Inspirational

Nov 19, 2021

Little Dog knows his mother cannot read, her education put to an abrupt end after the destruction of her schoolhouse by a napalm raid in her native Vietnam. So when he addresses this letter to his mother, he speaks not only to her but also to himself, straining to break free of his past. The words and phrases he knows his mother cannot understand spill out like secrets, truth, or something that lies somewhere in between. He writes of the nail salon where brutal, back-breaking work becomes a way of life for immigrants, of bruises that somehow mean more than purplish splotches radiating pain, of

Oct 21, 2021

This book is about an African American girl named Starr Carter who lives in two different worlds with her school being predominantly white and located in a suburb and where she lives which is understood to be the ghetto. When she tries and figures out her different worlds, there is suddenly a traumatic event where her childhood best friend is fatally shot by a police officer. In order to take revenge and bring justice for her friend, she starts to protest and advocate for justice about police brutality against African Americans. In the end, Starr’s little brother King does something that will

Fix by J. Albert Mann

Fix

3
Rated by
Oct 6, 2021

When 16 year old Eve gets major back surgery to fix her scoliosis, she is left alone to deal with the aftermath. She reminiscences about the times she spent with her best friend, Lidia. Throughout the story, she struggles with medicine addiction, loss, and disability.


This book dealt with the topics of major surgery and addiction in a good manner. The story seems original to me, considering I haven’t read a story about a teen recovering from getting surgery to correct her disability. I enjoyed the feeling that the book gave me, it made me feel like I was really inside of Eve’s mind. Eve is

Oct 6, 2021

In the young adult novel Holding Up the Universe, Libby Strout and Jack Masselin live two separate lives with the same goals: to be wanted in society. Libby, formerly known as “America’s Fattest Teen” who was cut out from her house after a massive panic attack, and Jack, a high school boy living with Prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces, even the people he loves, come together through a demoralizing prank. This reimagined “enemies to lovers” story of two unwanted teenagers is a great book for anyone who is feeling unwanted or unaccepted in society right now and needs a little

Oct 6, 2021

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is a memoir. Maya talks about her experiences growing up as an African American. She has to face discrimination and family problems, and tries to find her place in society. Finally, she is able to break certain barriers that society has created. Is she truly able to find her place?


The best part of this book was how the author weaved in pieces of wisdom from mentors in her life. However, certain parts of the book were disturbing and not pleasant to picture. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about the history of

Sep 10, 2021

15-year-old Xiomara Batista never felt heard from the people around her. Although she hated it, her body did all the talking. With an overly religious mother and the judging stares of other people, Xiomara felt trapped, unable to break free from her problems. Due to her overwhelming emotions, she turned to writing poetry to manage her feelings.


When Xiomara finds out about a slam poetry club at her school, she is filled with curiosity. She eagerly wants to join, but the poetry club meetings overlap with her church’s conformation class, which is her mom’s number one priority for her. Will

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo

3
Rated by
Jul 22, 2021

Cecila’s life was going well, until one day. She fell, and when she woke up she could not hear anything. She became deaf out of the blue. She had to go to a deaf school, and learn, which was hard for her. Instead she got a hearing aid, and she gets to go back to a normal school. But it did not feel as normal for Cecila. She looked different with the hearing aid, and it was harder for her to make friends. Do you think she will have a good and fun school year? Read El Deafo to find out!!


I enjoyed reading this book, but for me this is not the right book for me. I think that I am not a fan of

Jul 20, 2021

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography by Maya Angelou. The story revolves around a young girl named Marguerite, who is also known as Maya Angelou, the author. Marguerite lives in Stamps, Arkansas. She is a black girl, living with her Uncle Willie and her grandmother, who she soon calls Momma. Marguerite has one brother named Bailey.


