Friday, August 1, 2008

Trailer: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Okay, I freakin loved this book and I have a major crush on Mr. Levithan (1/2 of the creator of this book). You can read my review of this book here. I also think Michael Cera (who plays Nick) is adorable and I want to bite his face so this should be good. The Norah girl is pretty so that's also nice. The trailer looks good and funny albeit like there's lots of stuff that doesn't happen in the book. The movie comes out on October 3 and here's the IMDB page.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trailer: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Woot! While I wish there were still HP books to be excited about there aren't, so we have to make due with the movies. I love the films, but this one is going to be a bummer. This new teaser is good, and shows a less action-y magic-y side and more of the plot. So cool. Enjoy!

Movie comes out November 21 and the IMDB site is here.

The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers by Harold Schechter and David Everitt

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket; Rev Upd edition (July 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416521747
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416521747
  • List Price: $16.00
  • I finished this book on July 30
Okay, so I picked this book up at the end of the school year one day, meaning to just peruse it briefly. That, by the way, is the way that many of my students pick it up. It's a great D.E.A.R. book for that reason, because you can read it for 10 to 40 minutes and then put it down and never look at it again.
Anyway, I brought the stupid thing home with me and I've been reading it on and off for weeks. My boyfriend thinks it's morbid, and, of course it is. But it's interesting too. It's especially interesting if you watch as many horror movies as I do (I love 'em!).
It's set up as a traditional encyclopedia with alphabetical entries and 'see alsos' embedded in the topics. What makes it so readable is the lurid and graphic writing style. It's written in dime store novel prose that makes it seem like you're getting gossip from that neighborhood lady who knows too much about (and rejoices in) other people's misfortunes and maybe likes a nip of sherry from time to time. It's also peppered with real life pictures, reproductions of notes, and photos of serial killer trading cards. Yes, that's right, there's serial killer trading cards, showing here:As with most encyclopedias, it's not meant to be read beginning to end, which is mostly what I was doing. It becomes a bit boring and repetitive that way, so I would say just jump around to what interests you. Another reason it becomes boring is because lots of the crimes are the same. Kill some folks, rape 'em, eat 'em. There's apparently lots more necrophilia and cannibalism than I realized. So, you know...yuck. The cool part is that it really goes beyond your Bundys and your Mansons and talks about lots of icky killers that aren't as well known.
Bottom line: is it sick? Yep. But you still know you're a little interested, you dirty bird.
Soundtrack: Psycho Killer by The Talking Heads.
Please enjoy this student-film-tacular video for the song. Oh the things you find on youtube. It's a little cheesy-graphic if you're weak tummied (but if you're weak tummied, why are you reading my blog?). This video reminds me how much I can't wait for my boyfriend Dexter to come back on. Sigh...Michael C. Hall. Yum....Oh, um..yeah, the video:

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1 edition (September 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618723935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618723935
  • List Price: $16.95
  • I finished this book on July 28
Okay, so, I read Mr. Lyga's other book The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl way back when. I also saw Lyga speak and very much enjoyed his presentation on the History of Geekery. So, when this finally showed up at my library (why do book orders take so long to come in? It's like having perma-blue balls. Ugh) I knew I had to read it.
So, Josh was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of his female teacher when he was 12. Very Mary Kay Letourneau. Anyway, the abuse eventually comes out and the story follows the life of an older Josh, who is still dealing with (or not so much dealing with) his abuse. High school Josh is applying to colleges and trying to get a baseball scholarship. He is also trying to repair a fractured relationship with his former b/f and possible love interest. Oh, and his parents are douches. And he thinks he is a sex-pervert and that the abuse was his fault. Oh, one more thing: his abuser is getting out of prison. Frickin awesome. As if this kid doesn't have enough problems.
This abuse in the story is told little by little in flashbacks, it's honest and frank, but it isn't kitty porn. The guilty party is a 24-year-old teacher. This really skeeved me out because she's obviously bonkers and I'm a 25-year-old high school teacher and I can't even fathom how this happens. The cool thing about the book is that it isn't just about this abuse, it's really more about Josh's life now and how his past is influencing his present. It was all really artfully handled, really. Josh's character is well written and the story wraps up pretty nicely. Oh, and the baseball stuff wasn't too much for a non-jock like me to handle. It was actually pretty well done. I followed it and I was interested. All in all I think I like this one better than Fanboy and I will continue to keep an eye out for Lyga.
Sountrack: Hot for Teacher by Van Halen. Because it's totally inappropriate and there's nothing funny about this book book's abuse. And I love inappropriatness (and making up words).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Turning by Gillian Chan

