Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Book Review: You Got This! Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World by Maya Penn

Goodreads says:

Everyone is talking about the entrepreneur, animator, eco-designer, and girls’ rights activist Maya Penn. Her TEDWomen Talk has been viewed over 1,200,000 million times (and is one of the top 15 TEDWomen Talks of all time). Now this amazing teenager has written an inspirational handbook for teens and young adults to help them discover their passions and maximize their full potential for a creative, successful life.

Maya Penn is a remarkable teen entrepreneur who has given three TED Talks, created her own eco-friendly fashion line, developed animated films, and appeared on The View with Whoopi Goldberg. She has even been name-checked by bestselling authors Gabrielle Bernstein, Steve Harvey, and Eve Ensler. All while still in middle school!

Although Maya is extraordinary in many ways, and her success is a testament to her own creativity, passion, and fearlessness—these are traits that can be cultivated in all of us.

In You Got This! Maya shares her incredible journey to becoming an artist, designer, philanthropist, and business owner. She provides a creative blueprint for teens and young adults, along with the tools she used to build an authentic, exciting, and connected life, and offers creative prompts for cultivating success. So let your creativity and passion flow freely and watch as your world transforms—it all starts with you!

Mya sounds like the child that every parent would be proud of. 

Sometimes, I need a break from fiction, romance, and drama.  There are times when I feel like I need to expand and grow up in my reading tastes. However,  I do read non fiction and biographies.  Lately, I feel like I need inspiration. 

I found Mya Penn's You Got This!  to be inspirational.  It makes me want to reevaluate my life.  Mya started her own business at eight.  What was I doing at eight?  I was playing with Barbie dolls and drawing pictures and writing story books in my room or in front of the TV. 

While this book is geared toward teens and young adults, adults can benefit from it too.  There are a lot of good points in this book.  For instance, letting go of unhealthy toxic friendships, surrounding yourself with positive and supportive friendships, creating a dream board, etc.  I never thought about creating a dream board, it sounds like something I should try.  It does help to write down your goals because you are more likely to accomplish them. 

5 out of 5 stars
Personal digital copy purchased from Amazon

Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: Teach Me by R.A. Nelson

Goodreads says:

Teach Me invites readers inside an experience that fascinates everyone—an affair between a teacher and student—and gives an up-close-and-personal answer to the question: How does this happen?

Note: I deeply apologize for being missing from the blog and not posting reviews.  My absence doesn't mean that I'd stop reading.  Since I have other priorities reading and writing reviews took a back seat. 

I am going to be honest here. I wasn't a big fan of this book and I even questioned why I bought it.  I first heard about Teach Me ten years ago when I was taking a writing course.  I looked for the book, but couldn't find it at my local library branch or bookstores.  It is quite possible I wasn't looking hard enough.  Anyway, I found it in eBook format on Barnes N Noble's website two years ago.

It took me two years to read this story.  The main plot of the story is that Carolina "Nine" has an affair with her poetry teacher Mr. Mann.  Often times, we hear about these situations happening at our local schools and shake our heads and think, how does this happen?  What was that teacher thinking? What do they want with a teenager?  How can they be so stupid enough to jeopardize their job and career?

I think that the author was trying to answer these question through Nine and Mr. Mann's story.  It started off as a crush. They started spending time together outside school. And this was probably not a smart idea.  One of the things I have learned from my training as an instructor, you have to create boundaries and firmly stand by those boundaries.  I have encountered a situation where I was trying to be a good friend, but that was interpreted as potential girlfriend material.  If you are a teacher of any sort, you have to be teacher first.  I think Mr. Mann forgot that somewhere along the way.

It is pretty obvious that Nine never had a romantic relationship. So when Mr. Mann suddenly ends the relationship, Nine doesn't know what to do with herself or how to respond to the situation.  Sorry for the spoiler alert. 

The story was intense and mind boggling. I remember gasping and shaking my head at Nine's antics as I turned the page.  I remember back in high school, I had a crush on my biology teacher.  I pictured a life together, but in reality, I knew it wasn't going anywhere.  I just couldn't imagine myself doing the things that Nine was doing.  People find these types of relationships fascinating, but I lost interest quickly.  While I appreciated the suspense, Teach Me just didn't do for me.  I wish that I would have checked out this book from the library. 

3 out of 5 Stars
Personal copy purchased from Barnes N Noble

Friday, July 1, 2016

Book Review: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Goodreads says:

Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy's pregnancy, Sebastian's coming out, the cute boys, her father's meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.

