Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Believe it or not, I'm really not much of a fantasy reader. Yes, I love Harry Potter, but I tend to stick more to real science fiction, and maybe vampire/monster which are really more horror than fantasy. However, I got this book free from the bookstore. We had an Educator's event and had several copies of this book with a teacher's guide in the back. Our CRM told me I should take a copy since they were free since I am a teacher. So I did, and I read it at school during my lunch breaks. It actually was pretty good.

Basically the main characters are Kendra and her younger brother Seth. One of their grandparents dies and leaves money for all the children to go on a cruise. So Kendra and Seth are sent to their other side's grandparents to stay while they are on the cruise. At first it seems like a really beautiful estate with lots of pretty butterflies and lots of weird rules and people. Their grandmother is supposedly off visiting other family so they are left with their grandfather. Soon it turns out that Fablehaven is not what it seems. There is an old witch tied up in the forest where they are not supposed to go. There's a beautiful pool hidden away also in an area they're not supposed to go. Also, turns out those butterflies are fairies. And you can see them when you drink a special type of milk. Of course Seth just can't seem to follow rules, and this soon lets evil things appear on this special sanctuary for the supernatural.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Obama Zombies by Jason Mattera

Now, you might think with all the books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, that this is a zombie horror story. You might also think that based on the other books that I read. But no, this is a nonfiction book. I am conservative, and vote mostly Republican, and the full title of this book caught my attention right away: Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed my Generation. And what got me was how many of the Obama supporters did seem brainwashed. They couldn't tell me what really about him they liked. In fact, some seemed to overlook the facts of what he didn't support that applied to them personally.

When I picked this book up, it sucked me right in. Had my jaw dropping open as I read of some of the craziness the liberals were promoting, (not flushing the toilet when you only go "number 1"). How disgusted have you personally been when you've walked into a public restroom only to find the person there before you didn't bother to flush. At the time I just assumed they were disgusting pigs, now I know they must be liberals fighting for the environment. But is it just me, or does that just scream filth and disease? Aren't we trying to help countries who don't have running water to help them with their disease prevention? There were parts where I was just nodding my head along with what he pointed out as the behavior of an Obama Zombie as I remembered all the people I knew who had acted just that way. And yes, there were times I thought, good point, but I don't agree completely. And that, right there, is the difference between an Obama zombie, and someone trying to say I'm just blindly following the "right". I choose to question and think about and do my own research on anything someone says unless I already know based on past experience/research what they are saying is true. In fact, I dare any liberal person who reads this blog to go and read this book and then come back to me and refute whatever they don't agree with in this book, and not just argue based on their feelings and emotions as a liberal does, but back up their opinion with facts.

I did mark a few sections in the book I'd like to point out specifically, so here they are:

On p. 47 there is a pledge from Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers that says he pledges to be a servant to our president. A servant? This isn't a king, this is a politician who is supposed to be OUR servant, serving US in office. But then, socialism/liberalism does lead back to the days where government regulates us and tells us how to live and how to spend our money, so I guess this does work for them.

Another point made is that it is a good thing when terrorist states don't like what you're doing. This point is made on p. 72, and I can't explain it as well as Mattera does, so go read it yourself.

On p. 76 he brings up a saying that we use in my Weight Watchers meetings almost every week, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If we're not prepared for those people who want to destroy our countries, we are destined for more attacks.

Next on talking about global warming and the environment on p. 91, it is discussed about how 6000 "experts" were flown in from around the country to lobby Congress about how much American rely on CO2 in our daily lives. Yet they all flew in on planes. So basically as Mattera says, It's okay for them to fly around the country to engage in activites that they believe in, but they are the first to condemn your own buying choices and lifestyle habits. I guess they were only following Obama's example of burning through 9,100 gallons of fuel to parachute into Iowa to give a speech on Earth day about energy conservation.

Next is the whole thing about redistribution of wealth. One college student made up a petition to put this in another way to think about it. What if we redistributed grades. Some people at the very top of the GPA don't need the extra points, so in the name of fairness and equality, lets allocate those points down the GPA ladder to those people who aren't currently meeting the GPA requirements to graduate. Of course the students didn't agree with that, it isn't fair to take points away from people who earned it. However according to those same people it is okay to take money away from the people who worked hard to earn it? Huh?