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press, Ltd. (January 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1553375769
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553375760
  • List Price: $6.95
  • I finished this book on July 20
So, okay. I'm a librarian. I successfully find books for high school students to read on a regular basis. I work my ass off at it. Usually I do pretty good. But there's one person who always ignores my suggestions, doesn't read what I get for him or says things like "Do you even know me?" when I try to give him something. That's my pain in the bottom boyfriend. Anyway, when school ended I brought home books for me to read over the summer and he said "get some for me too" so I did (and I looked something like this). Well he read a couple and this is one that he read. It was short, so I read it too.
Here's the rub: Ben is mad. His mom died and he's moved to England (from Canada) with his heretofore absentee father Lars (awesome name, I know). Anyway, our Ben acts pretty much like he's wearing saggy diapers that leak throughout the whole book. He is deliberately terse, rude and somehow gets away with cursing out his father on a regular basis. Now you know I love salty language, but even that isn't really saving this book for me. Oh, right, the plot: there's a Green Man called Wyliff who is (rather deviously) trying to get Ben's help to best this big bad fairy who's pissing off the world (and yeah, I know "big bad fairy" sounds like an oxymoron). Anyway, tree man, plus a little guy who reminds me of a surly David the Gnome (10 points for figuring out how to reference that shit!) try to save the day. Ben makes the brilliant decision not to tell his dad/ask for help even though Lars is a folklore expert and would definitely be able to help him.
The thing is, it's not a horrible book. I didn't like the main character but it doesn't mean that it wasn't a perfectly acceptable story for the kind of reader who wants to read every fantasy ever. My boyfriend's review is: It's like OK cake. Meaning, you're never mad that you're eating cake, even if the cake wasn't that good. But in the back of your mind, you wish it was better. So, that's the story with this one. Read at your own risk.
Soundtrack: Feed the Tree by Belly. Because I love 90's alterna-rock and trees are hungry too.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Movie Trailer: Twilight

Here's the newest trailer for the upcoming Twilight movie which comes out on December 12 (aka: not soon e-friggin-nough).

At first I was skeptical of Cedric Diggory as Edward but now that I see it I am happy. Kristin Stewart should be good, I liked her in Speak. Here's the other trailer that's out.

For more Twilight info the movie site is here, IMDB is here. The book site is here. And the new book comes out August 2nd. Chances that I will be going to midnight madness for that book? 100% baby.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (October 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689865198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689865190
  • List Price: $9.99
  • I finished this book on July 15
So, okay, first off, this has nothing to do with that movie of the same name starring Jason Statham. Good cover, though, isn't it? If you look close you can see that the words are made up of meth, and that's the main character in this book.
You might think that our narrator: Kristina/Bree is the main character, but the true force in the story is the crystal meth she becomes addicted to. Kristina goes to visit her long lost dead beat pop and on the way becomes enamored with a boy and addicted to crank. Sucks. When she comes home you almost hope she will kick it, but you know she won't. She finds boys at home who can supply her with more drugs, and, as a party favor, rape. Good times.
The downward spiral depicted here is, imo, more jarring than Go Ask Alice because it's a bit more of a narrative story. Oh, did I mention it's written in verse? Cause it is. Hopkins stories are written in a free verse style that allows the scattered thoughts of our girl anti-hero. Also, many of the poems are readable in more than one way (up and down, left to right).
I read one of Hopkins' other books and saw her speak in person (more on that in another post) and she was funny and smart. I really liked listening to her talk about her books, how they are banned and also how they are used in many rehab programs. They are really powerful stuff. But what's most interesting to me about it is this, Crank, along with its sequel, Glass are fictionalized versions of her own family. Her daughter is Kristina/Bree. I think that is really brave. What is even more exceptional, is the way she portrays herself (through her daughter's eyes) as a 40-something career and workout obsessed not perfect mother. It's very powerful stuff to know that someone who seems as reasonable and honest as Hopkins does in person can have a daughter who is a crystal meth addict.
Moral of the story: Read this book. Also, don't google meth unless you want to see the incredibly fucked up things it does to people's faces. Yikes stripes, babies.
Soundtrack: Sanctified by Nine Inch Nails. Most people think this song is about a lady, but it's about drugs.

Duma Key by Stephen King

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Export Ed. edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416552510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416552512
  • List Price: $28.00
  • I finished this book on July 14
Okay, so, we know I lurve me some Stephen King. But I've come to realize that just because you love something doesn't always mean it's good. There are times when I smother my beau in the night (mostly when he beats me in Spite & Malice) and there are times when I am less than in love with a specific King story. But let me tell you, lovelies, that shit did not go down here. I devoured Duma Key in a way I haven't read anything recently. Last night I skipped going to the gym because I was nearing the end and I had to finish it.
Plotacular: Edgar Freemantle (such a King name, really) was a loaded construction guy who had a severe accident that left him minus an arm, and plus a fake hip, a bad leg and anger issues. On top of that his wife of a bajilion years says: "See ya!" and gets a divorce. Bad news bears. Edgar's will to live is fading fast and his shrink suggests a move to a new place and a return to a hobby that will make Edgar happy. So he shuffles off to a big crazy pink house on one of the Florida Keys and takes off drawing again. Drawing soon turns to painting and Edgar discovers he's eerily talented. Could it be his phanton limb pain helping him? Or his head injuries? Could it be the mysterious island he's on or it's few other occupants.
The story is riveting from the first few pages and keeps building slowly but steadily to an ending that made me skip Pilates (and I am a gal who loves Pilates). There is so much classic SK here, too. It's like putting on that big comfy cardigan that you've had forever on a chilly night and finding it just as snuggly as ever. The thing I love about his books is not only is there always an amazing story going on, but there is also a multitude of likable or intriguing characters (including one who says Jesus Krispies, which I have already added to my repertoire). This book reminds me a bit of Bag of Bones, which is one of the first books I reviewed here.
For more, go over to Amazon and watch my b/f SK discuss cooking this tale up in a little video.
Also, please enjoy a new feature: I'm the kind of person who associates music with everything and reading a book usually reminds me of several different songs for a variety of reasons. So, this is just a little extra: the song the book reminds me of.
So, for the first ever Soundtrack: Wave of Mutilation by the Pixies. Cause he's an amputee. And it's on a beach. Stop giving me that look, I don't have to explain myself to you :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (May 6, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0316068047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316068048
  • Price: $25.99
  • I finished this book on July 8
That's right, lovelies: I'm kicking off my grand return to blogging with a goddam Seal of Approval: this stuff is good.
Okay, so: Stephanie Meyer has been very lucky thus far with her covers, and this one is also good. You can't tell from the picture but the silvery ring around her eye is reflective in real life.
The plot: imagine Invasion of the Body Snatchers from the Body Snatcher's point of view. That's more or less what's happened here. Wanderer, a silvery, feathery alien being has come to Earth after inhabiting many other planets. The invasion of Earth has been underway for a long time and assimilation is almost total. Wanderer is put into the body of a young girl named Melanie, the only problem is Melanie is still inside. And it's not all skipping and playing hopscotch and singing "Kid Sister and Me". Actually, Mel is pretty fucking pissed, and she torments Wanderer with her memories of her previous life and loved ones.
Right off the bat I was in love with the concept of this book. I liked being able to hear it from the alien point of view. But increasingly as you read it you begin to feel equally strong about both girls, and are therefore caught in the same conundrum as Wanderer. The story then takes you a long way away from the typical storylines and expectations the beginning drums up. When I was a little more than halfway through I couldn't believe we'd gotten to where we were.
The other cool part of it is that it doesn't read overly like a romance (Like Meyer's other works, which I effin love with all my heart and soul) and it doesn't really read like a scifi either, even though it's about aliens. It's really more about families, and fitting in and finding your place. Either way it's super good, and even though I called the ending pretty well ahead of time I was totally satisfied with it. And you know I love it when things turn out the way you want them to.