July 24

My mother named me Gabriella, after my grandmother who, coincidentally, didn't want to meet me when I was born because my mother was unmarried, and therefore living in sin. My mom has told me the story many, many, MANY, times of how, when she confessed to my grandmother that she was pregnant with me, her mother beat her. BEAT HER! She was twenty-five. That story is the basis of my sexual education and has reiterated why it's important to wait until you're married to give it up. So now, every time I go out with a guy, my mom says, "Ojos abiertos, piernas cerradas." Eyes open, legs closed. That's as far as the birds and the bees talk has gone. And I don't mind it. I don't necessarily agree with that whole wait until you're married crap, though. I mean, this is America and the 21st century; not Mexico one hundred years ago. But, of course, I can't tell my mom that because she will think I'm bad. Or worse: trying to be White.
This is the first time I have ever read a novel about a Mexican American character. Usually, the charracters I read about are either white or African American.  I am not trying to be negative here, but other cultures have a story too, and they should be heard.   (Just wanted to get that out of the way). 

I have never heard of this book or Isabel Quintero until I listen to the podcast, First Draft by Sarah Enni.  After listening to the podcast, I wanted to find out more about the author and her debut novel.

A former classmate and friend once said that he was called English muffin. Why, because he is Mexican American and white.  After hearing this I became very curious to hear about what life is like for a Latino  or Hispanic person growing up and or living in the United States.  I have another friend who is Mexican American who told me about life growing up and the things that he was exposed to. 

I have read some reviews on Goodreads and the reviews overall good and others were mixed.  Some would say that there is a lot of drama going on in this book.  I can honestly say that the struggle is real for Gabi, her friends, and family.

The most heartbreaking part about this story is that Gabi's father is a drug addict and the letters she writes to him.  Her brother can't understand why their father doesn't love him.  I just wanted to hug both of them and tell them that everything is going to be okay.

Meanwhile, Gabi deals with her mother's expectations of what it means to be a "good girl"  according to her culture and mother.  Her friends Cindy and Sebastian deal with their own life changing circumstances.  There is so much I want to say about this novel, but I don't want to give away too many spoilers.  I think that it paints a realistic picture of teen life no matter what culture that person is from. 

4 out of 5 stars
Copy borrowed from library


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Thoughts: Saint Anything By Sarah Dessen

Goodreads says:

Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
It has been two years since Sarah Dessen's last novel The Moon and More. So I was super excited to hear that Saint Anything would be in bookstores and on eReaders this year, so without hesitation, I purchased a copy.

Saint Anything feels different from any of Sarah Dessen's other novels.  First, it's the cover.  Usually they're brightly colored summer themed covers, although not all of her books take place in the summer season.  Also, the mary-go-round on the front of the book, I didn't quite get it when I first saw the cover.

In the beginning, this book felt really sad.  We meet Sydney who is dealing with the aftermath of her brother Peyton's wreckless behavior which land him in jail.  Sydney struggles to find her place in her family, especially when Peyton is the center of attention even from jail.

Sydney switches schools and decides to go to Jackson where nobody knows her.  I don't blame her, because I wouldn't want people asking numerous questions or staring at me neither.  Sydney's afternoons use to be lonely until she meets the Chatums.

The thing that bothered me the story is the fact that Sydney's parents, her mother in particular doesn't notice Sydney's loneliness or the fact that Ames-Peyton's best friend is still hanging around.

Throughout the book, Ames gave me the creeps.  I just kept wanting to grab Sydney's parents and say, open your eyes people, something is not right about this guy.  
Spoiler alert, my gut feeling was correct.   Note: I am embarrased to say that this review has been sitting in my drafts folder for a few months now. 
4 out of 5 starts
Personal copy of purchased from Barnes N Noble

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Book Review: City Love by Susane Colasanti

Goodreads says:

Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna are living together in New York City the summer before their freshman year of college begins. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives.

Sadie is a native New Yorker. She is hopeful, romantic, and an eternal optimist who is ready to find her soul mate. Then she meets her dream boy: cute, funny, and quirky in all the right ways. The chemistry between them is unreal. Could he be the one?

Darcy is a free spirit from SoCal with rebellious tendencies and unlimited financial resources. Moving to New York City is just another adventure for her. Darcy wants this summer to be all about boy adventures—nothing serious. But how much fun is too much?

