Saturday, November 16, 2019

Must Reads by the Close of 2019

If you're anything like me, there's either a stack of books next to your bed, on your bookshelf, living room floor, kitchen table, combination thereof, or all of the above that is demanding to be read. This year I've added more books to my TBR Goodreads Bookshelf than I've read, which of course is to be expected. However, there are a few books that I refuse to go into a new year, a new decade without having read or completed them.


Books to read or finish by the end of the year:
Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56
Monday's Not Coming
There There
Let Me Hear a Rhyme
The Winter Sisters
Reading Reasons: Motivational Mini-Lessons for Middle and High School
Kundalini Awakening: A Gentle Guide to Chakra Activation and Spiritual Growth

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

What Makes a Teacher?

An avid reader knows that reading the last line of a book or any literary piece can cause an array of emotions—satisfaction: knowledge of resolution; trepidation: fearing, but yet excited for the conclusion of the story; jubilation: for sticking it out and not abandoning it when it took a weird turn; or contemplation: reflecting on particular plot points or the piece's meaning. Whatever the emotion evoked, there is something about the last word of a written work. A few years ago, I read the editorial, "What Makes A Great Teacher?" in an EdWeek E-Newsletter. Soon after I began crafting a reply to the article. Until now, the response has been left unfinished for several reasonsmainly because I wasn't ready. I needed more time to digest the piece. I needed more time for my thoughts to percolate. I needed more time to be inspired by individuals whose paths I would cross at a later date. I needed more time to ripen emotionally to read certain books I wasn't ready to read at the time. I needed more time to experience things I had yet to experience. Also, during this time of mental processing, I read Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo detailing her years with Teach for America; in addition to her time with Patrick, a former student she taught while in Arkansas. After five years of churning in my brain, here follows my long-time-coming response.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-thon Fall 2019 Announcement, Updates, & Wrap-Up

Hello reader friends! I decided to participate in read-a-thon after all. Here's my reading stack for the next 24 hours:



Read-a-thon reading goals: 
  1. To complete two books
  2. To knock off one of the books for the Mount TBR Challenge
  3. To read at least three chapters of my current read, Reading Reasons  
  4. Above all else, enjoy RaT!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Update Alert

Hello reader friends! With only a little over two months before the end of the year, I wanted to pop in for a moment and share a brief update.

Five book reviews made it from unfinished draft to published since the beginning of the year. Even though the number is much lower than I'd like, it's much higher than last year's. Progress, slow and steady, but progress nonetheless.

Monday, July 1, 2019

5th Annual Fatherhood Initiative

This past Friday, June 28, Cultivating You had the pleasure of participating in the 5th Annual Fatherhood Initiative sponsored by the Carrollton Housing Authority. Each vendor  was asked to contribute a door prize. We gave away a copy of On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. 



Friday, May 17, 2019

Mini Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Jennifer Latham. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. Ebook.
Rating: Worthy

Goodreads SummaryMeet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks -- and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father's murder.

Scarlett Undercover was my first read featuring a Muslim American protagonist. Not knowing much, rather anything, about Islam, I thought the author did a good job writing about it. Latham neither slams nor pushes it. It is merely a part of who Scarlett is and her world. The book started off slow, but picked up around thirty-five percent. Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of the Solomon Knot or the myth surrounding King Solomon. I enjoyed the myth and must do more research on it. I didn't like Scarlett, but neither did I dislike her. She was a tolerable protagonist. I liked her spunk, but she crossed the line toward disrespectful often; plus the "gum shoe detective" lingo got old fast. Scarlett's and Decker's romance was sweet and cute. Closing with them was a nice way to end the novel.