I'm back, bitches

Okay, so here's the deal. I'm back. For real this time. Blogging starts: now. I was struggling with depression and my crohn's disease for a long time and feeling generally craptastic. But I'm better now (and on summer vacation!) and ready to deliver snarky reviews straight to your monitors. That is, if I haven't alienated those of you who used to read me :)
Anywho: the books that I have read in the interim (and yes, I have been reading) will be reviewed when I write them up and filled in over the next month or so. Promise.
But I just finished a book that's so good I have to review it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I'm not dead

Hi loyal readers (all 3 of you). Just a quick note to apologize for the grievous lack of posting lately. The truth is that I have been having some health issues and haven't been up to being witty and snarky lately. I am taking care of myself and I have been feeling better this week.
Tomorrow I am leaving to visit the half of my family that resides in Florida and when I get back next week I promise that I will begin posting again.
So, you can look forward to reviews of the books that I have read this month:
Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Bringing up the Bones and Contents Under Pressure by Lara M. Zeises
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Also: the recounting of my yearly trek to the Teen Book Festival and my awesome chat with Lara M. Zeises/Lola Douglas (whom I now have a big-time crush on.)

Not to mention whatever I read in Florida (so you know I have more books than pairs of shoes in my luggage - I am such a nerd/horrible at being a girl).

See you soon, my lovelies!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (February 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763627917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763627911
Okay, so here's the thing. Guilty pleasure are supposed to be pleasurable. Tantalize has all the makings of being a pretty hot teen vampire read. Except somewhere in here things fall short.
Quincy (yeah, short for Quincy Morris. From Dracula. Not even a girl's name. also from Texas. uck.) is a senior in high school with a (half) werewolf as a best friend/secret love interest. Like ya do. Anyway, apparently they live in some world where everyone knows about werepeople and vampires and they live in some kind of uneasy truce like in X-men. (Coincidentally, were = man so werepeople is manpeople? boo.)
So Quincy's fam owns a restaurant but now the only surviving family members are her and her passive aggressive Uncle. They are remodeling the place to be Sanguini's (get it?) a vampire themed restaurant. And the chef dies at the last minute and they need a new one and of course Quincy is the one to train him/oversee his vampire routine and creation of the menu.
In short order Quincy adopts a skipping school problem almost as serious as her shiny new drinking problem. She also alienates her were-boyfriend and develops an uneasy crush on the dockers-wearing blond cook who she's supposed to be turning into a vampire chef.
This ends, I'm sure you could guess with Quincy tied up in the bonds of some vamps. There are the makings of some good stuff here, but it all goes kind of flat somewhere around the addition of baby squirrel to the menu and Quincy donning a crazy lady dom outfit.
Not a fan of the characters in here so much, and there's nothing really sexy going on although it really seems like there should be (with a title like Tantalize....just sayin'). Oh, jebus, I forgot to tell you. None of the other werepeople turn into anything cool. Here's a thought for you: were-armadillo. Not Sexy! I want to hit this book's nose with a rolled up newspaper and say "Bad book! No were-armadillo! Bad!"
Here's the thing: I was hoping this would be some nice filler until I can read about Edward and Bella again, but it only made me miss them more. le sigh.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (March 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142405779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142405772
  • List Price: $6.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 2
I somehow have never read anything by Neal Shusterman before, though I just got in a bunch of his books in our most recent order. So, I thought I'd give this one a try.
Our narrator, Antsy, tells us the funny and tragic story of the Schwa. Okay, actually, the Schwa's story isn't funny, but Antsy is. He speaks in annoying-ish Brooklynese, but it's not so annoying you're mad at him. Mostly, he's funny. Anyway, the Schwa: he's this kid who's invisiblish. The Schwa takes the normal easy to miss loner kid thing to new territories, there are times when he's in front of folks and they can't see him. His past is as shady as his present, and his mother (according to town legend) either disappeared, or was killed and her body was mailed to all 50 states (ouch).
Antsy, the Schwa and some secondary pals set out to find the limits of the Schwa Effect. It's all pretty impressive until they get big time busted and pull dog walking duty for the town recluse. This of course (because it is a YA novel) changes their lives. There is loving, losing, and truth-telling that is pretty realistic, actually.
Good plot, interesting characters and extra points for a cover that I keep looking at and seeing characters (oh, that's Ira! look, Manny Bullpucky's severed head!). The story was apparently optioned to Disney in 2006 but I don't think anything's come of it yet. Truthfully, I feel the story might be better if kept in book form. But that's just me.
Also: I wish other people would read this so I could call attribute things to The Schwa Effect, because that's pretty BA.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spinx by Robin Cook

