Friday, June 29, 2012

Batty About Books - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Source: Wikipedia
This week the Batty About Books duo is discussing
Fahrenheit 451- The Movie

Last week, in honor of Ray Bradbury's passing, we read and discussed the classic, Fahrenheit 451. This week we watched and compared the movie.


Fahrenheit 451 - Francois Truffaut (director)
Overall I didn’t like the movie. I’d seen it before, but not this close to reading the book.  The differences between the two were startling.  I understand that a director and a script writer have to make decisions on how best to make a book visual, but I felt as if they changed the underlying themes.
Maria: I am pretty sure I haven’t seen this movie before. I agree, there are always things that need to change in a screen adaptation. I often have students watch a movie version of a book we’ve read. I’d say a major goal is to NOT change the overall meaning of the story... major fail here.

Clarisse - she was WAY too old. Not even sure why she still lived with her uncle. She didn’t convince me that she was this happy-go-lucky young lady at all. It answers my book question on why she was so young in book - made the story more believable. This just seemed odd.
Maria: Agreed. This was one of my complaints as well. She just made no sense, and didn’t really impact Guy the way she needed to.

Fire Chief - did not understand why he kept berating those two young firemen. Was it to show us how mean he was? His stiffness was the exact opposite of the chief in the book. You would not be afraid of him, you would more likely make fun of him. He seemed odd.
Maria: Yes! I can’t believe I didn’t mention that one. His character was so engaging - rich - and almost believable in the book. In the movie, though, I didn’t understand him at all! All the characters seemed stiff (though that’s partly the acting of the time). They all seemed fairly doped up for the entire movie.

Faber - why did they chose to leave him out? The idea that Montag needs a mentor to help him make the transition from firestarter to reader makes sense. He doesn’t use that part of his brain.  Leaving Faber out leaves too much for Montag to figure out on his own. Odd choice.
Maria: The only thing I could think of is that adding Faber into the story adds more complexity - and more length to the movie. I know we’re used to movies that are close to or over 2 hours, but I think movies were shorter back then. I agree, though, losing this character caused us to make huge jumps in logic. Faber was so critical to Guy’s development.

Linda - Did they change her name because they made the her so much younger? And prettier? I pictured her as old and worn out and drugged. In the movie she was young and vibrant and used drugs yes but the her overdose was not believable.  They changed so much about her it was as if she was a new character! This was like the opposite of Clarissa - she was more like how I pictured Clarissa to be! Odd!
Maria: I always find it odd when they change a character’s name. I know I put a lot of thought and effort into the name choices for my characters - and I think a name holds so much weight. I did picture her more like this movie version than you did - like a overly bored socialite - but they made her way too vibrant. Kathy: “Too vibrant” - yes, that’s what was missing and you are right, she would have been just an “overly bored socialite”.  She was only supposed to be about 30 or so, so fairly young but her only life consisting of the “family”.

The Hound - where was he? I thought Montag’s fear of him in the book was an integral part of the story. Instead they used another fireman to turn on Montag. I wasn’t able to understand that character’s motivation - unless he was jealous of Montag’s promotion. No real character development from him struck me as odd.
Maria: Yes! Montag and the hound was a bit part of the book. Montag’s growing realization that humanity’s use of technology only reflects the violence within them. Maybe they didn’t’ have the budget for this effect? Though I can’t imagine it would have been that hard. Maybe something else about the 60s that would lead them to remove the robot from the story?

The Family - so creepy. Not inviting and engaging at all. I would have been turned OFF by them not felt like I should watch them 24/7. It was a little funny how they included her name in the show but they were clearly NOT concerned with her or her thoughts. They were just odd.
Maria: The “cousins” were SO incredibly bizarre! Creepy and disturbing. Again, I think Bradbury did a remarkable job describing his vision of the entertainment system in his book - and they completely ignored it. Did they even READ the book when they wrote this movie? Kathy: Haha! Exactly! It’s like when you hear a student talk about a book and you know they have no clue because they only read the book or heard others talking about it!

Housing - I liked the firehouse and Montag’s house.  I didn’t like the houses they showed in the beginning. They were too sturdy and I thought the houses would be more easily burnable.
Maria: Hmm... I thought they looked like they belonged in the 60s. I guess I get why they wouldn’t want them to look too futuristic - the goal of the story is to feel “near future”, I think. But it’s like they could only say “hey, doors might open on their own” and that was the only nod to futurism at all. Even the phones looked ancient, and there were no “seashells” except when she went to bed. That appeared to only be her way to hear the tv without disturbing Guy’s sleep.

Televisions - what happened to the wall? That could have been done with a green screen! Yes, they had them in every room, but they didn’t seem immersed in them which is the impression I received from the book.  
Maria: This was - honestly - the very first thing that pulled me right out of the movie. This would have been so easy to get right!

