Monthly Archives: January 2011

Mondays with Megan: A Trip to the Candy Store and January in Review

You know that saying “like a kid in a candy store”? Well, I finally truly understand it. Today I went to B. A. Sweetie to get supplies for my chocolate program on Wednesday and it was amazing! I wanted one of almost everything. I went in armed with a list and I still managed to wander aimlessly up and down aisles just staring at all the different kinds of candy for almost an hour. I found candy that took me back to the roller skating rink concession stand and stirred vague memories of trips with my grandparents. I found candy I had never heard of and learned a thing or two as well. Did you know that Andes Mints come in flavors other than mint? They do! Did you know about Peeplets? They are little chocolate cups (like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup) filled with marshmallow cream. It was a bit overwhelming and even after an hour I felt rushed at the end, but I settled on a salted dark chocolate bar and it was delicious! The next time I go back I think I am going to try a Thingamajig, a relative of Hershey’s Whatchamacallits. Hmm, much like my trip to the candy store this post is getting rambley and long…time for a quick wrap-up. How about a month in review?

I read a total of 20 books in January and I managed to hit all the major genres-fiction, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, nonfiction, and mystery as well as graphic novels and manga. Of the 20, eight were graphic novels, three were audio books, and one was an egalley that I read online. I read a debut novel, discovered two older (and awesome) series, and got my Jacky Faber fix. All in all, a great month of reading. If I had to pick one and only one favorite, I would have to say Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John. If I could pick more than one (which I can because I make the rules for my blog) I would pick The Wake of the Lorelei Lee as my second favorite and The Ruins of Gorlan as my third favorite.

As I mentioned last week, tomorrow marks the beginning of Contemporary February and I am ready to start a new book. First up, The Sweetness of Salt by Cecelia Galante. Stay tuned for an audio review and a mystery review this week.

Don’t forget about Sweet Treats and Eats with Wednesday at 7pm. There is still space available and you really don’t want to miss some of the surprises I have planned!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

TGIF

Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I was so grateful for a Friday! It’s been a long week, but everything seemed to come together today. Now I can actually relax a little this weekend. Maybe I will catch up on some Dexter and finish up the Bone series. Last night I finished Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix, but I am going to hold off on a review because the Teen Pizza Pagers will be discussing it in February. So stay tuned to hear more about this suspenseful science fiction book by one of Ohio’s own authors. In fact, Ms. Haddix will be visiting my library in March. She has written tons of great books. I recommend checking something out soon because February is going to turn into Margaret Peterson Haddix Month here in Rocky River!

Speaking of February, I thought I would let you know about a mini-challenge going on in February. The readers over at Peace, Love, Teen Fiction on Facebook decided to pick a monthly reading theme. What a great idea! February (which is right around the corner) is Contemporary Fiction month. Here are the books on my list for this challenge:

The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Adam Canfield of the Slash by Michael Winerip
Carter’s Big Break by Brent Crawford
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

That’s all I have so far, but I think that is plenty! Care to join? Let me know what you plan to read for Contemporary Fiction. Thanks Peace, Love, Teen Fiction for getting this started!

Happy Reading

˜Megan

Crapper Day

I do not have any reviews ready for you today, but I do have some interesting tidbits. I have Chase’s Calendar of Events to thank for today’s post. If you haven’t seen Chase’s Calendar I recommend checking it out. You will find all sorts of interesting facts. Today’s fact is that it is Crapper Day. That’s right, Crapper Day. Today is the anniversary of the death (1910) of British plumber Thomas Crapper. It is a common misconception that Crapper invented the flush toilet. In fact, Alexander Cummings is credited with that invention more than 50 years before Crapper was born. Crapper is however responsible for making many improvements to the ol’ Water Closet. Most notably, he is responsible for  the little floaty thing in the tank called the ballcock. It is purely coincidence that poor Thomas’ name has become synonymous with toilet. The exact origins of the term are unknown, but earliest print citing date back to the 1930s.

