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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Great Performances "MacBeth"

This is my entertainment today, as I finish end of year things and start thinking about next year.

Watch Macbeth on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Scars, by Cheryl Rainfield

Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself
—before it's too late....

Kendra, fifteen, hasn't felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can't remember the most important detail – her abuser's identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it's her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who's becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra's abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. SCARS is the unforgettable story of one girl's frightening path to the truth.

Kendra's It was the first in a series of 3 that I read in a weekend about rape/emotional/sexual abuse. (I really need a good book about puppies. That don't die...any ideas??)

She is tough, scared, vulnerable, unyielding. She's caught in the middle of trying to figure out who she is (which is a heck of a trial at 15 by itself) while attempting to overcome devastation. Memories of abuse that have suddenly sprung back to forefront of her mind.

It doesn't get any easier. She just can't catch a break. She feels she's being followed, watched, because she may reveal his identity. It's so.....far-fetched...that even her therapist isn't sure she believes that bit. She also is trying to find her way as a lesbian just seems like all the cards are stacked against her.

I've talked with other teachers and school people about how some of our kids are living experiences and situations that we'd never be able to imagine, in our wildest dreams. Kendra is the shining example of this.
Her story, told from someone who understands, so very well, is powerful.

Scars, is an important book. I kept thinking about Patricia McCormick's Cut, because of the subject matter. McCormick's book is so very well done and is probably the first "mainstream" book about someone who cuts themselves to ease the pain. I love McCormick's book, but Scars is so much more, simply because the author, Cheryl Rainfield, has lived a life with some chilling similarities. How similar?

The arms on the cover are the author's.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from WestSide Books through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Summer My Life Began, by Shannon Greenland

A fabulous romance with a very unexpected guy . . .
       The opportunity to explore her love of cooking . .                The freedom to be whoever she wants . . .

This is what seventeen-year-old Em gets when she goes to spend a month at her aunt's island resort. It's a dream come true—and exactly the break Em needed from her strict family and their high expectations of her.

But when Em uncovers a long-buried secret about her family, everything changes. And suddenly, Em finds herself making some big choices about her future—choices she never dreamed she'd have the chance to make . . .

Oh an Em should have these things! Every girl should! She's free for the first time in her life and lives up every minute of it. I found myself wishing I'd had an Aunt Tilly and could have spent a month in a quiet beach town playing in the kitchen and loving life!

It's a great little YA romance. It's not too heavy, but just intriguing enough to keep a reader hooked. It's a "girl book," but that's girls need those sometimes. *grin* Em's interesting, the guy is obviously hot, and the descriptions of the food made me dig out a cookbook.

Escape for a little bit..

Since part of the story is about living out your own dreams, I asked Shannon what her "someday" dreams are.

Top 10 Someday Dreams
(In no particular order)
11.    Hit the New York Times Bestsellers List
22.    Tour the Mediterranean
33.    See any of my books made into a movie
44.    Learn to play the piano
55.    Visit Australia
66.    Zip line the Amazon
77.    Dive an underwater cave
88.    Sky dive
99.    Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
110. Dog sled through Alaska

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as an ARC from JKSCommunications in connection with their hosted blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sites to See, Week of May 14

Brain Metrix: Brain Training
“Brain Metrix is an educational website dedicated to brain training programs; you can achieve optimum fitness by visiting your gym, and engaging in a brain fitness program that is both fun and stimulating. Here you stretch and train your brain to the limit, you can train and test your memory or test your reflexes or even your brain creativity and improve it and much more." (from the website)
50 Brain Facts Every Educator Should Know.
Some of these are just trivia kind of things. Some are pretty interesting, and might need to be kept in mind.
Paying for College Cost Comparison Worksheet—CFPB
Enter up to 3 universities you’re considering, and it will supply for each the sticker price for first year, average grants and scholarships, total borrowing, estimated debt after school, and comparative debt burden.
Budget Your Trip
“Travel costs from real people.” Plan and track travel spending here, using the site’s tools. Enter a city’s name and get a wealth of information including average daily costs and user submitted tips.
From a teacher at Southside “Their video library offers educators a wide range of subjects for grades K-12. The videos also include information on alignment with Common Core State Standards and ancillary material for teachers to use in their own classrooms.  I was able to find a decimal activity and the pages were provided so that I could quickly make the activity.  It is a good resource to check out over the summer.”
What Should I Read Next?
Type a title/author and come up with a list of suggested titles.
Those Kids Today
Interesting info-graphic about the differences between kids in 1982 and in 2012. Pretty neat. The stats toward the middle/bottom are most interesting in terms of education.

Echo's Revenge: The Ultimate Game, by Sean Austin

The Ultimate Game (Echo's Revenge Series, #1)

Brothers Jeremy (age 10) and Reggie (age 14) are expert gamers. After a run-in with their mother's explosive boyfriend, they run away from home only to discover that Echo-7, a new and indestructible game predator, has developed the ability to reverse the rules of its own video game and hunt them down- in the real world. Ultimately, when Reggie battles ECHO-7 one-on-one, he must win the toughestgame of his life, but will it be enough to free him and his brother? 

Welllllll.....this is WAY outside my usual read. I'm not a "gamer" (though I do like video games) and I don't tend to ever read anything remotely related. And, to be honest, if I hadn't been asked specifically to review this, I probably wouldn't.

That being said....I liked Jeremy and Reggie's story. It's interesting, fun, and there's just enough action and craziness to appeal to the younger boy set, and even some of the girls who are gamers. This one doesn't really fit in my high school library, but it would work well in junior high.

It's sci-fi with a touch of fantasy--as in, the game come to life. And what kid wouldn't doesn't wonder what might happen if the game left the computer and entered the real world? There's some comedy, a little bit of horror, but not too gruesome. It's a good starting point for those kids who will one day read similar but edgier titles. I look forward to book 2,

Check out the companion website Echo Hunt. (FYI...the website doesn't like the newest version of Internet Explorer, but it's a friend of Chrome.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as an ARC from AAA Reality Games (the publisher) I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

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