Rosanna leaves Chicago for NYC so she can put her past behind her and reinvent herself. The only thing standing in her way is the grand total of seventy-three cents she has saved. Then she meets a guy who wants to show her the glamorous side of New York—a side that she would never get to experience on her own. If Rosanna doesn't resist, she may find herself in city love.

Told from alternating points of view, City Love captures the moments in each girl's life when everything is thrilling, amazing, and terrifying all at once . . . in a way it will never be again.

I was excited about reading Susane Colasanti's City Love. However, the excitement wore off as I progressed through the novel.  I am not sure how to review this novel because nothing really happened until the end.  City Love wasn't a quick read mainly because of my schedule which includes teaching and studying for my certifications exams.

I understand that this novel is the first of a trilogy.  City Love for the most part reads like a personal travel blog as the girls explore New York City.  All three girls are hiding secrets that they want to forget and enter into romantic relationships.  I guess Colasanti is building up for the second installment for the series.

This novel is different from Colasanti's other novels because the girls are out of high school and going to college.  Also they live on their own.  So can this novel be classified as young adult or new adult? It is also different because it is part of a series and we are left with a few loose ends.

Will I read the follow up?  Maybe. I wish that I had more to say about this novel, but I don't.  I wasn't that impressed with City Love.

3 out of 5 Stars
Personal digital copy purchased from Barnes N Noble 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Review: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads says:

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

I first heard about this book in 2012 when the movie version came out.  I saw it in Wal-Mart and considered buying it but I put it back.  Last summer, I purchased a copy and it has been waiting for me to be read.

This book reminds me The Catcher in the Rye in so many ways.  I read The Catcher in the Rye some years ago when I took English 101 one summer.  Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower felt very depressing at times, and I had to put the book down.  

We are introduced to Charlie who is struggling through his first year of high school.  The story is told through a series of letters to an "anonymous" person whom he refers to as "dear friend."  

Charlie is really intelligent but socially awkward.  He is encouraged by one of his teachers to "participate." In other words to be more social.  Charlie finds a group of friends who accept him-Patrick and Sam.  

It appears that Charlie struggles with the realities of growing up and change as his friends head off to college.  Charlie is hospitalized and it is not clear if it is for depression or some other mental disorder.
In some ways I felt that I could relate to Charlie.  I didn't always fit in and was the source of mockery due to my vision impairment and other reasons throughout school.  For the most part, I stayed to myself.  I remember being sent to the guidance counselor's office weekly and I was even matched up with two classmates to be my"buddies."  Well, that only lasted until the end of the school year.

By high school, there were a few people I hung around.  I was pretty much invisible and blended in the background.  Guys didn't pay me any attention and I didn't go to prom which wasn't a big deal to me.

I guess that you can say I'm socially awkward.  There are times when I feel like a giant sore thumb and so far behind when it comes to life experiences.  Last summer, I was informed that I wasn't hired for a job because the staff members felt uncomfortable around me and said that I didn't "participate." Even as an adult, I often feel out of place.

Even as an adult, fitting is still an issue to an extent. Dealing with life changes with friends and family is still challenging at times.  I think that readers can relate to Charlie in some way, even if you are not in high school.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Book Review: Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

Goodreads says:

Meet Corrinne. She's living every girl's dream in New York City—shopping sprees at Barneys, open access to the best clubs and parties, and her own horse at the country club. Her perfect life is perfectly on track. At least it was. . . . When Corrinne's father is laid off, her world suddenly falls apart. Instead of heading to boarding school, she's stripped of her credit cards and shipped off to the boonies of Texas to live with her grandparents. On her own in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the life she's supposed to be living. She doesn't care who she stomps on in the process. But when Corrinne makes an unlikely friend and discovers a total hottie at work, she begins to wonder if her life B.R.—before the recession—was as perfect as it seemed.

When the book first opens, you will find Corrine shopping.  Within the first chapter, I came across designer names than I could count of.

Corrine's life changes when she returns home, and her life is about to change in a way that she doesn't expect.  She expects to be heading off to a prestigious boarding school. However, because of the recession, her dad looses his job and the family has to make big changes financially.

Corrine and her brother are sent to live with their grandparents in Texas.  Corrine has to get use to a whole different life style which she dislikes.  She learns to adjust and makes new friends.

My opinion of Corrine changed as the story develops.  I found her to be snobby and clueless.  This girl didn't even understand what recession meant.  Sometimes I got annoyed and wanted to abandon the book. However, as she changed, I began to feel better about her.  

4 out of 5 stars
Personal digital copy purchased from Barnes N Noble