Monthly Archives: May 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Minor Characters

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday List. This week the hosts of this feature,  The Broke and the Bookish , have asked us to honor all those supporting characters in books. So, here’s to you, all you best friends of to the main characters!

1. Lucy from The Drake Chronicles series by Alyxandra Harvey. This girl is fearless and sassy, my favorite combination.

2. Balder the Garden Gnome in Going Bovine by Libba Bray. Who doesn’t love a Norse god trapped in the body of a garden gnome? Balder is at the center of many of the laugh-out-loud moments in this book.

3.  The Harry Potter series is overflowing with great supporting characters: Dobby, The Weasley Twins, Snape, Neville Longbottom, Sirius Black…the list goes on. It’s HP, enough said, right?

4. Grimalkin from The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. I like a character that keeps me guessing. Sure, Grimalkin is wise, but trustworthy? You’ll have to read it to find out.

5. Grandma Mazur from the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I have only read the first book in the series, but Grandma Mazur is a hoot! “Hoot” is a bit nerdy, but really, how else can you describe the gun-shooting, hot pant-wearing, say-it-like-it-is granny?

6. Bovril, the persipicacious loris from Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld. Who doesn’t love a cute fabricated beastie?

7. Lil, the jukebox from the Dead Is…series by Marlene Perez. This is a cute paranormal series with tons of interesting supporting characters, but Lil is my favorite. I love how her song selections are clues to solving the mysteries.

8. Tasey, the sparkly pink taser from Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. Sure, like Lil, Tasey is an object, but the story would not be the same without her, so in my book she is a character!

9. As long as I am honoring inanimate objects, how about Gladys the bike from the Flavia de Luce series by Allen Bradley? That Gladys sure has spirit and she is not afraid to get dirty.

10. Last, but certainly not least, Mort Schilling, Isabel Spellman’s elderly Jewish lawyer in The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. Oh, Morty, you are hilarious. Your knack for irritating Izzele (the Yiddishified version of Isabel) is brilliant, and yet the friendship that develops over the course of the series is truly touching. I usually have a taste for a deli sandwich after spending time with Izzy and Morty.

Ok, this list is finally complete. It’s late, but still Tuesday. I am going to be off for a few days, but I will try to schedule some posts for you.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays with Megan-Divergent Review

What a busy weekend! My sister is in town from Montana, so the weekend was packed with family activities. Soccer games, birthday parties, bowling, and IHOP are just a few of the fun parts of my weekend. Not so fun, sunburn (I know, right?!) and the piece of siding I found in my driveway. It looks like mine, but I really can’t find where it came from. Despite all the hustle and bustle, I managed to finish Divergent by Veronica Roth. This 22-year-old author’s debut novel is being compared to The Hunger Games, so of course I had to read it. I was so pleased that this book lived up to all the hype!

Divergent by Veronica Roth May 2011

Beatrice Prior lives in a dystopian Chicago where people are divided into factions that value and cultivate a particular virtue. At the age of sixteen citizens may decide to stay with their faction and family or choose to join a different faction. Beatrice struggles with her decision, which is made even more complicated by the confusing results of a standard aptitude test. Once the decision is made, Beatrice renames herself Tris and begins the grueling and dangerous initiation process. Protecting a secret that could lead to her death if discovered, Tris soon learns that there is growing conflict among certain factions. This conflict not only threatens the peace of her seemingly perfect society, but the people who Tris loves the most. As tension mounts Tris learns that her secret could be the key to saving those she loves.

I could not stop reading this book. I admit that during the first 100 pages (it’s almost 500 pages long), I wondered what exactly was going to happen. The stage was being set, but I couldn’t imagine how the book could be so long. And then I was sucked in with such force that I could think of nothing else but when I was going to read this book. The plot slowly unraveled, revealing itself one bit at a time, just as some of the characters’ secrets are slowly revealed. The action is non-stop, and at times gruesome. Violence, backstabbing, and high stakes challenges are par for the course as Tris struggles to earn a spot in her faction of choice. This is a promising start to a new dystopian trilogy. It is intense and suspenseful and left me eager for more (and wondering which faction I would choose). The factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), Candor (the honest) and Dauntless (the brave). Before I read the book I thought I knew, but after, I’m not so sure.

Fans of Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Blood Red Road by Miora Young, Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins will enjoy this electrifying new series.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Fantastic Friday the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th! For those of us who do not suffer from Paraskevidekatriaphobia, fear of Friday the 13th, it’s just another Friday (yay Friday!). Can’t pronounce that mouthful? Click here and a lovely British man will say it for you. For those of you who are superstitious about this unlucky day, you will be happy to know that this is the one and only Friday the 13th in 2011. Though I feel I should warn you that 2012, a leap year, has three Friday the 13ths. Yikes. I say, let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. On to some freaky fact-finding regarding this supposedly unluckiest of days.

