Book Review: “Punching the Air” by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

This was a really interesting book, and one that is taking me a little longer than usual to process my feelings about. It had so many important themes and was beautifully written in verse, but there was something that left me feeling a little disconnected from the story as a whole. Regardless, it’s still one that is well worth reading and one that I would recommend to any teen or adult reader.

Spoiler-Free Review: “Punching the Air” is a YA novel-in-verse that follows Amal, a black and Muslim teen boy who is wrongfully convicted of a crime that he did not commit. It follows his experience as he is…

Book Review: “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

Wow. This book was so much different than what I expected (though I guess I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect in the first place). I initially picked this up when I was a sophomore in high school, but ended up putting it down after reading only the first couple pages. There is pretty graphic abuse throughout the novel, and it occurs at the very beginning of the story. As a young reader who had never really been exposed to anything like that in stories before, it was pretty disturbing and upsetting. However, this time I was determined not to give up. And I’m so glad I didn’t! This book was so powerful and moving, and well worth the discomfort caused by the darker scenes.

Spoiler-Free Review: “The Color Purple” is a classic novel written by Alice Walker. I’m struggling to write a review for this book because…

Book Review: “Concrete Rose” by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas has easily become one of my go-to authors. The Hate U Give is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and On The Come Up was just as incredible. In my opinion, Thomas’ young adult novels are exactly what a young adult novel should be. They tackle real issues, humanize people and situations that are often misrepresented in the media, and they show us flawed characters who are doing the best that they can (something we can’t help but connect with as we follow them on their journeys). I’ve been so excited to read this prequel to The Hate U Give ever since I heard about it (shout-out to my parents for pre-ordering it for me for Christmas!). I read it as soon as I could, and it did not disappoint.

Spoiler-Free Review: “Concrete Rose” is a YA novel that follows Maverick Carter (Starr’s father in The Hate U Give) as he becomes…

Book Review: “The Story of Human Language” by John McWhorter

I consider myself to be something of an armchair linguist (in other words, a total amateur but I love the topic!), so I was really excited to check out this audiobook! I was also nervous, though, because this audiobook was over 18 hours long. While it did take me almost the entire month of January to get through it, it was totally worth it! I’ve actually had this one in my Audible library for quite a while, but I’ve been putting it off due to being intimidated by its length and afraid I would get bored at some point. However, I never did. I’ve always loved school, and as much as I love teaching I oftentimes miss getting to be a student! This lecture was the perfect cure for that. For anyone with any interest in languages, how they’ve changed over time, and how they interact with other languages around the world, I highly recommend this audio lecture!

Spoiler-Free Review: “The Story of Human Language” is a series of recorded lectures about language: how it started and how it’s changed over time. While it does…

Book Review: “Maniac Magee” by Jerry Spinelli

I have conflicting feelings about this book, and it took me a while to decide how to rate and review it. Overall, I liked it! However, it wasn’t my favorite and I did have some issues with it. I will be keeping this one in my classroom library, but probably won’t be using it for any lessons or activities.

Spoiler-Free Review: “Maniac Magee” is a middle grade novel that explores themes of…

Book Review: “Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn

My first audiobook of 2021! I was a little nervous when I started this one because I didn’t realize how DARK it was. I was nervous that something dark and heavy maybe wasn’t the best way to start off a new year. However, it ended up being really gripping and I enjoyed it immensely. I don’t read mysteries/thrillers that often, but I really love books that keep me on the edge of my seat and are unpredictable.

Spoiler-Free Review: “Dark Places” is a dark thriller in which a young girl is the lone survivor of…

Book Review: “The Jumbies” by Tracey Baptiste

My first book of 2021! One of my goals is to read as many books from my classroom library as I can before our eventual return to in-person school. I managed to read many last year, especially during Spring, Summer, and Winter Break. While this one wasn’t my favorite that I’ve read, it was a creative and imaginative story, and a fun start to the new year!

Spoiler-Free Review: “The Jumbies” is a middle grade novel based on the Haitian folktale “The Magic Orange Tree”…

2020 Goal Reflection & 2021 Reading Goals

One of the few highlights of the horrible year that was 2020 was how much more I was able to read than usual. I accomplished all of the literary goals I set for myself and discovered many new favorite books (as well as some least favorites, but I’m trying to forget about those just like I’m trying to forget most of 2020).

After my most impressive year of reading thus far, here are my reflections and updated goals for the new year!

Book Review: “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones

This was a children’s book I was really looking forward to reading. Earlier this year, I watched Hayao Miyazaki’s film adaption and enjoyed it! It wasn’t my favorite Miyazaki movie, but it was whimsical and fun and I’d heard the book was even better (as it usually is). I have to say, watching the movie and reading the book ended up being very similar experiences. If you loved the movie, you’ll love the book. If you were indifferent about it, the book might not quite be enough to change your opinion.

Spoiler-Free Review: “Howl’s Moving Castle” is a whimsical, joyful story with clever, funny, endearing characters.

Book Review: “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” by Claire North

One of my reading goals this year has been to read more science fiction because it’s not a genre I normally gravitate toward. The premise of “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” sounded really intriguing, so I was excited to finally be able to download this one on Audible. However, if anything, my experience reading this book only reinforced why I don’t normally read sci-fi… It wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t great either.

Spoiler-Free Review: “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” tells the story of Harry, a man who never really dies, but continues to relive his life over and over again. It’s kind of like “Groundhog Day,” but