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (July 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451159497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451159496
Alright, I know the cover image looks awful, but I had to search out this masterpiece of 80's intrigue for you to see (or for me to criticize). First, shafts of light in the dark = mood lighting. Next, please note our main character's total mom jeans and windblown 80's mop top. She's also totally running like a girl (cause she's in danger, eep!). Next, there is the Arab looking Dracula in either a mirror or a sarcophagus who is supposed to look like Frank Langella and actually kinda does.
Anyway, moving on. I read this because someone I really like and respect gave it to me. This might have been good in 1979 when it was written (and before I was born) but it does not hold up today. Alright: Egyptologist Erica Barron goes to Egypt for the first time by herself and then tries her hardest to win the Darwin Award. Somehow Erica ends up involved in a black market conspiracy involving a Seti I statue and murder (insert dramatic music here: dun dun duuuun!). Also she meets two different older men (with hot 80's chest hair, and as a bonus, one is French) who are clearly both using her for different things. Also there's lots of people following her and she almost gets killed a lot. A ton of other dudes die in her immediate presence and this does not seem strange to her nor does it cause the police to want to jail her in any way. Weird. Oh, and there's a guy who she was dating back in America who they keep cutting to and it's very annoying. He's the worst subplot of all time. So, yeah, there are three potential beaus and not one graphic sex scene. boo!
Also, lots of stuff in here seems vaguely racist, but I have a hunch that it wasn't so bad at the time it was written. This is one of those books where you keep wondering what the characters are thinking (and not in a good way) and then they do the dumbest thing next and all you can do is shake your head.
Oh! And did you know Robin Cook was a dude? And a doctor? And handsome? Moral of the story? Maybe he should have stuck to medical thrillers.
And, cause I know you're interested: here's the movie info (though I caution you that the reviews for that are worse than this one)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Movie Trailer: Coraline

I reviewed this book, here.
I really liked it and this trailer is very promising. I hope it is as good an adaptation as Stardust was (read my book review for that or the movie review).
Here's the film's IMDB page.
p.s. it's blurry because it's in 3D and this is a bootleg.

(3d always makes me think of weird al. sweet!)

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440421241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440421245
  • List Price: $6.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 22
Okay, so: good covers, increasingly less cool stories. Seriously: you read this whole book before you even know how it fits into the series.
This is the story of what happens before the "end" of the world that results in the creation of Ember. Nickie and her aunt come to Yonwood to clean out and sell an old family estate. Nickie has three goals: 1. Keep Greenhaven (the estate) 2. Fall in love (p.s. she's like 11) 3. Help the world (oh yeah, the world is in on the brink of war - and the 11 year old can fix it).
So, here's why this book annoyed me. Lots of stuff was unrealistic. First off: what kind of aunt is in the care of their niece and lets her get into major trouble and is so inattentive she doesn't even know the girl is hiding a dog. In their house. Also: religious crazies. They make me furious in real life and even more angry when people actually listen to them in books. That's what's going on in Yonwood. Everyone has taken a dose of the god crazies. Seriously, the whole town. Mike Huckabee would be jealous (he kind of looks like a walleye pug pup, no?).
Anyway, major shenanigans ensue and then everything is cleared up in a few pages at the end. It's like super speed round denouement. Seriously, I felt my hair ruffle as the end came speeding at me out of nowhere.
So, out of this series my favorite is the first, and though these are great for younger kiddos I think I'm over them.

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (April 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375828257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375828256
  • List Price: $5.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 20
This is the sequel to The City of Ember, and it follows the story of the people of Ember after they escape the underground city into the real world. On the plus side: they have escaped from a dying city which was running out of electricity and supplies. The bummer: it's a post apocalyptic world and it kind of sucks to never have been outside in the sun and heat before.
So, our pilgrims find themselves in the city of Sparks, one of the only fledgling cities of survivors that is finally starting to prosper. The town decides that they have to take in the residents of Ember, which about doubles their population. This, of course, puts a huge strain on the resources and tolerance of the people of Sparks. Eventually, tensions rise, until there is a confrontation between the two peoples.
What is cool about this story is how well DuPrau tells both sides of the story. You can really feel for both the citizens of Sparks and the Emberites. Also, there are jerky people on both sides of the fight and cool people. Eventually things are wrapped up with a neat bow, as you'd expect. This is a very middle school moral of the story kind of book. Predictable for me, but perfect for young readers.
Here's my thing, though: I know why they didn't want the people in Ember to know about the outside world. But...why keep it a secret from the world once it's over and done with? The people of Sparks don't even believe them...ever. Very annoying and implausible, I feel. There is one lame nursery rhyme meant to remind people, but even that is misinterpreted. I feel I would have left some info, maybe a general game plan for re-entry. Just sayin...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Looking for Alaska by John Green

