Once Upon a Bookshelf – Fish in a Tree – We’re all Geniuses.

Fish in a TreeFish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was immediately drawn to this book, thanks to the title. Albert Einstein once said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” That is exactly how the characters in this book feel.

Ally has been tricking people her entire life. She moves a lot because of her dad’s job. He’s in the service and she has been at 7 different schools in almost as many years. Generally, she tries to lay low and not draw attention to herself. Her latest school though, has been nothing but trouble. She lands in the principal’s office almost daily and her secret is getting harder to hide.

Especially after she picks out a card for her pregnant teacher because it has flowers on it but doesn’t realize that it’s actually a sympathy card. Everybody sees her as a troublemaker and she constantly calls herself dumb. Ally is in 6th grade and can’t read. She says that the words like to float around and doesn’t understand how people can read like that.

With her teacher now on maternity leave, she has to start the whole charade over with the new guy. Mr. Daniel’s turns out to be a blessing in disguise. He sees Ally as a creative kid and notices that she’s special. Working together, Ally becomes more confident and slowly starts to read. It’s the ultimate story of believing in yourself!

What I loved about this book was the concept. I’m sure there are a lot of kids that go to school and go unnoticed. They may have significant needs that no one has bothered to help them with. All it takes is one teacher that pays attention. That’s what teachers are for right? All of my favorite people growing up were my teachers. I felt connections with them and that was a major reason I only went to school. Just by knowing that there is someone that cares can really make a kid open up (I see it all the time – I’m a teacher now, too).

I also love the mind movies that Ally has. She is incredibly creative and keeps a journal of impossible things. The things in her mind movies are sometimes crazy like teaching cats to play hockey. You can even see some of the impossible things at the end of the book!

Ally’s friends are the best. Her relationships with other kids have been strange because she moves so much but once she gets the opportunity to reach out and learn about the kids in her class (thanks to the awesomeness of Mr. Daniels), she becomes great friends with Keisha and Albert. We also learn about their eccentricities and they learn to love why their different and they work together to stay positive and help each other out.

This book gave me goose bumps. The story of redemption and being yourself really hit home with me. If you have a kid (or not) I recommend that they read this book. It could have the ability to change the way they think about themselves and the things that make them “different.”

My rating: 5/5

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April 23rd. I love it.

So sorry I missed last week friends, but I’m back and there’s a lot to love!

First up this week, downloading shows from Netflix. I love it. I spent last week in North Carolina with Bud and before my trip, a friend of mine told me that I could download movies and shows on Netflix and watch them offline. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to watch Netflix on a plane normally (no wifi), so I tested it out. I downloaded the first season of Hallmark’s “Good Witch”. What can I say? This new way to watch shows is a game-changer for busy travelers like me!

I love it.

Next up is, you guessed it, “Good Witch.” I love it. I’ve always been a fan of Bailee Madison because she’s so positive (and I’m all about positivity – hence this blog) so I watched two episodes on my way to North Carolina… and then the next 8 of the first season on my way home. It was quickly followed by watching the first 5 episodes of the second season when I got home from the airport and finishing it up this morning. I love Hallmark Channel and this show and now I NEED MORE GOOD WITCH!

I love it.

Finally, writing book reviews. I love it. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been making sure I write reviews for the books I read lately. I put them on Goodreads, then my blog, and sometimes they get picked up by NerdHQ.com. I love reading and writing so this is something that’s perfect for me. Plus, it also gives me a reason to write (writer’s block is a real thing, people). If you have any book suggestions or if you’ve written a book and want it reviewed, let me know!

I love it. It’s great. Everything’s great.

I love it.

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Once Upon a Bookshelf – The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy Review

A New Hope - The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy (Star Wars: Episode IV)A New Hope – The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Star Wars is everywhere these days. Movies, clothes, TV shows, cereal, and of course, books.

“The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy” is the original Star Wars story, but told a different way. Not only do you follow the adventures we all know and love, but you get to see it from three different perspectives. If you couldn’t guess by the title, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker tell this tale.

I obviously won’t bore you with the details of the story (we should all know if by now), but there are a few things in this book that I absolutely loved.

First of all, the reader gets to see inside the minds of the main characters. I love the way that Leia talks to herself about being more than a princess. She wants to make a difference for the lives of her people. She also speaks about her mother, father, and aunts, all of whom she is trying to live up to.

Han, surprisingly, has a soft side (mostly for his best bud, Chewy). Did you know Chewy was married? Neither did I, but apparently he’s working hard with Han to support his family. I would love to have a movie where we learn more about the beginnings of the most famous Wookie in the world!

Luke is just a kid from a farm trying to be taken seriously. Sure, he’s flown his own speeder on his home planet of Tatooine, but a rebel ship? Not so much. Something else we learn, thanks to this book, is that Luke’s ability behind the wheel was tested officially before he was just thrown into space with the rest of the crew. Actually, he aced the test thanks to his training from none other than Ben Kenobi. WE also get to see his relationship with Biggs (you know, that friend he bumps into right before takeoff).

Not only was the storytelling great, but also I loved that they used quotes directly from the movie. I seriously couldn’t help but smile at moments like that. I mean, I would have been really disappointed if they didn’t mention, “Don’t tell me the odds!”

The pictures in the book were also amazing! They look pencil drawn, almost as if the book were parts of the characters journals or something.

