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Grotto of Chaos: The Exploits of Clarence Griffin Book 1

Grotto of Chaos: The Exploits of Clarence Griffin Book 1 by [Christopher Knox, Jason Moser, Danny Decillis, Hazel Walshaw]

A camping trip sounded like such a wonderful idea–friends, family, and a bit of an adventure. Clarence Griffin and his friends are a unique group with talents and knowledge that, on an ordinary day, just make them interesting and fun. Today, however, their skills may just save their lives. When the group experiences what they all believe to be an earthquake, their plans to enjoy the trip are not thwarted–they soldier on. It’s when the ground opens up and they disappear into a world like none of them could ever have dreamed that they begin to believe this will be much more than their normal adventure.

Grotto of Chaos, by Christopher Knox, is a young adult thriller and the first in a series centered around Clarence Griffin. From cover to cover, the group of friends are met head-on with otherworldly challenges and use their wits and their talents to fight their way out of one predicament after another. The circle of friends is met head on by everything from a rat beast to a dinosaur, but their resourcefulness far outweighs anything that comes their way. Clarence and his crew are a fantastic bunch of young adult heroes.

As a teacher, I am always on the lookout for engaging books that are both readable, not overwhelming in length and of high-interest to my more avid readers. Knox more than meets all of these expectations with Grotto of Chaos. Clarence and his friends are all relatable, offer bits of humor that young readers will appreciate, and give all of us a cast of everyday superheroes that offer a new and refreshing take on the young adult genre.

One of the most appealing aspects of Knox’s work is the constant dialogue between the main characters. Young readers tend to gravitate toward books with characters who sound like them. The banter between Clarence and his sister, Penelope, makes for an entertaining read for children at this age. In addition, Knox does a fabulous job of representing a diverse friend group with different interests and talents, and each character is given his/her moment to shine.

I highly recommend Knox’s writing to anyone looking to introduce young readers to a new series of adventure stories. The main characters in Grotto of Chaos will appeal to all readers, and the constant action will keep readers coming back for more from Clarence and his pals.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B08WVX48FY

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The Greatest College Health Guide You Never Knew You Needed

The Greatest College Health Guide You Never Knew You Needed: How to Manage Food, Booze, Stress, Sex, Sleep, and Exercise on Campus by [Jill Henry, Dave Henry]

The Greatest College Health Guide by authors Jill and Dave Henry is a resourceful health guide that will help readers maintain their physical and mental health during their college years. When students enter college life it becomes easy to lose yourself in your studies, and the parties, and forget about your health. With a crazy study schedule, long nights, early morning, fraternities, parties, and a poor lifestyle how can you make health a priority? This book breaks through all those barriers by providing simple but effective information and tips to help you stay happy and healthy. This guide to health will provide readers with healthy habits that will help them in college, and as adults.

Authors Jill and Dave Henry wrote this book to build health-awareness that students lose after awhile. A lot of the bad habits that are mentioned in this book are some that I myself have grown accustomed to during my time in college. These tips are helpful because they can eliminate a lot of stress that you have or will experience in college. The tone of this book is casual but is still perfect for someone to easily understand and take seriously.

I dove deep into the chapter about stress because I didn’t nurture my mental health until later on in my life. If I read a book like this during my time in school, I’m sure I would’ve saved myself from numerous panic attacks. Using healthy mental health practices is extremely important no matter what stage you are in your life. This chapter featured candid personal stories as well as handy stress management tips. These tips are useful because they’re simple and effective, perfect for the on-the-go student.

This health guide also touches on the effect that relationships have on a student’s mental health. From friendships to sexual relationships, this chapter explains why evaluating relationships are important. A lot of relationships that we’ve treasured in the past become meaningless in the future because we can only see people for who they are when we are no longer in a relationship with them. The authors write about relationships in a way that feels insightful yet conversational.

The Greatest College Health Guide delivers sagely advice with a bit of humor and lots of facts. This is a very handy guide that will ensure you live a happier and healthier life. Download it on your Kindle, keep it handy, and reference it often.

Pages: 264 | ASIN: B08BZWBRBR

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What I Tell Myself About Talent

What I Tell Myself About Talent is a fun children’s book that places exploration and self actualization center stage. What are you good at? What’s your talent? How can you ever know until you try. This book helps kids make the connection between their current talents and their future jobs, whether it’s an innate talent or something they have to work at. Rather than telling children to be one thing or another, What I Tell Myself About Talent let’s readers know that it’s okay to not know, and exploring the possibilities is part of the fun.