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (December 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142402516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142402511
  • List Price: $7.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 9
Okay, I will give you the shortest review of this book ever so that I may talk about what's really pissing me off: the shenanigans surrounding it right now.
Review: Miles asks his parents to go to a boarding school so he may search for the "Great Perhaps." Miles collects famous last words (awesome). He meets a diminutive boy with anger management issues (The Colonel) and a gorgeous free spirit (Alaska) who is the kind of girl boys like Miles fall in love with in books like these. What makes it unique is that the characters are amazing and interesting and flawed. Reading Miles' thought provoking essay at the end is enough of a gift to take away with you and you're just lucky you get to have the rest of the book. It's beautiful and sad and important and that's all I'm going to say because you should just go read it.
The shenanigans: It began with me seeing this:

First of all: that's big time bad ass. Huge. I, of course, 100% agree with this and I am rightly fired up over it. Also: Depew is in my neighborhood-ish but no, I couldn't go to the meeting (which is probly a good thing, because I believe I would have been kicked out due to cursing at people or thrown up because this makes me so angry I could puke).
Go here to read the write up of the meeting in the Buffalo News (this link won't be good forever because the archives aren't free). Seriously: the cancer quote makes me want to stab out that guy's eyes and piss in his ocular cavity.
Yes, there is swearing it the book. There is swearing in shitty rap music too, and I promise the kids listen to that. Yes, there is talk of a blowjob. I personally do not think the scene in question is that graphic and Mr. Green is correct in saying that it is not in the least titillating.
I work in a high school and I have ears. Therefore I think I am qualified to say that the things they say to each other are a hundred times more obnoxious than anything printed here. And I know plenty of them who would benefit from/appreciate/love this book. Kids are smarter than we think, folks, and pretending they aren't is a shitty plan (and yes, the view is nice from my soapbox, thanks).
Not to mention that this book is an ALA Printz award winner and that they actually hand out teaching guides to go along with them (though they contain hateful spoilers).
In searching more for info about John Green I have discovered that his awesomery goes even further. Exhibit one: his website. Cool links to anagrams, book info and his blog. You should stop reading this blog and add his to your RSS feeds. Go ahead, I'll wait. Exhibit two: Nerdfighters, and Brotherhood 2.0. Brotherhood 2.0 is a year long vlog exchange between Green and his brother (Oddly, I had heard his brother's Accio Deathly Hallows before and not known the story behind it). This vlog also inspired an entry into Urban Dictionary, another badge of coolness. DFTBA, which means, "Don't forget to be awesome."
Extra thanks to Eli for letting me in on all of this via Twitter :)
Moral of this blog:
I loved Looking for Alaska, and I have a crush on John Green. Also: book banners can suck my balls.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (May 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375822747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375822742
  • List Price: $5.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 8th
This is the first book in a series for middle schoolers. I bought it at a mega sale over the summer and it's been sitting around chatting with other books in the "To Be Read" pile for a while now. I decided it was time to dust it off (literally) and give it a go.
The book is based in the post-apocalyptic underground City of Ember. It seems that the city was built and set up with stores of food and electricity and the people of the city forgot over time what the real world is like. They are left with one set of instructions to get out after what would presumably be a good amount of time for the world to become safe again (250 years).
We meet our heroine, 12-year-old Lina Mayfleet on "Assignment Day" at school. This is the day where they effectively graduate from formal education and are randomly assigned a job (which totally sucks). Lina wants to be a messenger and, of course, pulls the crappy job of pipeworker. Doone, a social upstart who wants to save the failing city pulls messenger and is annoyed. So, you guessed it, they pull the old switcheroo.
Next Lina finds a piece of paper which seems to detail something important, but has been munched on by her baby sister. It is, of course, the instructions for getting out of the city. The problem is, no one knows they are supposed to be looking for it. She and Doon set out to decipher the broken message and save the day.
The idea of the underground city is cool. They have greenhouses, but most of their supplies come from storehouses and of course, the canned good and lightbulbs are rapidly depleting. Which brings me to another point. It's hard for us to imagine a world that's entirely dark but that's how this place is. It is lit only by overhead lights and at night instead of dusk and sunset it just goes dark at lights out. Yikes. Also: the power is failing. And there are occasional blackouts. Can you imagine? During these blackouts the lights are off completely and everything is pitch dark. Here that's not the case, even when there is a blackout there are still stars, there's still the moon, but these people live in fear that the lights will go out forever and that will be it. For some reason, they haven't figured out candles. (Lame).
The story is interesting and creative and the characters are good. The reading level is low, so I'm sure it would be very easy for this to be read by the 9 year olds that Amazon suggests. This series is very popular in the elementary and middle schools that I've seen. Here's a few links to some lesson plans for the book: Random House reader's guide, or the Teacher's @ Random teaching guide.
Oh, and it's going to be a movie with Bill Murray. I just got my paws on the rest of the series so you can expect those reviews soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Book Meme

The Vampire Librarian (who I have a nerd-crush on) had a meme on her blog which I have (stolen) volunteered to re-post. Mostly because I have a book on my desk, and it's the next one I'll be reviewing so it's like a little sneak peek.


1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pgs.)
2. Open the book to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the next three sentences
5. Tag five people

This is from City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

"Mostly insects," said Doon. He told her about his collection of drawings and the worm he was currently observing.
To Lina, this sounded far less interesting than an undiscovered city, but she didn't say so.