Television shows - they actually had the news playing at some point. Where was the fun and loud noise? Montag and Linda watched a show together! Also, when her friends were over - they were barely paying attention to the show, instead they were all talking.
Maria: I hated how they handled the television, sets and shows. So much of what I got from it was just the overwhelming CONSTANT noise, commercialism, etc. Yet this was missing completely from the movie. Again, did they read the book?

Book Burning - They mostly burned the books outside of the house. It was daylight. These choices were the opposite of Bradbury’s. What happened to all the contrasts of light/dark? Or even the types of light itself? And Montag wore special clothing to burn the books. That made the books more important and the invasion of television less so.
Maria: This was a startling change. Think how amazing the visuals on this could have been! Movies are supposed to be a visual experience, so why did they fall down on this area?

S-E-X - What about the scene on the tram where EVERYONE is touching themselves? The innuendoes from the blood changing men? The scene with Montag and Linda after she was cleansed? Was this just a French thing?
Maria: Heh. So true. Though if other things had been done well I could have understood this. I saw it as people craving true sensory input (rather than the sterile input from a screen). But the fact that they completely removed the “living life - experiencing life” message from Clarisse, this seemed like a bizarre side scene. Ah! that makes sense.  

Police - a little “big brother” ish with the way they answer the phone Listening. Also why was it necessary to cut people’s hair? The police played a more prominent role in the movie. They even completed files on the “perpetrators” that were then sent to firemen.  AFTER they’d already burned those people’s books.
Maria: I’m betting this ties in with the 60s mentality. Honestly, what a cool high school media literacy project this could be! Study the 60s and then watch the movie to pull out the possible reasoning for the movie choices.

River - First, flying policemen? That didn’t even make sense. And how did he know when they were gone if he was under the tarp? Why was there only one boat there? Also, he found the river much too easily. The chase scene was so much less dramatic without the hound. And the pretend chase? He ran around the fire department and got shot? No tension at all. And what about the people at the river? They weren’t even hiding! They were loud so it didn’t make sense that the government didn’t know they were there. Why were they allowed to congregate like that? I did like that they were like a family with people of all ages. And also that people’s names were changed to reflect the book they’d memorized. I didn’t like that the guy from the beginning of the movie and Clarisse were both there, but I guess it worked for the movie.
Maria: Can I also say that I didn’t like the way it just ended? Yes, the bombing in the book was extreme - but I thought it was more powerful. I also laughed when I saw the flying police officers. So they can do that - but not have wall sized televisions? So strange!


Well, have you read the book or seen the movie? Or both? We'd love to hear what you think about all this.  In the meantime, pop on over to Maria's Melange to get her side of the (visual) story!


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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Next Great Read

If you work in a school setting or have access to book reading students, you know they have one question -
Do you know any good books?
 My snarkastic answer varies based on my relationship with said student.  I've even setup a Good Books table, an idea I lifted from Bookends, but sometimes they just want ideas from me. 

And just like the students, every now and again I turn to twitter and I ask my version of that question:


The most tweeted book was See You At Harry's By Jo Knowles.  I've been avoiding that book because I heard it made people cry! That's the reason I haven't read Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness yet, even though I adored the rest of the Chaos Trilogy!





I like how Patrick and Cynthia also threw in some extra books.  I haven't read Lions of Little Rock by Kristen Levine, One for the Murphy's by Lynda Mullaly Hunt or The Candymakers by Wendy Mass yet.  I've got 2 of 3 here! 

We had two nods to Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It's one of our June selections for Mock Printz 2013 on Goodreads and I've been avoiding it the same as See You At Harry's!



And then we have a variety of other books!




The only one I haven't read is the Sophie Kinsella book. I've read The Mini-Shopoholic and loved it and keep forgetting to pick up smething else of hers.  

All in all, I've a few books to move up in the TBR pile.  I hope to get to the ones I missed in the next week or two! In the meantime, See You At Haw-ees! (Yes, I started it. But I will not cry!)

Are there any YA books that you've read and loved this year? Share titles in the comments!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown - Review and Giveaway

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown (website | twitter)
Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House (book page)
Source: publisher
Genre: fantasy (killer mermaids)
Rating:  5/5
Buy it: Amazon | Indiebound

 Merpeople are serious grudge holders. When Calder White was a wee merman his mom was killed waiting for Tom Hancock to fulfill his promise to her. The Whites have never forgiven the Hancock family. They've finally located Jason Hancock, one of Toms's descendants, and have a chance to pay the family back.  By killing one of them! A life for a life. Calder's job is to use his earthly charms to get close to the Hancock family so he and his sisters can take them down.

These are killer mermaids! Not only do they want to get revenge but they also prey on humans. They feed off emotions. The happier the human, the more satiated the merperson! Creepy!

