Showing posts with label 2022. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2022. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Tree and the Girl by Andrea Hahnfeld

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

This is a beautiful story of love and sacrifice.  In a forest lives a fir tree with its brothers.  He is magnificent, unlike his brothers. His vanity gets the best of him. Standing tall and proud, looking down on his not so perfect brothers he is noticed by someone out looking for a perfect Christmas tree.  His brothers had tried to protect him and are sad he is being chopped down.  He is taken home and decorated. He wishes he is back in his forest.  One night a young homeless girl comes and looks in the window at the warm fire and notices the tree.  This happens night after night. One night so cold and hungry she collapses. When death comes for her the tree is willing to give up his life for hers.  This is a beautiful story you will want to read every year to your young ones, and for yourself.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Twisted Road to You by Barbara Longley


Genre:  Adult, Romance, Suspense
Source: I was given a copy to be reviewed, the opinions expressed here are my own.

I am trying to clean out my personal library and my e-reader.  I am not sure how long I've had this book. Something about it appealed to me way back when I purchased it or agreed to read it for the author.  I don't read a lot of romance. I don't like, nor have I ever like mushy, gushy romance. However, give me a book where both parties fall in love while overcoming major obstacles and I am there.  

The two characters are both suffering from a type of PTSD. Wes is a former marine. He watched one of his men die and blames himself because he was thinking about how his wife had dumped him while he was away from home. Carlie is a single mom of a young boy. Her ex-husband is in prison. They moved changed their names and did everything right to protect themselves from the man who almost killed her.
Wes eats breakfast every day at the diner where she works. It is obvious to everyone around them that Wes has feelings for her. 

One day we goes for his breakfast and doesn't see Carlie. The owners who have taken her under their wing tell him about her past. He sets off to make sure she is okay. He sees her and her son being held by her ex.  He manages to rescue them, but her ex gets away.  His mission from this point forward was not to fall in love, even though you know that is what is going to happen, but to protect her and her son.  Like I said, this is not a mushy-gushy romance. The twists and turns are what will keep you moving through this book. The sad thing to learn after reading this is that there were other books before this one in the series.  Definitely going to read them.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina by Rodman Philbrick

Genre: Middle Grades, Historical Fiction

Source: I own the book

 After years and years of reading I am finally able to say that I lean toward books that area about disasters, survival and are emotional. I’ve realized recently that no matter what the genre those are some of the things the books all have in common.  This book is no different. Zane and his dog go to visit his great-grandmother in New Orleans. As Hurricane Katrina heads toward them, they evacuate. Then Zane and his dog are separated from his great-grandmother. He makes his way back to her house where he waits out the storm in her house.  Trapped in the attic he is rescued by Mr. Tru and Malvina. From here the story is about survival. The author has done a lot of research to show what it was like during the aftermath of the hurricane. He doesn’t shy away from the racial or political atrocities the people of New Orleans faced.  This is what makes this such a valuable read. Kids need to read, understand and discuss matters such as this book brings about.  I would highly recommend it.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Maybe A Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGwee

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fantasy
Source: I own a copy

It seems like the books I am choosing to read are all survival, emotional, coming of age stories. In this story, Jules and her sister Sylive live with their father. Their mother is dead.  One day as she was bringing the groceries up to the house she crumpled and died. Sylvie ran as fast as she could to the neighbor's house. In her mind it wasn't fast enough. Jules collects rocks. She knows just about everything there is to know about them.  She and her sister occasionally sneak off to  throw rocks they have written their wishes on into the Slip. Their father has forbidden them to go there because it is dangerous. One morning after it snows the girls go out to build a snow family before the bus comes. Sylvie decides to throw a wish rock into the river. She doesn't return. Once again Jules is dealing with the grief that accompanies death. The other voice in the story is that of a fox who is born at the same time Sylvie dies. She is a special spirit animal connected to another being. The thoughts of Jules, the fox, Jules friend Sam and his brother Elk ring so true. It shows the range of emotions and the way that different people handle grief. The title comes from a game Sylvie and Jules played after their mother's death. They wanted to know what happened to you after you died.  I won't say more than this because it would be way too easy to give too much away and this is a must read. Just make sure you have a box of tissues with you.


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom by Ariel Berger

Genre: Adult, Biography
Source: I purchased a copy

The conversation started like this, “I was reading the most wonderful book last night and I finished it in class today. I will let you borrow it if you like.”  Any time someone starts a conversation like this I know it will be a book I must read.  This statement was made by my co-worker. Together we teach a holocaust unit on different grade levels. We have both taught “Night”. Had it not been for her I never would have known about this book. 

