Friday, July 30, 2010

glee: The Beginning by Sophia Lowell

So, I was very excited to read the prequel to the TV show Glee. And I wasn't disappointed. The only thing I can say that is kind of disappointing is not enough Brittany, she is hilarious on the show, but of course doesn't get much time. Also missing is the sting of Sue Sylvester. Yes, she's in the book, doing the same thing, but it's not quite as good as when it is brought to life in the TV show. In fact, most of the adults are kind of on the sidelines for the book. In the book we see how Rachel gets started with Glee club, as well as many other things like that. We see Mercedes with her crush on her best friend Kurt. We see Finn and find out he is intrigued by Rachel. We also see what leads up to Quinn and her predicament that is on the show. I like that we get to meet Rachel's two dads in the book, and hope that we get to see them on the show this year. It's also nice to get a look into Mercedes's family life, as well as some more insight into Tina and Artie. I really recommend this as a quick, fun read for anyone who loves the show, or in other words, is a Gleek like I am.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lobster Land by Susan Carlton

I wanted to like this book so much. The author was so nice when I emailed my request to get an advanced copy. She talked about how authors loved teachers and librarians. And when I got the book? I got an awesome little package of goodies wrapped in a pretty bow. Unfortunately, I can't give it my best review.
Sure, I can see how a teen would like it. It's got the angst, the romance, the wanting to get away from parents who just don't understand. But unfortunately it just wasn't my cup of tea. One thing that may have kind of flavored my mood as I read was at the beginning. Now, yes, I know this is from a teenager's point of view, but when Charlotte, our main character, calls John Walsh, the host of America's Most Wanted pathetic, and says he should basically "get over" his son's kidnapping and murder? I just really couldn't stand that. Maybe it's because I was a kid when all that happened and it was a horrible news story that I remember hearing about and feeling for that man and his family.
Some cute things about the story, the character is a "brain". I do like that part. And their parents named them all based on the book Charlotte's Web. Our main character Charlotte, her 4 year old sister is named Fern, and their 9 month old brother is E.B. or as Charlottle calls him, Eb. So that's pretty cute. I do also love hearing about the setting of the book, an island near Portland, Maine. I've never been to this part of the country, but I really would like to. So I enjoyed hearing about the ferry they had to take so they could go to school, and all that. Unfortunately this is definitely a teen book, the f-word is used a bit, and so I couldn't pass it on to my 8th graders in good consious. So, while I think teens might enjoy it, it just won't be one I pass on. And I have a cool, autographed copy too. Maybe I could donate it to a high school library.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Skinned by Robin Wasserman

I'm a bit ashamed to start this blog out by saying, I'd seen Robin Wasserman's books in our teen section for at least 4 or 5 years, yet I'd never read any till just now. I had picked up this very book, and read the back several times, so I was interested in it, just never got the commitment to reading it until I began following her on Twitter.

This was as good as I expected. It reminds me of one of my favorite series, the Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, as well as a book I just read for the Truman nominees, The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Our main character is Lia Khan, one of, or maybe "the" most popular girl. Lia has just been in a horrible car accident. Now this is a futuristic world, the cars drive themselves, so this should never have happened. Another thing is that it shouldn't even have been Lia, it should have been her younger sister Zo in the car. Lia should have died, but this is the future remember, they can download your brain and put you into a new body. It's a robot, but very lifelike. Normally, if you have time, you can get your new body to look just like you did. However, because of the abruptness of this accident, Lia's new body is only one that is similar in looks to her. Her family, her friends, many in the world, do not accept this. They are called, Skinners. One boy does stick up for her, Auden, a boy she would never have looked at before this happened. She also must go to support groups for other kids like her, where she soon meets people who take her to meet Jude. Another skinner. Only these skinners don't want to be integrated back into society, they want to be recognized for what they are.

Lia has to decide what she wants to be, who she wants to be. Along the way she learns some sad htings about her family and friends, and her boyfriend.

