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To This Day -- an anti bullying manifesto

To This Day by Shane Koyczan
Annick Press // September 2014
hardcover, 72 pages
ISBN: 978-1554516391
source: egalley from publisher

About the book:
Shane Koyczan wrote To This Day about his experiences with bullying. It received attention in February of 2013 as he performed the spoken word poem for a TED talk. It was that TED talk that first got my attention. I read the poem again later on and thought how great it would be to incorporate into my classroom. Then something magical happened - thanks to the power of positive influence on the internet, To This Day blew up. It was everywhere and now is a book. The book is the poem that Shane wrote set to the unique illustrations of 30 artists. This collaboration of talents produced a beautiful anti bullying manifesto.

My thoughts:
This is a BEAUTIFUL book. The words are strong, true, sad, heartfelt, lyrical, and full of purpose. I feel like every word was chosen with thought. The message behind this book - bullying and it's effects - is timely and necessary. We live in a world where bullying runs rampant. Thankfully, people are finally being to realize it's not "just kids being kids" and that the long lasting effects can be dangerous. This book is one that every teacher, parent, caregiver, therapist, and counselor needs to read. Then, we all need to share it with every child we encounter. Adults bullies were made in childhood- let's use this as a tool to stop the cycle where it begins. This book is perfect for teaching today's adolescents. I know a lot of adults who could use this lesson as well.
In addition to the meaning, this book is beautifully illustrated. The set reflects the artists, and that is made evident in every turn off the page. Not only does this show how all at its beautiful, it also translates into a perfect discussion on everyone being different and how to embrace that.

I highly recommend this book, and will be ordering it for my classroom. This book will become an essential tool in my social groups & therapy groups that I hold every week in my class. I also teach Rachel's Challenge weekly, and will incorporate this title into those sessions as well. The author also shared links to his spoken word, which I'll use as well. To This Day is in amazing read!

About the author:
The world took notice of Shane Koyczan when his influential, anti-bullying, To This Day Project video went viral in early 2013 and has reached over 14 million views and counting. 

Powerfully engaging and authentic in attitude, Shane’s explorations are relevant to our times in the way that Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen were to theirs. But unlike the musicians that he’s often compared to, poets rarely infiltrate pop culture.  Shane emerges in a new wave of 21st century poetry that dares to belong to the people and speak directly to them in their own voice.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Book cover image were captured by screenshot while reading on my phone. Book information gathered from Author image and information gathered from Shane Koyczan's website. I received this book as an egalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Harry Potter Book Night

Hey all! Did you guys know about Bloomsbury hosting a Harry Potter Book Night tonight?!
Here is what Bloomsbury has to say about the event:

February 5th 2015 will see the first ever Harry Potter Book Night. This exciting event gives new and existing fans a chance to share the wonder of J.K. Rowling’s unforgettable stories and, most excitingly, to introduce the next generation of readers to the unparalleled magic of Harry Potter. You are hereby invited to embrace the magic!
Bloomsbury Children’s Books is inviting schools, bookshops, libraries and community groups to host early-evening events in celebration of Harry Potter Book Night. We have created a complete Harry Potter Book Night Kit – available for free download – offering you everything you need to plan and host an unforgettable evening. The only missing ingredient is your own ideas and flair!
The kit includes invitation templates, an event poster, games, activities and quizzes as well as ideas for dressing up and decorating the venue. Register for the downloadable Event Kit below.
Bloomsbury Children’s Books will be marking Harry Potter Book Night on February 5th in our key territories, giving fans across the world an opportunity to join in the celebrations. We'd love to hear how you're planning to celebrate Harry Potter Book Night on Facebook and Twitter using #HarryPotterBookNight!

There are events going on in New York, but unfortunately, none are local. A few events in NYC and some further upstate (Albany, Saratoga) as well... but of course, none in little 'ol Binghamton. Of course that just means that I have to do it on my own! I am currently rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the Harry Potter reread with Sheila at Book Journey, so I will spend my night curled up with that. I have all the fixings to make hot Butterbeer Latte at home, so I will indulge in that sweetness too. Maybe I will watch some Harry Potter today too - or at least listen to the soundtrack!

Here is the recipe I use for hot Butterbeer Latte:
I found this on Pinterest - the original source is from

Let's talk for a minute about how gorgeous the new Bloomsbury kids editions are. OH MY GOSH. I so wish I had access to them! Not available in the US, unless of course I sneaky order through - but the shipping cost is more than the price of all of the books combined! UGH. But seriously, how beautiful are these new covers?!! I am so in love with them. They're stunning! If you haven't already seen them - check them out below... and trust me, you want to click on them to see them larger and in more detail - it is well worth it. *drool*

How will you celebrate the first Harry Potter Book Night? 

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

All images and description from Bloomsbury Harry Potter Book Night webpage


Harper Lee to release To Kill A Mockingbird sequel

The time has come -- Harper Lee is finally publishing a sequel to her amazing novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. 55 years after To Kill A Mockingbird was released, Harper Lee's sequel, Go Set a Watchman, will be releasing in July. This new book will pick up 20 years later as Scout visits her father as a grown woman. Google Harper Lee right now and you will get dozens of hits about her new book. Or, you can click this link and read the article from the New York Times about Harper Lee and Go Set a Watchman.

