Showing posts with label Adult Nonfiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adult Nonfiction. Show all posts

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Student Saturday: The Art of War by Sun Tzu


Genre: Adult, Nonfiction, History, Leadership
Student Reviewer: Zachary M.

The Art of War is one of the most influential books in the world. It has helped many a general achieve a decisive victory that changed the tide of the battle against all odds. Its author, Sun Tzu, was allegedly a Chinese general and strategist who lived in between the years 771 and 256 BCE. While he is credited as the author of the Art of War, there is little proof of him participating in any battle or even existing. But none of this is as important as the contents of the texts, as the knowledge and wisdom found within it are rich and true.

The Art of War is not just about how to strategize in battle, but about how to be a proper leader and solve problems in general. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to be better at leading others and organizing, and anyone simply looking for something intellectual or philosophical to read. One personal connection I have with the book is that I use it to help me lead student run organizations like TSA (Technology Student Association). Overall, this book is a phenomenal read and I personally insist on getting a copy that has a commentator making notes about everything Sun Tzu says because they often share relevant quotes and anecdotes that further enhance your understanding of what the enigmatic text is really trying to say.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Student Saturday: Remember World War II: Kids Who Survived Tell Their Stories by Dorinda Nicholson


Student Reviewer: Nikita K.
Genre: Non-Fiction

History is a key part of understanding the world and how things have come to be in the world we live in now.

World War Two (WWII) was a terrible time for many people around the world, but is part of our history nonetheless and therefore should be talked about and taught about. Remember World War II by Dorinda Nicholson does just that by going through first-hand accounts of the horrors of this tragic event. These accounts varied from little kids in affected regions and overall youthful children to were affected by this wartime.

Fred Losch, a kid from East Prussia, Germany, recalls a band or group of people called the "Jungvolk", and how he joined at 10 years of age. Fred talked about how he overcame some hikes that were challenging, along with a bike trip. This was until that bike trip was interrupted because the roads were overrun with military vehicles, and he was told to return home immediately. He knew something was up, and a few days after, the war began. Another person also recalled being outside sweeping the street with her straw broom, until she heard the marching of what sounded like hundreds of soldiers. She ran back inside and yelled, "Mother, they're here. The Nazis are here!" This is when Germany began their conquest of Europe, beginning with Poland and school children were forced to learn how to salute with their right arm and say "Heil Hitler!".

 This worldwide event was terrifying, and many people were forced to pick sides or hide. Some people picked the Nazi's side, while others picked the war-torn and affected countries that were being attacked by the tyranny of Hitler. Many people hid, as to not be found and torn away from their families, and that's what I would try to do in that situation. It wouldn't be good to pick a side as one half of the warring countries would see you as an enemy, and attempt to take you away from everything that you love. In my opinion, it would be wise to stack up on supplies and try to wait out the war.

Overall, this book is great at telling the story of World War Two. It is reliable and interesting to read about what people experienced during this time as it used accounts of a wide variety of individuals, both from inside of Germany and out. It is truly a great read and recommended to anyone who is trying to find some information on World War Two and or history in general.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Off the Grid: My Ride from Louisiana to the Panama Canal in an Electric Car by Randy Denmon

Genre: Adult, Nonfiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review.

Talk about courage, these men, Randy Denmon and Dean Lewis, have it. I would never attempt to do what they did. He and a friend took an electric car, a Tesla S and drove it from Louisiana to the Panama Canal. What terrified me were the very things they had to worry about. A lot of these countries have drug lords. They also had to worry about to deal with policemen who did things their own way. For me the scariest thing was not knowing where they were going to be able to get electric to power their car. They took all kinds of plugs and extension cords. The Tesla sits real low to the ground. This was also a problem for them. They were not always driving on real smooth roads.  There were treacherous mountain roads. There were roads full of potholes, bumps, and other problems like volcanoes.  The book, for all of the issues they faced is very upbeat due to Randy’s attitude/sense of humor.  As much as I loved the book and knew things had to turn out okay, since they made it back to write the book, I worried for them and their safety the entire time.  This was definitely different from what I usually read. That is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I could live through their trip without having to do the physical traveling, from the safety of my own home.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fire in the Ashes – Jonathan Kozo