Calder tries his best to separate himself from his three evil mermaid stepsisters. He migrates at least a plane ride away from them every winter. But as soon as things start to warm-up, he can't resist his older sister Maris pulling him back to her side. Really, they are all linked and can see what the other person is thinking. His only way free is to get Maris to sever the connection.

Wait, did I mention that Jason Hancock has two daughters? One Calder's age? Can you see where this is going? Lies Beneath has the same premise as many other "I want to be with you but I will probably kill you. No hard feelings. It's just my nature" type of books but Greenwood Brown kept it from being cliched. Her engaging writing style and the relentless forward motion of the plot made it hard to put the book down. So I didn't. You won't want to either!

Hang on, do not be deceived by this cover, as georgous as it is. Lies Beneath is narrated by Calder White, a boy mermaid, er, merman.  So, I'm guessing that's Lily on the cover. Deceptive even in it's beauty. Kinda like the merpeople. Well played, Anne Greenwood Brown, well played.

Trailer


Giveaway

Complete the form!
The giveaway is open from June 27, 2012 - July 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm.  
Winners will be chosen randomly.
Giveaway is open to US only! 
 Only one entry per person!









Thanks to PS for the opportunity to read and giveaway this book!
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Batty About Books - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In tribute to Ray Bradbury, who died June 5, 2012, Maria and I decided to read Fahrenheit 451 one week and watch the movie the next week.

We read the book in its entirety then shared our thoughts.  It was a powerful book and it elicited some powerful responses.

YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS MARIA'S THOUGHTS OVER ON MARIA'S MELANGE.  I'M TELLING YOU, IT'S GOOD STUFF!

Batty About 

Fahrenheit 451

Part 1 - Hearths and Salamanders
This part is all about light and darkness and the pursuit of happiness.  In the very first pages I love how Bradbury invokes fire/light by introducing the symbols of the phoenix and the salamander.  I also love the various ways he describes light: “the hysterical light of electricity”, “comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle”. There is also much darkness - the bedroom, the time of the fires, the Hound.  And the realization that noise and action and ignorance does not make you happy. In just 68 pages he introduces you to everything he’s going to discuss later. You start to slow down and pay attention and listen.  Something the people in Fahrenheit rarely do.
Maria: I also commented on the imagery and symbolism in his description of light and fire. I found it breathtaking. I kept speeding up to read more, then slowing down and rereading so I could savor it.

Part 2 - The Sand and The Sieve

“Nobody listens anymore. I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it'll make sense.”(82)

Having a hard time articulating how this makes me feel.  I feel like this sometimes - when I’m puzzling out a problem and If I just keep repeating it, the pieces will come together. Also, though, it reminds me of how our society uses social media.  We have this stream of followers/friends but is anyone really listening? We want to be heard. Desperately sometimes. So we keep talking. And we RT things, and we share, and we like, and we comment. And all the while we are hoping that we get this same courtesy in return. We want to be heard.
Maria: Yes! I mention this when I discuss how prophetic he sounds in this book. I’ve found my voice online. Yes, many times I’m talking to hear myself talk (or tweet) but I’ve found so many more like minded souls online than I could ever find in person near my house. I want to be heard, so I try to also remember to hear others... and talk back to them the way I want them to talk back to me.

Also, though, it’s what I fear will happen to us if we continue spending so much time in front of the computer instead of with actual people.  Will we be able to communicate - which goes both ways? Are we just putting things out there and not really listening? We can’t see a person’s body language, we can’t read their sarcasm or their levels of joy or pain - because we have levels.  It’s like Montag mentions - the sand and the sieve, you keep putting it out there but it seems to just fall through the holes.
Maria: Yes, this is a legitimate fear. This is why we can’t live our lives just behind a screen. And it’s why I think people also love things like Skype. It gives us a better glimpse into the mind of those across the screen from us. I loved that image of the sand and the sieve. So powerful.

Part 3 - Burning Bright
Here we are at the end. This part was a little confusing. A little sad.