**Complimentary e-galley provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.        

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Review: Into White by Randi Pink

Randi Pink. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2016. pp. 275
Rating: Don't Bother + 5 Scoops


LaToya Williams attends a majority white high school in Montgomery, Alabama. Outside of her older brother, LaToya is without friends at school and in her affluent suburban neighborhood. After an extremely humiliating experience at school, LaToya prays to trade her black skin for that of white. Upon waking the next day, LaToya discovers that her prayer has been answered.  Now LaToya has to learn to navigate life as white, blond, and privileged. Not to mention, maintain the appearance of her pre-transformation self around her family who are unable to see the "new" LaToya. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Mount TBR Challenge 2019, Here I Come

While on Goodreads this past weekend, I found a new book challenge to join. Since I can't stay away from bookstores, book sales of any kind, and the book section in thrift stores, the Mount TBR Challenge is going to help me trim the stacks of books that continue piling up in my home.  Since there are books that I want to read that I do not own or have not owned prior to the start of 2019, I'm reading 12 books for the challenge. I attempted a similar challenge back in 2016 and fell short--way short. Five of the books I've chosen for this challenge are from the previous challenge. For motivation, I'm posting an image of my chosen reads. I'm determined to get them read and off my TBR stacks.

Pike's Peak Challenge Picks 


Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56
Dumplin'
The Star Side of Bird Hill
The Mis-Education Of The Negro
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts
Soul on Ice
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Lies We Tell Ourselves
Daughters of the Stone
Miles Morales
Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field
Native Son


Written Melodies's favorite books »


Saturday, April 6, 2019

It's Dewey's Read-a-thon Day!

Bring on the books, snacks, and hours of reading! 

First selection: 

Update #1
10:00 a.m.- I finally settled down to read at 8:20 a.m. I'm 47 pages in. If I stop rereading sentences I like, I would be much further.

Update #2
1:16 p.m. - I'm stopping on p. 132 to ready myself for an engagement I agreed to before signing up for read-a-thon.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2012. 392 pp.
Rating: Worthy

Note: I started writing this review as soon as I finished reading the book on February 20, 2013. Although many years have passed, I'm leaving the review as I started it. I did complete the Lunar Chronicles Series, so that in itself is an indication of my relationship with this book.

Cinder is a science fiction rendering of Cinderella. Set in New Beijing after the fourth World War where gasoline cars are antiquated relics, hovercrafts are a means of transportation, money is exchanged through an ID chip embedded in one's wrist, and cyborgs are commonplace. The protagonist, Cinder, is a cyborg; a mix of human with a splash of machine. Ashamed of her mechanical parts, Cinder encases her arms in gloves at all times. Under the guise of gratitude for renewed life, cyborgs are being drafted as test subjects to discover a cure for Letumosis, the Blue Fever, which is ravaging New Beijing and other earthen colonies. Living under the constant threat of being condemned to plague research, Cinder works as a mechanic at the New Beijing weekly market suffering the enslavement and derision of her stepmother. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

April = Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-thon Spring Edition


Spring marks the change of seasons, the return of warmer weather, new beginnings, and for many readers across the globe, the arrival of Dewy's 24-Hour Read-a-thon. I'm looking forward to this spring's read-a-thon because there are several books that I must have read by the close of the month.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Top Ten Reasons School Counselors Want Students to Read: Social-Emotional Learning Opportunities! by Sarah Scheerger

Reason #1639 of why I love the Nerdy Book Club...

Reposted from the Nerdy Book Club.


Top Ten Reasons School Counselors Want Students to Read: Social-Emotional Learning Opportunities! by Sarah Scheerger

  • Cultivating Empathy
When we read, we climb into the minds and bodies of our characters. We feel with them and we feel for them. I explain empathy to students as follows: Empathy is the experience of walking in someone else’s shoes and imagining how you might feel if you were in a similar situation. This is different from sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone else. Cultivating empathy is a way to combat bullying. Reading offers a way to understand another’s behavioral choices through first understanding the underlying feelings and thoughts that propel that behavior.
Books offer a “window,” a chance to peek into someone else’s reality and feel with and for them.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

How Do You "See" the Books You Read by Emily Asher-Perrin

Reposted from Tor Publishing

For the most part, I have no issues visualizing the books I read. Though it's less like a movie and more of pictures/images actualizing the storyline before my eyes without need of additional equipment. My realized stories translate into life not played out over a screen, but real life. The life of those characters and their everyday reality. Whenever an image is murky or I stumble upon text I have problems computing to pictures, I reference other books or look up on the internet. 

