Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Brain on Fire: My Month of MadnessBrain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An inside look at surviving a rare illness that tried to take away almost all the author was as a person, and the family, friends, and doctors who fought for her to be accurately diagnosed and treated.

This was both scary and fascinating.

Pages: 250

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Scorched by J. Lynn

Scorched (Frigid, #2)Scorched by J. Lynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was generally good, though not especially memorable. One of the characters deals with some serious issues and not always in the best ways. Since about a year passed since I had read the first book, I couldn’t really remember these characters, which were previously side characters. However, it didn’t really matter, because this stands alone pretty well.

Pages: 238

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State KillerI’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book definitely held my attention. It discusses the serial rapist turned murderer called the Golden State Killer, a term coined by the author of this book. Sometimes I struggled with the rough transitions, but those are allowable and understandable, considering the author died before she finished researching and writing this novel, which meant the job of pulling it together and publishing it fell to others.

Once you settled into a section, the writing evened out. It was just the switch between chapters that sometimes threw me for a loop, like I had to resettled back into the story, or like I was suddenly being presented with a new story. In some cases, I was, since different chapters discuss about different events and victims.

Some part of me both hates and loves reading about a true crime unsolved mystery. It’s frequently uncomfortable, but piecing together clues and considering new angles is always engaging.

The crimes themselves are graphic, but the presentation of the stories and evidence is never gratuitous or over-dramatized. It’s presented as simply and almost clinically as possible, so as not to become anymore upsetting than necessary, while still remaining true and accurate.

Pages: 328

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Diana Dances by Luciano Lozano

Diana DancesDiana Dances by Luciano Lozano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is so sweet, and I love the illustrations. Diana is drawn with so much character and personality that she stands out in every panel.

From a simple perspective, this picture book is a story about being yourself, learning your own strengths, and finding your place in the world.

From a teacher perspective, this story is about how unique children are, and how they relate to the world and learn in many different ways. Diana has kinesthetic intelligence (also called body intelligence). People with kinesthetic intelligence are skilled at using their body to convey feelings and ideas. All of the adults in Diana’s life thought something was wrong with her, due to her her lack of attention, struggles to learn, and constant case of wiggles. They didn’t even consider that her brain works differently, and that focusing on her strengths and interests would make her strong in other areas of her life.

This story highlights how letting people be themselves is so much better than trying to force them to fit society’s mold. On that level, this book has a lot to say, and it does it in a simple and charming way.

I’m also a fan of the diversity represented in the illustrations, especially in the different body styles. Healthy body image in picture books is a great place to start.

This picture book will be published on March 12, 2019. For libraries, this would be great for storytime sessions tied to music and movement, and you’ll get the bonus of positive body image and the introduction of different learning styles, which is good for both your early learners to see and their parents/caregivers.

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

#BecRereads2019

I’m rereading this in preparation for finally reading the third book (yes, I know I’m way behind).

I mostly enjoyed it the second time through, but it drags some and doesn’t possess the full magic that is book one, which I’m absolutely obsessed with. This feels a lot more like a transition book, where everything is more about putting all the pieces in the right places, rather than it just being a really solid story.

Most of the story is spent endlessly journeying, and new characters are introduced left and right without being fully fleshed out, which is frustrating. I did have to force myself to power through a few sections where things really lagged, because I’m convinced that book two is just a one-off, and book three is going to be as amazing as book one is (I really hope so).

Pages: 452

PREVIOUS REVIEW:
This didn’t move in the direction or at the speed I expected. I loved book one to extremes, and I confess I was quite sick and very distracted as I listened to this on audiobook. I probably should have waited, but I was anxious to read book 2. I am not sure if my love decreased due to the story or due to my poor reading behaviors and attention span while consuming this story.

Overall, I still enjoyed it, though it didn’t make as much progress, in terms of the storyline, as I thought it would. I think I will listen to it again, right before book 3 is published, at which point I may change my rating.

I still love these characters and am fascinated by the world.

The villains are incredibly well-written and truly horrific.

Pages: 464

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The Picnic Problem by Jonathan Litton

The Picnic Problem (Math)The Picnic Problem by Jonathan Litton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great book for introducing extremely basic math concepts to early learners. The children in this series follow a trail of clues. Each clue has them practice a different early learning skill, such as counting to find the difference between two sets of items, identifying shapes, determining length (in terms of which thing is longer than the other), and very basic addition skills.

This book is fun and useful, and it would be excellent to use with pre-K in a STEM/STEAM based storytime or classroom setting. It would be easy to pair up with other early learning activities. There’s also a section at the end that breaks down each of the activities the children completed, and it explains the concepts behind those, as well as vocabulary, and it includes additional examples and explanations, making this extremely useful in a classroom or class-like setting.

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How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps by Nicola Winstanley

How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy StepsHow to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps by Nicola Winstanley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is absolutely hilarious. I laughed out loud while reading it. It’s a spot on explanation for how to give a cat a bath, in a step by step format. It’s so funny and clever, and it has a lot of voice for such a short book, with so little text. It perfectly conveys a variety of emotions and reactions, which adds a lot to the story.

This will be such a great read for a storytime group, because it’s so funny. The illustrations are delightful. Anyone who has met a cat, or owns a cat, can probably relate to this. I’m a dog person, but having grown up with a wide variety of pets, including cats, I’m totally amused and charmed by this one. It gets all my stars.

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