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

Jonathan Kozol has written another book that looks at those who are less fortunate than many. He has followed the lives of many inner city children. He has shown us that society has in many ways hindered them, yet many of them have survived to go to college and find their way out of this hell that was created for them. As he exposed some of the areas and conditions that these children have had to live through, society moved them to areas that really were not much better and often put them in harm’s way even more. Kozol’s stories are heart-wrenching and often hopeful as we follow these lives and wonder how they managed to survive. A man like this does this from the goodness of his heart. He truly cares. You can feel this as you read the book. He doesn’t judge people. He just tells their stories.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Teach Your Children God's Message by Patricia Allen McCuen

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

From Goodreads:
God sternly and plainly stated, "You have to go back and tell." Somehow, I understood and already knew. I still did not know how I knew, but I knew and even replied, "Yes. I know. I have to tell." Shortly after leaving her fiance parents home located in Derry, PA, Patricia Allen and her fiance were crushed by a fully loaded coal truck. Patricia left her body twice at the scene of the accident. In the hospital when Patricia again left the pain of her severely injured body, she was held by God. She was shown a message she is to tell. Patricia's interpretation of what she was shown is not a new message but of one that is being greatly ignored. Teach the Child. "And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deuteronomy 11:19). Society suffers greatly by ignoring this message. How this message is shown gives an insight into the understanding of the Connections between God, Humanity, and Children.

My Thoughts:
This was a very inspiring book.  This is the story of a young girl named Patricia who was involved in  a terrible auto accident.  Her fiance is killed.  Three times she leaves her body and is  sent back by God. Why? To tell others that we are to tell children about God.  This book is full of hope and inspiration.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Kidney Sellers by Sigfrid Fry Revere

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

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I agreed to read this book. This is the story of a woman from the west who ventures to Iran to check out their kidney donor system. Here in the U.S. if you need a kidney transplant you go on a waiting list, then dialysis and play the waiting game.  If you are lucky enough you survive until someone dies that matches you, and you get their kidney. According to Sigrid Fry-Revere, Iran has a system that has a waiting list of people wanting to donate their kidney. According to the author, there are government incentives for this. Would this work in the United States? I’m not sure.  I know this has been in the news lately and I’m not sure where I stand on the issue.  Maybe that is because I don’t personally know anyone in that situation. However, this was an interesting read on this subject.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Journey to Wilderness: War, Memory and a Southern Family's Civil War Letters – Frye Gaillard

Genre:  Civil War History
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Oh, this terrible war," wrote Thomas Gaillard. "Who can measure the troubles -- the affliction -- it has brought upon us all?" To this real-time anguish in voices from the past, Gaillard offers a personal remembrance of the shadow of war and its place in the haunted identity of the South. "My own generation," he writes, "was, perhaps, the last that was raised on stories of gallantry and courage, an admiration of the dashing generals who led our fighting men into battle, and whose heroism was undiminished by defeat. Oddly, mine was also the one of the first generations to view the Civil War through the lens of civil rights--to see, often quite reluctantly, connections and flaws in southern history that earlier generations couldn't bear to face.

My Thought:
The author used letters from her own ancestor to create this book.  This is the most realistic depiction of of what it was like to be on the battlefield.  No movie could ever depict how horrible this war was. It was made clear in the letters that you did what you had to do to survive. Franklin Gaillard spoke of what it was like when he entered the war.  He said the sight of blood and dead men turned his stomach.  Then in a letter to his father he wrote that thirst would do funny things to you. He gathered canteens and found one on the body of a dead man. It was covered in blood. His thirst was so bad he tipped it so that he was pouring from the side with no blood on it and drank.  He also spoke about the likes told throughout both sides.  When he brought water to the injured, captured enemies they were surprised. They had been told how vicious the Confederates were. It was heart wrenching to read a letter to a young son telling him what he wanted from him in case he should be killed.  Even from the war front fathers tried to mentor and teach their children.

