Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Tag: August 2015

Book Review: School Libraries and Student Learning

School Libraries and Student Learning: A Guide for School Leaders – Rebecca J. Morris – Harvard Education Press – Published 4 August 2015

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Synopsis

Innovative, well-designed school library programs can be critical resources for helping students meet high standards of college and career readiness. In School Libraries and Student Learning, Rebecca J. Morris shows how school leaders can make the most of their school libraries to support ambitious student learning. She offers practical strategies for collaboration between school leaders, teachers, and librarians to meet schoolwide objectives in literacy, assessment, student engagement, and inquiry-based learning.
Topics include: establishing “makerspaces” and “learning commons” to support student-centered learning; developing a schoolwide focus on literacy across multiple formats and devices; redesigning lesson plans that foster inquiry and critical thinking across classrooms and grade levels; supporting collaboration between teachers and librarians in instruction and assessment; and using the library to strengthen ties between school, family, and community.

My thoughts

As a librarian I am always eager to learn more about the amazing profession I find myself in, how school libraries are changing, and how this should reflect practice. I also love learning about what other school libraries are doing. School Libraries and Student Learning by Rebecca J Morris is a wonderful resource for school librarians and school leaders. It covers a huge range of topics, from the fundamental principles of libraries and librarians, to specialised spaces within the library or learning commons, as well as guides, checklists, and real-life school examples.

School Libraries and Student Learning is written for school leaders. It seeks to highlight the importance of school libraries, school librarians and the way in which these are both integral to an integrated school learning system. There are eight chapters, as well as a school library checklist appendix.

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Book Review: Not After Everything

Not After Everything

Not After Everything – Michelle Levy – Dial – Published 4 August 2015

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Synopsis

Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry-loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her? But with his dad more brutally unpredictable than ever, Tyler knows he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into the chaos. So when violence rocks his world again, will it be Jordyn who shows him the way to a hopeful future? Or after everything, will Tyler have to find it in himself?

My thoughts

What a fantastic book. It’s rough and raw and yet also fresh and hopeful. And I loved the ending.

Everything has changed for Tyler since the moment he found his mother floating in a bath of her own blood. Football only brings shameful memories, he no longer fits with his girlfriend or friends, and his father is always one drink away from abusive disaster. Forced to work to pay for his own fuel, clothes and food, Tyler finds a job at a photography studio. It’s there that he reconnects with a childhood friend, Jordyn, who is now unrecognisable in her goth-girl getup. But Jordyn doesn’t let Tyler get away with anything and Tyler can’t believe how much of a relief it is to finally find someone with whom he can be real.  Continue reading

Book Review: Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous

Bala-Gala

Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous – Gita V. Reddy – Published 7 August 2015

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Synopsis

Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous is a bed time story for kids, and also a first-read for early readers.
Bala-Gala lives in the forest of Gamba-Bamba, and must save himself from the crocodile, Brammy-Gommy, who lives in the River Kanga.
But who is Bala-Gala? Is he is deer, a tiger, a dinosaur, or a dragon? The answer will delight kids, as will the story. 

My thoughts

I was asked to read and review this children’s picture book. It is a clever and sweet story about a child’s playful imagination.

Bala-Gala is brave and dangerous. When he walks through the forest as a deer his friends hide from his large, earth-shaking steps. When he is a tiger he can scare the nasty crocodile. And he loves being a dinosaur so he can carry his friends all over the forest. But when a monster threatens the peace of the forest it will be up to Bala-Gala to save his friends.

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Book Review: Torn Sky

Torn Sky

Torn Sky – Tracy Banghart – Rebel Wing #3 – Alloy Entertainment – Published 4 August 2015

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Synopsis

When Aris Haan brought down Safara’s biggest war criminal, she’d thought it was a turning point in the war. Victory was on the horizon, as was a peaceful future with her Promised, Milek.

But a deadly new threat has emerged: a Safaran bomb that could wipe out all of Atalanta in one catastrophic blast. Aris is tasked with finding the weapon before it is completed, a mission made more difficult when she starts to suspect that there is a Safaran spy in her unit. Friendships are tested, loyalties are strained, and suddenly Aris no longer knows whom she can trust. 

My thoughts

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book and it was totally worth the wait. It is a brilliant, edge-of-your-seat, action-packed, swoon-worthy conclusion to the Rebel Wing trilogy.