I'm not gonna be presumptuous and tag people, so if you're interested let me know in the comments and I'll link to you.

My babe Bridget is in :)

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Battle of Jericho by Sharon M. Draper

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (December 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689842333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689842337
  • List Price: $6.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 2
Alright. Draper is a big name in YA lit. She writes urban realistic fiction and has won awards. This book is a Coretta Scott King winner. Here's the thing, I'm sure it's wonderful for a certain group of my students. The ones who like Walter Dean Myers would certainly like this book. And, truthfully, any student who told me they were going to pledge a frat in college would get this book from me. But me, personally? I just wasn't that into it.
First, aesthetically, I hate it. I don't like the cover, what is that? A kid in a Cosby sweater running away? Also: in addition to the Dr. Huxtable sweater, he's wearing a Denim Tuxedo. Ouch. Also: it's in Arial font. Hate! What kind of book is in a sans-serif font? Yuck. Also, on the first page of each chapter the words start over at the left of the page and sort of make a tricky triangle shape down to the normal spot. It's weird. And annoying.
Second: the dialog. Obviously I'm pathetically white and unhip, but these lines seem weak even to me. Examples: "Aw, quit dissin' yourself." and "You just jealous 'cause when the girls try to put their arms around you, they think they're grabbing a skinny old pencil instead!" Ohh, burn. Seriously, uber pwnage. The last person to use old as an adjective like that was Holden Caulfield. Only, you know, he was cool. And there's no swearing. I'm sure Draper did this so that the book was, I dunno, acceptable...but the truth is, kids swear. And something about this trash talk seems unbelievable to me.
Anyway, the story: Jericho and his cousin/best mate Josh and their pal Kofi are recruited to pledge for this cult/club/frat The Warriors of Distinction (which I kept reading as the Warriors of Destruction, which is cooler, and also conjures images of West Side Story-like knife fights. When you're a jet...) So there is hazing. Oh, and there's also a kick ass female, Dana, who tricks them into letting her pledge even though they've never let a girl in before. One of the members is an unstable date-rapist kinda guy who has a thing for her and gives her about ten tons more shit than anyone else. Truly, besides the things that happen to Dana, the pledge stuff is pretty tame (except they are made to steal stuff) until the end, when of course, tragedy ensues.
Here's some of the things that bug me. Dana was a real badass, but I wanted to see a "Suck my dick" G.I. Jane moment, or at least one where the other Warriors made that douche stop picking on her so bad. Also, the girl that Jericho is interested is a weird character with like, no personality, she's very one dimensional. And, Jericho is a trumpet player and misses the chance of his life to pledge and there is little fallout from that. Also: after the tragedy the parents are all offended. Why didn't someone watch them...etc. Um, why didn't you watch them? I hate that the parents expected someone else to be taking care of their kids instead of finding out what was going on. Also: I thought the wrap up was too quick. It was like 275 pages of buildup --> tragedy --> end. Lame. I would have liked the book to explore more what happened after the events on the last night of pledging.
Like I'm saying, this is not a bad book, it's certainly one I think students should read. It has some good characters, and a strong message. I'm just saying I wasn't crazy about it myself. Shrug.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374349460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374349462
  • List Price: $17.99
  • I finished this book on Feb. 1
After reading Zevin's Elsewhere, which I was in love with I was dying to read more of her stuff. When this came in at my library I was very excited, and thanks to a snow day last week, I read it in one day.
Here goes: Naomi (the second Naomi in a month, but I can't spell it anyway) looses a coin toss, goes back for an expensive camera and takes an epic spill down her high school's front steps. Head wound = amnesia. She can't remember anything that happened since 6th grade. This includes but it not limited to: her parents divorce (and subsequently not speaking to her mother or ever meeting her new sister), her best friend, the first time she had sex, and the fact that she kept a psychotic food diary (and probably had an eating disorder).
The players: When she has her accident a mysterious soap-opera quality brooder is there to call the ambulance, he's James. The best friend that she doesn't remember, Will, a Duckie-esque nerd boy who makes her plentiful CD mixes. Ace, douche name to go with a douchy tennis jock (yeah, tennis) who was Naomi's bf and former teen sex partner. From the get go it's obvious that 1. she can't stand Ace (neither can I) 2. Will is in love with her and 3. She digs on James, who is obviously cuckoo for cocoa puffs. Angst, fighting and self discovery, as I'm sure you can imagine, surely ensues.
It's a neat idea to imagine how you would perceive your life if you woke up and didn't remember it. Would you think your friends were assholes? Would you think you were an asshole? Very cool. Zevin certainly makes the most of the idea and even though I wasn't in love with Naomi as a character I really liked her story. I think Zevin's strength is that her characters are very realistic. They have good sides and bad sides and they are very honest.
While this traded the magic of Elsewhere for a more realistic drama I really liked this book. And, since I tend to trip a lot, now I'm all concerned that I'm going to loose my memory. Oy vay.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 11, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446310786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446310789
  • List Price: $6.99
  • I finished this book on Jan. 31
Okay, as we know, I have not read a lot of the "classics". In fact, those of you who have been reading since last year know that the point of this blog was for me to explore books from the Modern Library's top 100 list. Obviously I have given that up to live in hedonistic bookslut sin with ya books, trash and gay porn. Either way, I never read Mockingbird and one of the English classes at my school is beginning a unit on it. Since I said "Let me know if you need any help" when the teacher mentioned it, I figured I better read it. And I was pleasantly surprised.
So, the back cover of the edition I had said something about how librarians had voted this the best book ever. I'm not saying this is the best book ever, but I liked it. I liked Scout, and her father, and her story. I was appropriately annoyed by the outcome of the trail and I liked the events toward the end of the book and the denouement. I found Scout's narration to be easy to read and fun to get into. I liked that she was a tomboy and that she had to dress up like a ham. I have a feeling that if all the classics were narrated by a little girl they might all be easier to read.
Oh, and so many good supporting characters! By the end of the book you felt like you'd been really hanging out in Maycomb with all those people. I liked Calpurnia the best, but also Miss Maudie.
Fun fact: according to SparkNotes, Harper Lee based the character of Dill on Truman Capote. Interesting (Mr. Burns impression). Also: cool lesson plans for this book here. Other bio info for Ms. Lee here.

