Alisha Barnes

12/21/2011 - 3:30am
Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch

Hannah Legare is a thirty-five year old business woman who lives in San Francisco with her husband and business partner, Jon. Hannah is about to lose it all, husband and business. After another one of her drunken nights, she finds herself climbing up the exterior of her and Jon's apartment in the middle of the night. Her plan is to break in and attempt to convince Jon they should try to make their marriage work. Before she can do that, she slips and falls backwards onto the ground underneath their apartment and lands herself a trip to the hospital. In Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch, Hannah is forced to move back to Charleston, South Carolina, her hometown, to live with her mother and step-father for a month of exile until she can straighten out her life.

12/19/2011 - 3:30am
The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss

The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss takes a look into the lives of middle-school girls and the cliques that can rule their relationships. This novel uncovers the world of bullying by presenting a first-person view from each of the five girls involved in the lost friendship. Throughout the text Koss digs deep into the workings of bullying and also gives hope to those that might experience bullying themselves.

Maya, Rene, Breanna, Darcy, and Candace have promised to be friends forever. But this all changes one day when Candace decides that Maya is no longer welcome to hang out with the girls. Maya is unaware of the girls’ change of heart. She calls to invite her friends to go to an amusement park with her, but for some reason none of the girls wants to go. She soon finds out that the others are having a party, and no one even thought to invite her. This wouldn't be such a big problem except for the fact that the five of them usually do everything together.

12/14/2011 - 3:31am
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed is the story of veteran journalist Barbara Ehrenreich’s investigation into low-wage America. Before she left her normal life to pursue this project, she already knew something of the problems that these workers endure because of her research into other social issues. Ehrenreich had suggested to the editor of Harper’s Magazine that someone should do an investigative piece about this group, but she never thought at the time that she would be the person to dig deep into the lives of the working poor in America.

12/05/2011 - 8:14am
The Summer I Learned to Fly

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt is a coming-of-age story in which Drew, the female protagonist, matures into a teenager experiencing both a new love and parental disputes. Drew is a thirteen-year-old girl who spends most of her time with her mother at their cheese shop, unlike most of the girls at her school who spend most of their time angry with their mothers and completely boy-crazy. This makes her less popular with others at her school. Her life basically revolves around the cheese shop where her friend Suwuzie, a middle-aged woman going through a divorce, and Nick, her crush who is a surfer turned pasta maker, work for her mom. School is about to end and she intends to spend the entire summer at the cheese shop.

11/28/2011 - 3:30am

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater is the second book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. I choose to read this book because the author is actually a Westmoreland County, Virginia resident. It goes along with the contemporary interest in mythical creatures, with werewolves being the focus of this book. The film rights for this story have been bought by Unique Features/ Warner Brothers and a screenplay has been written. The final book in the series, Forever, came out early 2011.

Sam and Grace are in love. They can finally be together through the entire year. Sam's werewolf past made it hard for them to be together during prior winters, because the cold weather triggers Sam's inner werewolf. This causes him to spend months lost in his werewolf form, making it impossible for him to be with Grace. Since Sam is now a full-time human, they are certain they will be together forever. Everything is perfect, except that Grace can’t kick a fever she has been having recently.  Sam and Grace are unsure about what their future has in store for them now due to Grace's sickness. They only know that they want to be together.

11/22/2011 - 3:30am
Live Through This by Debra Gwartney

What would you do if your daughters ran away? Live Through This, by Debra Gwartney, is the true story of a mother who lost two of her daughters to the grunge subculture of the 1990s. They began hating everything about her--not just two teenagers fighting with their mother but a feud. Meanwhile, they totally submerged themselves into depression. Shortly after the girls became obsessed with the movement, Gwartney lost them fully to the streets. This story is a unique account by a mother of her lost relationship with her daughters.

11/15/2011 - 3:31am
No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angel

Jay “Bird” Dobyns was the first undercover ATF agent to infiltrate the notorious, American-born biker gang, the Hells Angels. In his book No Angel, Dobyns describes his twenty-one month journey into the biker gang that led him to discover a bad side of himself while uncovering the underbelly of the American motorcycle culture.

Dobyns was an adrenaline junkie; he lived for thrills. When he was shot as a rookie agent in ATF at age twenty-six he realized just how much of an adrenaline junkie he was and swore that he would never be a desk-riding agent. That just wasn’t enough.

11/09/2011 - 10:31am
The Shame of the Nation by Jonathan Kozol

The Shame of the Nation tries to explain the troubles within America's inner-city schools. Jonathan Kozol--a writer, teacher, and activist--explores 60 different schools in order to see firsthand the physical and mental conditions of America's educational system. There, he finds an epidemic in which school systems allow some students to fall behind the curriculum. He looks at how the country went from separate but equal schools to desegregation and back to segregated schools.

10/24/2011 - 3:30am
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Libba Bray’s Going Bovine is the story of 16-year-old Cameron who has always dealt with life in a standoff manner, trying to avoid social contact with his peers. Things start to get interesting for him when he begins seeing objects that others seem to miss. While alone at home he hears a noise and discovers a feather, which leads him on a roller coaster of events and introduces him to some unlikely folks.

Cameron’s parents fear that drugs must be a factor so they send him to doctors and psychologists to figure out exactly what’s going on with their son, as he is still seeing things that others can't possibly be seeing. Finally, they find a doctor who unveils the mystery of what’s happening to him--Mad Cow Disease…and he’s going to die.

10/19/2011 - 8:16am
The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I decided to read this book because I’ve always been interested in the Dalai Lama. I really thought The Art of Happiness would be more focused on understanding Buddhist principles; instead, it’s a peculiar mix of Eastern religion meets Western medicine.

Co-author Dr. Howard Cutler is a psychiatrist with a private practice in Phoenix, and the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist monk. It’s amusing to see two very different approaches to achieving happiness. The Dalai Lama’s approach to achieving happiness is more of a holistic, spiritual system that focuses on improving oneself using the power of the mind. Dr. Howard Cutler takes more of a back-seat approach in which he listens to the Dalai Lama’s suggestions and gives input about modern psychological approaches used in the United States.

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