25 February 2015

Review: How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

"WHEN SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD TARIQ JOHNSON dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown in an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.
In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth.
Tariq's friends, family and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down." (jacket summary)

So. Many.Thoughts. There seems to have been an increase in gun deaths among teenagers. However, I am not entirely sure if there has been in increase in deaths or just an increase in media attention. We live in a world where moments after something happens, EVERYONE knows. A world where journalist begin to sensationalize a story before all the facts are known. We make judgments based on what we are shown, never knowing the whole story. Even the people who witness these awful events don not know the entire story.

What I love about Kekla Magoon's novel is how she shows various witness point of views. How it Went Down demonstrates how people who witnessed Tariq's death saw different things and have conflicting stories. Did Tariq have a gun or was it a candy bar? Was Tariq in a gang or not? Why? Why? Why? So many questions, so many answers and still an incomplete conclusion.

Reading How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon,made me think about Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown and so many other who were gunned down. A time when conflicting news sources led us to such horrid opposition with one another that it lead to civil unrest, rioting and violence. This novel is amazing. So many passages made me stop and think, not only of teenagers being killed by gun and the stories that are never fully told, but how we consume our news. Do we wait to pass a judgement until all sides of the story are presented, or do we rush to make judgement and make everything much worse.

If you are ready to take a moment and really think, How it Went Down is the perfect book to help you think and a great way to start a global conversation.

Bonus: Song that went through my head as  I read How it Went Down: Glory from the movie Selma sung by John Legend and Common.

03 January 2015

Stronger than You Know by Jolene Perry

Joy's fifteen. Her normal life just began three months ago. Before that was another life that she doesn' like to remember. When the police came, it was supposed to be all over.
But now, living with her aunt and uncle in this new family where everyone tries to understand, it's not over. Joy's got a whole list of reasons why she's crazy-- the panic attacks, the meds she's on, and the hard-to-breathe feeling she gets when she has to talk to someone new. Somehow it's even harder when the person is nice.
Yet hope has a way of taking hold, and Joy just might find a way to hold on . . ." (book jacket summary)


Wow. When I picked Stronger than You Know off the shelf I could not have imagined how amazing the book would be. The first few pages of Jolene Perry's book drew me in and I could not put it down. I believe that Joy's hidden inner strength is present from the first pages of the book. For 15 years, Joy lived with her abusive mother and endless parade of other adults who did NOTHING to help the young girl, Joy had the strength to survive and open up when finally questioned.

I'm going to give this book 4 fireflies for the following reasons:

  • Stronger the You Know is the kind of book that will stick with your for awhile. I finished reading this book on New Year's Eve and I couldn't help but think about it the next couple of days. 
  • Joy's struggle to acclimate to her new reality is exactly what it should be -- a struggle. Fifteen years of abuse and neglect won't go away in the blink of an eye.
  • The struggle of Joy's extended family is beautifully portrayed with each member of the family trying to find ways to interact with Joy and not cause her to panic.
  • The relationship between Joy and her Uncle Rob is probably my favorite relationship of the entire book. From Joy's wariness and Uncle Rob's protective instincts it's a beautiful relationship.

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06 May 2014

Florida Teens Read Finalist for 2014-2015

The Florida Association for Media in Education has finally released the titles for the next school year.

Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi
The Naturals by Jennifrer Lynn Barnes
Thin Space by Jody Casella
Pinned by Sharon Flake
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden
Second Impact by David and Perri Klass
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
The Living by Matt de la Pena
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Beneath a Meth Moon: an Elegy by Jacqueline Woodson
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

This is an interesting mix of books and I can't wait to start reading.

01 June 2013

Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Angie, known by people at school as Fat Angie, whale, girl who tried to off herself and all sorts of other insults. Her mother is sleeping with her adopted brother's therapist and mentally abusive to Angie, saying things like "No one is ever going to love you if you stay fat." and other horrible things about Angie's weight. Her adopted brother Wang is bordering on the criminal side of life, her father is recovering from a stroke with a whole new family and her sister. . . well her sister is a missing Air Forces soldier in Iraq. A soldier whom the Iraqi's have had on their news blindfolded and tortured. A solider who people are assuming is dead. Everyone but Angie. And that is where Angie's downward spiral to attempted suicide begins.

Bullied by the kids at school, Angie feels all alone until KC Romance moves to town and Jake, her neighbor across the street, who used to play basketball with Angie's sister, start talking to her and sticking up for her.

I should have known when I was 6 pages in and on the verge of crying that this would be an amazing book. During the book, I really wanted to hit Angie's mother several times to get her to look and see what she was doing to Angie and even to Wang. I wanted to know about Angie's sister and hoped she'd return. I wanted Wang to start sticking up for his little sister and I wanted adults to start caring.

This book was amazing and probably the first book that I've read cover to cover in a day for a very long time. This book is definitely one I will recommend to others and I may have to buy a copy for my personal library.

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29 September 2012

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Every high school has a rivalry. Usually, the rivalry is with another school, but Hamilton High's big rivalry is between their own Football and Soccer teams. After having yet another parking session with her Quarterback boyfriend ruined by a soccer player, Lissa Daniels starts thinking about ways to end the rivalry going far enough to beg her boyfriend to be involved in the rivalry anymore. Randy promises not to take part in an act against the soccer team, but breaks his promise to Lissa. The final straw for Lissa is her boyfriend's hasty departure after "makeup"sex to go fight with the soccer team.
She gets together with the rest of the football girlfriends (and Chloe, the football groupie with benefits?) and her ex-best friend, Ellen, the girlfriend of the captain of the soccer team. When the girls get together, Lissa gives them a radical plan. No sex or sexual activity with their boyfriends until the war between the two groups ends. When the girls swear on the pages of Cosmo, the boys have no idea what they are about to be up against.


Kody Keplinger brings a new twist to a very old play. Lysistrata by Aristophanes was about the women of Sparta and Athens during the Peloponnesian War. Much like the girls in Shut Out Lysistrata and her friends are tired of the war and their men being called away from home to fight it.

I love how Kody Keplinger has taken an Ancient Greek play and turned it into an interesting and great read for teens of today. As I was reading the book  I kept thinking about reading Lysistrata in college and how this one was much more relate-able to her readers.


27 September 2012


I am really excited to get back into blogging and I had a lot of fun doing bloggiesta a few years ago. This year its being co-hosted by It's All about Books and There's a Book. I can't wait!


Life has a funny way of getting in the way of doing things sometimes. The reason for my insanely long absence is I've been helping to take care of my mom. After the surgery in March, her body decided to go nuts and long story short, she ended up having half of her foot amputated. If you really want the long details of what happened, send me an email and I'll get to it.
While she's been really sick, I haven't really been into blogging. I've been reading, just not as much. However, wish me luck. I am trying to get back to you guys.


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