Tag Archives: book review

Reading to Know You

“Could I talk to you?”

I’ve been locked up for 264-days.

The train station at Pebbleton, dark and sooty though it was, glistened in the mist.

The world might be sunny-side up today.

It was a little after midnight when Lance McKendrick left his tiny bedroom in Max Dalton’s New Jersey base and padded barefoot through the corridors and out into the base’s large garage.

I am an hourglass.

These are all the first sentences in books that are, or have been, my favorite books.

This was before I knew the characters

who I now love

this was before I knew their fears,

loves,

goals,

and failures.

This was before I meet some of my closest friends

and also people who I would never like to meet.

These words were the first judgement I made about the characters,

not their appearance, voice, or reputation.

In books,

it is so strange because I am reading to know people.

It doesn’t matter that they are made out of ink and paper

or caffeine inspired imagination.

What matter is that these people, these characters,

live and breathe in my heart.

That is were it counts.

With each word written I get to know the character

better

and better.

But their lives do not come to a stopping halt

when the last period is placed

and the finally page is turned.

They continue to live on in my heart.

That is were it counts.

“Why?”

I’m ready.

After all he had accomplished, and considering how much he had learned and how far he had come, it is a curious fact — indeed, a remarkable one — that what Nicholas wanted now, more than anything, was to get started.

And I’m leaving my gloves behind.

“He’s human,” Lance said. “And it’s about time he understood what being human really means.”

“I can’t wait to watch them try.”

first-page

 


Books in order of lines:

Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Hunter by Michael Carroll

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Advertisements

Read This Before Class

 

So many people that I talk to say that they could never be teachers. For whatever reason they give, the students, the grading, the stress; they always end up saying that they would go insane. In Dave Barry’s, yes that Dave Barry, words on reviewing See Me After Class he says “. . . Well, this very funny book proves that you definitely would [go insane]. But in a good way.”

See Me After Class by Roxanna Elden is a humorous teacher self-help book. When Elden started writing this book, she wanted it to be an easy read, amusing and honest and get right to the point. See Me After Class is divided into twenty short chapters focusing on everything from organization and grading to the teacher’s lounge. Elden normally starts with an entertaining, for the reader that is, day-gone-wrong story followed by steps to have the problem, hopefully, never happen again and positive, or negative, stories other teachers around the country have shared. The main direction of the book is how to succeed at all the ‘unseen’ things educators do from the month before school starts to forming a teacher personality to due dates. Elden always makes sure that her advice is not just a little phrase that experienced teachers throw around, but that it actually works and is practical.

My personal favorite part of See Me After Class is Elden’s style and voice. She sets up the book with anecdotes that every teacher can relate to, but never admits to because, “It’s not okay to say, ‘I’m working with kids and I might be bad at it.’” Elden allows this book to be a trustworthy companion after a very bad day, but after reading it, teachers now have the tools to return to their classrooms. Right on the cover it says “Advice for teachers by teachers” which can be clearly seen in “. . . all people who shared their stories in this book went on to become successful, experience teachers. They’re not administrators (who, don’t get me wrong, do important jobs). They’re not counselors (who also do important jobs). They’re not presenters or auditors from a downtown office (who do . . . jobs).”  This means that the advice is practical and other teachers have faced these same problems before and rose above it. As noted before, Elden has broken down the chapter into subtopics with steps to take and more stories. It is teaching, of course, there are always stories!

See Me After Class was written with an audience in mind, obviously teachers or people who are closely associated to education. Beyond that, this book really helps new teachers to have confidence that they are not the only ones with strings of bad days and how to step into the classroom the next Monday. Nevertheless, Elden’s book could strengthen experienced educators’ spirits and classrooms, but new teachers would benefit the most.

As a future teacher, I have read a number of ‘teaching books’ but See Me After Class is the best one yet. It is everything an educator wants insight on and stories that make you smile, laugh and pull out your hair. If books were graded on the 4.0 scale, it would be a 4.0 or in book language 5 stars!

 

see me after class

It Was Written In the Sky

On a long bus ride, I was reading Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 over again. I can tell how good of a book it is by how much it has impacted me. This is going to be my fourth post inspired by it. Few books do that, where you read it and instead of wanting to just devour more of its glorious ink marks on tree pulp that was inspired by life itself, you want to compile the building thoughts from the novel and write about it.

But this time instead of applying a truth learned, I wish to write how I came upon the truth.

So there I was on the ten hour bus ride with 33 high school students who smelled like peanut butter and too much cologne. Did I mention that it was a ten hour bus ride? I think I did, but I’ll say it again, a ten hour bus ride . . .

With a book in my face and head phones (or should I say “Seashells”?) turned up loud playing Beethoven, I tried to block out the rap music and the girly-girl talk.

Across the country we went, mile after mile, page after page, song after song.

I was looking for wisdom and wonder in between the lines of a 63 year old book. Trying to block out the youthful folly around me.

Coming to one of the quotes from other books, I search for the quote on Google. While it loads, I look up.

So focused I had been on the book and on the teenagers that I tried to block out, that I had blocked out what had been transforming around me. Winter dreariness with bald trees and fallow fields, had been transformed to spring animation with blooming trees and sowed fields.

So focused on the inside, I had not looked outside. I had only seen one option, and by my lack of observation, I had deprived myself of choice.

In trying to find wisdom I originally looked to a book, and forgot the world.

What I was trying to find in a book was already written in the sky, all I had to do was look. Wisdom and wonder and life was written in the sky. No ink or graphite or typewriter or digital “little black box” needed. Only eyes or ears or hands or mouth or nose needed, to understand what was written in the sky.

Oh, how precious are books, yet even more precious are the things that inspire them.

After marveling at what had been out my window all those hours and miles and pages and songs, I looked back at my phone, and of course it was still loading.

I looked back out the window and wanted my phone to keep loading so that I would never have to look away.


“‘It’s not books you need, it’s some the things that once were in books . . . No, no it’s not books at all you’re looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.'”

-Page 79 in Fahrenheit 451

More Than A Kelly Clarkson Song

Stronger by Michael Carroll took the Kelly Clarkson song ‘Stronger’ to the next level. Stronger has as much action as in a comicbook, and as much emotion as pages can handle. Written four years ago, Carroll links his two series together The New Heroes and Superhuman in a excellent tie-in. The protagonist, Brawn, is a thirteen foot tall, blue hairless monster, or so everyone thinks.

 

Flipping between two elegantly constructed and heart wrenching storylines, the readers are in Brawn’s mind at pivotal years of his life. Starting when Brawn is twelve years old, scared and imprisoned; betrayal closing in on him more than the walls. In the other timeline where all superpowers are eliminated, Brawn is protecting his fellow inmates in a mining prison. Brawn spends most of his excuse for a life in prison because the world cannot accept him or he is on the run from those who wish to use him for their own cause.

 

From  the many novels that I have held close to my heart, I have never read a masterpiece this agonizingly beautiful. My heart was broken and mended in the characters and in the writing style Carroll artfully creates. Carroll’s use of writing devices and plot twists put any other storyteller to shame, making him my favorite author. I trust Brawn in a deeper and more intimate way than I have with any other character before. Stronger is more than just exercise of imagination, but a true test of what the human spirit is capable of, even if it takes a superhuman to realize that.

 

If giant blue anti-heroes and mis-judged evil masterminds are not your forte, then read it for a crushing example of human nature. Though this book might seem like it is written for young adults; however, anyone with a heart should read it. Carroll took me into a new universe that I do not want to live in, but visit occasionally. I met new friends that intrigued me as well causing me cower, making Stronger my favorite novel of all time.

 

416oLcgNpGL

My Fangirl Opinion of Astonishing Adventures

“I think fiercely, concentrating, imagining concentric circles of telepathy emanating from my forehead like an old drawing of Professor X. But if Cal’s picking up on my vice, he doesn’t show it. I’ve gone and lost my best friend in the world.”

 

If you love comic books of any kind, read this book. If you are tired of stereotypical characters, plots, writing style and endings; read The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl written by Barry Lyga.

 

The plot of Lyga’s book is something like everyday life. The main character, who is referred to as Fanboy is fifteen and he lives with his pregnant mom and stepdad. Cal, Fanboy’s only friend secretly loves comic books but appears to everyone else as a sports jock. Fanboy is writing his own graphic novel, that has a unique storyline and the non stereotypical characters. When Fanboy is getting beat up during Gym class, someone is watching and is takes pictures; eventually the two meet up and go on many astonishing adventures. For example, they meet my favorite comic book writer: Benis.

 

Some of the amazing qualities I love about my new favorite book is the ambiguity of never learning the protagonist’s name. Also, there is a whole page with no punctuation except quotation marks. Surprisingly, the book does not end with a happy ending.


There is unexpected twist and turns that every teen know, but even more so every geek knows. Fanboy’s challenges and emotions are real and raw, leaving you – the reader – feeling even more so.