I imagine that almost all of you have read To Kill A Mockingbird. It is required reading for most high schools (and rightfully so!) and is a classic novel. With huge themes like racial injustice, life in the South, gender roles, innocence, and class, To Kill A Mockingbird is a phenomenal novel that was way ahead of its time.
Now, if you've lived under a rock your entire life, you need to grab a copy and read it! If you're like me, and haven't read it in quite a few years, it is time for us to dust off our copies and enjoy a reread before we embark on another magical journey with Scout this July.
I'll be rereading To Kill A Mockingbird later this year as the release of Go Set a Watchman approaches. I will also watch the 1962 movie adaptation that I remember watching in my high school English class.

To Kill A Mockingbird has been around for so long that it has had many beautiful covers. I would love to have some the other versions. I have the highly recognizable purple mass market version seen at left. What copy do you own? Will you be rereading it soon?

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Rereading The Goblet of Fire

It has long been known by those close to me that my least favorite book and movie of the Harry Potter series is The Goblet of Fire. The 4th year at Hogwarts just doesn't do it for me. I know a lot of people disagree and absolutely LOVE Goblet of Fire because of all the action, but for me, it just wasn't. The action is there for sure, but it just it too slow going for me. That probably sounds strange, since it isn't exactly a slow read.... I can't explain it any other way though. It just has always felt slow and muddled to me while reading. Granted, I still think it is a 4-star book... it is just a the 4 star in a series of 5 star, in my opinion.

After rereading it for the 10th time (literally), I still came away with the same feelings. I maybe enjoyed it a teensy tiny itty bit more than I have in the past - mainly because I was a bit more open to it. I went into it this time with as clean a slate as one can possibly have after reading it so many times. I think going in with the idea that this is not my least favorite and just reading it to read it, is what helped me see some of the pleasure it the book. The action is definitely there. It is an intense book and reading it without the filter of "I don't like this one" helped me acknowledge that it is a fun adventure from the get go. The Quidditch World Cup is really a fun adventure, I always seem to forget about it until I reread it. Detail and excitement are big as the troupe embarks on the event- not to mention the hysteria that follows. The romance is there too. I love the Ron - Hermione dynamic that unfolds with GoF.. but I could do without Lavender - although she does offer some comedic reprieve. I also really like that Hermione gets some outside attention as well - good for her! You can see a little confidence boost. The friendship squabbling is important too - I think it shows the reality of friendship more than we have seen in previous books. They're growing up, hormones flying, and together pretty much 24/7 - arguments are bound to happen and it is nice to see them act as foolish teenage friends every once in awhile. Brings it back to reality that they are just kids navigating a very adult problem.

Finally, the biggest thing I noticed after this reread was how drastically different the book is from the movie. I've always ranked GoF film as my least favorite for that reason, but rereading it again and then watching the movie almost immediately after really put the spotlight on the issue. I understand that it happens and is necessary is book to film adaptations, but damn does this one just piss me off. It is too far off the book for me.

So, fellow Potterheads... what are your thoughts on Harry's 4th year and the Triwizard Tournament? Do you love it or do you hate it? And how about that film adaptation - what do you think about the differences, both big and small?

Head over to Sheila's site to check out the other GoF reviews

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Those Who Remain (book 1) mini review

Those Who Remain by Priscila Santa Rose
August 2014
232 pgs
Won via Goodreads giveaway

About the book:
Hide your children, lock your doors, and load your guns because zombies are real and they are coming. Danny Terrence knows this better than anyone. He spent months preparing for the inevitable moment the disease would reach his small town. What he didn’t prepare for is the fact that nobody really believes him. Between a thirteen-year-old girl on a road trip from hell, a family of paranoid hunters having to deal with their feelings for the first time ever, a stubborn doctor butting-heads with a cold-hearted sergeant and an amoral British professor carrying the fate of humanity in his hands, Danny has it easy. Unless, of course, they all end up in his town, messing with his already messed up life. Follow these five people as their paths cross and their lives and hopes are challenged in this thrilling novel with brain-mushing humor and heart-breaking action.

My thoughts:
I won this book from the author on Goodreads and was very excited to start it. I really liked the design of the book - the way each character has a title and that is how the chapters are set up. I did struggle a bit with the dates, since they aren't sequential order, but got over it pretty quick. Three changing of the voices was more important than the dates and it all pieced together in the end. I also enjoyed how they all had a bit of a connection.
Those Who Remain is a fairly typical zombie story, but because of the style and design of the book it kept it interesting. I also really liked the government piece that plays out in the Geek and the Doctor chapters - definitely a good angle. 
Overall, satisfying and fun to read. Could end here as a stand alone, but I'm interested in reading further in the series to see how it all plays out.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Image and abbreviated book synopsis from Goodreads.