Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ARE YOU READY?  Take Charge, Lose Weight, Get in Shape, and Change Your Life Forever
By Bob Harper

The title really says it all, doesn't it?  Bob Harper is a fitness trainer on the reality television show "THE BIGGEST LOSER."  

I like the approach he takes with this book.  It's simple and straight forward.  I particularly like the idea behind Part I titled "Your Inner Compass."  Bob's philosophy is truly a mind, body and spirit approach.  I have always found exercise to be a wonderful stress reducer.  

There are assessment tools throughout the book as well as a series of illustrated exercises at the back of the book.  If you're looking for a resource to help you kick off a spring/summer "self make-over," this is an excellent book to help you get started.  What do you think?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CUT TO THE BONE By Shane Gericke

Interesting, full-blown characters and an intriguing multi-layered plot are reasons to read this novel.

Readers hear the voice of a villain called The Executioner as his victims are savagely sliced and diced by this steel-eyed killing machine with his own agenda. Two detectives, Martin Benedetti and Emily Thompson, are wound into the killer's revenge scenario. A third important "character" in the novel is the death penalty.

The novel begins and ends with scenes in the electric chair. The roller coaster ride in between will keep readers in suspense until the very last page about who lives and who dies. I found the book fascinating, disquieting, uncomfortable, but always entertaining. I really like the characters of Marty and Emily. What do you think?

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Monday, April 14, 2008


This is a novel that makes you think about a difficult situation from several different points of view. You will find yourself asking "What would I do?" over and over.

The story revolves around a true account in Florida of hit-and-run incident where a young boy is killed. The driver of the car is devastated and wants to turn himself in, but is afraid of the consequences. He hires a lawyer and charges the lawyer with the task of negotiating a plea agreement while at the same time keeping his client's name secret.

Having given you the main idea, let's explore some of the questions raised:
1. The hit-and-run driver has evoked attorney-client confidentiality. Can the simple name of a client be "privileged information?"

2. What if the court says that the lawyer indeed does not have to reveal his client's identity? What if the court says the lawyer is required to reveal his client's name but he won't. Should he be put in jail?

3. What about the parents of the child? How will they feel in either case?

5. How far would a parent go to find out the name of the person who killed their child?

6. How would the attorney feel? He is truly on the horns of a moral and ethical dilemma.

The author explores all of these questions and more in this fascinating novel. It's intriguing with more than a few unexpected plot twists. What do you think?

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

THE MAGIC GOWN: A Colorfully Illustrated Adventure Story

This is such a lovely modern fairy tale! I loved the book.

The story is about Lilly Segovia who is an 11 year old girl who is moving. Just as she is about to leave, an event happens that will change her life. She receives an extraordinary oyster shell from a seagull. This is the beginning of Lilly's adventure. It seems the shell is extraordinary and so is Lilly! At her new home, Lilly receives a mysterious package and unusual, mysterious visitors start popping up! She also hears the story of a boy about her age, Tom Finch, who is missing. Lilly makes it a point to get to know Tom's adoptive parents and she sees his picture. For some reason, she is fascinated by him. Lilly find herself transported to the Land of Ten Kings and Roses where she must undertake a quest involving the Magic Gown and Tom Finch. Her courage, ingenuity and patience will be thoroughly tested as she faces the unknown and fulfills her charmed destiny.

This is an enchanting book that gives young readers all sorts of positive messages about relationships, friendship, respect, manners, and doing the right thing. This would be a terrific book to use for bedtime stories. I can also see many opportunities for art projects to further encourage young imaginations and creativity. What do you think?

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Friday, April 4, 2008

MORTAL SYNTAX: 101 Language Choices That Will Get You Clobbered by the Grammar Snobs--Even If You're Right By June Casagrande

I never thought I would combine the two words "grammar" and "funny" in the same sentence, yet that is just what I am planning to do! June Casagrande makes grammar funny and fun. ATTENTION ALL HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS: Pick up a copy of both of Ms. Casagrande's books. Use them with your students and I will bet you get results.

This book truly is unlike any other grammar book, style guide or usage manual I have seen. Instead of telling people what not to do, the author uses stories and humor to help the reader actually understand. What a concept! Actually understanding and learning while having a few laughs. Amazing! I loved talking with her and I love her book. If I were still teaching in the high school English classroom, I would have a class set of these books to use with my students! What do you think?

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YOUR CHILD'S STRENGTHS: Discover Them; Develop Them; Use Them
by Jenifer Fox, M.Ed.

As a former educator also with a Masters degree in Education, I loved this book. I agree that this country is in an educational crisis and something must be done. The book gives parents as well as educators the tools to discover strengths in three main areas: Activity Strengths, Relationship Strengths, and Learning Strengths. Fox believes that" when strengths are tied to interests or affinities, then children can develop skill."

There is an assessment tool for children called "MY STRENGTH INVENTORY: HAT, VEST, SHOES." It is a great activity for parents to do with their child. There is also an interactive "Second Life" on the website that allows the child to create their own avatar.

I also really liked THE AFFINITIES PROGRAM in which an entire curriculum is laid out to be used by a school or a parent.

If you have a child, this is a must have book! It is filled with so much good information and is such a positive approach. What do you think?