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.