Saturday, January 8, 2022

Book Review: 'Your4Truths: How Beliefs Impact Your Life' by Judy Kane

✰✰✰½  If you have recently found yourself struggling in life and experiencing stress, this just might be the book for you. Everyone has the power to change their lives, and it starts with identifying the four basic beliefs that can impact you. These subconscious beliefs have been ingrained into our lives since childhood and may be the root of our limitations. By changing these beliefs, anyone can move forward and make the decisions you want rather than decisions based on reactions to fear or self-doubt. 

The Bottom Line: While this is not a how-to book for the layperson new to the theories of PSYCH-K, it does get one thinking about what is troubling you. By learning about the four beliefs and reading about real-life examples of how changing your internal beliefs can help people live their best lives, you can begin to identify which subconscious thoughts are blocking you. Recommended for the individual who is curious about PSYCH-K. Also, recommended for those familiar with the concepts already. The ideas introduced in this slim book are intriguing.

Details: Your4Truths: How Beliefs Impact Your Life by Judy Kane. Published by Highlander Press in 2021. 112 p. ISBN: 978-1-7372638-1-4 NOTE: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Book Review: 'Seabiscuit: An American Legend' by Laura Hillenbrand

✰✰✰✰½ The story of the little horse that could rode into the hearts of Americans during the Great Depression era and never really left. Overcoming numerous physical challenges and racing setbacks, Seabiscuit triumphed over much larger horses to become a cultural icon. But had it not been for the combined efforts of owner Charles Howard, trainer Tom Smith, and jockey Red Pollard, Seabiscuit may never have found his way out of the claiming races. Together the three men and Howard's wife, Marcela Zabala, did everything they could to bring out the best in Seabiscuit. The horse went from an angry, overlooked animal to an admired treasure that was the envy of the horse racing world. The book itself is an epic tale of determination, luck, and inspiration that will keep you turning the pages. 

The Bottom Line: Bestselling author, Laura Hillenbrand, tackled the story behind the most famous racehorse in American history and what made him so special. There's something for everyone in this inspiring tale. Highly recommended for fans of sports, horses, biographies, and underdog stories.

Book Club Notes: While the book was difficult for some to get into, it was riveting for others. Ironically, while several members expressed that the book was too long, the movie, on the other hand, did not go into enough depth. Our group shared an inspirational and spirited hour on Zoom discussing this one. We rated the book an average of 4.5, and the movie received 4 on a scale of 1 - 5. Discussion questions are plentiful online for groups looking to delve into this book. Highly recommended for book clubs, colleges, and other groups interested in both the horse and the personalities behind the making of Seabiscuit. 

Details: Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. Paperback published by Ballantine Books in 2001. 399 p. ISBN: 978-0449005613 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year to all my readers! I hope everyone has an AMAZING year filled with lots of great books to read and new adventures to be found. Be well & carry on! 

Note: The free clip art is courtesy of  Clipart World. Thank you!

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Book Review: 'Bah! Humbug' by Lorna & Lecia Balian

✰✰✰✰✰ Little Margie really and truly believes in Santa Claus, but her older brother, Arthur, does not. Arthur has a plan to prove that Santa is nothing but a humbug, and Margie has to help him prove it. On Christmas Eve, Arthur sets his trap and waits. When Arthur falls asleep, Margie is in for a Christmas surprise that she shares with Arthur when he wakes up.

The Bottom Line: This picture book from 1977 was reissued with full color added by Lorna Balian's daughter, Lecia. As timely now as it was back then, this charming holiday tale will warm your heart. Highly recommended seasonal bedtime reading with your little one. 

Details: Bah! Humbug by Lorna & Lecia Balian. Hardcover picture book published by Star Bright Books in 2006. 32 p. ISBN: 978-1595720368 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Book Review: 'Hanukkah Moon' by Deborah da Costa

✰✰✰✰½ Isobel is excited to be invited to Aunt Luisa's for Hanukkah, but she's not sure what to expect. Aunt Luisa just moved to America from Mexico; will she know how to celebrate Hanukkah the right way? Isobel's father adds to the mystery by telling her that Aunt Luisa celebrates the Hanukkah Moon. Isobel wonders what that is, and when exactly to they celebrate it?

At Aunt Luisa's, Isobel learns about the birds and animal friends that visit. She also receives a camera to document the holiday. As the celebration continues, they light the hanukkiah and when the time is just right, Isobel learns how to celebrate the new moon that happens during Hanukkah. 

