Monthly Archives: December 2011

Mondays With Megan: New Manga! Afterschool Charisma

I recently ordered a ton of new manga for my library collection and the first of it is starting to come in. I confess that I am really bad about reading manga, but I am trying to get better about that. On of the problems that I have is that I find it very overwhelming to see currently ongoing series with 40+ titles in them. That’s a lot of catching up to do. So, my new plan of attack is to start fresh with new series. To that end, today I am taking home the first four volumes of Afterschool Charisma by Kumiko Suekane.

 

 

If you look closely, you’ll see some familiar names-Marie Curie, Joan of Arc, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Florence Nightingale are just a few.

Here’s the scoop:

St. Kleio Academy is an exclusive private high school with a unique enrollment policy. All the students are clones of famous people from history. All of them, except Shiro Kamiya who is the son of one of the scientists in charge of the cloning program. Shiro does his best to fit in with his classmates and he only want to help them as they study the achievements of their originals. Shiro’s future is not predetermined, but the clones appear to be destined to repeat history.

So many things about this series are appealing to me. First of all, I am excited to see how various historical figures are treated and how they interact with each other. I mean really, how do Freud, Hitler, and Rasputin get along? Do Joan of Arc and Elizabeth I hang out with Marie Curie? And since its high school, who likes who? Can you just imagine the messed-up romantic possibilities? And of course, there are clones. I am very much a fan of books about clones. I am not so sure human clones are a good idea in practice, but in theory the idea is pretty cool. The premise sounds promising, I hope they are good. I’ll let you know what I think, though it may not be until after the holidays as I am on holiday prep overload. I need a nap.

Any manga recommendations for a newbie?

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Today I am Thankful

It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the stressful hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I myself am guilty of fretting over things that in the grand scheme of things are insignificant. This week I have had a number of reminders to slow down, stop stressing, and enjoy the magic and merriment of the season. Lucky you, I am going to share.

I have been feeling quite scattered-brained this week and I have not been able to muster the concentration needed for The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. Shocking, I know. But, the bright side of this is that I found inspiration in two small books.

First I enjoyed A Little House Christmas: Holiday Stories from the Little House Books.

I know I have talked about Little House a lot lately, but they really are just so good. This collection of Christmas stories helped put me in a holiday mood and reminded me of the things that are truly important-good health, close family, and good friends. Laura Ingalls lived in a time when a new tin cup and few pieces of candy were a Christmas windfall. Can you imagine? Life was hard and dangerous and they found comfort and joy in family and friends not material belongings. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for all the modern conveniences I enjoy, but it does make me think.

The other source of inspiration this week comes from the book 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik

In 2007 Kralik, an attorney, found his life to be at a depressing low. His law firm was in jeopardy, his relationships were in shambles, his apartment was tiny and depressing, he has unhealthy and miserable as he helplessly watched his dreams slip away. That is, until he found inspiration on a New Year’s Day walk in the hills of L.A. He decided to start focusing on what he had instead of dwelling on what he didn’t. Inspired by a thank you note from his ex-girlfriend, Kralik embarked on his mission to send 365 thank you notes to people who touched his life.

I am only half-way through the book, but I am finding it inspiring and thought-provoking. It is making me more aware of all the things that I have to be thankful for in my life. In fact, I am thankful to Stacey for recommending this book to me.

Another reminder to slow down and enjoy the season came last night. After watching my nephew’s Christmas concert I drove my 90-year old grandmother home. As we approached downtown she remarked that she hadn’t seen Public Square lit up for Christmas in years. How fortunate that we had not passed the exit yet! It was late, I was a little cranky and I knew I had to be up early the next morning, but that 10 minute detour really meant a lot to a woman who doesn’t ask for much in life. And do you know what? It was beautiful!

Grandma is on the left, her 92 year-old sister is in the middle, and the 87-year old “baby sister” is at the end. Me and my sisters are on the opposite side of the table. We are sitting across of our “older” selves (I am the oldest of my generation, in the middle, across from the oldest of her generation). I am so thankful to have these awesome women in my life.

Finally, this morning I saw a house collapse on its neighbor. The new second story of the house literally collapsed to one side. I was reminded that things can always be worse. My basement may be a damp, moldy mess, but at least my neighbor’s roof is not leaning against the side of my house. Life is good.

I hope you can take a quick, quiet moment and find something to be thankful for today. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel.

