Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good Vocabularies are sexy, so is giving

People, (when you are done reading my blog) stop dicking around on the internet (i know you're looking at questionable materials and LOLcats. oh, wait, that's me...) and go to: It's a site where you go and guess the answers to vocabulary words and for each one you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated to an impoverished country.
The site rates your vocabulary prowess and sets them at your level. My highest is level 41 so far (out of a possible 50) I challenge myself and you to get higher and donate more rice!
I love the idea of this site, both helping people expand their vocabulary and helping hungry people. Seriously, a well spoken person is very sexy, so: Go now! What are you waiting for??

Monday, November 26, 2007

Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (March 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142310126X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423101260
  • List Price: $8.99
  • I finished this book on Nov. 26
So, first off: this is the first book finished/review from my new house! I'll be posting pictures soon, once we're more situated.
Right, the book: have you ever heard of vampires with different colored blood? Now you have: thanks to this YA vamp tale. Fucking get this: they are rich kid vampires...and they really have blue blood. Ack.
Our heroine Schuyler (who shall henceforth be called Skylar cause that's cooler and I can't spell that other Dutch nonsense) who is apparently a "young Kate Moss" (p.s. i can't stand kate moss. too skinny, not cute, coke addict, grossest boyfriend ever. hate! so much hate i refuse to capitalize. or write complete sentences!) Anywho: Skylar is from a super rich family and goes to some crazy prep school in NYC. Apparently she is goth, and dresses like a homeless person, but also sometimes models. The fuck? Whatever. So, she finds out she's really a vampire. There's some really bizarre vampire history here about how they are totally immortal and die so they can chill out, but then their memories are reborn or something. I dunno, I didn't really get it/like it.
Anyway, nothing is supposed to be able to kill the blue bloods, but (dun dun dun!) something is. Oh noes! So, Sky has to figure it out with the on again off again help of Jack Force, fellow vamp and sometime douche bag. Also, there was something about Jack having to marry his twin sister. V. C. Andrews, anyone?
What I didn't like about this (besides the above) is that these rich kids have an irritating sense of entitlement. Why are three 15 and 16 year olds sitting at a hotel bar drinking cocktails, not to mention getting into clubs. Also, I can't stand name dropping of any kind and there's a fuck-load of that in there too. The only fashion I know is Project Runway (what happened to Andre?)
and I'd like to keep it that way. Do not talk about designers/brands to me in order to impress me, thanks.
So, yeah. Oh, I forgot to mention that absolutely nothing goddamn happens in the end. Not a thing is resolved. At all. Cause there's a sequel. Something about Italy. Or space pirates, I wasn't really listening. Cool cover, but I still wouldn't recommend it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (March 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670061018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670061013
  • List Price: $16.99
  • I finished this book on Nov. 17
First, let's say that I actually began listening to this book on Random House audio book read by Mike Chamberlain. However, this was proving to be a super pain in the ass, because my car is a time machine from 1995 and it has a tape player (remember those?) and my iTunes was being a bitch downloading the disks to my iPod. Wow, that was a horribly boring story. Sorry. Anyway, so I finally snagged the book at my library. We have two copies which have literally not sat on our shelves more than a day since the beginning of the school year. On Friday when I saw one in the return bin I did a little happy dance and claimed it as my own.
Okay, first thoughts: this book is about Tyler Miller who is a senior in high school and a bit of a loser by his own admission. It is a bit weird to have a grown man with excellent diction read this story in with a teenager's voice. Especially when he says things like "trouser snake" (yikes). Oh, would you like to hear it? No problem: booknerd provides. Please enjoy a clip of a chapter early on in the book courtesy of Random House Audio Publishing:
It's kinda weird, right? My favorite favorite is when the dude makes the "chicken" noise. Ba-gock! (which makes me think of Bangkok which makes me think of this.)
Anyway, so this cheerful sort of underdog story takes a pretty serious turn when some major shenanigans occur at a party. (for the record, I never knew of any party like this when I was in high school. where are these parties happening?) Tyler, having gotten busted for his Foul Deed (of defacing the school), is the first suspect after the shit goes down. Anywho: he goes through a lot and you really feel for the poor kid. Also, his dad is a turbo douche. (this is the second book in a row with a dad who's a total ass) but Tyler is lucky to have a cool mom, a cooler sister and a best friend who is named after a Star Wars character.
Of course I loved the other books that I've read by Mrs. Anderson, and I saw her speak once and she was phenomenal. She held someone in the crowd's baby, it was cute. She was very funny and cool. Either way, this one did not disappoint in any way and it's amazing to me that she's so versatile a writer. She writes these amazing books from the point of views of these very different characters, and of course a really cool historical fiction book too. I can't wait to read more of her books, if they ever make it back to the library...