There was a quote that was a huge eye opener to me, on p. 146 it is postulated that the total cost of all miliary wars in our nation's history is $6.4 trillion. The war on poverty however, started in 1964 by Lyndon Johnson has cost $16 trillion. And nothing has changed! In fact more people are needing help from the government because of the welfare cycle this started. Read Ruby Payne's book on Poverty and see how this works first hand. The numbers say that in 2007 it would have taken for all households in poverty in America to get out of poverty, $148 billion. That would eliminate poverty entirely. In 2007, do you know how much was spent to try to do this? $550 billion. Shouldn't everyone be out of poverty now? Welfare spending has grown 300% in the past decade, where defense spending has only grown 126%. Obama says the war in Iraq is costing each household about $100 per month. Well, social services across the nation cost each household about $638 a month for 2010!! And actually, go back and look, while Obama says Bush slashed programs to combat poverty, he actually increased welfare programs by 68%, with 2008 spending over $700 billion. So guess in a sense I have a gripe with Bush as well.

And the last thing I marked to make a note of is kind of a trivial thing. But did you know that Jon Stewart is actually Jon Leibowitz? Why go by a stage name? Are you ashamed of your heritage? Yet aren't liberals supposed to be more accepting of everyone? I won't even go into the sections about how people who didn't vote for Obama are called racist, although aren't those people who voted for him because he was black kind of doing the same thing? And all the people who were being sexist against Palin, why is that okay? How does that fit in with Obama making all people equal? And not looking at race or sex or sexual preference? Which by the way, those websites I looked at when I was first thinking about all the candidates showed that Obama did not support gay marriage. So, hmm.

I haven't really gone into what the chapter on global warming talked about, because as someone with a degree in earth science, who has talked to many geologists on this point, I pretty much agreed with all he said. While I feel we should still do things to take care of the Earth, I believe that we are spending a lot of money to do it in a way that hurts us. Also, didn't realize that in 1974 (I was only 2 at the time) that Time magazine ran a story about the big environmental crisis that we were going into an ice age!! How funny!

Anyway, just finished this about 2 hours ago and had to get it blogged so I could pass the book onto my brother who is really eager to read it. And my brother isn't much of a reader. I remember he read Bo Knows Bo for many a book report in middle school, because it was the only book he really ever read enough to talk about.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig

I can pinpoint the teachers who led me to some of my quirky favorites in movies. First, my grandpa. No, he wasn't ever a "teacher" per se, but I do feel that he taught me in many different ways, and shaped a lot of who I am. He was an engineer, and I know it is from him that I developed my interest in astronomy, and probably other science. But whever we visited my Grandpa and Grandma Moritz's house, there was a big yellow book called Why a Duck with a cartoon picture of Groucho Marx's head. It is from my Grandpa that I got my love of all things Marx Brothers. I can even remember him laughing at certain parts of the movies when we'd watch them at his house when we went into the air conditioning during the annual family garage sales.

Second is my 8th grade science teacher/principal. I went to a private school, and so the principal was also a teacher, Mr. Riedl. In fact, he was a science teacher, my current occupation. But I remember watching Court Jester, with Danny Kaye one day at school when I was in 7th or 8th grade. Again, I can remember him laughing loudly at the "Flaggon with the Dragon" part of the movie. From this I became a Danny Kaye fan.

Third was my freshman year, my Citizenship class teacher, Mr. Jarvis. In class he showed us the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy. I remember watching the beginning and thinking, wow, another boring school movie, but still being glad we were watching a movie instead of doing work. But if you've seen this movie, you know it is not a boring movie at all. It is a hilarious look at modern day technology, a coke bottle, and how it can corrupt very simple cultures in ways we can't even imagine.

And the last teacher, leads into this book, my junior year American History teacher, Coach Durham. He showed us Gone With the Wind. I fell in love with it. I wanted to be Scarlett and have all the beaus after me. In a way, I have always felt like Scarlett, in that I never quite wanted what was right for me, and often didn't realize the good thing until it was gone. Of course, the reader that I am had to go out and read the book. And then in the early 90's a sequel called Scarlett was published. And I loved that too, even though the critics weren't huge fans. It made me cry, and I felt so much for Scarlett and all the bad choices she made, again, relating to her in that way at least.