I was a little confused about Beatty and his wanting to die. His quoting of books - though it kinda reminds me of the extreme radical “christians” who use obscure and out of context quotes from the bible to justify their actions - he’d obviously been reading, but why was he still in charge (disregarding the afterwords).  Did he want to die because people he knew were now getting hurt? Did he want to die because he saw what the lack of real knowledge was doing to the people?  This scares me because I see it so much today. People argue online with no real knowledge of the underlying issues. They often are just responding to something without looking into themselves. There used to be “reliable” sources to turn to. Now you turn to Google and, depending on the metrics they are using for their search engine, they return the search they want you to see or that someone paid to have come to the top. And it’s the same for all search engines. We don’t know who the experts are anymore because anyone can publish a book or create a webpage. And we have books! Imagine if we didn’t.  BTW, have you read FEED by MT Anderson?
Maria: Okay, can I just say how wonderful it is how deep this book pushed us? That didn’t happen with World Without Heroes or Dragon Castle. And yes, I agree with you so completely here, too. I feel like I never know enough about an issue to really push back and people or argue a point, but I’m in the minority. People can twist and turn any words to fit their own preconceived notions. Yet I wonder if relying on “experts” is always that much better? Yes, at least in the past people generally had to prove some level of knowledge before they were published... but there was still a lot of wrongheaded crap published, right? (and still manages to get published now.. And no we shouldn’t just rely on “experts”. That leads to a different level of trouble!)
And no, I haven’t read FEED. I’d love to hear about it! (Remarkable YA SF read about a future where chips are implanted. They “feed” us advertising, shopping, school, etc.  A definite one for us to read!)


“But that’s the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again because he knows very well it is important and worth the doing.” (153)
It saddens me that this is the attitude, albeit a good one. We will do it again. But the underlying meaning for me was we will screw it up again. We will fight again. We will destroy again.
Maria: Hmmm... love this quote, but I both agree and disagree with it. SOME of mankind keeps the hope alive, and some gives up. I guess that’s like in the Dark Ages. Sometimes the struggle to survive is all, but there are always some who keep that fire burning for us. Thankfully.

Yes, we WILL screw up again. Destroy again - and then build again. Have you watched any Battlestar Galatica? That is the underlying theme of that tale. “It has all happened before, and it will all happen again”. We can only hope that each time we rise a little higher, and don’t dip quite as low.

(I just started watching the new (2004-2009) Battlestar Galactica! And this was going through my mind. )


On the other hand, I like that they were each books, or poems, or essays.  That you could meet with someone and they could recite something to you. That it could all be captured again. But, that is because they took the time to learn the knowledge.  This makes me want to read more classics and history books. Who is the keeper of the knowledge right now? I was going to discuss reading habits but decided that’s a rant I want to do some other time.  I’m bookmarking some studies though!
Maria: Yes! This is a point I intended to make but didn’t bring up. We can’t rely on the internet being our “keepers of knowledge”. Yet we can’t ignore the new knowledge either.

Overall
You can’t read this book too many times. I do think you can be introduced to this book too young though.  Bradbury switches around in the book between thoughts and actions and characters quickly and you must be paying attention. Maria: Yes, yes! I think if you are too young when reading this book, it just won’t “click” for you. There’s not enough action to hold a very young reader, I don’t think. High school or college is perfect. It’s not a hard read, but you really need some life experience to appreciate it. I’ll tell you what, I want to go roll in the grass right now (but it’s dark and raining). Your wrap up sounds an awful lot like mine did.
Which, is  part of the overall message I took from the book. Slow down. Pay attention. Listen. Remember. Be present above all - turn off the computer/television/smartphone and be in this moment.





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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cat Girl's Day Off by Kimberly Pauley - bookaday #2


Cat Girl's Day Off
Kimberly Pauley
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

I picked this one because of the cover. It's awesome in it's simplicity. Cool looking Asian kid who reminds me of one of the Amazing Dancer's friends.  Big fluffy pink cat.  What choice did I have but to pick it up?

Natalie's lives in family of super-Talented people. They work for the government. Natalie, however, has a Talent she disparages, she can understand and talk to cats.  Not all animals, though. Basically, cats.  So right there you know there are going to be some laughs because cats are notorious for their superiority.  As a "Kat"hy I know what I'm talking about.  JK!

Natalie and her celebrity-obsessed friends get caught up in a kidnapping personality swapping gig that they need to use Natalie's Talent to foil.  Hilarity and hi-jinks ensue. Especially since the celebrities are remaking Ferris Beuller's Day Off!

I liked the cast of characters and the twist with who was kidnapped.  It was a little slow in parts but mostly fun. I also enjoyed the mostly realistic setting.

This one's put out by Tu Books.  They are an imprint to watch!

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Black Heart by Holly Black

Black Heart (Curse Workers, 3)
Holly Black
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Fantasy
Source: purchased

This is the final book The Curse Workers trilogy.  We are reunited with Cassel who desperately wants to gain Lila's forgiveness.  He's also being "trained" by his brother, Barron, to be a government agent when he leaves school.  Add to this trying to negotiate the strained relationship between his roommate Sam and Sam's ex-girlfriend, Daneca.

Black Heart is about lies.  The ones we tell to protect loved ones that just end up being the ones that hurt.  I really enjoyed this one but it didn't really feel like the end to me.  Or I just don't want to see the end of Cassel.

About the cover - they changed the cover on me after I'd already bought books 1 and 2.  I loved those covers so much more than these new ones.  I thought they old ones had character.  Also, now my set doesn't match. Book!

