So Easy to Love
Women's Fiction / October 31, 2013

So Easy to Love. J.A. Pak. 2012. Eden Street Press. 158 pages. [Source: Personal Copy] So Easy to Love is a novella from J.A. Pak, and it really wasn’t what I was expecting. I suppose I expected this to be a simple, run of the mill novella that told a trite story of a messy dalliance between colleagues. It definitely wasn’t that, and I’m glad. It’s actually the story of a young woman, Susanna, and her various relationships among family, friends, and coworkers. The relationships are murky and overlap often, in some cases with no clear resolution to hovering questions. I think that’s what kept me most invested in the book — seeing the evolution of her relationships with others as well as the development of her self-awareness was exciting to watch. I started the book thinking she was meek and helpless, but toward the end of the book I began to see her as someone who took hold of her life as best she could.

The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen
Advance Reader Copy , Children's / October 16, 2013

The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen. Diana Prichard, Heather Knopf, ill. 2013.  32 pages. Little Pickle Press.  [Source: ARC provided courtesy of Edelweiss] This is a cute story about how Patrick discovers the origins of the foods he eats on a regular basis.  According to the the author, the book seeks to answer the question, “Where does your breakfast come from?” While he helps his father prepare “World Famous French Toast,” Patrick encounters several farm animals in the most unlikely of places — his kitchen. The story itself is engaging and informative and provides an interesting way to think about where food comes from.  I read this with a 5 year old and it was very easy to have a conversation around what’s happening in the book with relation to their own experience with food.

Series: The Billionaire’s Obsession
Contemporary Romance / October 15, 2013

The Billionaire’s Obsession: The Complete Collection Boxed Set (Mine For Tonight, Mine For Now, Mine Forever, Mine Completely) J.S. Scott.  2013. 286 pages. Golden Unicorn Enterprises Inc.  [Source: Personal copy] I’m reviewing this boxed set as a whole because it’s a serial novel.  Admittedly, I’m not a fan of serial novels at all.  Cliffhangers are best left for chapters where the resolution doesn’t string you along to purchase another book. Having said that … the best (and kindest) way I can describe this is as a lite version of the 50 Shades trilogy. As much as I hate comparing one book to another, it’s really hard to ignore with this serial.  In The Billionaire’s Obsession, you get a condensed version of the same conflicts in works that just about equal 50 Shades of Grey.  From character background, dialogue, and plot, I found myself getting lost between the details of this series and the epics featuring Christian Grey. With that taken care of, I offer my review. I picked this series up because a friend read the first book, Make You Mine, and said “If you read 50 Shades, you have GOT to read this! I swear it’s Christian and Ana. It’s deja vu.”  Really, you…

Make You Mine

Make You Mine. Niobia Bryant. 2009. 352 pages. Dafina.  [Source: Personal copy] First — I read this book in less than a day, it is THAT engaging. I absolutely could not put it down. This was my first time reading Ms. Bryant, and I was thoroughly pleased. Make You Mine follows Julius and Caress, who truly define the phrase “opposites attract.” She’s an unemployed slob; he’s a successful photographer who borders on OCD. When they go on a blind date with mutual friends, what should have been a one-night stand turns the pair into unlikely roommates.

Test Driven: High-Stakes Accountability in Elementary Schools
Education , Non-fiction / October 10, 2013

Test Driven: High-Stakes Accountability in Elementary Schools. Linda Valli, Robert G. Croninger, Marilyn H. Chambliss, Anna O. Graeber, Daria Buese. 2008. 208 pages. Teachers College Press. [Source: personal copy.] I can only hope that more people than just educators and those in academia are exposed to the invaluable information the authors provide here. The insights into how the educational landscape is being warped by a focus on standardization and other national educational policies are some that I never considered, but am certain I need to be aware of.