I will try to  pull this post out of the toilet by mentioning that it is also Lewis Carroll’s birthday (1832). Carroll is best known for writing Alice in Wonderland. I personally am a fan of his poem Jabberwocky from the book Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. I leave you with these words to ponder:

Jabberwocky
 
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872).
Happy Reading!
˜Megan

The Ranger’s Apprentice

I am a big fan of series. There is something comforting about familiar characters. Each new book is like visiting with an old friend and catching up on their latest news and adventures. I am currently committed to a number of series and eagerly awaiting the next installments. Tops on the list are Plague by Michael Grant (book 4 in the Gone series), City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (book 4 in the Mortal Instruments series), Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (book 2 in Infernal Devices series), and Supernaturally by Kiersten White (book 2 in the Paranormalcy series). I am also anxious to get another Gallagher Girls or Heist Society book by Ally Carter, the next Flavia de Luce mystery by Allen Bradley, and I definitely want more Spellmans by Lisa Lutz. Gosh that is a lot of waiting (and 8 new series for you to get started on if you haven’t already. You’re welcome)! But luckily I have discovered a new (to me) series that will keep me occupied while I wait! All but the last two book in The Ranger’s Apprentice series have been published and books 10 and 11 will be out this year. I wonder if I can get caught up by the time they come out? What is this new-to-me series all about you ask? It’s an epic fantasy that has been described as a young King Arthur meets Lord of the Rings. Here’s the scoop on book 1:

Will is an orphan living as a ward on Baron Arald’s Redmont Fief. When he and the other wards reach the age of fifteen they are presented to the crafts masters as potential apprentices. Will has always dreamed of joining the Battleschool and training to be a knight like his father. Unfortunately, due to his small stature the battle master does not select him as an apprentice. His dismay quickly turns to confusion when the mysterious  Halt, a member of the Ranger Corp chooses Will to be his apprentice. Will commences his grueling training with the grim and humorless Halt. Soon he is a skilled tracker, archer, and horseman. These skills come in handy when the Rangers learn that the kingdom’s sworn enemy, Morgarath, has gathered an army of half beast, half human warriors known as Wargals. The Rangers are in immediate danger and the greater threat of war looms close on the horizon. The dangers they encounter will test Will’s strength, courage, and loyalty.

I really enjoyed this book. The first part of the book really focuses on the characters. You get to know Halt, Will and another ward, Horace, quite well. The descriptions of the land and the training is rich and quite realistic. My only complaint about the start of the book was that I really wished that there was a map included. If you are thinking the same thing, you are in luck! There is a lovely map on the Ranger’s Apprentice website. Anyway, back to the book. As I was saying the first part of the book sets the stage for the action-packed adventure that comes at the end. Oh, the creatures! So hideous! The battle scenes are intense and will have you on the edge of your seat. The adventure is wrapped up nicely at the end with a surprise twist that basically guarantees you will be looking for book two. This is a nice beginning to what is bound to be an epic adventure. I am definitely taking the next book home with me.

Give this series to middle school boys who are into knights, quests, fantasy, and action/adventure. The book is short and should appeal to reluctant readers. Pair this with The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix, and the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

The Radleys

About a month ago a coworker recommended I read The Radleys by Matt Haig book. All she said was it was about vampires and it was different. Of course I was interested so I checked it out…promptly forgot about it. You know how TBR piles get, right? Well, when I found it won an Alex Award (the Alex Award is given to an adult book that has teen appeal) it moved to the top of the list. Now, as promised, I have a review for you today.

What it’s about:

Peter and Helen Radley live a quiet life in a small English village with their two teens, Rowan and Clara. They do perfectly ordinary things like attend book club and have dinner with the neighbors. Their boring life, however, is nothing but a disguise. The Radleys have a secret that even their children don’t know. They are vampires. For more than a decade the Radleys have been Abstainers, no longer feeding on human blood. Their true identity may have remained secret had Clara not been forced to defend herself against a classmate. In a panic Peter reaches out to his estranged brother, a practicing vampire, with devastating consequences.