Bookaday #1
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52 Reasons to Hate my Father by Jessica Brody - Review


52 Reasons to Hate My Father 
Jessica Brody

Reviewed by Isabella (Bellanush)

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Genres: Realistic
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Source: Publisher- Farrar, Straus and Giroux (thanks you for the ARC!)


I really enjoyed this book. It had a lot of the same humor that was in her first book. It really kept my attention for the most part and I enjoyed seeing what the world is like from the rich perspective. It really reinforced something that my parents have told me for a long time; that if you
have money, it doesn't mean it makes you happy.

I really liked how that the story showed that lesson. I liked Luke's character a lot but I had to agree with Lexington when she said he was kinda stuffy. But he proved us wrong in the end and turned out to be a really fun character.

But I didn't appreciate Lexington's whining in the beginning of the book at all. I know it goes with the whole rich, spoiled heiress thing but I really hate when people act like that so it got on my nerves. I was extremely happy when that part of the book was done. I also wish that she had spent more time on the jobs. We got in depth into some of them but I would have enjoyed it a bit more if we could have gotten a little more involved in some of the jobs that she did end up enjoying such as the florist job.

But, overall, I really did enjoy reading this book. I hope she comes out with a new one soon.

Author Stuff
Website - Jessica Brody
Twitter - @JessicaBrody
52 Reasons to Hate My Father excerpt

Crossposted on Goodreads.

 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Batty About Books - Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac - End

Welcome to another edition of
Batty About Books!


We've been reading Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac and today we wrap it all up!

Dragon Castle is the story of Prince Rashko, a fifteen year old whose parents are away. Their castle has been invaded and only Rashko, his brother Paulek, and a handful of servants are there to defend it. But the invaders, Baron Temny and Princess Potenshie, are not as they appear. Magic seems to be involved and they are not overtly hostile. What's their plan? Rashko decides to consult his Uncle Josef who tells him to read the story of his great ancestor Pavol. The story stirs Rashko's memories and he knows what he needs to do.

This final part may contain SPOILERS! Proceed with caution. As usual, my thoughts are in blue and Maria's responses are in purple. Please visit Maria's blog at Maria's Melange to read her first takes on the Dragon Castle.
Dragon Castle - Part 1
Dragon Castle - Part 2

Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac - The End
I was at turns intrigued and bored by this ending. I just wanted...more.
Maria: I completely agree with this wrap up!

I found I wasn’t as invested in the doings of Rashko/Pavol as the book wound down. I was way more interested in Paulek. Even though he was more of a secondary character, I “knew” him better and cared what happened to him. Rashko’s fate seemed clear from Part 2 and I just waited for Bruchac to put things into words but it wasn’t necessary. His actions were wholly predictable.
Maria: Yes! That is exactly it. I kept getting those little glimpses of the other characters, and I found it very frustrating that we didn’t get more of it. Especially with the way the book wraps up, I feel like Bruchac let me down on giving me more about those other characters.

I liked that the two jugglers were princesses who’d been affected by Temny but I wanted more of their story.  When did the Dark Lord invade their lands? How did they escape? Had they been following Temny all along and waiting for this moment? Why were they on the tapestry?  Was it really necessary that they changed their names? No one seemed to know who they were no matter what names they used.
Maria: Yes! I “get” that they are supposed to be part of the story because they are Karoline’s spirit reborn (Okay... maybe that’s what was meant?). But there was so much lost when Bruchac didn’t expand on their tale. Maybe alternating perspectives along the way would have given us more of what we wanted?

So Potenshie had a very different relationship to Temny than daughter. I still don’t understand how their powers increased unless it was being near the pouch. But the pouch and the dragon spelled their defeat, so no, I still don’t understand. Why pose as the daughter? Why did the return so many years after Pavol’s reign? Did I miss an explanation of whatever changed that made them believe this time would be different?
Maria: Yeah.... no, you didn’t miss anything (unless I missed it too!) I saw no reason why Potenshie should be his wife versus his daughter. Neither role gets mentioned at the start of the tale, or during any of the Dark Lord scenes. So I thought this addition just was confusing and not really needed.

The dragon had seven heads that each had to be cut off - here I felt Bruchac was using “the rules of magic” to extend this section unnecessarily.  If, as he pointed out later, magical abilities of objects decreased after 3 uses, why didn’t Pavol defeat the dragon after 3 tries? It felt like overkill (pun intended).  
Maria: I love that our slightly snarky humors are blossoming on this one *chuckles* Yes, I agree. Needing seven heads was a bit too much. I would have preferred he stick with 3 as his magic number here, and intensified some of the earlier battles.