These letters give the reader a look into the life of just a few soldiers and their family members during this trying time.  We look at the way they lived, their spiritual life and in some cases the way they died. This is  an excellent source that should be required primary source reading in schools.  I am grateful I was given the opportunity to read and review this 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:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Letters From the Way by Barbara V. Anderson

Genre: Non-fiction, travel book
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This book is a collection of letters the author sent to friends while walking two paths called "pilgrim paths". The first path took her through France.  It seems there are many "pilgrim paths".  The next trip started in France and ended in Spain.  Along the way she writes letters to friends explaining what she is experiencing and her thoughts on everything that pops into her mind.  I loved when she said, "sometimes we have to get lost to get found." Part of her journey was her wanting to try to find out if God exists and if he would speak to her on these walks.  Raised Catholic, she didn't want to take at face value what the church had to say.  She wanted something more personal. Did she find it?  You'll have to read the book to see.  The letters, along with the beautiful pictures that pepper the pages of the book, make this a book I would recommend to anyone interested in learning more about walking through other countries.  I really enjoyed this book.  I had students picking this book up and they were interested in reading it.  I do have to add an update to this  post before it goes live. I learned from a couple of students that they thought the French teacher would be interested in this book because she is from France.  Besides, it mentioned the word sex twice and they didn't want to read the book after that.  I guess I am a little more open minded as there was nothing wrong with those two references and I am sure they hear worse on TV.  However, as sixth graders I know some of the parents would not approve.  So today I gifted the book to the French teacher who said she would put it on her shelves in the classroom after she read it.  We both agree it is a great asset to any classroom.

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, August 14, 2012

A Case for Solomon - Tal McThenia and Margaret Dunbar Cutright

Publisher:  Free Press
Pages:  464
Source:  Review copy from publisher
Genre:  Adult, Non-fiction

A CASE FOR SOLOMON: BOBBY DUNBAR AND THE KIDNAPPING THAT HAUNTED A NATION chronicles one of the most celebrated—and most misunderstood—kidnapping cases in American history. In 1912, four-year-old Bobby Dunbar, the son of an upper-middle-class Louisiana family, went missing in the swamps. After an eight-month search that electrified the country and destroyed Bobby’s parents, the boy was found, filthy and hardly recognizable, in the pinewoods of southern Mississippi. A wandering piano tuner who had been shuttling the child throughout the region by wagon for months was arrested and charged with kidnapping—a crime that was punishable by death at the time. But when a destitute single mother came forward from North Carolina to claim the boy as her son, not Bobby Dunbar, the case became a high-pitched battle over custody—and identity—that divided the South. Amid an ever-thickening tangle of suspicion and doubt, two mothers and a father struggled to assert their rightful parenthood over the child, both to the public and to themselves. For two years, lawyers dissected and newspapers sensationalized every aspect of the story. Psychiatrists, physicians, criminologists, and private detectives debated the piano tuner’s guilt and the boy’s identity. And all the while the boy himself remained peculiarly guarded on the question of who he was. It took nearly a century, a curiosity that had been passed down through generations, and the science of DNA to discover the truth.

A Case for Solomon is a gripping historical mystery, distilled from a trove of personal and archival research. The story of Bobby Dunbar, fought over by competing New Orleans tabloids, the courts, and the citizenry of two states, offers a case study in yellow journalism, emergent forensic science, and criminal justice in the turn-of-the-century American South. It is a drama of raw poverty and power and an exposÉ of how that era defined and defended motherhood, childhood, and community. First told in a stunning episode of National Public Radio’s This American Life, A Case for Solomon chronicles the epic struggle to determine one child’s identity, along the way probing unsettling questions about the formation of memory, family, and self.

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books that sticks with you for a while.  I was horrified to learn the role the press played in this whole fiasco.  We really have not learned from past mistakes.  When Bobby Dunbar went missing, no stone was left unturned.  Yet when a boy was found who was similar in looks, the press was there to “get the story”.  I felt like they were willing to make the story fit a happy ending no matter what. 
My sympathies went to Julia Anderson who had no resources due to her financial circumstances.  I was pleased to learn the truth had been found but saddened by the pain everyone involved in this case suffered.  The authors have done a tremendous amount of research and have successfully told the story in a way that carried the reader along, making them want to know what happened next.