The ending is a cliffhanger, totally leaves you wanting more. So I was excited to see that the 2nd will come out in paperback in a month I think. I've got my copy ordered. :-)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The latest vampire novel. A HUGE book. I kind of wished I had a Nook to read it on as big as it is. Once again the vampires are created by a virus, and in this case a military researched and modified virus. The program is being tested on criminals with no family who are on death row. They are told they are being given a chance to not be put to death if only they help out this project. We also get an idea where the virus comes from through email/letters at the beginning of the book. A young girl who gets dropped off at a convent, Amy, gets picked up to be part of this program. The agent who picks her up, has a past that makes him not sure about bringing this girl into the project. Things go wrong, of course, and the "vampires" escape into the world. Changing everything. At that point we go into a future world where people live in colonies, and as far as we know, this one colony is all that is probably left in the world.

In the end, Amy shows up and leads these people to where there are other survivors/colonies/armies fighting the vampires. I find it interesting where the story goes with how these vampires actually behave, and what happens with Amy. Not sure if it is really left open for a sequel. I suppose it is, but in the end, it'd be nice to just have one story.

It started slow, kind of slow in the middle, and then once the action picks up, the story does too. So I would recommend this if you are into a long read. It gets good if you just hang in there.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pink Slip Party by Cara Lockwood

Now after reading Bride Needs Groom, I was thinking that most mass market size romance books are more the traditional "romance" style than the chick lit that I prefer. This was TOTALLY the kind of book I enjoy. It had some really goofy parts that made me laugh out loud, as well as the kind of "romance" that I like to read about. I think this is the first book by Cara Lockman that I've read, and I'm sure I only picked it up because it was a strip cover that sounded good, but she will now be added to my list of chick lit authors to check on new books, or past books going to bargain. :-) From the list of her books in the front, I think maybe she writes teen books as well, so I will check those out as well.

Anyway, as you might or might not get from the title, our main character, Jane, has just gotten laid off. So the book is all about her trying to deal with unemployment. She is an art major, so of course doesn't really have a lot of the qualifications needed for many jobs. Soon other people from where she works have been laid off and they come up with a revenge plot on the office supply company they worked for. Where, ironically, Jane used her art degree to design pink slips. Jane had also been dating one of her bosses, and he also dumps her the day she gets fired. Jane's adventures at the unemployment office, as well as with her stoner ex-boyfriend are so funny. And I love the response letters we get to read that are from companies that Jane has applied to, or else from her credit card company saying they won't accept her organs as payment. It reminds me quite a bit of shopaholic in that bit.

I did mark a few parts in this book.

1st she talks about having a crush on her brother's friend Kyle, and how sometimes it is just nice to have a crush and get to flirt, even if it's not going anywhere, although for Jane, it does. I feel the same way. Sometimes it is just nice to have a cute boy to crush on and flirt with, even if you know there is no way anything is ever going to happen, and I am completely okay with that.

However, later, this Kyle, who did kiss her, and she thought was flirting with her, brings to her family's house his ex-girlfriend. So now she wonders if he was really flirting with her or if she can't even read dating signals anymore. Again, something I've been dealing with too. I hate when I think someone is flirting with me, and they totally aren't. It sucks. Of course it has been so long since anyone I would want to flirt with me has flirted with me, that I am pretty much out of practice at those signals, so I was probably completely off track.

Towards the end, when things start to wrap up, she says something that I wonder if it is true and would work for me. She says she's learning to be less critical. That hating things is a lot easier than admitting to what you like. And that if you're critical of the whole world it means in most cases that you're being the most critical of yourself. That last part is totally true for me, I am so critical of myself it's not even funny. However she goes on to say that it's better to put yourself out there and get hurt than to never take the chance at all. And I'm not sure about that one. If every time you've ever put yourself out you've been hurt, when do you learn to stop? If you keep trying, isn't that the definition of insanity if you don't get any new results?

The last page I marked is actually in some questions with the author at the end of the book. When asked where does she get her inspiration for writing humor, the way she talks about her family totally reminds me of mine. She talks about how she and her brother would mimic Saturday Night Live skits long after they wore out their funniness. My family does that too. We have our own "inside" jokes that are often movie quotes, or even SNL skits.

I really enjoyed this book. Will probably loan it to my sister Anna first, as I think the art major thing, and the having trouble finding a job will really be easy for her to connect to.

Waiting on Wednesday - The Fall

Waiting on Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It's a weekly post for you to share what upcoming books you can't wait for!

As I get ready to blog about The Passage by Justin Cronin, I remember that I am waiting for the sequel to The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro called The Fall. In the strain, vampires are created by a virus. This is the 2nd installment in what is supposed to be a trilogy. New York city has been taken over by the virus, and soon it will overtake the country and the world. The master's plan to get new world and old world vampires into a war seems to be working. And it is up to our team from the CDC to fight this virus. Our team leader is Eph, who is also dealing with ex-wife, who has been turned, trying to turn their son. They are also relying on help from the holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian.