What I thoughts:
My coworker was right, this was different. There was plenty of teen angst, but not from a poor girl pining over a dreamy vampire. Instead, the angst stems from the more traditional issue of struggling with one’s identity, establishing values that are different from one’s parents’, and trying to fit in at school. Rowan and Clara have very different reactions to the news that they are vampires, but I felt that both were reasonable and appropriate. I really liked that this was more a story about families and identity (both self and group identity) than about vampires. In fact, I started substituting other “afflictions” with vampirism, and the basic story remains the same. Pretty neat, I think. Teens will relate to Rowan and Clara, and adults will appreciate the older Radleys’ struggle with their marriage and mid-life crises. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to older teens. Also, I loved that the chapters are short.

That’s all for now. I’ll have a review for The Ruins of Gorlan soon. I really liked it and plan to read more in this 9 book series.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays with Megan: No Name-Calling Week and Books About Bullying

Wow, I feel like I am on a runaway train. When did things get so busy? And where did January go? I need more of January! I know, that sounds crazy given the cold snow weather January has brought us, but I am not ready for all the things I have planned for February.  But enough about my wacky schedule (we are getting dangerously close to having to address some procrastination issues…) and more about No Name-Calling Week.

Today is the beginning of No Name-Calling Week. NNCW was inspired by the book The Misfits by James Howe. It’s the story of four friends struggling to survive seventh grade. The teens face ridicule, bullying, and name-calling based on things such as weight, intelligence, height, and sexual orientation. Tired of this treatment they form a new political party and run for student council on a platform aimed at ending name calling in school.

In honor of No Name-Calling Week here is a list of books that address the issue of bullying:

The Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Endgame By Nancy Garden
Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss
This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis
Mousetraps by Pat Schmatz
By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy
Stuck on Earth by David Klass
Thirteen Reasons by Jay Asher
What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
Scrawl by Mark Shulman
The Julian Game by Adele Griffin
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Adam Canfield, Watch Your Back by Mike Winerip
Schooled by Gordon Korman
Freak by Marcella Fleischmann Pixley
Dog Sense by Sneed B. Collard
Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

This is just a partial list of fiction books, there are tons of books about bullying and bullies. Here is a few nonfiction books about bullying.

Letters to a Bullied Girl by Olivia Gardner
We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying by Deborah Ellis
Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman
Teen Cyberbullying Investigated by Thomas Jacobs
Please Stop Laughing at Us by Jodee Blanco
Girl Wars: 12 Strategies that will end female bullying by Cheryl Dellasega

For more information be sure to check out the NNCW website (link provided above).

More reviews coming soon for The Radleys by Matt Haig, The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan and maybe The Wake of the Lorelie Lee by L.A. Meyer.

That’s all my befuddled brain can handle today! Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Here Lies Bridget

I received an ARC of Here Lies Bridget by debut author Paige Harbison from Netgalley.com.

Bridget Duke is a mean girl. As a child she was bullied, but in middle school she jumped at the opportunity to transform herself from victim to bully, ensuring that she would always be in control. Now in high school her behavior is out of control. She cheats, lies, and manipulates people to get her way, yet she rarely believes she is wrong. When a new girl, Anna, arrives, things start to fall apart. Anna is threatening to dethrone Bridget by being nice. Suddenly teachers aren’t buying her deer-in-the-headlights look and her friends aren’t hanging on her every word and it’s all Anna’s fault. Facing expulsion, Bridget leaves school in a fit, crashes her car and finds herself in limbo. Now, the people she has hurt the most have the power to decide her fate. What will Bridget learn when she is forced to walk in another person’s shoes?

This book could be called A Mean Girl’s Christmas Carol. What a great premise! I love that Bridget gets to see herself the way others see her by simply putting on their shoes. While I did not enjoy reading about Bridget’s nastiness (the first part of the book made me really uncomfortable), I did appreciate her time in limbo. It is touching and heartbreaking to see the impact Bridget’s words and actions have on those she mistreats. In the end her remorse is genuine and believable as she finally realizes how her actions  affect those around her. Harbison does an excellent job capturing the voice a troubled and insecure teenaged girl. There were some minor inconsistencies and the second part of the novel feels a bit rushed, but Here Lies Bridget makes Paige Harbison an author to watch. I look forward to more of her work.

This book will pair nicely with Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, The Hate List by Jennifer Brown, or The Exile of Gigi Lane by Adrienne Marie Vrettos, but recommend with caution as this book contains some mature content.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan