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!



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


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:

’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!

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!


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!


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!


Here Lies Bridget

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

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!


The Bone Cousins

At the beginning of the month I mentioned that I want to read at least 50 graphic novels/manga this year. I can safely say that this will not be a problem. I have already read 6 in January and have at least four more at home that I am looking forward to reading.

To start things off I picked up the first volume of the Bone series, Out From Boneville, by Jeff Smith, and honestly, I did not see what the big fuss was about. I did some poking around and there really is a big fuss. This series has received some major awards and accolades. Time Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, Vibe, Spin, most major newspapers, and ALA have all put it on a Best/Top Ten list at some point. And then the testimonials-Matt Groening, Neil Gaiman, Will Eisner…the list goes on and on. All these people can’t be wrong (can they?) So, I decided to pick up the next installment before I proclaimed that Bone was just ok. Here is where I admit that they were all right, and I was wrong. And, while it usually pains me to be wrong, I am ok with it this time because Bone really is great and I am thrilled to join the party, even if I am a bit late.

In the first volume, Out From Boneville, we meet the Bone Cousins, Fone, Phoney, and Smiley Bone. The Bones have been chased out of Boneville because of Phoney’s shady ways (the full story behind the Bone’s getting chased out is eventually revealed). A swarm of locusts separate the Bones and they each find themselves traveling alone through a valley filled with mysterious creatures. There is a dragon, Ted the Bug, the rat creatures, the possum family, and Gran’ma Ben and the lovely Thorn. The Bones eventually reunite and the stage is set for what turns out to be an epic quest.

After reading the first four volumes I understand why people love this series. The story definitely picks up after the first volume as more and more information about characters is revealed. I am not going to give anything away, but I will say that appearances are deceiving and even the littlest characters have some big roles to play. The story is complex and layered with mystery, fantasy, and my favorite, humor. Oh, the jokes in the series. They are hilarious, mostly sarcastic one-line zingers that are easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. But of course you are paying attention because each panel if filled with something interesting to look at (I personally am fond of the dragon and the quiche-loving rat creature). The Bones are cartoons with lively facial expressions, the valley creatures are dark and spooky, the humans are life-like, and the animals (especially the possums) are adorable. While the illustrations and general content make this series suitable for younger readers (middle schoolers-the rat creatures are bit scary), there is a layer of depth to the story that will keep older teens and adults engaged.

I have five more volumes left to read and I can’t wait to find out what sort of adventures the Bones have ahead of them. For readers unfamiliar with graphic novels, this is an excellent introduction and for seasoned connoisseurs, this is a must read (if you haven’t already!)

P.S. I am half way to completing the Graphic Novels Challenge! 

Happy Reading!


Audio Alert

I recently finished listening to Virals by Kathy Reichs. Reichs is best known for her adult book series starring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. This popular series is the basis for the hit show Bones. Virals is a young adult spin-off series featuring Temperance Brennan’s great-niece, Tory.

After her mother dies fourteen year old Tory Brennan is sent to live with her marine biologist father on a remote island off the coast of South Carolina. Tory is smart, headstrong, and shares her aunt’s love of science. Her closest friends are the three other teenaged boys living on the island. While exploring the island the group discovers a set of dog tags, which leads them to the discovery of an unsolved murder and a secret experiment being conducted on a wolfdog pup. After stealing the pup from the lab the teens are exposed to an experimental strain of the parvovirus which has some unexpected effects. These side effects come in handy when someone tries to stop them from solving the decades-old murder.

This story was an action-packed thriller. I liked Tory and her rag-tag band of science nerds. The boys are a bit generic, but Tory’s inner dialogue and biting sarcasm are realistic and funny. The story is part mystery, part science fiction, and part fantasy and you have to be willing to suspend disbelief for much of the book. The teens find themselves in and get themselves out of some very tight (and illegal) spots. My biggest complaint-the mean librarian. I really don’t appreciate the stereotype. On the other hand, I really appreciated how the teens went about doing there research-they actually checked the sources for material they found online! I was impressed. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but didn’t love it. Having said that, I think that middle school readers will really like the adventure. I will definitely be recommending both the book and the audiobook to my readers. It’s suspenseful without being scary, devoid of romance, and has only an occasional mild curse, making it a nice selection for middle school readers.

Pair with Maximum Ride by James Patterson, The Walls Have Eyes by Clare B. Dunkle, Dr. Franklin’s Island by Ann Halam, or Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Mondays with Megan: My Weekend Update

Happy Monday! Boy is it chilly out. I seriously considered calling in cold as I was dragging my warm sleepy self out of bed this morning, but I toughed it out and here I am. I had a busy weekend.  I got quite a bit of reading done, I went to a Silpada Party (and bought a really cool ring), I went to the Rainforest with my sister and nephews, and I watched How to Train Your Dragon. The best part? I didn’t turn my TV on all weekend and I barely touched the computer.

I finished Virals by Kathy Reichs, Black Bird Vol. 1 by Kanoko Sakurakoji, The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone, and The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. I’d say that’s a nice quite a variety there. Stay tuned for some reviews.

I started listening to The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by L.A. Meyer (still doing my happy dance) and The Woods by Harlan Coben. I started reading The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan and The Radleys by Matt Haig. I am going to try to finish reading them this week, but….I got presents on Friday that might distract me! I got a big old box of ARCs! I have The Darlings by Melissa Kantor (I know that one is out already), Dark Goddess by Chadda Sawart, and Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I might have to pause the other books to read Delirium. I have multiple copies of these, so I am thinking about doing a giveaway contest. Still working out the details on that, I’ll keep you posted.

Don’t forget that tomorrow is Teen Scene in the Basement. Stop in for snacks and video games. It’s not too late to sign up for the chocolate program-Sweet Treats and Eats-on February 2nd or the Teen Pizza Pagers meeting February 9th. We will be talking about Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix and eating pizza from Danny Boy’s!

Happy Reading!