Monday, November 12, 2018

Review: King's Cage

King's Cage King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This third installment in the epic Red Queen series continues the struggle of power between the corrupt monarchy led by Maven Calore and the rebellion fueled by Newbloods and Reds. As Mare is held captive by Maven, she uses her time to gather details of the cunning King's plans for Norte. For about 2/3 of the book, the story primarily drags through Mare's day to day turmoils in captivity, but once the plan to rescue her launches, the action picks up and races to the cliffhanger ending.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Joey, a regular bookstore patron, commits suicide within the shelves of the Bright Ideas Bookstore, his favorite bookseller, Lydia is left with a mystery on her hands.

Told through alternating chapters between Lydia's childhood and her present, readers are slowly exposed to Lydia's tumultuous and well-guarded past as it meticulously weaves its way back into her well-crafted and orderly existence.

This story of family, friendship, and secrets is a mystery that readers will want to unravel!

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

TECH Note of This 10/27/2018

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Review: The Great Alone

The Great Alone The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A character-driven story that pulls readers into the heart of a family fighting to survive the demons that plague it and a wilderness that's determined to tear this family apart.

Leni Allbright hasn't lived an average life. As the daughter of fairly free-spirited parents, she's moved around regularly and seen far too much in her 13 years. When her father, Ernt, a Vietnam veteran and former POW who suffers from post-traumatic stress, decides to move the family to a homestead in the wilds of Alaska, Leni and her mother, Cora, have no idea what's in store. They are ill-prepared for the harshness of Alaska, but they must learn how to survive, or else. They soon realize that it's not possible to do it on their own, and the close-knit community steps up to lend a hand and teach them the ropes. Filled with a diverse cast of characters, The Great Alone is a story of family, friendship, love, violence, survival, and ultimately hope.

*I thoroughly enjoyed the story, but in listening to the audio I found that scenes shifted abruptly and made me feel as if I had missed parts of the story. This brought my rating down to 3 stars from what would have been a solid 4.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Review: This Is How It Always Is: A Novel

This Is How It Always Is: A Novel This Is How It Always Is: A Novel by Laurie Frankel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A well-written and timely story about a family that does it's best, but sometimes even the best isn't enough. Penn and Rosie have a fairytale life. Their "love at first sight" romance blooms and grows into a family with five amazing boys until one of them doesn't want to be a boy - he/she wants to be a girl. Readers watch as Rosie and Penn do all of the right things - they embrace Claude's wants/needs, trust that he/she will figure out what's right, do research, consult professionals, and continue to love their children as they are. But it's not easy to manage a "secret" like this, and ultimately, things explode.

Frankel's writing brought an authentic voice to each of her characters, but I found myself wanting to know more about Poppy's brothers, about their stories that were introduced and then forgotten.

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Create Hand-Drawn Animations with Brush Ninja

Brush Ninja is a free tool that allows users to create simple hand-drawn animations without any logins. Sounds great for students, right? It is!!

Check out the tutorial below to see Brush Ninja in action, and try it with your own students. The classroom applications are widespread, and consider pairing the animations Slides and a screencasting tool like Screencastify to allow students to explain their animations in their own words.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen

What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen by Kate Fagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kate Fagan takes readers into the world of a teen who, on the outside, looked like she had it all. Maddy Holleran grew up in a loving and supportive home, excelled academically, was an all-star athlete, and had many friends. Heading off to college wasn't an easy transition for Maddy, but none of her family or friends knew just how bad things had gotten for her. When Maddy tragically took her own life - those who knew and loved her were in shock.

Fagan reconstructs Maddy's emotional deterioration through access to her social media life, text messages, emails, and detailed interviews with family and friends. But this isn't just a tragic story of suicide, it's an exploration of the lack of access to mental health professionals on college campuses, a lens into the exponential growth of depression in teens, a study of the impact of social media/technology on mental health, and a book that should be read by teens, parents, and educators everywhere. Hopefully, Maddy's story will serve to start conversations that will be difficult and emotional, but simply must happen.

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