Michael Brown has once again created a book on a topic that I have rarely, if ever, read about in a children’s book. Talent, and how to find it in everyday places with a little exploration, is accomplished in this book with simple rhymes and vibrant illustrations of diverse children doing different activities. This picture book will encourage readers to get out into the world and try things out. It will open their eyes to the idea that they can continue to do the things they like even into adulthood. From doctors to construction workers Michael Brown makes it clear that going out and finding what your good at is part of the fun. The ending of the book has Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which is a great opportunity for further discussion beyond the book. What I Tell Myself About Talent is a great way to start a conversation about finding talent in everyday activities.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B08CBQR6XJ

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The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook

As a new college student straight out of high school, alone for the first time, it can be scary to become sick. Many kids are used to their parents taking care of them and giving them advice. However, once you are in college you must take care of yourself. The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook provides the essential tips and tricks a student would need to prevent an illness or take care of themselves when they fall ill. This exceptional guide will help you determine whether you just need a warm tea and some sleep or a doctor visit.

The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook is the perfect book for parents to slip into their kids luggage when they go off to college. Written by a doctor, it is filled with reliable and factual information presented in easy and understandable terms. It prepares young adults and enables them to be self reliant. Nothing tests your capability like being sick with no one around to care for you as your mother would. You are vulnerable and weak. You have to make important decisions like how high a fever is too high.

The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook has a laid back style with a pinch of humor. It covers a wide range of topics from hangovers to real health issues. Jill Grimes, MD, FAAFP, has tailored the content to a specific demographic, but it is also accessible to everyone else. While you could just Google ‘hangover cure’, the results you get are not always accurate and could lead you down a rabbit hole of bizarre stories. This informative and engaging guide comes from a medical professional. Jill Grimes has created a book that is perfect as a quick reference for common issues. It’s easy to flip to a section, learn about symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

What I liked most about this book was how it distills issues down into easily understood pieces of information. While it could be easy to spend a whole page or two explaining why things occurred, Jill Grimes is able to sum up issues in a small paragraph followed by bulleted points. The accompanying illustrations are simple, cute, and effective.

I know this book is aimed at college kids, but I really think that this book is a great medical reference guide for everyone. Again, you could go to the internet, but then you have to dig through ads, comments from non-professionals, and misleading information to find what you need. If you are a parent with a child about to depart for college, give yourself peace of mind by gifting this book to them. I found it immensely helpful.

Pages: 333 | ASIN: B084G9BF3P

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Learn To Read From Sounds

Learn to Read from Sounds by [Barnes Florence]

Learn to Read from Sounds by Florence Barnes is an enriching children’s book that aims to help young kids learn how to read using the phonics system. It also includes an insightful question and answer portion at the beginning to clarify frequently asked questions regarding the phonics system and its effectiveness. This book serves as a very useful tool for teachers or parents looking to teach a child how to read. This is due to the numerous exercises on reading using the phonic system in the book. The reading exercises are also fun and are suitable for children.

Although I found this book to be educational and informative, I thought that the book was a little plain. I thought an addition of brightly colored illustrations or animals would help capture children’s attention. Otherwise this book does an excellent job of relaying educational information in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. I think that this book will significantly help children, or really anyone, who is learning to read. If you’re looking for a book that stays focused on the material then Learn to Read from Sounds is a perfect choice.

Pages: 60 | ASIN: B07P6MVW6M

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Kaifeng Chronicles

Robert Campbell Author Interview

Robert Campbell Author Interview

18 Cranes follows a young boy as he prepares for an important civil servant exam while being tormented by nightmares. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?

The story was inspired by my own journey of learning about China, first through teaching Chinese students in Canada, and then through my eye-opening experience teaching and traveling in China.

Bing is an interesting character that continued to gain depth as the story progressed. What were some driving ideals behind his character?

Bing is a composite character, reflecting some the attitudes and behaviors I’ve observed in my Chinese students, but also embodying elements of historical and fictional persons I’ve read about.

This story takes place during the summer of 1630 in China. Why did you choose this time and place for your story?

The story takes place in the final years of the Ming dynasty, culminating in a monumental and highly consequential event that takes place in the city of Kaifeng in 1642. By starting in 1630, I’m building the necessary background for readers to understand the significance of the event when it takes place.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

18 Cranes is the first in a series of nine novellas, collectively known as, Kaifeng Chronicles. The second book, Mandarin Ducks, has been available for the past few months. The third book, Grand Canal, is scheduled for release in late January 2019.

Author Links: Website | Twitter

18 Cranes: Kaifeng Chronicles, Book One by [Campbell, Robert]In the late summer of 1630, 23-year old Li Bing writes the provincial level imperial examinations, the first step towards entering the Chinese civil service. He is tormented by a dream of 18 cranes, and as he awaits his exam results he seeks out insights from those around him to help him understand his dream. In the end, he learns more than he imagined.