The biggest thing that I noticed that was missing from the book was Darth Vader. Well, he wasn’t missing, but he definitely wasn’t the center of the book. In fact, I’m pretty sure he was only seen in one chapter.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with kids (or without) that want a deeper understanding of the Star Wars world. It helped me a lot with the names I always have trouble remembering or understanding (let’s be honest, some of the names and places are confusing).

I gave this book 5/5.

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Chester and Gus – A book review

Chester and GusChester and Gus by Cammie McGovern

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book stole my heart.

I am a firm believer that animals have more capabilities than their people give them credit for. This book shows how a dog that thought of himself as a failure worked hard to find a new purpose in life.

Chester was trained to be a service dog, but after he failed his certification because he hates out noises, he thought he’d never get another chance. When a family comes along in search of a friend for their autistic son, Gus, Chester bring it upon himself to help this boy like he knows he can.

After a lot of time spent observing the boy, Chester learns the dos and don’ts of life with Gus. Don’t make too much noise. Don’t get too close to him. Don’t lick him. Don’t ask too many questions.

That’s right. Chester finds himself bonded to this boy in such a way that he can’t even describe it at first. Gus, who doesn’t talk, seems to understand the things that Chester asks him and he answers back (some of the time). Using this new tool for communication, Chester gets Gus to trust him because he needs him now more than ever. But Chester has just been told he’s not allowed in school anymore because he’s not a certified service dog.

Strange things have been going on with Gus lately and it all comes to a head once the fire alarms go off at school. Being frightened at first, Chester loses track of Gus but forces his way to his boy. He finds Gus passed out in a closet and Gus is taken to the hospital for a few days.

Gus has epilepsy.

Now Chester has a renewed sense of responsibility for the boy and their relationship changes daily.

Can Chester be the dog that Gus needs him to be?

I love that this book is told from the perspective of a dog. He thinks about how hard it is to communicate with humans because they assume they know what’s best. He is also a firm believer that (despite popular opinion) dog cannot read, but he uses other clues to figure out what words mean.

The way that Chester slowly falls in love with Gus is absolutely perfect. As someone on the spectrum myself, when I meet new people or start new relationships, everything has to move very slow. Just ask my boyfriend 🙂

This is a book thatI felt connected to from the beginning. In fact, once I started reading it, I didn’t put it down.

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April 9th. I love it.

So glad that’s over!

First up this week friends is Middle Grade novels. I love them. This week I read “You Throw Like a Girl” and “Chester and Gus.” I won’t tell you the details now (but read my reviews) but they both meant a lot to me. Middle Grade novels are the types of books I like to write and reading great books like these makes me want to work even harder at writing. I hope that with some time off this summer I can work on the two projects I started/finished this fall. If you’re in the mood to read the first draft of 2 middle grade novels, let me know and I’ll send copies to you for editing!

I love it.

Next up, having multiple teams to root for. I love it. Now that it’s baseball season, my TV is on a lot more. Sometimes I watch games that I wouldn’t think I’d be interested in on MLB TV and get so engrossed with the game, I don’t realize I have other things I was supposed to be doing. While the Indians will always be my team, I can’t forget about my friends that play on the Red Sox (Steven Wright), Twins (Chris Gimenez), and Blue Jays (TJ House). I’m also a huge Paul Goldschmidt fan (D-Backs) so I watch them consistently too. Oh, and I can’t forget Bud’s Dodgers. With all of these teams to root for, there is never s shortage of baseball at my house.

I love it.

Finally, lazy days. I love them. Yesterday I slept in till 10am and continued to lay in bed until I finished listening to the Focus 3 podcast (if you haven’t heard it, I’d start). Then I was motivated and went to the store but came right back home and lounged. I read an entire book (Chester and Gus), napped for a few hours while watching “Merlin”, one of my favorite shows (check it out on Netflix). Today was much of the same but I’ve been writing, watching baseball, and drinking lots of coffee. The cats even let me sleep in until 8:30am because I fed them last night. How nice of them.

I love it. It’s great. Everything’s great.

I love it.

You Throw Like a Girl! – A book review

You Throw Like a GirlYou Throw Like a Girl by Rachele Alpine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may be biased because I know the author, but this book blew me away. Not only is it about baseball (one of my true loves), but it’s about a girl beating the odds (and the boys) and a sport that she loves.

Gabby is spending the summer in Chester, Ohio. He father was just deployed and she’s having a hard time adjusting. She left behind her friends and her softball team but she’s hoping that playing for Chester’s team will make things better. She promised her dad she would pitch in the Championship game, just like he did when he was a kid.

Unfortunately, she finds out that there aren’t enough girls to participate in softball this season because everyone in town seems to be part of the Miss Popcorn Pageant. She leaves the rec center defeated.

By a twist of fate, Gabby’s mom signs her up for the pageant. She is a legacy in town because she won the crown several years. Gabby’s mom is so excited about the pageant that Gabby can’t bear to squash her dreams of a daughter following in her footsteps.

Grace and composure are not something Gabby thinks herself to be good at, but this summer will test her in more ways than one. Refusing to go back on her promise to her dad, Gabby signs up for the Chester baseball team. Unsure of the rules, she disguises herself as “Johnny” and blows the boys out of the water with her arm.

Juggling these two new personas (beauty queen and a boy) gets out of hand and her friendships are in trouble because of her lies.

Can she make her mom and her dad proud?

Most important, can she pull it off?

I loved this book because it’s all about girl power! The boys on Gabby’s team make a lot of comments about how girls are inferior and it makes Gabby’s blood boil. Her will to win is so strong! She is passionate about her sport and won’t let other tell her she’s not good enough!

I rated this book 5/5.

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