I believe that Maya Angelou’s autobiography was well-written. I enjoyed reading this book because it includes many events and details about what has happened to Marguerite. It shows her hard work and determination to do things. The book also shows

May 26, 2021

Logan, Shay, and Autumn are struggling. Each struck by the loss of someone they love, they’re unsure how to move forward. Music, the passion that once linked them, now brings back memories they’d rather forget. And they’ve turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms that leave them more and more alone. But while these characters seem buried by grief, they aren’t lost forever. As the story progresses, each comes to terms with the tragedy they’ve faced, building the courage to ask for help and slowly returning to music as an outlet for the hurt they feel.


This book’s shifting perspective offers

May 5, 2021

The Dog Who Could Fly is the true story of a German Shepherd who was rescued by a Chezhslovakian WWII airman. The dog, who was named Antis, formed an unbelievably close relationship with Robert, his master. When Robert was on missions flying, Antis would wait beside the runway till he returned, refusing food and water till his master was back. He became the good luck charm of Robert’s plane and teammates in the British Air Force. One day, he was missing from the runway, and after takeoff he was discovered at Robert’s place in the plane. After that, he became a regular member of the crew, and

May 1, 2021

Led by Faith is the incredible true story of Immaculee Ilabagiza. She was a Tutsi tribe member during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which the Hutu majority attempted to stamp out the Tutsi ‘cockroaches,’ as they called them. She came from a family of four children, of which she was the only girl. Out of the six members in her family, only she and one of her brothers survived. Immaculee hid in a small bathroom with seven other women for ninety one days, all the while hearing the killers outside hunting down the Tutsis. Throughout this time, she formed a deep relationship with God, and she says

Apr 5, 2021

A Step From Heaven, written by An Na, describes a girl named Young Ju who recently moves to Mi Gook (America) with her family for new job and educational opportunities. This realistic fiction novel is written with small memories that show Young Ju’s path along life, from when she was a little baby to when she was heading to college. Despite Young Ju being top of her class and achieving what her parents wanted her to, she struggled with her father’s constant verbal and physical abuse. Along with that, she struggled to fit into American culture and learn the language. Her mom had to secretly

Jan 15, 2021

Elizabeth Berg’s The Story of Arthur Truluv (2017) is a realistic fiction novel telling the interweaving stories of Maddy Harris, Arthur “Truluv” Moses, and Lucille Howard. One day, while Maddy is visiting the cemetery to escape her school lunchroom, she runs into Arthur, who is visiting his wife’s grave; they become fast friends and join forces to combat their loneliness –Maddy’s from the estrangement of her father and boyfriend and Arthur’s from the death of his wife. Lucille, Arthur’s next-door neighbor, soon meets Maddy, and the three come together and form a chosen family while they all

Dec 28, 2020

The Song of the Lark​ by Willa Cather is the story of a seemingly ordinary person rising up achieving greatness. Born in the small town of Moonstone, Colorado, Thea Kronborg faces the realities of life and comes to know her true self as she fights for a place in the world of opera. As Thea grows from a precocious young child in the late 1800s to a true artist in the early 1900s, we see the effect that this transformation has on her and those who are closest to her.  Cather’s beautiful prose captures not only the world around Thea, but also the wonder with which she views it. Cather shows the

Dec 15, 2020

The Alchemist​ by Paulo Coelho is a fiction novel that deals with a boy around eighteen years old named Santiago who wants to complete his Personal Legend/dreams. He starts off by telling readers a dream that he often gets and goes to a Gypsy lady to interpret it. She tells him to go to the pyramids in Egypt where he will find treasure. He wants to travel, and after meeting a stranger, who knows too much about him, he decides to go on this adventure. Along the way, he learns how to live life and lessons that teach him the importance of your soul.


I think this book was amazing and really

Photo of sunrise coming over hundreds of shanties built on top of a huge public dump in Cambodia

The Rent Collector

By Wright, Camron Steve
5
Rated by Lisa H
Oct 7, 2020

When I saw the book cover of The Rent Collector, with a photo of tin and cardboard shanties built on a HUGE mound of garbage, I was curious and intrigued. The book cover was well worn, as it seemed to be a book that had been checked out and read by many. After reading The Rent Collector, it is now one of my favorite reads of the year.