Since it's been awhile since I read The Strain, I'm hoping I'll be able to jump in pretty quickly and get back to speed when this comes out in September.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Started this book, well, started by following this guy on Twitter because of how funny I'd heard it was, and it is. The book is funny, but has a bit more story to it than you'd think. It makes the quotes a little more heartwarming to read the stories that go with some of them. It's also interesting to hear that the dad is a doctor. You kind of might assume that he's more of a blue collar worker from some of the quotes, but not so. A fun read, I probably should have waited for paperback to purchase though.
Another short blog. Sorry, like I said in the last one, probably not a really good time for me to be doing this. Maybe I'll come back and revisit these another time.

Bride Needs Groom by Wendy Markham

Don't remember when I got this, I know it's mine, because it's stripped cover. My sister returned it to me just recently. I should know that normally mass market romance books are not really the ones I like, but it wasn't too bad. A lot of stereotypes of Italians in it, some fun, some annoying.

Not much to say. Fun, quick read. Not sure if I'll put Wendy Markham on my list of chick lit authors to check for new books by.
Could maybe be the wrong time to be blogging about romantic books as I'm currently feeling a little out of the loop on all this kind of stuff, the chick lit I'm reading right now is pretty funny, so hopefully I'll have a better review for it in a few days.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adventures of an Ice Princess by Liz Maverick

My latest Chick Lit book. About a girl named Clarissa who gets dumped by her boyfriend, and her friends decide they should all pack up and join an expedition group to Antarctica. Clarissa and her friends Kate and Delilah get to this frozen camp and things don't quite turn out the way they thought. One of the main reasons for going is the old adage that the ratio of men to women is in the women's favor. And when they get down there, it is somewhat true. But the few women that are there are kind of scary as well. Their jobs aren't exactly what they were told they were be, and while Clarissa ends up with more responsibility than she expected, the other two in essence get demoted. But they choose to stick it out because they're trying to help Clarissa through her after break up time. And then once she starts to feel "in the groove", they want to quit, and it is her turn to talk them back into it.

A quick, fun read. And I did mark a part that really stood out to me. Early on in the book Clarissa has a thought that is my exact feelings on the same subject. She isn't a proactive person, I'm not really either. As she says, if everyone insists on leading, who is left to follow? That in essence she is being a good team player by contributing to group dynamics in this way. That's me! I think not everyone is or should be a leader, some of us can be very good, loyal followers.

Supernatural: Bone Key by Keith R.A. DeCandido

As the series is off for the summer, although the rumor I hear is good, that the show is going to be back next fall, I decided to pick up another of my Supernatural series. This is a book by an author who has written for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and so I know I enjoy his books.

In Bone Key, it takes place after Dean has given up all but one more year of his life to save Sam's soul. So of course Sam is doing all that he can to try to get Dean out of his deal, and this is all taking place before as we now know that Dean got dragged to hell by hell hounds and had to suffer, etc, etc. I won't go on about it as it's after this book, so not relevant as I read it. In this book there is an island down in the Florida Keys where a Native American tribe stood its last stand against the white man and their diseases. It is here they gave a sacrifice to give power to their ghosts so that some day they could come back and have vengeance. Of course at the time period of the Winchester boys story that we're at, Azazel has let loose a bunch of demons, some of which have moved down to the Key and are giving power to all the ghosts as they go through their own rituals, which in turn gives power to the ghosts of this Indian tribe. Sam and Dean go down over stories of a girl killed in what to them is an obvious demon ritual. Soon there are tales of a ghost doll killing two people, and Hemingway chasing visitors to his home out, as well as people seeing the ghost of President Truman playing cards.

It's a pretty good read. Not sure as much of Dean's humor is captured in this one as in the last one I read, but I still enjoy delving into this world. Oh, and I did love the bit where they kind of bashed Ryan Seacrest. I do like Ryan Seacrest, just enjoyed this rip on some current type things.

New Blog: Waiting on Wednesdays

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

In the spirit of just getting started with this meme, I will put up the one book that I am really, really eagerly waiting for. The 3rd installment in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay.

