Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chopsticks: A Novel by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral is one of the most unusual books I've "read" in awhile.  I put "read" in quotes for a reason - the book is comprised of mostly photographs, newspaper clippings, artwork, instant messages, and very little text.  As a result, you the reader, become a detective, piecing together the clues to figure out the story of Glory, a young piano prodigy, and Frank, her next door neighbor. Watch the book trailer here:
and I bet you will want to read this book yourself!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Two for Teens! I just finished reading Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham, and I am currently reading Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler.  Let me tell you a little bit about both books, and you decide what you are in the mood to read: (summaries by Goodreads)

Carly never meant to become a stalker. She just wanted to find out who Brian started dating after he dumped her. But a little harmless online research turns into a quick glance, and that turns into an afternoon of watching. Soon Carly is putting all of her energy into following Brian's new girlfriend--all of the sadness she feels about her mom's recent breakup, all of the anger she feels over being pushed aside by her dad while he prepares for his new wife's new baby. When Carly's stalking is discovered in the worst possible way by the worst possible person, she is forced to acknowledge her problem and the underlying issues that led to it. Wow!  I think everyone in the Facebook age can relate to this a tiny bit, and see how being interested can cross the line to being obsessed.  4 out of 5 stars.

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been. So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life... and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.  So far - I'm loving this book.  An added bonus is it is set in Buffalo, and sometimes mentions Rochester!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I just finished reading Article 5 by debut author, Kristen Simmons, and would definitely recommend it for "Hunger Games" fans.  This is a futuristic novel that describes a world that is scary to think about, but believable.  The United States has been ravaged by war, major cities have been abandoned, the Bill of Rights has been revoked and replaced by the Moral Statutes.  There is no more religious freedom in the United States - only the new rules established by the Church of America.   Seventeen year old Ember Miller is trying to "fly under the wire" keeping her free spirited single mom from getting herself into trouble.  One night, the Moral Militia soldiers come to arrest Ember's mom for a violation of Article 5 - having a child out of wedlock.  Ember is dragged off by her former love, Chase Jennings, who is now serving a mandatory term in the Moral Militia.  She finds herself in a Girl's Reformatory, where the government tries to make wayward girls "re-educated" about a woman's place in society, and the gender role she must assume in this new United States.  Ember's escape to find her mom, and her relationship with Chase will keep you reading.  This book is appropriate for mature middle school students, but targeted for high school students.  I rate it a 4 out of a possible 5 stars!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I have read a lot of great reviews about Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor.  It has also been a good seller on Amazon, and since the library's copy has been checked out I broke down and bought the e-book for my Kindle.  I have to admit, I thought it sounded a little too weird for me; a girl with blue hair, a monster who collects teeth, angels, devils - it just didn't sound like something I would love.  However, the moment I started the book, I have been riveted to the story, and the romance between Karou and her angel, Akiva.  It is the type of book that you are sorry to go to school or work, because you have to put it down! Publishers Weekly has this to say about the book:  "Exquisitely written and beautifully paced, the tale is set in ghostly, romantic Prague, where 17-year-old Karou is an art student--except when she is called "home" to do errands for the family of loving, albeit inhuman, creatures who raised her. Mysterious as Karou seems to her friends, her life is equally mysterious to her: How did she come to live with chimaera? Why does paternal Brimstone eternally require teeth--especially human ones? And why is she "plagued by the notion that she wasn't whole....a sensation akin to having forgotten something?" When black hand prints begin appearing on doorways throughout the world, Karou is swept into the ancient deadly rivalry between devils and angels and gradually, painfully, acquires her longed-for self-knowledge".  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Middle School Monday Review:  Through my Eyes by Tim Tebow (adapted for younger readers).  I think anyone that follows the game of football has heard of Tim Tebow, and has an opinion about him.  I decided I wanted to find out a little more about him, in his own words. I had heard about his devout Christianity, but was surprised to learn about how he was raised, his competitiveness in the game of football, how he chose his college, and what he hopes to accomplish in life.  This book is an adaptation of the book published for adults, and is a great choice for sports lovers to find out more about someone who is definately making an impact on the game of football, both on and off the field.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Do you have a sarcastic sense of humor?  If so, then do I have a book for you!  How to Fight, Lie, and Cry Your Way To Popularity (and a prom date) by Nikki Roddy is a hoot.  She profiles 50 famous teen movies, and summarized a life lesson from each.  Risky Business (1983) life lesson:  "If you lie to your parents, steal your dad's car, and solicit a prostitute, you'll get into an Ivy League school." 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) life lesson: " If you're forced into a life of killing vampires, at least look hot while doing it."  I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)  life lesson:  "If you're going to accidently run over a psychopath and dump his body in a harbor, make sure he is actually dead."  Bring it On (2000) life lesson:  "Even if you get caught stealing routines, and have no choreographic experience, you can still take second place at a national cheer competition."  Twilight (2008) life lesson:  "It's OK to date a dead, murderous vampire so long as he's hot and has great hair."  There is also a trivia question, and a "sound bit" from each movie.  Not a particularly deep read, but lots of fun!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy 200th Birthday, Mr. Charles Dickens!