Hm. There were just too many things left unexplained. How did the magical objects work? We saw some of it with Pavol but I never understood how either boy knew what to use when. Rashko calling on the winds was pretty cool but how did he know? Sometimes, “it just came to him” or “somehow he knew” is just not enough for me. I would have liked to see more of the parents.  If they were able to come home when Rashko called, were they always able to come home? Why didn’t they? Yes, I can put things together because I’ve read enough fantasy to understand how many things work. But, will this fly with the middle grader? I dare say that those who love fantasy would ALSO understand it’s working, even if it’s in a subconscious manner. So, this book would go over just fine, I guess. Overall, a solid read. Not great but not bad either.

Maria: I think it “came to him” because Pavol was within him... but I get that sense without feeling like Bruchac did a good job revealing that bit. I also agree with you about his parents. Maybe they were trying to allow the boys to manage on their own? Maybe they wanted Pavol to be able to “come through” the kids? Even so, that wasn’t explained - or pulled through the text - enough to really be a good explanation. I wanted MORE about the faeries. I was disappointed by that. I was really hoping for more about the “in-betweeners” at the end since it was brought up periodically.

I liked Dragon Castle and would give it a 3 of 5. You can find more books Science Fiction/Fantasy for Middle Grades at the Cybils site.

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers- Review


Reviewed by: Aneeqah's Not So Real Life
.....................................................................................
This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Genres: Paranormal, Apocalypse, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: June 19th, 2012
Source: NetGalley
My Review:

First of all, thank you so much to HarperCollins and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book! However, this did not affect my thoughts on this book, or my review.

In this book, we meet five kids who have made it to their school as a refuge from the outside world, where a zombies are attacking and eating all the people. Our main character, Sloane, doesn't really want to be alive right now, she was actually planning to commit suicide. They story is about the 5 kids trying to survive.

So, let's start with the good. This is my first zombie book, and I must say, the zombies were pretty well-thought out. Everything made sense zombie-wise, basically, you got bitten, died, and came back as a zombie and ate other people . It was really simple, and frankly, creepy. Like, really creepy, they were that realistic. It gave me the shivers.

The whole book was also pretty compelling to read. I kept wanting to know what happened to the characters. There were a few suspenseful moments throughout the book, so that kept the book flowing pretty well.

Now, what I didn't like as much. Let's start with Sloane, the main character. I'm just going to say it how it is: I didn't like Sloane, at all. Many times, I wanted to punch her, so much that I almost threw my Kindle on the tiled flooring [that wouldn't have been good, now would it have?]. I'm glad I resisted the urge though, because then I would have to buy a new Kindle... So anyways, Sloane a very frustrating character. She did some stupid things in my opinion, and I couldn't understand her at all. And she made the stupidest decisions ever.I never connected with her, never felt bad for her. She just seemed like a stupid brat to me. Sloane practically ruined the whole book for me.

Also, so many people die at random times, I just got frustrated even more. People just kinda disappear, people just die randomly, it was just yuck. Especially at the end. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't go any further.

The ending was also something that turned me off from this book. I didn't understand it at all, and it was so cliff-hangery is that a word?]. Since this book is a stand-alone, I wanted an ending that would leave me satisfied, and this ending did not. At all. It could have used an epilogue, or something so that we could at least learn what happened to the characters.

Overall, this book had a great concept, but there were a lot of things that really turned me off, so I couldn't really enjoy the books. I would say to give this book a shot if you like survival stories and zombies [and your okay with extremely angering characters].






Monday, June 11, 2012

Librarians vs Teachers - Summer Throwdown!




ALA Bookmark
Come one! Come All! 
Teachers and Librarians that is!

Are you a teacher or librarian that loves to read? 

Had you already planned on catching up with books you missed during the school year! 

Think you can read "competitively"?  

Join us for the first (and hopefully not last) 
School Librarians vs Teachers 
Summer Throwdown!!
This is going to be one fun, amazing, summer reading challenge you don't want to miss!

Complete details at Heise Reads and Recommends!

The Rules
Rule #1 - the #summerthrowdown will run from June 18th - July 17th
If you are less than half done with a book before the 18th, you can finish it on the 18th and it will count! But, if you are NOT done with a book by July 17th - it does NOT count!

Rule #2 - team with the most points at the end of the throwdown wins
Under 50 pages = 1/4 point
50 - 150 = 1/2 point
151 - over = 1 point

Rule #3 - This should be fun for everyone!
While trash talk is welcomed and expected, remember, we are teachers and librarians! No hits below the belt!

The Sign Up
Pledge your allegiance - Join the #summerthrowdown challenge
Keep track of points - Use this handy-dandy spreadsheet after you sign up. Make sure to choose the correct Librarian or Teacher tab at bottom!

The Buttons
You can't have a challenge without a button! Download and display yours!