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (February 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316011274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316011273
  • List Price: $7.99
  • I finished this book on Nov. 17
Okay, this is why I love writing this blog. I did not realize that the green guy on the cover had as much significance as it does until i did my research for you, my lovelies. Oh, what? Maybe I should tell you what the book is about first. It's about a teen boy who is transgendered. And he only gets to dress up at night so he calls himself Luna. So, moth on the cover for the whole coming out of a cocoon thing and it's a Luna moth. Awesome.
So, here's the thing, Liam (or Luna) obviously has a really hard life not being able to be who he knows he really is. Not to mention that his dad is all about the male chauvinism. But, what this story is really about is Reagan, Luna's younger sister. Reagan is the only one who is in on the secret for their whole lives. She feels like Liam/Luna is her sole responsibility. Because of this she does not feel like she has any part of her that is for herself. She is so out of the loop that when a boy, Chris, begins to flirt with her and asks her out she totally has no idea how to react. Things progress with Chris, though, but Reagan's new life as a member of society with a possible boyfriend are put on hold by her concerns for Luna. As Luna becomes more unhappy with her life as a boy and more determined to transition to a female form, tension mounts. Then, some crazy shit goes down.
The whole time I could not honestly predict what was going to happen, and when the end came I was sort of tearfully happy about it. Also, their dad is a super-douche. I mean it. His super powers include: telling horrible jokes, and being a goddamn homophobic asshat. Also, their mom was not too cool either. She was a bitch, actually, and I feel she probly should have dumped that dad. Argh.
Either way, I thought that the characters of Reagan, her brother and their best friend Aly were all very realistically created. I also sort of like Chris, except there was one scene in which he acted totally out of character for just about any high school boy. Oh well, can't win 'em all. Anyway, this was a powerful and moving story about a girl who is under a tremendous amount of pressure from her family and her brother's horrible struggle. This should be in any library and could probly be read by middle school kids (though they might not understand the whole bloke in a dress thing).
P.S. I am Spartacus! This is Booknerd's 100th Entry. Woot! Thank you for those of you who check in regularly. And, if you got here accidentally by looking for gay porn, stay and hang out a while. I'm nice!
Also, leave me messages on Meebo and talk to me when I'm actually there. I promise I'll be funny and nice :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The Chicken House (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439786231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439786232
  • List Price: $16.99
  • I finished this book on Nov. 11
We have several of this guys books in the library and they all looked rather intriguing to me. I chose this one because of two things: gypsies and a kid I thought was vaguely psychic. Eh. I suppose I was hoping for cool gypsy curses and possibly girls wearing lots of jewelry. Not so much.
Ruben, our narrator, has the ability to sometimes "be with people" (not like that, you perv) which seems to me like a sort of astral projection/being able to sense what they are sensing kind of thing. This never gets explained or used in a way that I would use it (aka: spying on people while they are in the shower. just kidding ((no i'm not)) or I dunno...using it to find things out about bad guys) Anywho: Ruben's sister gets kilt (boo) and so he and his (possibly sociopath or at the least chemically imbalanced.) brother go to find out who did it. Now, please understand that they to not really care who did it, they just want the investigation to end so they can bring her body home and bury it (whaa?).
Anyway, of course they uncover a super plot with lots of bad guys and some ultraviolence. So...we hear this whole story about their trying to find the culprits, and lots of stuff happens and then it's the end. don't really get to find out how the brother accomplished all these important things. "Does it really matter?" Ruben asks himself. Yes, asshat, I just spent 337 pages trying to find out. It matters to me. I want to know. Did Cole kill that fucker? Where was the body? Argh!
So, I'm not saying it's a bad book or anything, cause it's not. But that was some seriously weak sauce there at the end. I want to know. I'm invested. So, lots of violence, reasonable storyline, only a little predictable and a sort of lame ending. I dunno. Once again, I find myself with my thumb planted firmly horizontal. Le sigh.