Crush by Carrie Mac

  • Hardcover: 106 pages
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers (May 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1551435217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1551435213
  • List price: $14.99
  • I finished this book on Jan. 29
So, okay. Here's the thing. I'm bee and I'm an internet addict. I know this, anyone who's met me knows this (and anyone reading this is probably one too.) The other day at work the internet went down like 25 minutes before quitting time. Nightmare. This book was sitting on my desk and so I started reading it. There you have it.
The book was sitting on my desk because it is part of the Orca Soundings collection and I am going to create a display of them soon. Orca books are specifically designed to be appealing to kids and cover a wide range of hot topics. They are very low reading level, short and use simple vocab. They are, in other words, what we in the business call hi/lo (high interest/low reading level). Their topics range from graffiti to sports to crime to drugs and even prostitutes (that word makes me think of this: funniest song about hookers ever!) So, because I send kids away with them all the time I thought I should probably read one. (Leave it to your girl bee to find the only one about lesbians).
So, yeah. Lesbians. Hope is a hippie kid who grew up in a commune with hemp wearing, no meat eating, madly in love with each other parents. They ship her off to NYC to hang with her druggie, bitchy model sister when they decide to go on an anniversary trip. In short order she meets a young mother who wants to take her in as a nanny (and is, shockingly, a lesbian) and a pretty girl. She is crushing on the pretty girl and of course this raises the "Am I gay?" questions and Hope is pretty freaked out. In a matter of 106 pages our Hope is out and proud and kissing on the dreadlocked object of her affections. Being that it is short and a low reading level, the novel sort of works itself out like a Babysitters Club book or something, except I don't think the BSC ever outed anyone. There are lots of plot holes and of course all of Hope's problems wrap up painfully easy (not to mention how the problem that the girls live in two different states is never addressed). But I'm not mad, this is all more or less to be expected.
Reading this was like a jolly rancher: It's sweet and strong, over quick and leaves a vaguely weird taste in your mouth (don't worry, it doesn't turn your tongue green). I'm glad we have them and I think they are good for reluctant readers. Just as long as you don't pick them up expecting Shakespeare.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wide Awake by David Levithan

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375834664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375834660
  • List Price: $16.95
  • I finished this book on Jan. 16
An Open Letter to David Levithan
Dear Mr. Levithan,
Please figure out how to make the beautiful things you write turn into real life. If even half of the things that happen in your books existed in real life (like acceptance, Sound of Music Drag Reviews or Infinite Darlene) the world would be a much cooler place. Please get on top of that stat.
Thank you,
The Management (bee)

Seriously: I effin love this man. He is magic. If DL were to somehow meet and create an intellectual love child with Francesca Lia Block I would experience a joygasm of epic proportions.
Oh, plot? Okay. In the future: First gay Jewish president is voted in ---> election contested ---> the people make a stand. That's all you get. Effing read it.
What is so amazing here are the characters. Jimmy and Duncan are a sweet gay couple with an amazing group of friends that the story centers around. Levithan always has these amazing characters that might be floating off in the peripheral of the story that you're like dying to have lunch with. For me, in this story, it's Gus. He says some amazing things, I love the way he speaks. Also: there is a young man who hates his parents (because they won't let him be Jewish) who unleashes a hilarious tirade on how they are the apotheosis of suck. Love. It. Oh, also: a boy named Sue and his transsexual dad. Oh! And someone says that someone else is "rainbow sprinkles" I frocking love that! I wish someone would say that about me.
So, yeah, this got a seal of approval from me, and I would give it two if I could. I told like six people about how much I loved this today, totally unsolicited. I believe that when you are a librarian you are allowed to be a crazy person about books you like. Either way, you can look forward to more DL book reviews because I have ordered all his books for the library.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