I didn’t mean to start reading this book, I had another one I needed to read first, but then I opened it up to just take a peak at the first page and before I knew it I was a couple chapters in. Needless to say, that other book hasn’t been read yet.

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Book Review: Breakaway

Breakaway

Breakaway – Kat Spears – St. Martin’s Griffin – Published 15 September 2015

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Synopsis

From Kat Spears, author of Sway, comes a new novel that asks the question: when a group of four best friends begin to drift apart, what will it take to bring them back together?

When Jason Marshall’s younger sister passes away, he knows he can count on his three best friends and soccer teammates—Mario, Jordie, and Chick—to be there for him. With a grief-crippled mother and a father who’s not in the picture, he needs them more than ever. But when Mario starts hanging out with a rough group of friends and Jordie finally lands the girl of his dreams, Jason is left to fend for himself while maintaining a strained relationship with troubled and quiet Chick. Then Jason meets Raine, a girl he thinks is out of his league but who sees him for everything he wants to be, and he finds himself pulled between building a healthy and stable relationship with a girl he might be falling in love with, grieving for his sister, and trying to hold onto the friendships he has always relied on.

My thoughts

A harsh and expressive book about friendship. Both confronting and endearing.

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Book Review: Court of Fives

Court of Fives

Court of Fives – Kate Elliott – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – Published 18 August 2015

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Synopsis

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

My thoughts

Imagine a world that seems like a combination of Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, mixed with the cunning and dexterity of martial arts training in the form of a competitive game in which contestants risk death, add a dash of romance, a healthy helping of family love and sisterly rivalry and finish with a determined and strong heroine. What you end up with is Court of Fives – a clever and original novel that intrigues and delights.

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Book Review: Falling Like Snowflakes

Falling Like Snowflakes

Falling Like Snowflakes – Denise Hunter – Thomas Nelson – Published 8 September 2015

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Synopsis

Riding in a bus in the thickly falling snow, Eden Davis wonders how it ever came to this—fleeing under cover of night with young Micah sleeping fitfully in the seat beside her. When a winter storm strands them in Summer Harbor, Maine, Eden wonders if what might have been the end could be a new beginning.

Beau Callahan is a habitual problem-solver. He’s recently left his job with the sheriff’s department to take over the family Christmas tree farm to save it from insolvency. But he’s flummoxed. During the busiest season of the year, he’s shorthanded. Then Eden shows up looking for work, and Beau believes he’s been rescued. Competent, smart, and beautiful, Eden’s also guarded and quiet. He soon figures out she comes with a boatload of secrets. But Beau can’t seem to help himself from falling for her.

As Christmas Eve approaches, Beau discovers he’ll do anything to keep Eden safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

My thoughts

And so begins a new series by the great Denise Hunter. I’ve loved all her books so far and Falling Like Snowflakes was no exception. Great romance, a heroine with a heartbreaking backstory who is slowly finding her feet, a ruggedly charming male lead, and all the snowy appeal of a new small-town setting.

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New Book Releases August 2015

New Book Releases for August 2015

Here is my list of new releases for August 2015. Comprised of books I have already had the please to read and upcoming releases for which I am anxiously waiting. Click on the covers for detailed reviews and synopses.

Young Adult

Not After Everything Not After Everything – Michelle Levy – Dial – Published 4 August 2015

Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry-loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her? 

This sounds like the perfect mix of hardship and romance.

Young adult fiction: Contemporary.


Nothing Left To Burn

Nothing Left to Burn – Patty Blount – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 4 August 2015

Nothing Left To Burn is a very interesting book. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but far more challenging and thought provoking.

Firefighting was always the special thing that bonded Reece’s father and brother. So when Reece’s brother is killed in a car accident that was Reece’s fault, the distance between Reece and his father widens even more. Determined to make his father pay attention to him once and for all, Reece joins the junior fire squad. But once there he comes to love the thrill and unexpected comraderary of the squad far more than he expected.

Young adult fiction: Contemporary. Continue reading

Book Review: What You Left Behind

What You Left Behind

What You Left Behind – Jessica Verdi – Sourcebooks – Published 4 August 2015

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Synopsis

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

My thoughts

When I started this book I knew it was going to be devastating. I mean, look at the summary! I liked that it was raw and heartbreaking but was pleased that it was equally hopeful. 
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