The Bottom Line: With themes of family and tradition, this picture book blends the traditions of Judaism and Mexico. Richly illustrated in watercolor and colored pencil, this is Mosz's first picture book for American readers. Highly recommended for seasonal story time for children ages 7 - 10. Includes a glossary and information about Hanukkah and Rosh Hodesh (the celebration of the new moon), which is popular among Sephardic Jews who settled in Latin America.

Details: Hanukkah Moon written by Deborah da Costa & illustrated by Gosia Mosz. Picture book published by Kar-Ben Publishing in 2007. 32 p. ISBN: 978-1580132442 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Book Review: 'The Great Thanksgiving Escape' by Mark Fearing

✰✰✰✰ It's that time of year when all the relatives gather at Grandma's for Thanksgiving dinner. Gavin is less than thrilled to find himself stuck in the room for babies and toddlers, so when his cousin Rhonda suggests they make their own fun, Gavin is in. Unfortunately, trying to sneak out to the backyard is not as easy as the duo thinks. There's many obstacles like guard dogs, aunts, and teenage zombies. And just when they've almost reached their goal, the weather turns against them. Will they be able to make their great escape or will they be returned to the baby room? Check out this holiday treat to find out.

The Bottom Line: This humorous picture book is packed with bold colors. Illustrated from a child's perspective, it's a super fun read. Suggested holiday reading for kids ages PreK - Grade 1.

Details: The Great Thanksgiving Escape written & illustrated by Mark Fearing. Picture book published by Candlewick Press in 2014. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0763663063 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Book Review: 'The Freedom Writers Diary' by the Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell

✰✰✰✰½ When a rookie English teacher, Erin Gruwell, is faced with 150 Freshmen remedial students, it's time to sink or swim. Looking around her classroom on the first day, she is struck by the way they segregate themselves into groups based on race: Black, Asian, and Latino, with a lone Caucasian student lost in the crowd.

Gruwell, comes up with an idea to get the kids to write by having each keep a journal. They can write anything they want with no repercussions, and write, they do. Gruwell soon realizes that for many of these kids, just surviving the streets is an accomplishment. By listening carefully and creating interactive activities, Gruwell encourages the students to see how similar they are to one another rather than focusing on differences. And for the first time, many of these kids find an adult who is actually taking an interest in them.

As the students move through grades 9, 10, 11, and 12, something wonderful happens. They begin to believe there's more out there than just gang fights and the streets. They learn about respect and begin to have dreams. Together, they compiled this book, which covers a wide range of social issues. Together, they garnered world-wide attention and demonstrated tolerance. Together, they did what most adults thought they couldn't: graduate and go to college.

For a dose of inspiration, pick up this book and read what can happen with a little nurturing and respect. Since this is the 20th anniversary edition, it also includes both tenth-anniversary and twentieth-anniversary entries.

The Bottom Line: This is a story about transformation and coming of age during a time when riots in L.A. were common. Highly recommended reading for high school and college programs. Also, recommended reading for parents and educators. Even though this was written over twenty years ago, many of the topics are still relevant today, maybe even more so.

Book Club Notes: This was one of the titles we did not have the opportunity to discuss last year as we were learning how to Zoom. Now we are finally catching up. After a year of students learning remotely, it was interesting to read about the experiences these students had back in the 1990s. We discussed how different it is to learn in-person vs. remotely. We also discussed how the topics from more than twenty years ago are still hot button topics now.

About half of our group also watched the film. We were impressed that many of the key roles were played by teens with no formal training in acting. The combination of well-known celebrities with unknown actors and real Holocaust survivors made the film more authentic. Overall, this was an enjoyable transformation film. 

On a scale of 1 - 5, with 5 being the highest, we rated the book an average of 4.8, and the movie received 4.6. We appreciated the honesty of everyone as they told their compelling stories. Highly recommended for teens, teachers, aspiring teachers, and parents. [NOTE: This book contains some incidents which may be troubling for sensitive readers.] 

To help guide your book discussion, you can check out The Freedom Writers: Express Yourself Discussion Guide here. Also, check out how the movie differs from the book here.

Details: The Freedom Writers Diary (20th anniversary edition): How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell. Paperback published by Broadway Books in 2019. 448 p. ISBN: 978-0385494229