13 Legends and superstitions about the Number 13, Fridays, and Friday the 13th

1. If 13 people sit down for dinner one will die within a year. I actually just learned about this one while reading The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell. Her male lead, Nathaniel, was a Fourteenth, or a hired guest to a dinner party to prevent the dreaded and deadly thirteen guests senario.

2. Changing your sheets on a Friday will bring bad dreams.

3. In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day.

4. A properly-formed coven of witches has 13 members.

5. In numerology, 12 is the number of completeness (12 months in a year, 12 hours of clock, 12 apostles, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 labors of Hercules), whereas 13 is irregular.

6. Friday, October 13, 1307 was the day King Philip of France arrested and tortured the Knights Templar.

7. More than 90% of high rise building do not have a 13th floor and airplanes do not have a 13th aisle.

8. If you have 13 letters in your name you will have devil’s luck. Infamous 13 letter names: Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo. Um, my name has 13 letters….

9. In Florence, Italy, the house between the numbers 12 and 14 has the address 12 1/2. The number 13 is also not part of the lottery

10. You should never cut your hair on Friday the 13th, as it will result in a death in the family.

11. There were 13 stairs leading to the gallows, the blade in a guillotine fell from a height of 13 feet and a hangman had 13 knots in a hangman’s noose.

12. Henry Bliss of New York became the first U.S. pedestrian killed by an automobile on Friday September 13th, 1899.

13. Last year in an article for National Geographic one historian reported that an estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do!

So, in honor of Friday the 13th and Short Story Month 2011 why not pick up Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love edited by Trisha Talep or R.L. Stine’s collection, Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror? I dare you.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Pizza, Pictionary, and Life As We Knew It

Yesterday was the last meeting of the school year for the Teen Pizza Pagers. My readers devoured the delicious pizza from Dewey’s and had a lively discussion of Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This book was a crowd favorite. Here is how they rated it:

Tori: 5
Carla: 5
Maria: 5
Hannah: 5
Maddie: 4.5
Claire: 5
Dell:1
Total: 4.4/5 pepperonis

Spencer couldn’t make it but his friends swear he would have rated it a 5 as well. I’m patting myself on the back for picking this winner. So, what’s all the fuss about?

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, book 1 of The Survivors series, 2006

Miranda Evans is a normal sixteen-year-old girl living in Pennsylvania. She is on the swim team, she ice skates, and she has a crush on Dan. Her parents are divorced, she has two brothers, and often argues with her mom. Pretty normal stuff. Then one day an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it out of orbit and closer to Earth. The effects are immediate and catastrophic. Soon death and starvation is normal. Freezing cold summer are normal. Life without electricity, cell phones, and television is normal. Miranda and her family must struggle and sacrifice to survive in a world that is unrecognizable from life as we knew it.

Life As We Knew It is a frighteningly realistic postapocalyptic tale of survival and hope. Despite revealing the dark and ugly side of human nature, Pfeffer manages to infuse enough hope into her characters and story that readers will begin to believe that survival is possible. Miranda is a realistic and sympathetic character that readers can actually relate to. She is not a perfect, almost super-human heroine. She has moments of fear, despair, and selfishness, but manages to overcome these feeling and continue to press forward. I also found it refreshing to have positive parent involvement in the story. Miranda’s parents and their reactions made the story that much more believable. This story made some of my readers more fearful of the supposed end of the world events of 2012 (I’ve noticed that the fervor has died down a bit). It reminded some of the movies The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. I haven’t seen either, but I think I have to check them out now. There are three books in this series. The next book, The Dead and the Gone, has an entirely new cast. The Morales family in New York struggles to survive after the asteroid hits. The third book, This World We Live In follows familiar characters from the first two books. I recently finished the series on audiobook, and would recommend them to anyone looking for a good survival story.  If you liked this series check out Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and of course, the ultimate survival series, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I am off the order extra copies of The Dead and the Gone and This World We Live In and check out the availability of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s new book Blood Wound.

I almost forgot to explain the rest of this post’s title! In addition to the more traditional question/discussion format, The Pizza Pagers jazzed things up a bit by playing Life As We Knew It-style pictionary-FUN! I think we will have to incorporate more activities like that into our meetings. Ok, now I am done.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Top Ten Literary Jerks

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This was a tricky list to make. Consider this:

Jerk:
a: an annoyingly stupid or foolish person 
b: an unlikable person; especially : one who is cruel, rude, or small-minded

-Merriam-Webster

I think that bullies and pompous asses fall into the jerk category as well. Now here is where it gets tricky. It seems like the baddies in YA lit are either guys who start out as jerks and reform or are just down right villainous, there is very little middle ground or general jerkiness. After much consideration, here is my list:

1. Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series. Jerk. Enough said. Snape and all the Dursleys are also on the HP Jerks list!