The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft edited by Scott Allie

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse (June 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593071086
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593071080
  • List Price: $14.95
  • I finished this book on Nov 11
So, this little collection was on the "Shelf of Shame" at my school. Meaning that, some other esteemed librarian in the past had found it to be inappropriate for our students. I took it home to investigate.
So, what we have here is a collection of what appears to be a smattering of different animated stories about witches and witchcraft. For example, there is a tale about a toad-like witchie poo who by force of potions gets a young man to have creepy toad sex with her. Note to attractive young men (or anyone really) it is very unwise to drink any concoction cooked up by a crone who you expect to be a witch. Honestly. It's as bad as Ofelia eating the grapes. There was also a comic book treatment given to the witches from Shakespeare's Macbeth as well as a little Hellboy action. Of course, don't forget a story about Tituba and the Salem Witch Trials. That one actually had the illustrations I liked the best.
Now, crammed in the middle of all this is an interview with a Wiccan laywer Phyllis Curott who talks about the actual religious practice of witchcraft. Including something like this is a good idea, however, the questions and answers that make up this particular interview did not particularly do it for me. I feel this book would be aimed at school age kids, and this interview would go right over their heads. If you're really interested in reading about Wicca I recommend trying Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham, or if have goth-leanings then maybe Nocturnal Witchcraft: Magic After Dark by Konstantinos is for you (Konstantinos also has a good Vampire book out there, in case you're interested.)
Anyway, the moral of this whole story is: I didn't find anything in this book that I would think is totally out of hand for my high school students to read. There's a little sex talk in the toad-lady story, but nothing overly graphic (and, thankfully, no in your face picture of toad-boobs). However, there is something of a mixed message in here. The forward and the interview with the real witch trying to dispel the stereotype of old gross crone doesn't really jibe with the wart covered old ladies of questionable hygiene portrayed within. Then again, getting rid of witch stereotypes is about as simply done as getting rid of librarian stereotypes, so what can you expect. (Very few people can refrain from making a crack about my specks when I tell them I'm a librarian.)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dracula: the Graphic Novel by Bram Stoker, Gary Reed and Becky Cloonan

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (March 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142405728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142405727
  • List Price: $10.99
Let's start with the cover shall we? Wow. First, Dracula looks like a male stripper/Elvis impersonator version of a vampire, no? Not nearly as sexy as Stuart Townsend or Keifer Sutherland (or really anyone from the Lost Boys) and not nearly as creepy as Bela Lugosi. Also, Mina looks like Christina Ricci. A lot. Not that there's anything wrong with that but she should totally sue.
Okay, that's off my chest. Now, the actual illustrations. There's nothing wrong with them, per say. It's just that...well...everyone looks like they are in a goddamn emo band. Seriously. It's bizarre. Please check out Jonathan Harker getting bitten by Dracula here: He's all "Oh noes! Please don't mess up my eye makeup!" All I'm saying is: he looks like Pete Wentz. Which is bad news. (Damn you, Becky Cloonan, for making me admit I know who that douche is.) And you think Dracula looks bad there? When he gets young he grows flowing locks of fury. Spooky! The female characters actually look pretty good. They have good hair that artfully blows into their faces as all comic book females should (I wish my hair did that). Dr. Seward looks like a malnourished Snape with a ponytail. And he's inexplicable sweaty. Oooh! And Van Helsing sort of looks like a wolf man.
Thirdly: the adaptation. I'm not saying it's bad. But I'm not saying it's good. I'm just saying this: if I hadn't just read Dracula I would probably be very confused.
I have to hope that this kind of book would appeal to the tween population and maybe I'm just too old and lame to get it. But, I kinda doubt it.
Now, for fun: please enjoy a booknerd recommended video. My excuse for posting this is that this song is definitely vampiric. And it's effin rad. Thanks, Chip!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Anyone But You by Lara Zeises

