Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Title: Revolution
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: hardback
Rating: 3.5/5
Read for: Amazon Best of 2010 Challenge

Brooklyn: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.
Paris: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fatal encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want–and couldn’t escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages–until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

My Thoughts

It took me almost a week to get through this book. Not because it’s a particularly difficult read in terms of language, but because I was just not interested. It took almost half the book before I was interested, and by that point I was ready to put it down and put a DNF (did not finish) on the rating.
Andi comes across as a self-centered, rich, spoiled brat, and that’s mostly because she is. She speaks to her headmistress at her private school however she pleases, and in Andi’s case, she’s rather rude. She back-talks her father. She smokes pot, because she’s bored and it’s the “thing” to do.
It wasn’t until Andi comes across Alexandrine’s diary that I began to get interested, and I was more interested in Alex’s story than I was Andi’s. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about Andi’s self-pity party, but Alex’s story about the king and queen of France, and the Dauphin, was a lot more interesting and I found myself looking forward to the diary entries.
Overall, I thought the book was okay. It was an interesting read, but I found it hard to identify with the main character.

Guest Post: Nzingha West, “A Little About Autism”

When we talk about Autism, there are tons of questions. Is Autism really that bad? What are the symptoms? How are people diagnosed with Autism? Is Autism a life changing diagnosis? No matter what the question, there are some definite facts; almost 1 in 110 children are diagnosed with Autism. Some cases of Autism are severe, whereas others are less severe.

There are some good qualities that autistic individuals have, they are many times very artistic and intelligent and many have a knack of mathematics. Being diagnosed with Autism for many parents may seem like a God send, it means that there is finally a name for what’s been going on with their child or children. I myself work with Autistic children on a daily basis in my office in New York City, and I know from experience that individuals with autism can be a tremendous people. Don’t get me wrong, autism can manifest itself in many ways, and although I have a fairly positive outlook not everyone feels the same way that I do. Ultimately, we should understand that autism can be treated, but not cured. Some popular forms of treatment are ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), Floortime and Verbal Therapy. Many of these therapies are geared towards helping develop social and emotional skills for these children and can be tremendously helpful. One thing I want to stress as heavily as possible is that autism treatment and diagnosis will change the lives of everyone in the family. In order to see real improvement you should not limit that child’s/person therapies to only the therapists office, you should implement the therapies and suggestions given by the therapist to the best of your abilities in the home so that they aren’t forgotten. The goal is to turn the therapy(ies) into routine activities.

One website that I personally is the http://www.autismspeaks.org website. They have tons of information about different therapies, autism insurance acceptance and more. Autism Speaks stands alone in terms of online resources, but when looking for an offline resource like a therapist, or advocate to work with you to help your child receive the services he/she needs, you should consider several thinks like how much you like the person, their credentials and licensing and how helpful you feel they would be to your family. If you are considering working with your child yourself, you may want to look into becoming certified or licensed in one of the therapies that are geared towards assisting autistic children (some of the therapies allow parents to become licensed or certified). Other resources that you may find helpful are books. When I wrote my book “Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster”, I was sure to list many tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your child’s education including free resources, information for free private school tuition paid for by the state and information of how to advocate for your child. Many other authors and practitioners will offer up advice and explain what autism is and give their own theories on what causes autism (I say theories because no one really knows for sure). Nevertheless, you should arm yourself with as much information as possible, and seek the assistance of a qualified professional if you are unsure about something. Happy National Autism Month!

Many thanks to Ms. West for providing a little bit of insight into autism and its treatments. To find out more about Nzingha West and her book, Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster, please visit http://www.ismykidstupid.com.

Review: Is My Kid Stupid? by Nzingha West

Title: Is My Kid Stupid?? Avoiding an Educational Disaster
Author: Nzingha West
Read for: Pump Up Your Book tour

The blurb from the back:

Is My Kid Stupid reveals the unmitigated truth about special education, and parental involvement. Is My Kid Stupid is a must read for any parent, or friend of a parent, or relative of a parent. Is My Kid Stupid teaches parents how to:

  • Choose the best practitioner for their child
  • Approach the school when you want something done
  • Receive a free private school education for your child courtesy of the state
  • Choose extracurricular activities for your child
  • Choose an advocate for your child, or be your own child’s advocate
  • Choose the therapies that will benefit your child the most

My Thoughts

Okay, so I have to open this with a couple of facts:

FACT: My boyfriend has dyslexia.

FACT: We do not say the word “stupid” in our house, because he was called “stupid” so often growing up.

That said, I was incredibly grateful to read something that not only says these children with learning disorders aren’t stupid, and that they may need a little more help than other children in learning. I was also glad to see that Ms. West differentiated between being lazy and having an actual disorder. I was also really glad that she mentions that it is important to have your child early if you are concerned about a learning disorder. The longer you wait, the harder it is for a child to catch up to his or her peers.

The book is filled with little tidbits on how to make sure your child is receiving the best possible education he or she can have. Not only in grade school, but also in college, should your child choose to go to college. It’s filled with little scenarios, and each chapter ends with a short Q&A session, along with blank areas for your answers, as well as a page or so for you to write any notes that you may want later.

I think this is a book that all parents of special needs kids should read. It offers a lot of insight into the educational system in general, as well as what to do if the school system isn’t working well for your child. There are even some tips that I didn’t know about (particularly about testing out of courses in college). Wish I had known that 7 years ago!

A copy of this book was received from the author as part of the Pump Up Your Book tour. For more information or to participate in a tour, go to Pump Up Your Book.

April R.A.K.

