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review 2016-02-21 01:18
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

Jacob finds his grandfather dead in the woods, clearly attacked by some sort of beast. Jacob sees a monster, but naturally that couldn’t be, and since he was told tall tales by his grandfather all of his life, he is sent for therapy to recover from his shock. But after finding something very interesting left for him by his grandfather, he is soon begging to go to Wales to meet someone who has been writing his grandfather. He goes, along with his dad, and this is where things really begin to become peculiar. Jacob finds the remains of the orphanage his grandfather stayed in during part of WW II, and in it, a chest of some very odd old photos. The plot thickens, mysteries no sooner seem to be answered than they become all the more mysterious again. Jacob might be contemporary, but a good deal of this book is set in 1940 as well.


I enjoyed the characters, particularly Jacob, and found it easy to relate to him. I loved the photos, but I have always enjoyed photography, and particularly like to view old black and white photos in art museums. Riggs wrote the story after seeing photos, and they tie in beautifully. The writing is fine. So why just a like and not four or five stars? Without giving out any spoilers, I’ll put it in one word—paranormal. I am not keen on paranormal books as a rule, although I used to read more. There were a few other things, but again, no spoilers. I liked the characters enough that I am considering reading the next book in the series.

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review 2016-02-15 20:31
Probability for Kids: Using Model-Eliciting Activities to Investigate Probability Concepts - Scott Chamberlin

When I saw math, I was excited; math is a big deal in our house, and my eldest is now a math major in her junior year of college. We did plenty of math, and I fit our curriculum to each of our children’s needs. When I saw Prufrock Press, I was even more excited. After all, this is the press that gave us <b>Philosophy for Kids</b> one of our favourite books back when we homeschooled. But then I saw those dismal words “Aligns with Common Core Standards,” and then, inside, that Chamberlin is a Mathematical Educator, my heart sank. Nevertheless, I read every single page, hoping to find anything good, wonderful and commendable, and I did; it brought this rating up an entire star from what I give the entire mathematics philosophy of the Common Core to two stars.


The Pros – the activities in this book are well described, have excellent leading questions for teachers (whether in brick and mortar schools or at home) to help guide students in creative problem solving, and cover the six main areas of probability.


The Cons 

First, these assignments are based on activities that have worked for gifted and talented students and are designed for students with strong math skills. I can see this working for gifted and talented students who enjoy math and for other strong math students who enjoy being creative. However, and this is a big however that virtually every mathematical educator I have met with one main exception, there is no such thing as any sort of math learning method that will work for all math students, and this is certainly no exception to the rule.


Second, at no time, before during or after are students permitted to be taught algorithms. For those of you who have spent a good deal of time away from school, algorithms (an algorithm is a procedure or formula for solving a problem) are what mathematicians, engineers and people who actually use math in the real world use. Why? Because they work and because they save a great deal of time. While having students explore ways to figure out how to solve problems first can help them better understand what they are doing, this book has been designed to be used in three different age categories, including high school.


Third, I think there is so much emphasis on always being creative, that the word is going to lose its meaning. I am a big fan of creativity; my math loving eldest writes stories and draws, my other two aspire to be musicians and have various creative abilities. But there is no way that all three of them approach math with creativity, despite a strong foundation doing that with them when they were younger. The fact is, it didn’t always work, and if my three children weren’t able to learn all their math exactly the same way, what about classrooms of children?


However, if this book were used for the stellar activities and then students actually got to learn the alogrithms at some point, then I think this could be used effectively in some teaching situations.

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review 2015-03-29 00:13
Europe Central - William T. Vollmann

This book is a collection of short stories set in Soviet-era Russia and Germany prior to WW2, during WW2 and post-war.


Though it was interesting to read Vollmann's interpretations of historical figures and events in both countries, I disliked how liberally he strew the theme of sex as an instigator of creativity or impromptu 'casus belli' for all the interpersonal conflicts throughout the texts. That is so typical an approach for American novels of this genre it's irksome to see it in yet another novel. Additionally, the emphasis on sex by the author struck me as disrespectful to the all too eminent pathos which is leavened even in the barebone narratives of the involved historical figures' lives, particularly the Russian ones whose fates turned out to be especially tragic. Since many of the historical figures in the stories were artists, the strong element of pathos to their fates had a somewhat mythopoeic quality, which I felt the author failed to disinter in his writing discussing their legacies, and crudely spat upon it by shuttling forth some trashy sexual fantasy in its place. 