The Rent Collector, by Camron Steve Wright, is a fictionalized account of a real family who live on the Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in Cambodia. Sang Ly and her husband Ki Lin are pickers at the dump, scavenging recyclables to sell to earn

Aug 26, 2019

Mighty Moe is a story that highlights the true essence of women's empowerment: incredible achievements and minimal recognition for said achievements. This is the story of a female named Maureen who, in the face of misogyny, ignorance, and conflict, achieved a record-breaking marathon time. The most compelling aspect of the book was that it is a true story. This book promotes empowerment and perseverance in the face of challenges. I was not disappointed with the book for any reason.

Aug 18, 2018

Dear Ijeawele begins with a young, new mother's question: "How might I raise my daughter to be a feminist?" This slim book is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's letter of response, acting as an encouraging and thoughtful manifesto for feminism, in fifteen funny, compassionate, and observant suggestions for loving empowerment.


Oh, I love this book, this essay, this letter. So well articulated, Adichie's work is quick and easy to read and underline. 
I am in my twenties, and it's not that I am planning on raising a girl any time soon, but it is that I am continually raising myself as a female within

Survival Lessons

By Alice Hoffman
5
Rated by Cheryl M.
Feb 18, 2018

Alice Hoffman's Survival Lessons is a tiny, beautiful gem. While I have eagerly devoured all of Hoffman's fiction, I was not aware that she had written a non-fiction book or that she had survived a life-threatening illness. 


Survival Lessons details Hoffman's journey through cancer in the form of life advice. Eighty-three pages long, all the short chapters have the word "choose" in their titles: Choose Your Heroes, Choose to Enjoy Yourself, Choose your Friends, etc. Often displayed in waiting rooms for Oncology patients, Hoffman's book offers so much more than just survival lessons; it

Oct 22, 2017

There’s no denying that women have made great strides since the days when Joan Cleaver dominated our stereotype. Today’s women can have it all—a successful and demanding career, a passionate, healthy marriage, and a rewarding home life complete with 2.3 children and a white picket fence. We can be power CEO’s during the day and domestic queens by night. Or can we? Women’s Liberation gave this freedom to women, but as we learned in the late 80’s from Hochschild and Machung and their theory of the Second Shift, this isn’t quite the emancipation we had imagined. In Dropping the Ball, Chief

Oct 17, 2017

Here’s a familiar situation that we’ve all been in -  you see someone you know that has recently lost a loved one, or is going through a serious illness, or recently got divorced and that little voice in your head says “do I say something or not . . .  I don’t know them that well . . . what do I say that won’t make matters worse . . . . " Well, here’s a practical and humorous guide encouraging us to go ahead, reach out and fumble; it’s better than not reaching out at all!


In short, colorful chapters, the authors share examples of their “Three Touchstones of Showing Up” – your kindness is

Sep 23, 2017

Hoda Kotb, winner of a Daytime Emmy Award as part of The Today Show, has penned Where We Belong, a collection of stories about people who were feeling unfulfilled, yet were able to get things back on track by simply following their own desires and passions. While some of the examples she shares are about extraordinary people with money and connections, there are also instances of everyday people with seemingly nothing more than a burning ambition to change their lives and the lives of others for the better.


You’ll come away inspired and testing your own feelings and asking yourself if you

Last Night I Sang To The Monster

By Benjamin Alire Sáenz
3
Rated by Scott S.
Sep 20, 2017

Having never experienced life in a rehab center I cannot speak to the authenticity or veracity of the setting Benjamin Alire Sáenz creates in, Last Night I Sang To The Monster. 18 year-old Zach is an alcoholic who comes out of a black out in a treatment center with no memory of how he got there. I can say the novel is populated by memorable characters who are engaged in emotionally resonant relationships in a visceral setting. And in those respects, Sáenz has succeeded in crafting a very effective and moving novel. While not all aspects of the novel work perfectly, it is clear that Sáenz has

Books for Living

By Will Schwalbe
4
Rated by Sarah A.
Aug 22, 2017

Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club, the true story of Schwalbe and his dying mother reading and discussing books together at the end of her life, now shares another meaningful book. Books for Living reveals how particular books have taught Schwalbe life lessons over the years. He says these are “books that prompted me to remember something, realize something or see my life and the world differently.” The book is written in short contained chapters that are quick and easy to read one or two at a time.