We are given a look at the time period and how things worked for those who had and those had not.  In this day and age we have the benefit of DNA testing.  Yet I wonder how much  the press would be able to skew the opinions of all parties involved.  It is sad that so many lives have been destroyed.  Yet I feel that a mystery was left unanswered in this story.  I don’t know if anyone will ever solve that mystery.  This is definitely worth the read. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Tuskegee Airmen: An Illustrated History: 1939-1949 - Caver, Haulman, Ennels

Authors:  Joseph Caver, Daniel Haulman, Jerome Ennels

Publisher:  New South Books
Pages: 300
Source:  Review Copy from Publicist
Genre:  Illustrated History

From Amazon:
Many documentaries, museum exhibits, books, and movies have not treated what became know as the “Tuskegee Experiment” involving black piots who gained fame during World War II, as the Tuskegee Airmen.  Most of these works have focused on the training of America’s first black fighter pilots and their subsequent accomplishments during combat.  This publication goes further, using captioned photographs to trace the airmen through the stages of training, deployment, and combat actions in North Africa, Italy, and German in an attractive coffee table-book format.  Included for the first time are depictions of the critical support roles of doctors, urses, mechanics, navigators, weathermen, parachute riggers, and other personnel, all of whom contributed to help complete the establishement of the 477th Composite Group.  The authors have told, in picture and words, the full story of the Tuskegee Airmen and the environments in which they lived, worked, played, fought, and sometimes died.

My Thoughts:
I was thrilled when the publicist asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing this book.  I had recently read and reviewed “A Rare Titanic Family”, published by NewSouth Books.  I knew very little about the Tuskegee Airmen, except that they were black pilots during World War II.  For that reason alone I wanted to read it.  Any time I can read a book and gain more knowledge I am thrilled.

From the very beginning of this book I found myself angry.  I was angry at a society that could think that the color of ones skin could affect the size of ones brain and their ability to learn.  Having been raised in a home where I was taught there was no difference between people of different colors I am always amazed at the worlds stupidity and  the resilience of those who don’t fit into those stupid little boxes. 

Joseph Caver and Jerome Ennels – archivists along with Daniel Haulman – a historian with the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB came together to create and present an account of the Tuskegee Airmen.  Before reading this book I knew they were black and they were considered an elite group of pilots who did not receive recognition for their service until many years later.  I was shocked to learn there were over 14,000 people in the various organizations.  I didn’t even know they had several different organizations.

It amazed me as I read the book to see the accomplishments of these people and how long it took for them to be recognized for their accomplishments.  With ignorance the country tried to hold back these airmen to the point they waited years to be recognized for their role in World War II.  Thank goodness we have men like these authors who are willing to get the information out there for people like me who thirst for knowledge but don’t always know where to find it.  I would like to say that I am keeping this book on my shelves.  However, a math teacher at my school saw I was reading it and wants it for his classroom to share with his students.  I am all for passing on books to other teachers of different subjects if they will promote reading.  Especially when he told me how he can use the book when talking about statistics. 

I whole-heartedly recommend this book to everyone who loves history.  It doesn’t have to be a particular era of history you love to enjoy this book.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Berlin in Early Cold-War Army Booklets – T.H.E. Hill

Publisher:  CreateSpace
Pages:  272
Source:  Received copy for review from publisher
Genre:  Adult, Non-fiction

This book is a compilation of six booklets.  I will attempt to give a brief overview of them.  The first booklet “US Sector of Berlin” is a guide for the service men and their families.  It gave me insight into the daily lives of these men and women.  The booklets discussed everything from what to expect upon arrival to the end of their stay.  This is not an official document but was used as a souvenir.   One thing I found most beneficial was the list of emergency phrases.
“Special Services Tour of Berlin” is a historical trip that takes us to some of the most beautiful buildings and areas with a brief history of the area.
“Special Services Tour of Potsdam” is similar to the previous booklet.  Here the reader can visit the market square, the Neue Palais to the Palace of Sans Souci.  If nothing else this booklet wets the appetite of those like me who will use this info to do more research.
“Special Services Berlin Tour” is an updated version of the 1950’s booklet.  I not only enjoyed the updated information but the information which describes what the buildings were originally used for and if they had been rebuilt.  There was a wealth of information for shopping including some of the best places to find jewelry, leather goods, etc.  I loved the unique phone numbers.
“Berlin” is an informational booklet that compares east and west Berlin.  It demonstrates how the western half helped speed recovery for the people while the eastern half slowed down that recovery through socialism.
“Special Services Berlin Tour” is the third booklet with updated tour info. 
This book was a wealth of information for anyone looking into the history of Berlin.  I am one of those people.  I don’t really know what started me down this path but like many other areas in history, I am fascinated with it.  I will definitely need to investigate this further and this was a good book to give you a glimpse into Berlin right after the war