Perhaps this may be appealing to someone who doesn't have a penchant for the spiritual and cultural side of things, however I was left with the impression of a unconvincing, superficial piece of writing. 


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photo 2014-12-23 21:14
Dion E Cheese
The 2nd Coming
About me, Dion Cheese (1968-Present). He is an African-American author. His first release Who Am I? The Chronicles of Cain, is an urban first self-published under the Xlibris imprint and will later released under Dyme Publications, a branch of Intech Creative. His second novel is Explain It To Her Momma, an urban romance full of wit and humor.

Dion was born in northern New Jersey, the 7th of 8 siblings. Raised in the inner city section of Plainfield New Jersey, his life was anything but a Norman Rockwell portrait; life was hard, cold and -- at times -- cruel. Crime and drug-ridden, Dion avoided the lures of both, and coming from a family where mostly everyone was either dealing drugs or using them, he somehow managed to have the force of will to step outside his world as the first in his family history to go to college. he attended NJIT (college) to pursue a chemical engineering degree.

That got sidetracked however when in his late teens he felt the pull from the large wake his brother was creating in the world of hip hop music. His older brother Robert, the legendary Dee Jay Cheese - better known as King Kut, by his late teens was already a multi-award winning DJ World Champion, and later and inductee to the DMC Hall of Fame.

Dion has always been inspired to write, and recorded his first song "He's Phenomenal" through CSI Entertainment. The record was a tribute to the older brother's talents. Two years later he formed Third Street productions and recorded the singles Third Street, Come On Everybody, Kick The Habit, and Leading The pack -- released on Big City Records. He performed live at countless festivals, as well as did shows at The Strand Theater in Plainfield New Jersey [headlined by E.M.P.D], and Newark Symphony Hall [headlined by BDP, and Poor Righteous Teachers].

With a stake in Big City Records, after the initial release of Third Street, the , the company established distribution through Schwartz Brothers, one of the largest independent national distributors at that time.

Dion was the first Hip Hop artist to appear on the cover of Teen Machine Magazine; he also appeared on the cover of Black Beat, with Dion Cheese Black Beat article articles in both. This provided exposure that became leverage to attract new artists to the label. He spearheaded the effort to sign new talent, and added Nick D, A/K/A Soul King, and City E to the Big City roster.

His eye for talent was confirmed when Billboard featured Big City Records and their release of the album SOUL KING on the home page. And his partner leveraged that exposure to get the label invited to represent independent music as one of only 7 indie labels to the Jack The Rapper, the black music convention in Atlanta, Georgia. They were in good company along side indie label powerhouses such as Tommy Boy (Naughty by Nature), and Ruff House Records (Cypress Hill). The convention also had all the big names of the time present: Prince, MC Hammer, and more.

When Schwartz Brothers expanded into video it caused their financial woes that led them into bankruptcy. Without a distribution pipeline, or the ability to collect monies owed, Big City was forced to shut down operations.

Finally, Dion succumb to the pressures and all-to-familiar modus operendi of his neighborhood, and began dealing drugs to finance his vision of the record enterprise he wanted to build. He went quickly from small-time dealer to wholesaler. When he was snitched out, the wholesaling carried the heavy jail term of 25 years.

After 15, he is out, and the newest chapter of this self-determined man begins ...


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review 2014-10-27 01:39
Pig Park by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
Pig Park - Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
Pig Park
Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Cinco Puntos Press
ISBN 1935955764 (ISBN13: 9781935955764)
Pig Park brings us the story of a small town on it's last legs, thanks to the main factory closing down. When a developer comes into town with the idea to build a pyramid to attract tourists, towns people chip in to help build it.  Martinez skillfully brings together Masi, her friends, and the adult business owners together to build a story of searching for hope, community involvement, and individual growth and self esteem.
The author's characters are well written, especially the main character, Masi, who is smart, likeable, and relatable. Martinez builds into the story Masi's identity as a Mexican American, which is nice to see as there are not too many Mexican American main characters seen in American literature.
***This book was received from the author through a Booklikes giveaway in exchange for an honest review.***
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