owuld be funny if it happened to me. It is about some kids all in the same class that come to school and they do't have a teacher! So, the class decides to try to survive the school day without a teacher. Will they make it or will they get caught by aother teacher?  Read the book to find out! I had a connection to this book, because on the last day of school it feels like we don't have a teacher because we just played games. I really enjoyed this book and I recommend you read it too.

Student Saturday: Explorer: The Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi

Student Reviewer: Luis O.

Genre: Graphic Novel
Source: My teacher recommended this book to me because it’s an easy graphic novel

This book started with a little girl finding a white doll in a box that said, “I’m made of wax and very small I’ll be your friend, not just a doll. Keep me out of the sun and we’ll be fine. What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine”

The doll does all the little girl’s chores and starts to look like her until she’s 100% her. The doll draws on walls and her mother thinks it was her, but it was the doll. The girl chases the doll outside and the doll melts. There are a lot of stories like this one in this book I recommend this to people who like different stories talking about the same thing (the mystery box).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Meritropolis by Joel Ohman

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

My Thoughts:
I originally did not have a date set to review this book.  I actually received it on Friday.  I just happened to have half of the day off and decided to just peruse the book.  I should know better.  I couldn’t put it down.  The author has created a world that is beautiful and terrifying at the same time.  Meritropolis was created after a major event wiped out most of the world.  To survive they created a society where they gave each inhabitant a score that told what you were worth to their society.  If your score dropped below 50 you were put outside the gates to survive. With all of the terrors that lived outside the gates people didn’t survive.  There were the most fascinating and deadly combination creatures that preyed on those outside the gate. You had gultures, which were a combination of  geckos and vultures, ramas were a combination of a ram and a puma and a manateel which was a manatee and an eel.  I honestly believe this last one came about because of where the author lives. 

Charley is the main character. At age eight Charley and his ten year old Down’s Syndrome brother Alec were all that was left of their family.  They had lost their parents in the Event.  Charley saw his brother removed and he was placed outside the gate.  It was for this reason that Charley grew up determined to get rid of the system that killed his brother.  When he turns seventeen he is considered an adult and no longer has to live underground.  He has one of the highest scores and is noticed by those in charge.  The question is, if Charley is successful in overthrowing this system will he and the others be better off or will they have destroyed the only thing that has kept them alive all this time.

I asked for a physical copy because I believed it would be a book that I should have on my shelves.  I not only believe it, I am trying to figure out where to fit it in as a read aloud to my students.  Besides the violence this is a very clean read.  It opens the door for honest conversations about what is morally right for everyone.  I am hoping there is a sequel to this book and look forward to reading it if so.  This is an author I definitely need to keep an eye on.

About the Author:

Joel Ohman is the author of Meritropolis--"The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist". He lives in Tampa, FL with his wife Angela and their three kids. His writing companion is Caesar, a slightly overweight Bull Mastiff who loves to eat the tops off of strawberries.

Picture courtesy of:

You can find the author here:   Goodreads 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Nonfiction Recommendations and Something for Teachers

I Survived True Stories: Five Epic Disasters 
by Laruen Tarshis

I have always enjoyed these true stories.  I purchased this book to put on my classroom shelves and had to read it first myself.  This one contained stories about the 2011 Tsunami that took out the power plant in Japan.  I was very familiar with most of that information.  There was a story about the Titanic which we are currently reading about in class.  The Henryville tornado of 2012 was just a couple of years ago.  I was very intrigued with the Children's Blizzard of 1888 since I grew up in Indiana.  I lived in the country and was very familiar with tying ropes from a post on the porch of our house to our wash house, then out to the garage where we kept our chickens, to the barn and finally out to the gate and then the hog houses so we could feed them.  I learned a lot about this blizzard I had never known before. The one I enjoyed the most was the Great Molasses Flood of 1919.  I had heard it mentioned once or twice before but had never read anything about it.  Lauren Tarshis does a fabulous job of making all of the information interesting to the reader.  i also love that after each one she gives information on other similar incidents and gives a list of resources so the reader can do more of their own research.  I really can't wait for my students to read this book.