  • Hardcover: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385730306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385730303
  • List Price: $17.99
  • I finished this book on Jan. 14
You may remember that I read the others in this series and have been eagerly awaiting this book for some time now. Also, let me say that these book have the coolest titles and covers. Double extra points and a cherry on top for Ms. Bray. To catch up, read my reviews of the other two books: here and here.
So: in the last book our heroine, Gemma, bound the magic of the realms to herself and promised to make an allegiance with the other forest folk. Let me stop here and tell you a story: the other night by b/f and I went grocery shopping and while I was picking out lean cuisines he threw a frozen pumpkin pie in the cart. Me: "What's that for?" Him: "Our faces." What he really meant was we were going to cook a whole pie, not offer any to our pals, and hoard it and eat it like the dirty pie sluts we are. Selfish pie. Cause you know if you start offering it out then it's gone before you know it and pie. Do you see where I'm going with this? That's right, Gem begins to feel less and less like sharing. Other characters in this book work hard to gain Gemma's good graces by being completely untrustworthy. Not to mention that out of all the nogoodnicks to choose from Gemma picks the worst (Circe, the big bad from the previous book who is now imprisoned) to seek help from and she gives her power. Boo! Another boo? One of my favorite characters totally bites it. Balls. Also: things don't necessarily go the way you think they will in the end, but either way it's satisfying.
On the plus side: there is kissing with Kartik (mmm, forbidden Indian...nutritious and delicious.) Also, the girls seek to create lives for themselves outside of the narrow roles that their culture expects them to play. I love this. Someone becomes an actor. Oh! And someone comes out of the wardrobe (worst gay related - historical fiction joke ever? the world may never know). Hint: it might be someone who is very beautiful and who you thought only loved herself. So, with making one of the characters gay Ms. Bray has successfully covered all teen "problem novel" issues plus written a fantastic historical fiction/fantasy series that is not only deep and beautiful but it looks great on a shelf. Well done. I say: seal of approval to you!
p.s. this is my 100th book review on this site. thanks for reading!

The Tarot Cafe Volume 1 &2 by Sang-sun Park

Volume 1:
  • Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: TokyoPop (March 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595325557
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595325556
  • List Price: $9.99
Volume 2:
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: TokyoPop (June 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595325565
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595325563
  • List Price: $9.99
First off: my new puppy ate one of these books, which is awful. We won't be repeating that mistake again. In any event: Viggo says they are tasty.
So: this is a fairly popular comic book series. Basically you have Pamela, who has crazy hair, tells fortunes and runs the cafe. She happens to tell fortunes to a hodge podge of different folks: like a dude who's really a cat. Or a blind male model/vampire. So, what you really have is little vignettes of their stories framed by Pammy in the cafe.
The vignette I liked the best was in the first book with the vampire dude. He keeps finding his true love over again and then offing her sister. I hate when that happens. There is also a cool one about a puppet master who's boy puppet falls in love with him. Please enjoy a visual sample, here:
The next book has a little more about Pamela and there's also a werewolf boy, which is cool. I can see how this is popular with the tweeny girls cause it has some dark ideas/themes plus fantasy fun. Here's one thing, now: anime male characters are often very pretty but these guys are downright beautiful (and they might be wearing lip gloss. strawberry lip gloss) and I often had to use context clues and dialog to make sure I knew the sex of the character. See, check out cat boy, pretty, huh? I wish my lips were that full. Either way, it's something I found funny and a little odd. Boys will have to be pretty secure in their masculinity to dig on this as much as the female of the species.
If you lurve this series you can join a fan group here. Also, here's the TokyoPop webpage, if you want to check out similar manga.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


That's right, guys and ghouls, it's been one hot sexy year of blogging for this booknerd.
Also, remember how I did a 50 book recap? Well, after this post my next review will bring it up to 99 books in a year. Not too shabby.
I started the blog last year as a way for me to keep track of what I've read. I wanted to be able to look back and see, and I honestly didn't think anyone would read it. So, thanks, my lovelies.
Some fun facts:
  • I have read 26527 pages this year.
  • I have given the bee seal of approval 9 times.
  • The biggest tags on my tag cloud are: Supernatural and YA
  • Many of the books I read since the 50 book benchmark are series, for example: His Dark Materials, The Twilight Saga, the Abhorsen Trilogy, and of course, Harry Potter.
  • I added a tag called "In which I claim to be dating someone famous" because I like to say that people are my boyfriend all the time. Here's the ranking on that so far: Stephen King - wins it with 5 times. Trent Reznor - 2. Snape/Alan Rickman - 3. Tim Curry - 1. Laurie Halse Anderson - 1. My actual real life boyfriend? Yeah, I mentioned him once. Only to tell you that he's a slower reader than me. Pwned!
In addition: I have been contacted by two different authors of books I've reviewed this year. Because I am fucking awesome. Who are they? Guess. Seriously. Okay, I'll tell you. Laura M. Zeises commented on my review of her book: here. Graham Joyce sent me a meebo message and friended me on myspace (I'm basically goddamn famous). This gave me major warm fuzzies and a hugely big head. I'm now sitting around and waiting for SK or Mr. Gaiman to waltz on by and ask me to tea (or not).

Also, please enjoy another booknerd recap feature: What keywords brought you here? The following are keywords people used and ended up here. Last time there were lots more sex ones, seems I'm loosing my touch, or, people are getting better at finding internet porn.
  • wikipedia warm fuzzies (aw)
  • whats cher doing lately does she have a boyfriend (i dunno, but she's probly not gonna date you)
  • invisible man movie sex (huh? perv. i think)
  • sexy indian
  • dark witchraft (spooky)
  • sexy lines stephen king books (heehee)
  • sexy male pictures
  • rebels rape pretty girls (yucko)
So, Merry New Year, my darlings, and thank you for reading. Please allow me to suggest some resolutions for you: add booknerd to your RSS feeds. Tell a friend about this kickass blog. Comment on booknerd. Talk to bee on meebo (cause she's nice!)
Seriously, thanks for reading.

P.S. the nerdy cake images are from a blog post, here. If you're interested in baking me a cake I would like a Labyrinth theme cake, please and thank you (Bridget, I'm looking at you).