I was familiar with some of the books and I understand how he takes

Miss Sharon Jones! (DVD)

By Sharon Jones
5
Rated by Brent W.
Aug 10, 2017

Miss Sharon Jones! is worth seeing for Jones' performance in a little country church of "His Eye is on the Sparrow" alone. Her grit, power and will to sing are amazing. The film covers a critical period in her life with her band, the Dap Kings, when she is dealing with intense cancer treatments and, at the same time, trying to keep the group together. Her humor, bravery and explosive talent fill the screen.  


Having seen Sharon and the Dap Kings at the 2016 New Orleans Jazzfest, I wanted to see more performance footage, but recognize we are lucky to have any at all. The film is equally

Just A Kiss

By Denise Hunter
3
Rated by Bre H.
Jul 28, 2017

Riley Callahan and Paige Warren were best friends and spent many summers together growing up in Summer Harbor. One summer Paige came back from camp all grown up, and Riley fell in love with her and was determined to tell about his feelings. But then Paige fell for his older brother, Beau. Riley could not watch the love of his life go to his brother, so he joined the Marines. Riley would often remind himself that a Marine needs to improvise, adapt, and overcome. And he has to do just that upon returning home as a veteran and amputee with PTSD. He has to face everyone from his past--most of all

Driving Miss Norma

By Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle
5
Rated by Sarah A.
Jun 14, 2017

I first heard about the “Driving Miss Norma” Facebook page a few months ago and was excited to see that a book was in the works. At first glance, I thought the book might be too sentimental for my tastes, but I ended up loving it and its message, and I would really recommend it to anyone.


At 90 years old, Norma Bauerschmidt lost her husband of 67 years and within days received a diagnosis of stage 4 uterine cancer. Faced with a future of surgery, chemo and radiation, she decides instead to “hit the road” in an RV with her son and daughter-in-law and try to enjoy the time she has left. In

Apr 6, 2017

We have all taken personality tests that put us into one box or another in an attempt to better understand ourselves. In Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Cain analyzes the introvert/extrovert dichotomy with a particular focus on how introverts think and what motivates them. Cain argues that we live in an extrovert-centric society that values and praises the high achieving socialites over the less outgoing thinkers. Cain speaks up for and defends those whose voices have gone unheard for far too long.


Quiet reads like a text book, analyzing

Endgame

By DVD
3
Rated by Terri B.
Aug 27, 2016

Endgame, with Rico Rodriquez from Modern Family, is a make-you-feel-good movie inspired by true events. This independent film was shot in only nineteen days, and the children could work, at most, six hours per day. Other actors include Efron Ramiez, who played Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite, and Jon Greis, also from Napoleon Dynamite.


Jose, played by Rico Rodriquez, has a knack for chess, having played with his grandmother since he was five years old. Jose’s older brother, Miguel, is just as good at soccer as Jose is at chess, but their mother, Karla, only acknowledges Miguel’s abilities

Step by Step

By Candace Calvert
3
Rated by Lisa J.
May 2, 2016

It's been three years since her husband was killed in a freak accident and Taylor Cabot is making plans to start living again.  She’s made a moving-on list and is marking items off.  She's moved home, is getting active with the help of an activity tracker, and has replaced the donuts with healthier choices. She's even started spending time with a handsome plastic surgeon from the hospital where she works as an ER nurse. When her old friend, Seth Donovan, turns up at the hospital to train the crisis team, old feelings begin to resurface.  


While in San Diego to train crisis volunteers