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Daisy, Bold & Beautiful

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful by [Collins, Ellie]

Daisy Jane, affectionately known as D.J. by family and friends, has experienced great loss and faces the challenge of attending a new school. With the support of her loving father, D.J. heads into the daunting situation with strength and a resolve to make friends and succeed academically. D.J. has another source of strength–her fern. Unlike many girls her age, D.J. opts for outdoor activities instead of games, stuffed animals, and make-up. Having inherited her mother’s love and great skills for gardening, D.J. strives to introduce her new friends to her interests as she learns from a unique acquaintance of her own that friendships involve compromise.

Ellie Collins book, Daisy, Bold and Beautiful, is a highly engaging tale woven with bits of mythology. Collins has managed to take some of the more complex elements of Greek mythology and finesse them into verbiage that is relatable and entertaining for tween readers. Most middle school students would not choose to read about gods and goddesses in the formats with which we are all familiar. Collins is providing her readers with a sure-fire hit that will involve readers, teach them the basic outline of the story of Persephone and Hades, and never let them realize how much they are learning. That, my friends, is the true hallmark of a successful writer.

Collins hits the mark with her dialogue, her main character’s emotions, and the dynamic between two very different friend groups. Young readers will be able to find themselves easily in one or more of the characters. The mere mention of popular video game titles is a huge draw for gaming fans, but Collins is thorough with descriptions, the exchanges between the characters as they excitedly discuss scenarios, and the way they are wrapped in the world of the game itself to the exclusion of all else. The author, without a doubt, knows her stuff.

As I read, I became increasingly amazed at Collins’s stunning ability to pull out the most relevant parts of Persephone’s story and meld them into modern day scenarios. Nowhere else have I read such perfectly revamped story lines. It takes quite the imagination and a firm grip on the mentality of today’s youth to manage a task like this. If I am being completely honest, I have to say I learned a great deal myself regarding Hades and Persephone’s relationship. Collins nails it. I would not hesitate to read this story to and with fifth graders in my after school tutoring group and recommend it to any teacher or parent seeking to spice up a reading list.

As a teacher, I am thrilled to see such highly relatable text for middle schools students. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Collins follows this exceptionally well-written piece with many more. Her ability to teach young readers Greek mythology on the sly is to be envied!

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B07BKRVGDX

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Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy

Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy by [Lee, Canaa]

Before you read my review of Algebra for the Urban Student: Using Stories to Make Algebra Fun and Easy by Canaa Lee, you should know that I am one of those strange people who really enjoy a good Algebra problem. I have always loved Algebra, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on a book about Algebra for review purposes. I am also a homeschooling parent so I am always interested in textbooks, especially those that incorporate new methods of learning. This book did not disappoint.

Lee is a high school math teacher who conceived of the idea for this book while she was working at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. She was a math teacher given the task of figuring out how to incorporate reading and literacy into her math class. To do this, she would find several topics in her class that shared a theme and try to build a story around them in order to teach them together. The book relies heavily on building an ongoing story throughout the entire course in order to help students retain knowledge and follow along as they shift from one concept to another. As someone right in the midst of teaching Algebra, I think this is a brilliant concept.

Lee wanted to demonstrate to her students that Algebra could be demystified and could become more than just a jumble of numbers and letters. This is especially important in some urban environments where the population is largely poor and underrepresented when it comes to education. Test results from many urban areas prove this time and again. I also know from teaching my own children (who hate math) that making the concepts of Algebra clearer can be a daunting task. Incorporating these concepts into stories can get through to students who simply don’t learn from numbers alone.

The book covers a plethora of relevant and important topics: equations, inequalities, absolute value, graphing, slope, ordered pairs, slope-intercept form, relations, functions, statistics, ratios, proportions, rate of change, compound inequalities, geometry, perimeter, area, surface area, volume, factoring, quadratic equations, quadratic trinomials, parabolas, domain, range, vertex, vertical stretch, horizontal stretch, horizontal shift, polynomials, monomials, binomials, trinomials, leading coefficients, and discriminants. It was very thorough. The author provides ample practice problems throughout the book. She also makes it very clear how the problems relate to every day life. I found it very relatable and relevant.

I would rate the book a 4 on a 5-point scale. Providing a supplement with an answer key to check the answers after doing the problems would definitely move it up to a 5. This is a book I would use in teaching my own children when we run across a particularly troubling concept. Lee has made math relatable for people who might have trouble.

Pages: 88 | ASIN: B0792VFC1W

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