Do you have a book that inspires you? I am in the mood to be inspired, so please pass the recommendation on to me. Thank!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Make Great Gifts

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week we are getting into the holiday spirit and talking about books that make great gifts. This year I bought my three young nephews passes to the brand new aquarium opening up here in Cleveland. I am so excited about this that I bought myself a membership. Merry Christmas to me. But I digress, I really am trying to make a point. A little wallet card is no fun to tear open on the big day, so I bought them each ocean-themed books. I really wish I could remember titles, but I don’t. I am pretty sure they are all DK or National Geographic titles and they are gorgeous. I feel like younger children are easy to buy books for. Teens, on the other hand could be a bit trickier. Me? I can’t wait until these boys are teens because I will buy them the most awesome books ever. Until then, let me help you shop for the teen readers in your life.

1. For the history buff and/or steampunk fan:

The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

These books are gorgeously illustrated and I think have broad general appeal so get this for the guy who loves history, battles, and awesome machines or the girl who loves a great adventure with a strong female character. Steampunk is all the rage right now, so that’s a bonus too.

2. For the reader who appreciates a good cry:

If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

This series has tragedy, heart-break, romance, music and hope. It’s a real tear-jerker, but worth every tissue!

3. For the mythology lover with a sense of humor:

  

Rick Riordan is a genius. And hilarious. You’ll want to start at the beginning with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. If you want Egyptian mythology get started on The Kane Chronicles series. Percy fans will also appreciate The Heroes of Olympus series, which blends familiar Greek heroes with new Roman heroes and gods.

4. For every girl who dreams of having a secret identity and bada** skills:

Ally Carter has two series that rock my socks off. The Gallagher Girls series is about a secret spy school for girls. Awesome tough girls on secret missions, romance, and humor all in on perfect little package. They are squeaky clean, so give these to your tween readers too. The Heist Society series stars a girl with equally unique and awesome skills. She’s like the modern-day Robin Hood of the art theft scene. There is also a super cute boy.

5. For the guy who likes fantasy, adventure, and appreciates medieval times and weaponry:

There are ten books in The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan and every single one is amazing. I can’t wait to check out his new series, The Brother Band Chronicles.

6. For fans of The Hunger Games:

  

Dystopian societies are another hot topic in teen literature, thanks in large part to the popularity of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If your teen reader doesn’t already own/hasn’t read that series, buy them now. If they are looking for awesome readalikes check out Divergent by Veronica Roth, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, or Legend by Marie Li.

7. For time traveling fans:

 

Hourglass by Myra McEntire and Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier are two of my favorite books of 2011. Give these to the girl who loves a good paranormal romance but needs a break from vampires.

8. For the nonfiction lover:

   

Warriors by Hannah Wilson, Danger! by Laura Buller, Ductigami by Joe Wilson, and Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak by Writers Famous & Obscure are all cool books with great teen appeal.

9. For fans of urban fantasy/alternate history/The Sopranos:

 

The Curse Workers series by Holly Black is fantastic! Don’t be fooled by the girl on the cover of Red Glove, these books will appeal to guys as well as girls. Get them hooked with White Cat and Red Glove and they will be begging for Black Heart when in comes out in April 2012.

10. For the fan of a feel-good story:

 

Not everyone enjoys a vampire/zombie/dystopian/paranormal story. For those who want good old contemporary fiction try Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John or The Cardturner by Louis Sachar.  These are great stories with memorable characters and happy endings. Warm fuzzies for your favorite reader.

Once again, I have totally bent the rules of the Top Ten list, but I hope this helps you find the elusive perfect gift for your favorite teen (or teen at heart) reader.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays with Megan: Robots at the Library Edition

If you asked me a year ago if I would be doing a robotics program with my teens at the library I would have chuckled and reminded you that math is not my thing and robotics sounds like a lot of math. It turns out robotics does involve math (still not my thing) and I do have a robotics program for my teens. Who knew? Thanks to the generosity of one of our library support groups we recently purchased six Lego Mindstorm kits. I will freely admit to freaking out when the robots arrived, and then again before, during, and after the brief training I had. I felt a little better after going to a second training and practicing on my own and with my awesome partner in robotics, Stacey. But I was still worried. Who wouldn’t be? Maybe a math genius or rocket scientist. But me? Nervous. Turns out Stacey and I rock the robotics.

Here is how it went down at the library:

The goal: build a robot, program it to do things, test it to see if it will actually do those things.

Step 1: Pick a partner, find a spot to spread out, and build a robot!

It took some patience and teamwork, but in the end we had four robots built and ready to program.

 With the hard part over, they set about programming their bots. They started small and worked their way up to more complex programs until their parents came and had to practically drag them away from their projects.

