This was a great non-orphans-related children’s mystery adventure that I enjoyed as a parent just as much as my kids. The author so kindly incorporateThis was a great non-orphans-related children’s mystery adventure that I enjoyed as a parent just as much as my kids. The author so kindly incorporated math and 16th century art into a complex plot that leads to new levels of thinking about coincidence and/or forces that pull events and people together for *gasp* dare we believe it, a purpose? The characters, perfectly nerdy outcasts, seem to become your best friends as they themselves become the most unlikely pair themselves. Thanks to inspiration from this book, our family has shopped every learning store looking for pentominoes, a math manipulative puzzle used by one of the main characters in solving personal dilemmas, to no avail (we will make our own using graphing supplies). We also have sent letters to friends using Calder’s secret code, and we are now on our own art mystery hunt using a stack of lovely color print art books from the library. I am a huge fan of authors like this that create more questions than answers, inspiring others to think for themselves, and I look forward to the next books in this series....more
Ahhh, sweet bliss this book was. Stephenie Meyer, known for her Twilight series, has rewarded her adult readers with this sci-fi novel full of heart aAhhh, sweet bliss this book was. Stephenie Meyer, known for her Twilight series, has rewarded her adult readers with this sci-fi novel full of heart and intellect. Her landscapes are vivid and palpable, her plot satisfyingly complex; and her characters will have you questioning your own paradigms regarding prejudice, colonization, what it means to be truly human, and what lengths you would go to save those you love. It gets a little slow about ¾ of the way through, but the ending is so worth the journey.
A silly and simplistic parable intended to coax unwilling employees, belligerent teenagers or uncooperative spouses to embrace change perceived as negA silly and simplistic parable intended to coax unwilling employees, belligerent teenagers or uncooperative spouses to embrace change perceived as negative in the workplace or family with a smile on their faces, Who Moved My Cheese? is not nearly as compelling as, say, a 24-hour Barney the Dinosaur marathon. Just to read it feels like an insult not only to one’s intelligence, but to one’s self-esteem when it is assigned reading. The story line is obviously meant to teach us, so we must therefore read ourselves into the place of the two stupid characters, small humans in a lab-like maze that rewards them with cheese at random times, places, and durations. While their counterparts, two savvy and unfeeling mice, realize matter-of-factly that their cheese is gone and quickly scurry off to find a new source, the two humans keep standing where their old cheese was, completely taken off guard that perhaps it had been diminishing visibly for a long while, waiting grumpily for their comfortable hoard to return to the way it used to be with no effort on their part. One human does venture off eventually, despite the fear of the unknown blah blah blah, and finally finds cheese blah blah blah we get the point. This book really needed to have zombies. Thankfully, it can be read in about five minutes, if your job or your (slightly reduced) allowance depends on it. Ironically, I assigned this reading to myself and now mourn the loss of those minutes. May this review save others from, or at least lessen the duration of, the same fate. ...more
This pseudo-memoir, based on archival correspondence and writings, is told from the perspective of a married woman who had an affair with Frank LloydThis pseudo-memoir, based on archival correspondence and writings, is told from the perspective of a married woman who had an affair with Frank Lloyd Wright after he designed and built a house for her family. Author Nancy Horan offers not only a peek behind the curtains of the celebrated architect’s rise to fame, but also a glimpse into the lives of post-Victorian women who still did not have the right to vote and had little opportunity to contribute economically or intellectually to society. Through the main characters’ story she also addresses whether a certificate can truly legitimize either a lifeless marriage or a soul mate found later in life—heavy issues with heavy ramifications that made this a morbidly interesting book to read. Horan portrays the characters fairly enough, neither casting them as saints nor demons but rather as complex humans attempting to live at least as honestly as their own ideals, but with a large price to pay.