To celebrate what would have been Dickens's 200th birthday; here are some little known facts: 
1.  Charles Dickens had only 4 years of formal schooling.  He was largely a self-educated man. 
2.  He had 10 children! 
3.  At the age of about 12, Dickens was sent to work in a "blacking" factory to help support his family after his father was imprisoned for debt. 
4.  All his major works were published as weekly or monthly serials in popular newspapers or magazines. 
5.  His masterpiece "A Christmas Carol" rekindled the joy of Christmas in Britain and America.  Over 100 actors have portrayed Scrooge in film according to IMDB. 
6.  He traveled to America twice, and like many tourists, paid a visit to Niagara Falls.  He spent 10 days there in 1842, stating viewing the falls showed him "how near he felt to his Creator" and brought him visions of "enduring peace". 
7.  He was the first literary "Superstar".  His popular works reached a wider audience than any author before him.  He was the inspiration to many authors to come including famous Russian authors Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. 
8.  He was obsessive compulsive.  He was preoccupied with looking in a mirror and combing his hair.  He did this hundreds of times a day! 
9.  He suffered from epilepsy, and made some of his characters epileptic as well. 
10.  He was a devotee of mesmerism - a system of healing through hypnotism. 
Want to know more about Dickens?  See 
In honor of his birthday, I have decided to read "A Tale of Two Cities" again.  What was your favorite Dickens novel?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Middle School Monday Review:  City of Orphans  by Avi
The streets of 1989 New York are dangerous, particularly for "newsies" like 13 year old Maks.  One evening after pocketing the last few pennies from his papers, he is chased and threatened by Bruno, leader of the Plug Uglies gang.  A homeless girl named Willa comes to Maks's aid, and the two forge an unlikely friendship.  Maks life becomes even more complicated when his older sister, Emma is imprisoned in "The Tombs", a famous jail in New York City, charged with stealing a patron's watch from the fancy Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where she worked as a maid.  Maks, believing her innocent, has four days to prove her accusers wrong.  Aided by lawyer Bartleby Donck and Willa, Maks begins an investigation to clear his sister's name. This novel brings to life the corruption, deplorable living conditions for immigrants in city tenements, and fear of contracting an illness like Tuberculosis.  Several mysteries run through the book - Is Emma innocent?  Is Willa really an orphan?  Who did steal the watch?  If you like history, adventure, and solving mysteries - this is the book for you!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

In the mood for a memoir?  Try Smile for the Camera by Kelle James.
Kelle James ran away from an abusive home at the age of fifteen to the best place she could think of. New York City. She was going to be a model, rich, famous, and she was going to find people who treated her right. She had no idea what was in store for her and within three days she was homeless and broke. What follows is her exceptional story of trying to make it on her own with nothing to her name and no one to trust. She endures a string of people, mostly men, who take advantage of her youth and beauty, many disappointments and rejections, and the most famous murder trial of the 1970s. This is the story of a girl losing herself before finding her way in the city that never sleeps.