 The author, Ariel Burger was a student and friend of Elie Wiesel. The book is written from notes, conversations and lessons he had learned over the years from this man. This book is a look at life, faith, doubt and so much more as seen through Elie’s eyes and through the lens of the lessons learn through the holocaust. In this book we see how the past affects and shapes the future.  It makes us question our beliefs no matter what our religious beliefs. It is through questioning that I believe we learn more about ourselves and about our beliefs. This book made me do exactly what I tell my students I want them to do. It made me think about the past and make connections to the present and to the future. It made me question my religious beliefs. So many times I had students tell me they don’t know what they believe. I never understood that until I read this book. I don’t think they were saying they didn’t know, so much as they didn’t really understand their beliefs.  One of the questions asked in the book was whether faith and doubt could co-exist. I thought about Thomas in the Bible. He was called doubting Thomas because of his doubt, yet his faith was strong.  No matter what your religious beliefs I believe this is an excellent book to read and I definitely recommend it, especially for  those who have read Elie Wiesel’s books.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Alone by D.J. Brazier

I'm not sure what it is with me and survival stories. I absolutely love them in any form. This book reminded me of Gary Paulsen's "Hatchett" and also of the book I recently finished, "The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong.

When the plane Sam and his Dad are on crashes, Same is forced to find a way to survive. It helps that he is befriended by a baby otter. He has to face the elements, animals, and bugs and the basic needs of survival, food, water, and shelter.  This is an on the edge of your seat read, the kind you just can't put down.  Highly recommended. Can't wait to talk this one up to my students.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mystery
Source: My own shelves

I absolutely love April Henry's books.  In this book the first chapter grabs you and reels you in. A young girl comes to unsure where she is, who she is or what has happened. The only thing she knows for sure is she just overheard two men talking about how she knows nothing and they need to kill her.  From here on out the story unfolds in layers. From her escape at the beginning of the story to finally remembering who she is, what happened to her, and finally to its awesome ending, this book will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat.  I read it in about three hours. I knew there was no way I could not finish the book. This has been on my shelves at school and many of my students have read it. The only reason I finally got my hands on it was it was turned back in and I immediately put it in my own bag to read.  I highly recommend this book.  The events are so realistic I found myself worried for the main character.  The reader finds themselves identifying with the character and wondering what they would do in a situation like that.  Go ahead start with this one and see if you don't have to read her other books.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Rodney the Rabbit Learns About Healthy Food by Janice Ford



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

What a wonderful way to teach children about healthy eating. Children will love the cute characters and colorful pictures. The book is a series of short stories, almost like chapters that follow Rodney, a little white rabbit. Rodney, unlike his brother, sister and parents would rather eat candy. He had found candy in a human house. His mom tries to convince him that eating candy all the time is not healthy and will damage his teeth. After hurting his teeth Rodney sets out to find healthy foods that he will enjoy.  I love how the author spoke of fruit as nature's candy. That in itself will often entice children to eat more fruit.  This is a book that I think should be in most kindergarten classrooms. The younger the child, the earlier we want to teach them about healthy eating.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Great wide Sea by M.H. Herlong

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Adventure
Source: I purchased a copy

I had purchased this book and then another reading teacher recommended it. She was reading it to her students and my students who are in her reading class kept telling me how wonderful it was. So, yesterday, the first day of the new year I sat and read it cover to cover. This is the story of not only a physical loss, but the loss of trust and belief in someone. When Ben, Dylan and Gerry lose their mother to a terrible car accident their father sells everything they own, buys a sailboat and tells them they will be sailing for a year. There is no discussion, no answering of questions, just the order to pack and go. Fifteen-year-old Ben is angry. He of course sees things from his skewed view as a teenager. It isn't until they have been sailing for about six months and he has decided it doesn't help to argue with his dad that things go from bad to worse. He has been a faithful crewman on his dad's boat the Chrysallis. Each of the boys have certain "jobs" they are required to handle and they must all learn to do everything. Then Ben comes up top to discover their dad missing.  Add to that a storm that maroons them on an island and you have a heart-stopping book.  I felt bad for the boys the way their father talked to them. However, as a parent and adult I understood the underlying cause that the boys might not understand. The three boys were well developed. You had headstrong Ben, the oldest who felt responsible for everything and had the most trouble with his father. Dylan was the studious son who had the book knowledge that would help in a lot of situations. Then there was six year old Gerry who was terrified of the water because he couldn't swim. All of these issues and what happens to all of them made for a story you had to read from cover to cover. Can't wait to talk this up this week at school. It is a must read.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

The Start of a New Year of Reading and Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge

With the pandemic, my reading has gone downhill. I really thought I would read more. That was not the case. This last year I took on a new subject to teach. I picked up a reading class and then was asked to teach Theatre. I had never taught theatre before. Once again with all the new things, my reading was not where I wanted it to be. So for this next year, I am going to complete two reading challenges. Both of them are A-Z challenges. I am not formally joining anyone's challenges. I am doing this on my own. I have made a list of books I own either in my classroom or on my Kindle that I haven't gotten to yet. I have a list of twenty-six books by title and an alphabetical list of books by the author. Below you will find my lists. I will not read them in order. Some of them have a review date. I am doing this for two reasons. First, I need to meet my goal for this school year set by a student, and this will help. The second reason is that I need to read these books and be knowledgeable enough to recommend them to my students. It is hard to talk up a book you have not read. I will post reviews and I will post links to those reviews.  Below my challenge, you will see links to some of the other challenges I considered. I even made lists for them. I am not going to stress myself as I have done in years past trying to hit all of the reading challenges. I will however introduce them to my students as I think it would be interesting to see if any of them might like a challenge.  I have attached links to where you can find the official challenges.