Rick Riordan’s excellent storytelling follows a trio of unique young people who, like all other adolescents, must discover their unique identities andRick Riordan’s excellent storytelling follows a trio of unique young people who, like all other adolescents, must discover their unique identities and place in world they are growing into. Unlike most others, however, their destinies involve being hunted by all the monsters of what they thought were only Greek myths, but in fact are only too real. They embark on an epic quest that is engrossing even for adults, but due to the scary monsters and settings (a good chunk of the story takes place in the underworld with palpably evil characters like Hades and millions of dead people entering either eternal damnation or reward), this might not be an appropriate tale for those with weak constitutions. This story reads much like an edgy, American version of Harry Potter. In fact, there are so many similarities to Harry Potter, the author should have included at least some thanks to JK Rowling for the inspiration, if not the actual ideas: 1. A trio of middleschoolers are the heroes—two boys, one of them the comic relief, and a bookish girl. 2. The main character has an unhappy home situation and has strange unexplained experiences. He finds out he is not “normal,” and goes to a school for others like him to develop their powers. He even has black hair. 3. An ancient god sets up a complex plot to rise from a deathlike exile. Lord Voldemort, is that you? Though he might be trespassing a bit on Rowling, Riordan seems to have pulled off a story that is engaging, with clever dialogue and extremely visual scenery and action. I loved this yarn and hope that Riordan writes many more entertaining sequels, before the lawsuits begin....more
Cormac McCarthy’s profoundly beautiful and starkly devastating novel, which follows the post-apocalyptic survival of a father and son, is a compulsiveCormac McCarthy’s profoundly beautiful and starkly devastating novel, which follows the post-apocalyptic survival of a father and son, is a compulsive page-turner that reads like watching an edgy movie thriller. It creates as many mysteries as it solves the further in you go: such as, when and where does this road journey hypothetically take place, how exactly did the world end, who was at fault, is it true nothing will ever grow again, and what is the very least denominator a person must possess to remain human? Finally, at the end of it all, when there is no longer any physical justification for hope, from where does that ineffable condition of the spirit come—that hope that just won’t die? Sounding a bit like what you hear at the office everyday, here are quotes from some of the characters,“Well, I think we’re still here. A lot of bad things have happened but we’re still here.”“Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave.”
Randy Pausch, a young and dynamic Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, received the diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, leaving no margin forRandy Pausch, a young and dynamic Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, received the diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, leaving no margin for doubt: his idyllic life with his wife and three tiny children would be over within six months.
As he prepared his family for his absence, taking care of paperwork and life insurance, moving them close to his wife’s extended family for their support in the coming years of his absence, while at the same time dutifully enduring chemo; he was still the same exuberant teacher, both at home and in the lecture hall. He devised a plan to pack twenty years worth of parenting into one lecture, recorded by video and in a book, to be one day treasured and pored over by his bereaved children. He mischievously called it a “head fake,” but we call it The Last Lecture.
There are not many people who would devote so much time and energy—when both were in such dire supply—to pass on wisdom in this way. What drives a man to do this? Was he an egotist? An intellectual? And what insights will grace the ivied walls of this staid university on such an austere occasion?
Basically, he is a Tigger, and Tiggers are wonderful things.
He lived a fun life, fulfilling his childhood dreams, and in his last lecture teaches that we must purposely spend time as the finite budget that it is (and we really don’t know how much we have, ultimately). Spend your time on the right things, have plans and change them if you must, show gratitude, be earnest rather than hip, apologize well, find joy even in lowly jobs, and send Thin Mints, among many other time-tested maxims.
One of his childhood dreams had been to work at Disneyland. When he later took a sabbatical from University life to do just that, he learned in training how to turn negatives into positives to give customers at the park the most perfect experience. When asked what time the park closed, employees would rephrase their answer as, “The park will be open until 8 o’clock.” Similarly, Randy, facing a terminal diagnosis, saw it not merely as a death sentence but as an incredibly rare opportunity to pack as much life as possible into a lecture that would live on forever. Read it, and reread it, to remember to use your life well.
Choose whether you are a Tigger or an Eeyore, and live it out. ...more
Written by HSLDA founder, Michael Farris, this book projects trends in home school education based on the data and research available in the late 1990Written by HSLDA founder, Michael Farris, this book projects trends in home school education based on the data and research available in the late 1990’s. Most of it has turned out exactly as he predicted. It’s packed with awesome tables and graphs comparing ranges of factors between homeschoolers’ testing scores vs. their public/private counterparts, as well as among those whose parents are highly/not highly educated, rich/poor, Caucasian/minority, etc. Though the overall high test scores (a whopping 37 points higher than public/private counterparts) were no surprise, what was extremely enlightening was the fact that these scores were true across the board for homeschoolers, whether their parents were college educated, certified teachers, or merely high school educated themselves; AND the scores did not vary when the homeschoolers were minorities or came from lower income families— extremely good news. FINALLY, there is an education option that is not only excellent academically, but is also cheap (avg. yearly expenditure per child is $500 vs. the $5000 at public schools), and truly does not discriminate against race or status. Though the book is over a decade old, there are still plenty of practical ideas for use in the classroom, from Kindergarten through college and/or trade apprenticeships. A quick, informative and encouraging read, especially for those who are new at homeschooling or are still considering it for their family. ...more