World's Scariest Prisons by Emma Carlson Berne

This is another wonderful book I purchased for my class. If I know my students and I do, they will look at the title and think this is a book about haunted prisons.  I know I did.  This book describes different prisons from all over the world.  I never thought of teh Roman colosseum as a prison, yet it was.  Each story starts with a fact card at the top. This card lets you know the other names it went by.  It tells you where it is located, the years it was in operation, the number of prisoners and any notable inmates.  I was surprised to learn that social status and money could and often played a role in how a prisoner was treated, what they ate or their accommodations. Just in case you were disappointed about this not being a book about haunted prisons, there are a couple of stories about ghosts in some of the prisons.  I found this to be a very informative book and I'm sure my students will lvoe it as well.

For all of my teacher friends out there I have something for you.

3-Minute Motivators by Kathy Paterson
This book is full of quick little motivators to use when students are lagging. There is a lot of visualization used throughout the book. favorite is found on page 136 "The Unfair Test". Growing up I hated pop quizzes. I considered them to be extremely unfair. I swore I would never do this. In this activity you give a pop quiz and ask questions like "What is H2O", "What is this (hold up a pencil). The reason this test is unfair is because the only correct and acceptable answers are the ridiculous ones such as, H2O is "a home for fish" orthe pencils is "a back scratcher". The different tasks are coded by subjects and whether it is an individual, group or team activity. They also tell you when and why you can use the motivator. There are so many I really want to try with my students.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Student Saturday: Janitors By Tyle Whitesides

Student Reviewer: Luis O.

Genre: Fantasy
Source: I picked up this book because I thought it was funny and it was. (There’s a janitor on the cover of the book

The book started in a school where there was a kid called Dez and a little kid called Spencer. Dez used to spit balls of paper at kids, but he stopped. There was a sub on the first day of school. So Dez spit a ball of paper on a girl’s desk. She screamed and flicked it away to Spencer. He got it and threw it somewhere, not anywhere any one could get it. People said that Dez was going to get into trouble. Dez didn’t care, he wanted the sub to take him to the office by the hand. The sub came in and heard everything. She ws taking Dez to the office…Not holding his hand. I recommend people who are into fantasy with a drop of humor to read this. I recommended it to my sister because she’s into humor and fantasy.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Four Wonderful Books for Your Young One

The Story of the Sparklefly by Mary E. Leckie
 Genre:  Children's Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here my own.

From Goodreads:
 Come along this beautiful journey of magic, love and metamorphosis, where dragonflies transform into Sparkleflies, creatures that sparkle and love and spread good throughout the world. Meet Sparkle Sprinkle, Sparkle Twinkle and Sparkle Shine who introduce you to their secret magical world of twinkles and love.

My Thoughts:

What a wonderful way to explain how and why we have all this love in the world.  Young children will especially enjoy the brightly colored pictures  and the sweet story that involves dragonflies. This is a wonderful tale to share with your grandchildren or children.

Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis by Carole P. Roman
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own

From Goodreads:
Captain No Beard and his crew of loyal pirates heave anchor for another adventure, this time in the icy waters of the Arctic. Captain No Beard's steering a course due north, sailing by the light of the North Star. Everyone on the crew wonders what the captain's up to, especially as he gets embarrassed when they ask. When the captain finally admits his plan, the crew discovers he plans to steal the aurora borealis, the beautiful northern lights that brighten the arctic sky. They're all shocked. They may be pirates, but even they know stealing is bad. Besides, how can anyone steal the lights from the sky? A charming, engaging tale about doing what's right, Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis is the latest installment in Carole P. Roman's award-winning pirate series. The first book, Captain No Beard-an Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life, received the Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012 award and the Star of Remarkable Achievement. The series presents real-life problems in an imaginary setting and encourages discussion with both parents and educators.

My Thoughts:
I am and have been a fan of this authors work from the first book I read and reviewed. Alexander is a young boy/pirate who goes on wonderful adventures through the use of his imagination.  He takes a boat load of friends/stuffed animals and two other humans with him on these adventures.  Each time we travel with him on an adventure we learn a lesson as he learns one.  On this trip he wants to steal the Aurora Borealis. The crew refuses because they know that stealing is not a good thing.  As usual they always find a solution to their problems.  This is a wonderful  book to read to your youngest loved ones.

There’s A Dog On the Dining Room Table by Elizabeth Maginnis
 Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source: I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
In this cute rhyming story about an unexpected visitor, a little girl wonders why there is a dog on her dining room table. She imagines a world of funny scenarios for the new visitor, but not everyone is happy about his arrival.