What about you? 


How Do You "See the Books You Read by Emily Asher-Perrin

Wednesday, February 13, 2019



Inevitably, when someone is trying to advocate reading over watching things on screens, some variation of this old joke gets made: “Books are like movies inside your head!” This assumes everyone can—and does—create a full mental picture when they read, complete with sets, landscapes, costumed characters, and easy-to-follow action.
But that’s not how it works for me.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mini Review: Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom. New York: Random House, 2014. 256 pp. 
Rating: Don't Bother


Please be advised: Mini review contains slight spoilers.


What did I just read? Like really, what did I just read? I have so many questions and no answers. What's up with the father? Is he an alcoholic? What happened to all of his dead wife's money? Why is he stealing money from Iris? By the end, I still hadn't figured out if Edgar had a breakdown after Charlotte died.

Although I love historical fiction, I loved nothing about Lucky Us. The book cover hinted at something good and the blurb promised a wonderful treasure within its pages. Oh, I was going to love this book. Not! I couldn't have been more wrong. What started out as a pleasurable reading experience quickly soured. The book didn't make any sense to me. There is little to no plot as everybody is all over the place. Plus, I held no affinity for any of the characters. Lucky Us is a dismal story with depressing characters and gloom leaping off each page. 


*Click on the book cover or title link for book summary. 
**I won a complimentary ARC in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Review: Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Jay Coles. Hachette: New York, 2018. E-book.
Rating: Decent

Goodreads SummaryWhen Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.

The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

If I were to judge this book by its cover alone, I would give it a raving five stars. Sadly, that is not the case. There were a few things I liked about the book and plenty I did not, actually, down-right hated. So, for this review, I'm deviating from my normal review style and using a bullet format.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Calling Me

Almost a year ago now, on January 31, while conducting research for my book, I came across a poem by Georgia Douglas Johnson entitled, "Calling Dreams." I posted it along with the photo at the bottom of this post to my Facebook and Google+ pages, however, I didn't post it to my blog. To post the poem and photo on my blog without an introduction seemed an inadequate expression of what I was feeling. Although my social networks are me and are true to my being, my blog is an actual extension of me. There is no room for pretense; even if I wanted to, I couldn't. Here you get all of me: the strength, wisdom, vulnerabilities, insecurities, failures, and successes. So to have posted it would have been like expecting others to interpret my emotions for me instead of processing and working through them.  

For much of my life, I've imprisoned myself in a box, cognizant of my abilities, but afraid, no, terrified of myself. I knew once I unleashed my gifts, there would be no going back. Once More erupted from the bowels of my existence in 2015, the box ceased to exist. 

Words are guides and the right words strung together are guideposts. 
"[...] I was to realize that my discomfort was due to the fact that I was operating far, too far, beneath my level; or in other words, I had more to give than was being demanded and I was being weighed down by the residue. (James Baldwin, Just Above My Head, 389)
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that "Calling Dreams" still lingers within my being close to 12 months later.  As I prepare to transition into a new season in my life, I call myself to walk worthy in the life of which I was purposed. 

I leave you all with "Calling Dreams" along with the perfect picture, in my opinion, for this poem.

"Calling Dreams"
The right to make my dreams come true
I ask, nay, demand of life,
Nor shall fate's deadly contraband
Impede my steps, nor countermand.
Too long my heart against the ground
Has beat the dusty years around,
And now, at length, I rise, I wake!
And stride into the morning break!

-Georgia Douglas Johnson, 1922