When Rhett Butler's People came out in 2007, I ordered it from the book club I belonged to at the time. It has sat in my bookshelf of books to be read since that time. I couldn't quite bring myself to pick it up. Not sure why, just couldn't. But now, once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I fell right back in love the with the story. And I loved all the way we got to see into everyone's thoughts in this story. I worried as it started that it would only go up to the time when Rhett got married to Scarlett. Needless to say it followed right on through the end of Gone With the Wind and past. Totally didn't go with Scarlett, and while yes, I do love that story, I do like how this one ended a bit better. I cried, I smiled, I just loved this book. I can't gush enough about how much I liked it. Again, not sure the critics were big fans of this one either, but I loved it. I think I need to get the movie out again and watch it. I loved seeing Rhett's side of the story and his family, and Melanie Wilkes's side, etc.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Drumroll please, and the 100th post is: Your Big Break by Johanna Edwards

Kinda wish I had a more spectacular book that I just loved and could gush over for my 100th post, but oh well.

Your Big Break was my latest chick lit book. It was pretty good, but not the best. The main character is Dani, she works for a company called Your Big Break, Inc. This company offers services such as breaking up with a loved one, or even helping you quit a job. Of course a lot of the guys Dani has to break up with seem to be pretty nice guys, one in particular. However, as you can imagine, one of the main rules is that you can't get personally involved. Dani always seems to get personally involved in some way or other, and tends to kind of be a matchmaker.

The bad thing is that a new client comes in, and wants to dump her married boyfriend, who turns out to be Dani's dad. So Dani is now learning her parents' marriage isn't quite what she'd always thought.

It was a pretty predictable book, and a quick read. I think the other book by this author, How to Be Cool, was better. But it was one that I did want to finish, unlike the one I currently have sitting to read, called the Dating Game. Not sure I'm going to read much more of that. I have finally decided that if it's not good in the first few chapters, then pass it on, because I have so many "to-read" books, shouldn't waste time on it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

First, I have to say how disappointed I am right now that due to my current financial situation I'm unable to attend the MASL spring conference where the author of this book, Susan Beth Pfeffer will be. I thought about asking our librarian to take my books to get autographed, but then decided it's just not the same as getting it done myself and then having a picture with the author to show off. I wish when I'd gotten Stephenie Meyer's autograph I'd gotten a picture, and don't remember why I didn't. I didn't get Ellen Hopkins autograph my first year at MASL, I'm not too disappointed about that now that I'm not as impressed with her after listening to her bash on Stephenie Meyer over and over. I have no respect for someone who treats someone else in their field that way just because they don't like their work.

Anyway, back to the book. This is the 3rd in the series that started with Life as We Knew It. In the first book, an asteroid slams into the moon and knocks it out of its orbit, closer to Earth. Of course this causes all kinds of problems, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and all this soon causes clouds to block out the sun. Which leads to cold and electricity soon goes out and plants and people die. In the first book the main character is Miranda, it is her diary we're reading. The 2nd book is The Dead and The Gone, and it is set in New York city with Alex Morales and his sisters being our main characters. This books is in Miranda's hometown again, and we see how life is almost a year later. And soon her father and step-mom and new baby brother show up. Along with them are Alex and his sister Julie.

This was a good book, I didn't want to put it down because I just wanted to know, do things get better now that they're all reunited. But alas, spoiler alert, things don't get better. Some things are worse, some are a little better, but we aren't left in a wonderful feel good mood. But I still think it was a good book.

I didn't know there was going to be a 3rd in the series, so hoping that maybe there'll be a fourth so I can see what happens next?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn

Funny story, I took this when it was a stripped cover book at the store. Then bought it later at a school bookfair. So I was able to conveniently keep one copy at school to read at lunch, and then, when it turned out to be such a good read, I was able to read it at home as well.