2. Patch for Hush, Hush and Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick. I think that Patch is supposed to be the oh-so-dreamy-bad-boy-who-will-reform-because-I-love-him, but honestly, I just think he’s a jerk.

3. Erik from Tangerine by Edward Bloor. Erik is a totally bully. He’s cruel, selfish, and small-minded. Total jerk.

4. Josh Cooke from Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (one of my favorite reads of the year). Josh is, as described on the jacket, “an egomaniacal pretty boy.” Those guys are usually jerks.

5. The kid from The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I had never really thought about this before, but ever since my friend pointed it out, it’s all I can think about. That kids was a selfish, greedy, little….well, you know. What a jerk.

6. Wendell from Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. What kind of guy exploits a mentally challenged person? A world-class jerk, that’s who.

7. Will from Clockwork Angel (and I suppose Jace from The Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare. Yes, he’s dark and mysterious. He has an attitude that for some reason makes girls swoon. But really, all the brooding makes him a jerk. He and Jace both may eventually find themselves in the Reformed Jerks Club, but not yet.

8. Conrad from The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. Poor Belly picked the wrong brother to crush on. He totally rejects her and picks on her. Jeez, jerk.

9. Kyle Kingsbury from Beastly by Alex Flinn. Another egomaniacal pretty boy, only this one gets what is coming to him. Finally the jerk doesn’t get away with his jerky ways.

10. How about a classic jerk to finish off the list? I am sure he has topped many a list today…Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Egomaniacal pretty boy? Yup. He also falls into the pompous ass category.

Ok, I changed my mind, this wasn’t too difficult to do once I got on a roll. It was quite fun. Great topic. Next week: Top Ten Favorite Minor Characters.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays with Megan

Holy Moley, there is sunshine! What a difference a little spring weather makes on my mood.This is a treat, especially after a lovely and relaxing long weekend (my birthday present to myself:)). I had plenty of time on my hands to read and I spent the weekend alternating between short stories in Zombies vs. Unicorns and The Throne of Fire, book two in the Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan.

My favorite short story so far? Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson. This creepy little tale was a pleasant surprise because she is not known for  Fantasy/Sci-Fi writing. She writes chick lit (Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and Suite Scarlett are just two of her delightfully zombie-free novels). It was fun to discover her darker (and possibly disturbed side?) The story in a nutshell: Young college student foolishly follows a guy to England to work on an organic farm. Organic farm=hell on earth, guy=deadbeat. Determined to get herself out of this jam, desperate girl takes a job babysitting a famous (and totally wacko) actress’ children. Everyone knows celebrity kids are different, right? Pick up Zombies vs Unicorns to find out how different. Very cool story.

As for The Throne of Fire, Rick Riordan is truly a master of mythology! Carter and Sadie Kane are back in action trying to save the world from Chaos. Hopefully I will finish it today or tomorrow and have a review ready this week.

This week in the last Teen Pizza Pagers meeting of the school year. We will be enjoying Dewey’s Pizza and discussing Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I am anxious to hear what they thought of this book. I read it a while back and recently finished the other two books in the series. I’ll keep you posted.

Stop back tomorrow for Top Ten Tuesday. This week is Jerks in Literature.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Zombies vs Unicorns

 

 

 

VS

 

In honor of Short Story Month 2011, I have (temporarily) set aside The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan in order to read a few stories in Zombies vs Unicorns. It’s a good thing these stories are a lot of fun because my fingers have been twitching with anticipation ever since I got the newest Kane Chronicles book! I’ll get to it this weekend, I promise.

Back to zombies and unicorns. Yesterday I declared my loyalty to Team Zombie without having read any of the stories. Since then I have read the first two unicorn stories and one zombie story. Based on entertainment value alone, the unicorns are winning so far (shocking, I know. Well played Team Unicorn, well played). However, I am not yet convinced that the unicorn is better AND Carrie Ryan is up next, who I am sure will release me from whatever spell the unicorns may have put on me. Team Unicorn must be resorting to some underhanded trickery to lure me away from Team Zombie. Their insecurity is sad, but understandable. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be on a team with Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Carrie Ryan, Scott Westerfeld, and Maureen Johnson?

Jealous of the fun I am having? Well, join me in the zombie/unicorn madness! It’s fun and the stories are short so you’ll fly right through them. I am curious, are you Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

Braaaaaaaains, um, I mean, uh Happy Reading!

˜Megan