The Why
Jillian (@heisereads) and Brian (@brianwyzlic) do this fantastic contest between their sister classrooms.  To read more about it visit Jillian's blog, Heise Reads and Recommends or Brian's Blog, Wyz Reads, where they tell you What is This #Throwdown Thing Anyway.

I asked Brian, nicely, about it on twitter and he threw down the gauntlet! Ok, Sherry actually threw it down.  Brian picked it up and ran away with it! Teachers! You can't beat them, but you can read more than they can!

For a more logical and easier to understand post about The #SummerThrowdown please read this post by Jillian at Heise Reads!

Batty About Books - Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac - Part 2



Maria (@mselke01) and I are reading together 
and we are now 
Batty About Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac
Dragon Castle Part 1 - here. In part one we met Pavol, whose family was murdered by the Dark Lord. Pavol was raised in the forest by Uncle Tomas and Baba Marta. When he was ready he was sent on a quest. Pavol's story is intertwined with that of Rashko. Prince Rashko's parents are away on a mysterious trip and while they are gone, strangers are trying to take over the castle. Paulek, Rashko's brother is no help as he appears to be under the spell of Princess Poteshenie. How do these two stories connect? We try to find out.

This second installment contains a prediction that came true which is also a spoiler. Skip the surprise if you haven't read the book yet!


Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac - Part 2 - p114 - p228

Prediction: Something in the castle is making Poteshenie stronger.  
Maria: Yes - they do talk about how both she and the Baron have changed. Perhaps it is the proximity to the pouch or other magical items? Maybe they are connected to the dragon? Ooo... new thought. Maybe she IS the dragon or a descendant? Hadn’t thought of that! She could be the dragon! But, didn’t Pavol kill the dragon? Wait, no he only killed one so far...

Wonder: Why is Black Yanosh hiding from Baron Temny and Princess Poteshenie? 
Maria: Good catch! I hadn’t noticed that one. Now that you mention it, I’m curious about that, too.

More Wonder: What is the significance of the items that Pavol finds and puts in his pouch? 
Maria: That brings up an item I forgot to put on my thoughts. When he picked up the iron ring I immediately thought the connection to faeries. Then he started grabbing other items and I wondered why the others were significant.

Surprise: The Baron is Dark Lord! 
Maria: Yep. I liked that bit.

Question: Who is the mysterious Karoline? 
Maria: I have a thought about that in my comments. I think she is the queen, and that Pavol is the king. Faerie blood and all that.

Storyline thought: I like how Rashko’s story has stopped moving while we the reader as well as Rashko learn more about Pavol’s quest. 
Maria: I do like some of that - where Rashko almost ponders the same things I’m pondering. It also makes it easier to keep track of things when only one plot is moving at a time.

Overall thoughts: I thought this section was a little draggy. I wonder why Bruchac broke up Pavol’s story to go back to Rashko with Anya and Josef? That slowed it down for me and I lost Rashko’s voice. He sounded too much like an adult to me. 
Maria: I agree. The thing that I liked the least in this section was the plot device where Rashko “is” Pavol during his story. I didn’t think that was needed. I was doing just fine keeping their stories straight without using this technique.


For the rest of the story - check out Maria's thoughts over at Maria's Melange.


 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

48 Hour Book Challenge - Wrap Up Post

(Cue Rocky Music; picture me running up a wide staircase with books held over my head) Yippee! I finished the 48 Hour Book Challenge and met my goal of 20 hours!

This also means I donate $20 to Reading is Fundamental (RIF)!

Books Finished
Black Heart by Holly Black - 296p
Cat Girl's Day Off by Kimberly Pauley - 331p
The List by Siobhan Vivian - 332p
Firelight by Sophie Jordan - 323p

Books Started
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets JK Rowling - 47p
Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson - 179p

Totals
Time Read - 20h 30m
Books Read - 4
Pages Read - 1508
Blogging (this is only post!) - 57m

Whew! It was a busy weekend and it was hard carving out the time to read.  The Amazing Dancer was here which means lots of shopping.  I was lucky to leave a graduation party early, otherwise I wouldn't have made it! It was wonderful to remove some books from the TBR pile. Expect short #bookaday reviews of each finished book later this week.

As always, Thanks to MotherReader (@MotherReader) for sponsoring such a wonderful challenge to kickstart my summer reading! Also, a big thank you to all the people who stopped by to encourage me on the blog and on twitter! I didn't get to do much of that this year but I really appreciate your time and comments!



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Thursday, June 7, 2012

48 Hour Book Challenge and Summer Bookaday

It's party time! As noted by my esteemed colleague @libraryfanatic: The second awesome reason to be a school librarian - summer's off to read! And what better way to kick off my summer and my summer reading than to join MotherReader's 48-hour Book Challenge and The Book Whisperer's Bookaday Challenge!