My Thoughts:
If you are wanting a cute rhyming book that will hold the attention of your child, then this is the book for you.  The words flow smoothly. The reasons listed on each page offers a chance to problem solve with your child. The pictures are bright and simple.  There is something here for everyone.  This is the book that will have your older readers taking time out to read to their younger siblings.  Definitely a book to read to my grandson.

Queen Vernita Visits Baja Quail by Dawn Menge

Genre: Children's Picture Book
Source: I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own

From Goodreads:
New Children’s Adventure Queen Vernita Visits Baja Quail May Be Most Thrilling Vernita Book Yet
From dancing to white water rafting to camping on the beach, Queen Vernita does it all in Baja Quail in her latest travel adventures.
Adelanto, CA – In Queen Vernita Visits Baja Quail, the latest installment of Dawn Menge’s award-winning adventure book series, the well-traveled title character finds herself continuing her adventures with exciting and educational activities in Baja Quail – perhaps her most thrilling trip yet. The action/adventure children’s fiction is published by Outskirts Press.

My Thoughts:
In this adventure Queen Vernita is starting a new year visiting her new friends in Baja Quail. On this trip she will learn all about dolphins, grunions, river rafting. She learns about the Rio Grande River, rides a motorized bike built special for her.  She learns about the many cultural dances and their costumes. As the second half of the year begins she finds herself learning about the German-Mexican culture and food.  She learns about how powerful the ocean is.  She learns to surf and swims with seals. She visits a school where she learns some spanish.  As her year comes to an end she spends November exploring the Crystal Caverns.  She ends her year by visiting the elderly with service dogs, then heads back to her country to start a new adventure in the new year.
I really love these books.  You learn so much and the pictures are absolutely gorgeous.  I feel honored everytime I am given the opportunity to read and review one of her books.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Hoard by Neil Grimmett

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

From Goodreads:
The Hoard is a thriller set in the secretive, dangerous world of a Royal Ordnance Factory; a vast, surreal place full of some of the most volatile elements on the planet.
Thirty years before the main story, the nitration house at the ROF in Bridgwater exploded in a fireball that could be seen for miles around. The entire crew was killed, and the source of the explosion was never found; authorities claimed that the charge in the nitrator had gone critical and that the chargehand was unable to stop a lethal cook-off. But Gunner Wade, the man the nitration crew sent for help that day knows differently: they were murdered; and he was branded a coward.
Now Byron, the son of one of the victims, enters the sprawling Gormenghast-like compound of the top secret factory to discover the truth about his father's death. But what he finds in the dark heart of this world is a hidden hoard of super-high explosives; illegally produced and drenched in the blood of those killed to conceal its existence. As the threat of discovery mounts, Byron finds himself at the centre of a struggle between good and evil; both to prevent a destructive force from being unleashed again and to bring the sadistic mass murderers who killed his father to justice. He is aided by an unlikely alliance of helpers, including the beautiful widow of a murdered chemist and Gunner Wade. Against them are the original perpetrators and their new legion of evil acolytes.
Inspired by a massive explosion that killed six men at the real-world ROF Bridgwater facility in 1951 - no cause was ever found - The Hoard is a gripping, grim novel that offers a glimpse into a self-contained apocalyptic landscape scarred both by the birthing of the materiel that fuels war, and the hearts of evil men who would do anything for greed.  

My Thoughts:
If you are looking for a book that is dark, and full of people you can’t trust then this might be the book for you.

This book starts out in 1951 where we find a factory that is in definite trouble.  There are secrets within and they are secrets worth killing for.  Fast forward to the 1970s where we meet the son of one of the victims.  At the time of his father’s death he was unborn.  Now he has gone to work for the very factory that took his father’s life.  He needs to know why his father died. Unfortunately there are still those who don’t want anyone to find that information and once again they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep those secrets hidden. This is not one of those books  you quickly skim through and move on to the next.  This book is full of deeply drawn characters. The author has made sure that by the end of the book you know them well.  The idea that it is based on an actual factory accident made it all the more interesting to me.  Like I said.  If you like the dark side of things then this is definitely the book for you.  This is highly recommended for anyone who loves deep, dark thrillers.  I enjoyed this one much more than the threshing circle.  When asked if I would be interested in reading it, the thing that clinched it for me was being told that it was much darker than the first one.  This is something that I love in a thriller.