A-Z Titles
Alabama Moon by Watt Key
The Body in the Woods by April Henry
Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders
Deep Water by Watt Key
Easy Target by Tim Shoemaker
Free Lunch by Rex Ogle
The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Katia by Bruce Judisch
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor
The Night She Disappeared by April Henry
On thin Ice by Michael Northrop
Punching Bag byRex Ogle
Quintessence by Jeff Redman
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost
Traitor’s Among Us by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Unteachables by Gordon Korman
Voices of the Sea by Bethany Mason Harar
Wild River by Rodman Philbrick
Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
You Can’t Hide by Willow Rose
Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick

A-Z Authors
Appelt, Kathi - Maybe a Fox
Chmakova, Svetlana - Awkward
Dekker, Ted - identity
Escobar, Mario - Auschwitz Lullaby
Fendler, Donn - Lost On A Mountain in Maine
Gemeinhart, Dan - Scar Island
Henry, April - Girl in the White Van
Iturbe, Antonio - The Librarian of Auschwitz
Johnson, Terry Lynn - Falcon Wild
Kelly, Lynne - Song For a Whale
Lupica, Mike - Last Man Out
Mills, Wendy - All We Have Left
Nielsen, Jennifer A. - Words on Fire
Overton, Hollie- Baby Doll
Pearsall, Shelley - The Seventh Most Important Thing
Quick, Matthew - Boy 21
Rosen, Lev - Woundabout
Scott, Kieran - What Waits in the Water
Turner, Amber McRee - Sway
Unsworth, Tania - The One Safe Place
Vigilante, Danette - The Trouble With Half a Moon
Wyatt, Kandi J. - Uprooted
Xavier, Tom - Neffatira's First Challenge
Young, Suzanne - Hotel for the Lost
Zieman, Nancy - Seams Unlikely: The Inspiring True Story of Nancy Zieman 

Color Coded Reading Challenge
Blue - Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose
Red - Red: The (Fairly) True Tale of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff
Yellow – Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
Green – #LucysLetter: The Children of the Greenhouse Age by Vincent Lowry
Brown – Brown Boy Nowhere by Sheeryl Lim
Black – Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
White – The Girl in the White Van by April Henry
Orange – Oranges for Christmas: A Berlin Wall Escape Novel by Margarita Morris
Rainbow – The Rainbow by Carly Schabowski

Keyword Challenge 

January Keywords: Last, Girl, Dark, When, Winter, Light, Window
The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

February Keywords: Midnight, Never, Into, Sun, Love, Good, Spell, Search
The Cat I Never Named by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

March Keywords: End, Fall, Loud, Queen, Woods, Nine, Beautiful, Crown

Nine Lives by Beth Balmanno

April Keywords: Race, Now, Chose, While, Stop Burn, Red, One

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes

May Keywords: Thorn, Catch, Black, Under, City, Cloud, Sing, Legacy

Thorns in Dark Places by Lake Lopez

June Keywords: Sea, You, Hate, Perfect, Shade, Until, Beach, Little

A Little Village Called Lidice by Zdena Trinka

July Keywords: Star, Next, Infinity, Iron Word, People, Rise, Clear

Words With Wings by Nikki Grimes

August Keywords: Breath, Case, Hundred, Day, Happy, Language, Stay, Lie

Next Day gone by J.C. Wing

September Keywords:  Bright, Here, Out, Life, Strange, Rule, Story Salt

Resist: A Story of D-Day by Alan Gratz

October Keywords:  House, Bone, Haunt, Body, Blood, Witch, Murder, Mystery

Keesha's House by Helen Frost

November Keywords:  Many, Boy, River, Fever, Down, Gold, Jade, Hill

The Boy Who Reads Minds by Veronica Soliman

December Keywords:  Still, Cabin, Night, Lake, By, Holiday, Fire

I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall

If you are into, or want to try a reading challenge then you might want to try "Beat the Backlist".  All of my books above fit into this challenge and I can definitely read another to fit in that one place where a book on my list won't be out until February, making 52 books on my backlist of books that were published before 2022. That won't be a problem as the book Katia has two sequels. I learned this when checking out what else this author had written. So essentially I am officially/unofficially participating in two reading challenges this year. Check out the "Beat the Backlist" challenge. 

Another Reading Challenge you might be interested in is the "Color Coded Reading Challenge" .  I actually have a list of books that would fit this challenge. I am not signing up officially. If I could get to it that would be great. I refuse to add any stress to my reading. 

Maybe your thing is reading books about being creative. If so then you might want to check out the "Creativity Reading Challenge".

"Mount TBR Challenge" would be another great one if you are like me and have hundreds of books on your TBR list. Again, I am sticking to the 52 book I have above, although they could count here as well.

Maybe you are a word nerd and need or want key words to help you choose a book. The "Key Word Challenge" would be for you then.

If you are into reading challenges then you might also want to check out the 2022 Master List of Reading Challenges. They have something for everyone.