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf; Reprint edition (November 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440238587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440238584
  • List Price: $6.50
  • I finished this book Nov. 4
I know my lovelies. You were thinking: "Gee, bee, I wish you'd review some more obscure YA literature, because I can't get enough." And I'm all "No prob, I live to serve." Aren't I sweet like that?
Anyway, first off, here's a list of some character names from this one: Critter, Layla, Jesse and Seattle. My take: someone who's name is Critter is not allowed to be sexy. Ever. Layla is a good name, but is now permanently associates with Eric Clapton's hard on for George Harrison's wife and Seattle, well, they call her Sea for short and that annoys me. Also, Jesse reminds me of Uncle Jesse, and even though I'd make out with John Stamos in real life, ugh.
The story: Seattle's dad sucks at life and briefly dated Layla and then abandoned them, leaving Seattle with Layla with her own biological children, Critter and Jesse. So, even though Sea is not her daughter nurse Layla raises her as though she is. Now Sea is 15 and Critter is 17 and they maybe have the hots for each other. Yeah, this is the Brady Bunch sequel movie in book form. Okay, so, not that dramatic, but they definitely dig each other. And they each have some bizarre other relationship they are working on through the course of the book and neither of them work out. Both of their potential significant others seem odd to me, as in they are not very believable characters. The book makes up for this, though, by having realistic teenage fights and a good single mom character.
So, let me ask you this? They aren't technically siblings, but it's weird...right? Right? Hello? Don't worry, nobody ends up getting any (or not much, at least).
Anywho: props to Ms. Zeises for having a cool looking sight and referring to herself as a dorkus extremus (I often refer to myself as a nerd-bomb, in case you were wondering).
Oh! And Critter loved Rod Stewart! What?? You know who else loves Rod Stewart? My mom! Boo! Because I cannot in good conscience link to the real deal please enjoy Mike Meyer's take on him. Piper down!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 165 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416939725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416939726
  • List Price: $6.99
  • I finished this book on Nov. 2

So, first off, I have to say that I think this cover is good and everything, but to me, I do not think it speaks to what the book is really about. To me, a stray bra makes me think fun sexy times are to be had. And trust me, that's not what's going on here. What is going on here? Date rape. Boo that.
In describing this book to an English Teacher at my school I said it is like the opposite story of the book Speak. From the mind of the rapist instead of the raped. Yikes, huh. And, for the record, author of Speak, my girlfriend Laurie Halse Anderson has a quote on the back of the book: "...The world needs this story. And you want to read it, trust me." So, yeah: here's the setup. Keir is a high school senior and he tells this story, which alternates between his graduation from high school and the night he is accused of date rape. In reading this I knew there was something wrong with Keir, and eventually you start to realize that the way he describes things is not really the way a rational person might see them. But his narrative makes me think there is something wrong with him. Some sort of social thing, he doesn't seem to have much of a conscience, and mostly bases this opinions of right and wrong on how other people react to him. Keir keeps saying that he's a good guy, but his evidence for this is never a good deed he's done, it's always based on another person's opinion. Super Weird.
So, he claims he's in love with poor Gigi Boudakian (who's the kind of person you always refer to by their whole name, apparently) and she is the girl who accuses him. There is a sort of mounting suspense during Keir's tale of graduation, going to parties, doing drugs...because the whole time you know what's going to happen. It's very bad news.
It was interesting to see this side of the story and of course, somewhat disturbing. Don't be fooled by that cover, though. There is no fun sex romp to be had within.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Godless by Pete Hautman

  • Turtleback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books (March 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0606348506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0606348508
  • List Price: $16.95
  • I finished this book on Oct. 30
So, this one is by the same guy who wrote Sweetblood, and he has another one I'd really like to read (but is checked out) Invisible.
Jason Bock (as in, the chicken noise) is 15 and agnostic going on atheist. (Do you think they could sing about that a la the Sound of Music? Cause that's funny to me). Mr. Bock (ba-gock!) makes up a religion worshiping the water tower, cause...why not. Anyway, Jason's crazy snail catching friend gets into the religion and of course some other schmucks to do, including a pretty girl (of course). So, as with most religions (imho) when many people get involved and try to mess with faith shenanigans ensue.
This books gets points for many things: an interesting look at religion, awesome bits of the made up "Chutengodian" gospel at the beginning of each chapter, also a funny premise and the repeat use of the word "pods" short for gastropods (snails, duh).
I like the point that this book is trying to make about religion. It's interesting to me and it's nice to see a YA book dealing with this topic in such an approachable way.
Mr. Hautman's page is pretty cool, and he's available for speaking engagements. Also, please enjoy a teacher's guide to this book, also compliments of his website.