Book Soulmates started this thing called Random Acts of Kindness. I joined in for the first time this month, and it’s really awesome. Here’s my list of things I got during the month of April:

Jessie over at The Elliott Review
sent me an ARC of Friendship Bread
by Darien Gee

Kristen from Bookworming in the 21st Century
sent me an ARC of Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys

Thanks ever so much for your gifts!

Want to join the R.A.K.? Check out the button on the right side of my page.

On Libraries and Its Patrons

It’s no secret that I frequent my local library. There are some librarians there that I love, and some not so much.

Lately I’ve been utilizing the library catalog online, and requesting my books from there (unless the catalog specifically says my local branch has a book on its shelves, in which case I will go hunt it down). It makes my life a little simpler when I have multitudes of books sitting on my shelves. It also gives me a break, because some books have over a hundred holds on them, so that gives me time to read what’s on my shelves now.

But here’s my issue with this idea: I end up holding for a book for nearly six months, and I still haven’t gotten close to the bottom of the list.

Why?

Because people don’t return books on time.

I can’t tell you how much this irritates me. I go through so much trouble to make sure my books are brought back on time, especially if there’s holds on them. I have a white board dedicated to my library books and when they’re due back, as well as a section for me to write which books I’ve read and need to be returned.

Returning a book isn’t that hard, but when you have a book, and it’s due in March, and it’s already the end of April?

Your library card should be revoked permanently. That’s a clear sign you’re never going to return the book, and it’s essentially theft and thanks for wasting my time.

As of this writing, I’m holding for six books. One of them I’ve been holding on for almost 8 months, and I’m still number 31 out of 38. Still. This book, Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, initially had six copies in circulation when I first requested it. Now they have somewhere around 15, and the line isn’t moving any faster because people are keeping this book well past its due date.

J.R. Ward’s Dark Lover I’ve had in my possession before, but I was unable to finish it before it was due. Since there were other holds on it, I couldn’t renew it, so I requested it again. This is another of those novels that takes forever to make its rounds, mostly because people wait the full three weeks before they have to return them.

But let me talk about Julie Kagawa’s The Iron King. I’ve been dying to read this series for months, and logically I want to start at the beginning. There’s a total of one copy in circulation in my library district (that’s right–we have over 20 libraries in our district, and only one copy of this book), and of course, whoever had it most recently has not returned it, and it’s late.

I’m very quickly losing patience with my library system. It seems that those of us who have an excellent record with library books (I’ve never had a fine, ever, not even a nickel) have to put up with the irresponsible ilk over and over, with no reward system.

I still think people who are past due over a month should have their card revoked. Who’s to say they won’t pay their fine and then do the same thing with another book? It sounds like a great way to add to the library–if you were a dishonest person, that is.

If you’re reading this, I doubt that you’re one of those dishonest folk. But if you happen to have overdue library books on your shelves, please return them so others can enjoy them.

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 1
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: hardback
Rating: 4.5/5
Read for: 2011 Urban Fantasy challenge

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him? Of course, no one believes Percy about the monster incident; he’s not even sure he believes himself.
Until the Minotaur chases him to summer camp.
Suddenly, mythical creatures seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. The gods of Mount Olympus, he’s coming to realize, are very much alive in the twenty-first century. And worse, he’s angered a few of them: Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy has just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property, and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. On a daring road trip from their summer camp in New York to the gates of the Underworld in Los Angeles, Percy and his friends–one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena–will face a host of enemies determined to stop them. To succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of failure and betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

My Thoughts

I was SO excited to read this. So excited. I love Greek mythology (seriously–I have Cerberus tattooed on my right shoulder).
The book starts a little slow, but it picks up pretty quickly and by chapter three I was hooked.
The book is a little predictable at times, especially if you know Greek mythology pretty well, so I was able to guess the characters before Percy did, but I was still pretty impressed with it. The whole novel takes Greek mythology and runs with it, and even the encounters with the Big Three (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades) are awesome.
I don’t want to say too much about the book, because there are spoilers around every corner and the beginning of the book is tied with the end, thanks to the Oracle’s prophecy, but suffice to say I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to picking up book two as soon as I can.

Review: Caught by Harlan Coben

Title: Caught
Author: Harlan Coben
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Format: hardback
Rating: 2.5/5
Read for: Amazon Best of 2010 Challenge

Seventeen-year-old Haley McWaid is a good girl, the pride of her suburban New Jersey family, captain of the lacrosse team, and headed off to college next year with all the hopes and dreams her doting parents can pin on her. Which is why, when her mother wakes one morning to find that Haley never came home the night before and three months quickly pass without word from the girl, the community assumes the worst.
Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission: to identify and bring down sexual predators via elaborate–and nationally televised–sting operations. Working with local police on her news program Caught in the Act, Wendy and her team have publicly shamed dozens of men by the time she encounters her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens, but his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.

My Thoughts

I went into this book expecting it to be about child abduction, pedophiles, and TV news reporters catching said pedophiles. Instead, it turned out to be some moral-filled story, with said TV news reporter as the main character. The missing seventeen-year-old is really just a side story; her parents and family show up once every few chapters.
I felt like the actual plot-line got mixed up somewhere in the novel, but it felt like it was a bunch of sideline plots that, when strung together, end up being long enough for an almost-400-page novel. At one point, probably about 100 pages in or so, I started skimming. Not much was happening, and it turns out that the 20 or so pages I skimmed didn’t bring anything new to light.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed. I went in expecting one thing, came out with another thing, and neither really fits with the other. The summary doesn’t even begin to describe what the book is really about.