This is what I learned:

1. Me and the Robots may never be besties, but they don’t stress me out anymore.
2. It takes a long time to build the basic robot.
3. Teens are much better sports than I am. Whereas unsuccessful programs spiked my blood pressure and drove me to the brink of tears, they simply when back to the computer and cheerfully tried again. Seriously. Zero frustration from them. It was pretty awesome to observe.
4. In the future this will be a two-part program. One session will be spent building and the second will focus on programming.
5. I need more practice!
6. Teens do not get Short Circuit references.  Number 5 is alive! Oh my gosh, that movie was made in 1986?!?

Holiday preparations have left me exhausted and unfocused, so I have gotten very little reading done. This is so hard to believe considering I have Clockwork Prince in my possession. Once I finish with The Misfits by James Howe for book club on Wednesday I will be able to fully dedicate myself to CP, I promise. That’s all for now. Stay tuned for lots of year in review lists!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favorites

It’s almost time to start putting together “Best of” and “Year in Review” lists, but before we do that, let’s go way back to where it all began for many of us book bloggers-childhood.  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish is all about childhood favorites. My list is in no particular order, but these are ten books that I can very clearly remember reading and loving.

1.

I read the entire Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene series over the course of one summer.

2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

charlotte’s web

Mondays With Megan: Frost by Wendy Delsol Review

I don’t know about you, but I could really do without all the rain on this gloomy Monday. Not helpful. I had a pretty busy weekend and got very little reading done, which means I really should do take this opportunity to catch up on some book reviews. Here goes. First you may want to refresh your memory with my review of Stork. Ok, you good? On to book 2, Frost.

Frost by Wendy Delsol 2011

After all the recent drama in her life (read Stork!), Katla is looking forward to a quiet Christmas. Instead, the winter storm of the century brings not only a ton of snow but Brigid, a gorgeous scientist with an annoying interest in Jack, to town. In addition to worrying about Jack, Katla is juggling work on the school production of The Snow Queen, a lengthy to-do list from her bedridden mother, and some disturbing events within the Stork Society. Katla barely has time to process a new skill she has recently developed. When Jack and Brigid go missing on an expedition in Greenland, Katla may be the only one who can save him, if she is willing to pay the price.

Delsol tips her hat to the legendary Snow Queen in this fun sequel to Stork. Katla is charming heroine with a believable teen voice. In addition to managing her Stork responsibilities, she juggles normal teen troubles like school and family responsibilities, boyfriend insecurities, and fashion with humor and grace. The refreshing blend of old-fashioned fairy tales and modern-day troubles make this a unique read. And like Stork, there is kissing.

Be sure to check my Stork review for similar titles.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan



Legend by Marie Lu Review

I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning finishing Legend by Marie Lu, which is way past my bedtime, but it was totally worth it.

Legend by Marie Lu, 2011

Los Angeles, California was once the west coast of The
United States of America. In the year 2130 it is part of The Republic, a nation continually embroiled in war against its neighbors, The Colonies. Los Angeles is the home of June, a wealthy fifteen-year-old prodigy. The only person to earn a perfect score on her Trial, she attends the Republic’s most elite college where she is being groomed for a high-ranking military career. Los Angeles is also home to Day, a fifteen-year-old criminal. Day is the only person to escape his fate after failing his Trial. Since his escape, his covert attacks against the government have made him the Republic’s most wanted criminal. Day’s attempt to procure plague medicine for his family ends with the death of June’s brother, putting the two teens on a collision course. June goes undercover in an attempt to find Day and avenge her brother’s death. Instead, she discovers a deadly secret and learns the truth about the lengths that her government goes to in order to keep it buried.

This stunning dystopian debut is the perfect antidote for Hunger Games withdrawal. Told from alternating points of view, the story unfolds at a breakneck pace, culminating in a shocking reveal that will leave readers eager for more. Getting the story from both points of view resulted in me cheering on both of them, which was odd because one was out to kill the other. Trust me though, it totally works because they are both strong, appealing characters. Day is perfect-a handsome futuristic Robin Hood fighting “the Man”. What’s not to love? But in the end, it is June who won me over. June is a confident, smart, tough girl who doesn’t just take the word of a handsome boy that things are amiss. She demands proof and I totally respect that about her. She has no reason to distrust her leaders and every reason to hate Day and I found her reactions and emotions genuine and believable.

I will confess that based on what I knew going into it, I was worried that the romance was going to ruin things for me. How could it possibly happen, I wondered? It turns out that I fretted for nothing and things worked out. Thank goodness for twists, turns, secrets, and surprises! I won’t say any more, you will have to find out for yourself what happens.

Legend is a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase that turns out to be so much more. It is definitely a must read for thrill-seeking dystopian fans.

Give this fans of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Want more? Try Divergent by Veronica Roth, Matched by Ally Condie and Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

P.S.  Hello, WordPress? FYI,  Save draft means keep all the words, not erase all the words. *shakes fist* and *goes home*