Courtesy: MotherReader
48 Hour Book Challenge
MotherReader's two-day reading fest runs from Friday, June 8, 2012 at 7am to Monday, June 11, 2012 at 7am.  You get to pick your 48 hours in that time frame.  There are rules including your hours must be in a row! But you can do as many or as few as you want!

I'm going to try to for 20 hours this year! I'll start at 8 pm Friday and end 8pm on Sunday.  I have a few errands and a graduation party, but should have the time pretty much to myself!

Courtesy: Read, Watch, Connect
Bookaday Challenge
This will be my THIRD year participating in Donalyn Miller's Bookaday fun! Each year the challenge is to average a book each day of your summer vacation.  If you are only off for a week - try to read 7 books!  The books can be anything you want! Graphic Novels? Check! Picture Books? Check! An homage to Ray Bradbury? Check! Check! Check!  You can read one book one day, 7 books a different day! It's so awesomely un-stressful you may read beyond your goal!!!!

I'm officially off from Friday, June 8 to Sunday, August 12, 2012. That's 66 days! So my goal is to read 66 books before I go back to work on Monday, August 13th! So exciting!!!!

Join!
If you want to join in the fun of one or both challenges, click the headline links! If you just want to see what people are doing, follow the twitter hashtags #48hbc and #bookaday.  And, guess what? #Bookaday lasts forever! We use the hashtag whenever we finish a book!!! So check it out and find some new reading materials and some new friends!

Now I need to gather all the books! All the books!
 

Monday, June 4, 2012

It's Monday: What Are You Reading - 6/4/12

Check out Teach Mentor Texts with Jen and Kellee to find more #kidlit bloggers joining in this special meme. 

In The Past
I finished 10 books these past three weeks.

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews - Mock Printz

Starters by Lissa Price - interesting. Old people rent young people's bodies in order to be young again. And the young people get to eat and possibly find shelter.

Boy21 by Matthew Quick - Mock Printz

How to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Krauss - recommended by Amazing Dancer - Boy meets girl. Girl is highly religious. Boy decides he can be religious too!

The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Note to Their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon - Great book put out by Scholastic. I gave away two copies!

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons - recommended by Amazing Dancer - girl gets arrested because mom had her out of wedlock. 17 years ago. She needs to find mom and break her out of jail. Ex-Boyfriend turned soldier decides to help. Can she trust him?

Chomp by Carl Hiassen - different from other Hiaasen MG fare.  This one is much more YA with lots of action and near-death experiences compounded by a drunken father and a crazed reality tv star.

Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross - fun read. Not the best written but filled with entertainment, action and romance.


Hush by Elise Chayil - recommended by Amazing Dancer - A Chassidic community turning their back on a nine-year old leads to a coverup that one member still can't get past. So sad!

Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross - more fun!

In the Present
Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac - Batty About Books next book.  Check out Part 1.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling - hoping to read the whole series and watch each movie this summer.

In The Future
This Friday, June 8, 2012 starts the 48 Hour Book Challenge and Summer #Bookaday! I'm so excited that once again these start at the same time for me! Last year I met my goal of 15 hours. This year I hope to do 20 hours! I'll post about both on Friday but in case you can't wait - here's my post from last year - NO Summer Slide and 48HBC.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Middle School Fantasy-Science Fiction Suggestions

DEMCO LABEL
Here's a list of books I am suggesting to a language arts teacher for a student who just finished 6th grade.  Was told he enjoyed reading and liked Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.  The family wanted more books in the student's favorite genre, Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Part of the list is courtesy of Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) of Teach Mentor Texts and Cindy Schnell (@cindyschnell1) who are both teachers as well as avid readers! Thanks, ladies!


Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Auxier
11th Plague by Hirsch
The Limit by Landon
Divergent by Roth
Legend by Lu
City of Ember by DuPrau
Uglies by Westerfeld
Leviathan by Westerfeld
100 Cupboards by ND Wilson
The Unwanteds by McMann
House of the Scorpion by Farmer
Mortal Engines by Reeve
Ender's Game by Card
GAYLORD LABEL
The Roar by Clayton
Dark Life by Fall
Amulet of Samarkand by Stroud
Skullduggery Pleasant by Landry
Trash by Mulligan (not fantasy or scifi but actiony and suspenseful and good)
Tankborn by Sandler
Epic by Kostick
Knife of Never Letting Go by Ness
Dragon Castle by Bruchac
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Gidwitz
Breadcrumbs by Ursu
The Cheshire Cheese Cat by Deedy

Both Cindy and Kellee listed books I did not include so please check out their twitter streams for more ideas! This list is also limited to my having read the books (or currently reading: Dragon Castle) and not knowing who the student is.

Keeping in mind that this is male tween, what would you add or subtract from the list??

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