This is the story of two, you might call them star-crossed lovers, people who keep meeting over time as they are reincarnated as different people in different times, and always something keeps them apart, or ends one of their lives right as things are about to start happening for them. It begins with the boy as a Neanderthal I'm guessing, and the girl as a Cro-Magnon. Then they are an Egyptian and a Nubian, then they come back in ancient Greece, and so on and so forth. Almost all the times we see them also seem to be either big historical times, or else very charged with some kind of racial tension. At one point the girl is even reincarnated as a guy, and the guy is reincarnated as a girl.

Fun story, and in the end, modern times, it seems as if they may actually get a chance to be together, although the story leaves off before we could possibly know for sure. But we are left with hope.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Velvet Rope Diaries by Daniella Brodsky

The latest in my chick lit books kept in my bedroom bathroom so I could read during bubble baths. This was a fun read. Anna is the main character, she is working as a secretary/assistant for a horrible boss that she calls Miss Nasty Jackson. She gets fired when she creates a power point talking about all the plastic surgery her boss has had and the gossip column reporter at the paper gets ahold of it, and publishes a lot of the info from it. You think, who cares about a reporter for a gossip column, but it turns out she's dating a big star. But, when she gets fired, she also gets rehired writing a column about New York City nightlife.

AT first she can't seem to get a lead on where to start to find the "new" unfound hip spots. She gets a tip from a woman at a spa, who becomes a friend. But when she goes to this spot, she isn't let in because she has on last year's Marc Jacobs sandals. She gets upset because she gets humiliated by the bouncer about this, and ends up sneaking around and finding a back door to go in. The dark room she ends up in has another occupant, a sexy stranger, who soon becomes her boyfriend, and turns out to be the brother of her new friend who gave her this tip.

Now of course, she has back issues. When she was a young girl, her father died in a house fire, and she feels like she is guilty, that she could have saved him. So we see her going through therapy for this. She also lives with a guy who is her best friend, Ray. It soon becomes evident, that he might think of her more than a friend, and so now she has this great guy she's just met, and must choose between him, and possibly ruining a friendship to try dating her best friend.

There were some pages I marked in the book that I want to share, and here they are:

When she talks about how it's been a long time since she's kissed a guy, she talks about wondering if she'll remember how to do it. I feel this way, only it's been MUCH longer for me.

There's a part where they're talking about Weight Watchers magazine, and it is really irritating to me, because her boss, Miss Nasty talks about how it is overweight women who love to sit at home and read, because they're too humiliated to go out looking like that. HOW RUDE!@!

And finally, this book makes me really want a perm. I hate my straight/frizzy hair, and really wish I could get a perm, a loose one that is available these days. Not one of those godawful ones I had back in grade school and high school.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

So I have to admit that in the case of this book, I didn't look farther than the cover, and wasn't actually quite aware of what this book was about. I assumed being a teen book and with this title it was about a teen issue. But no, it was a bit deeper than that. It is set after World War II is over. Evie's stepfather, the only father she's ever known, returns from the war, and he is immediately getting back into the swing of things and opens up two appliance stores and seems to be doing well. Soon Joe starts getting weird phone calls, and acting weird, and decides to take the family on a vacation right before school is supposed to start, down to Florida. In Florida, they meet a nice couple, the Graysons, that Joe talks about going into business with. Also, a guy named Peter Coleridge shows up. He is an ex-GI who served with Joe. And Evie falls for him. Her mother is beautiful, and Evie feels like an ugly duckling, especially when her mother won't even let her start looking like a teen, and growing up.

One day the Graysons get kicked out of the hotel. It turns out that they are Jewish, and in the part of Florida they're in, they don't allow Jewish people. Evie also finds out from Peter, that he and Joe stole belongings that were found near concentration camps that had no one left alive to claim them. And it is that money he used to start his appliance stores, and he was supposed to have shared it with Peter.

As you can guess Joe is not happy with Peter showing up. So Joe, and Peter, and Evie's mom go out on a boat, right as a hurricane is coming. And, when they come back, one of them isn't there. So that is what was seen, and what gets lied about.

Not too bad a book. I like that it had more substance than I originally thought. It was a quick read though, which is nice as it was my "at school-lunch" read.