I have loved this series since I read it last fall when I was helping choose the current Truman book award nominees. I loved it so much, that when my Greater Gator class in the spring decided they didn't want me to read the Lightning Thief to them, I decided to go ahead and read the Hunger Games to them, and get them started on their Truman reading for the next year. They LOVED it! So many of them immediately checked the book out from the library, or purchased both it and it's sequel Catching Fire from the book fair so that they could read ahead as we only read it for 20 minutes 4 days a week.

In Mockingjay we should be catching up to Katniss Everdeen after she has miraculously survived the Hunger Games twice. Unfortunately, we already knew that Katniss was on thin ice from the message delivered to her by President Snow in the 2nd book. And it seems all that has happened this time around has led to unrest in the Districts against the Capitol. Unrest that was just below the surface, waiting for someone like Katniss to give it breath and life. But now all of Katniss's friends and family are in danger, and the Capitol which loved her, the girl on fire, is now not happy with what she stands for. This is what I'm most looking forward to at this time.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Confessions of a Praire Bitch by Alison Arngrim

Like many others my age, I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie in syndication reruns during the summer when I was younger. Nellie Oleson was the character you loved to hate, but you just loved the episodes when she was in it. This is the biography of the actress, Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie. It started out of course with her life before anything to do with the show. It was so neat to read about her parents and what characters they were. It was sad to read about the sexual abuse she endured from her older brother.

Then we get into the time on the show. I had heard that Michael Landon wasn't quite the "perfect" guy he played on the show of course, not that he was a horrible guy or anything according to Arngrim. To hear he was really kind of a short man, and that he was a practical joker, was just so interesting. I enjoyed reading about the friendship between Arngrim and Melissa Gilbert who I just recently saw perform as Ma in the Broadway show Little House on the Prairie at Starlight theater here in Kansas City. I was intrigued to read that Melissa Sue Anderson wasn't quite as friendly and nice as her goody goody character of Laura's older sister Mary on the show. In fact, if she has a biography, I'd be interested in reading it to hear her side of the story.

I do remember when the man who played Percival, Nellie's husband on the show, passed away from AIDS. I remember how active Arngrim had become in AIDS work at that time. But that's not all. When she talks about how there was actually a law that gave incest a break, I was shocked! Amazing to me that anyone ever thought that was okay. The organization was called Protect, and it started basically with one man fighting one state's law from his car with his cell phone. Arngrim became the face and spokesperson for continuing this work in the state of California. And she got this horrible thing overturned. If you're interested in helping this group out, you can go to

Arngrim has a humorous voice in her biography and it was a quick read that I wanted to pick it up and read during commercials so I got through it quickly once I had some time to read. It is also my current book recommendation at Barnes and Noble, we just need to get a few more ordered in. I was excited to hear last night that my last book rec, Gone by Michael Grant had been a huge seller. Not sure if that's because of me or not, although I do know one friend I teach with had purchased it because of me, it's still cool to hear.

Now not sure what to read next. I want to check out the Passage by Justin Cronin, but I feel like I should go ahead and read my classic, Les Miserables. But then, not sure if my brain is ready for it. Maybe I'll pick up another fun read till I go into the store again to check out The Passage.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Now, I picked this book up because I follow Maureen Johnson on Twitter and she cracks me up on a constant basis. She is so funny. I started following her because another author I do read followed her. So I felt I should read one of her books, because surely it would be just as funny as she is. I was a bit disappointed in that aspect. The book was cute, don't get me wrong, a fun teen read that I will recommend to my students, just not as funny as I was hoping. It's about a girl named Ginny who has lost her aunt. But her aunt was kind of quirky and has left her a quest. She has 13 little blue envelopes to open, hence the title. She must open them one at a time, in the order they are numbered, and she cannot open the next one until she has completed the instructions in each one. Her instructions take her to Europe after her high school graduation I think. She meets a playwriter in college and helps finance his play with money her aunt has left for her. She meets a quirky artist, which by the way her aunt was an artist, and she gets to see all the different places her aunt visited. She is supposed to learn something from each task, and she does, although Ginny is not sure it is quite what her aunt wants her to learn each time. So a fun read.

I'm hoping to read Suite Scarlett next, as it sounds like it might be a bit more humorous, and I ordered a copy of Devilish in to read as well. I need to remember to go buy it when I get my summer school money.