Sunday, February 28, 2010

Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic by Suzanne Weyn

I am a fan of Suzanne Weyn from her other books that I've read. I did as I always do and looked for any new books she might have coming out and then put them on reservation. So I bought this when it came out, even though it was in hardcover because I had money at time.

It took me a bit to get into this, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. Yes, it is a novel about the Titanic. Which made me wonder, why in the world are we so obsessed with Titanic stories? We know how they're going to end, and yet, I personally, can't seem to get enough of them. But, besides that, there was a TON of history, soooooooo interesting. The author even goes into a bit of detail at the end about all the history research she did.

The really interesting history included Nikola Tesla, Harry Houdini, Lily Dale - which they called Spirit Vale, Astor and Guggenheim, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and that is just to name a few. I will highly recommend this book, although as far as I know, we shipped any we got back shortly after they arrived, and I haven't seen any paperback copies. If I was a librarian, I would definitely have a copy of this in my library to share. You know, I tried to donate a book to my school library the other day, a hardcover book, but because they already had a copy that wasn't checked out that much, they said they didn't want it. Well, if it was my library, it would be a book I would totally talk up. If I was a middle school librarian, I would try to go into CA teachers' classes and do book talks often. In fact, one CA teacher I did summer school with when I was my first summer library experience asked me to do that with her classes once a week. I wonder if the librarian at her current school does that now? I'll bet she does, I know that librarian and she is really awesome, I've asked her for advice a lot.

Anyway, such a great book.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mutant by Peter Clement

While I have one book posted as what I'm reading right now, I'm actually usually reading 2-3 books at any one time. I picked up Mutant, a stripped cover book to read yesterday. It is a medical thriller. But I'm going to take a (web)page from my friend Charlotte, and not read books that I just can't get into or decide not to read for whatever reason, because I have too many sitting in my office, as well as so many others I want to read, and life is short.

I chose to toss this book out as its main theme is genetically engineered food as the "evil" and I'm not a real fan of this. People don't quite understand that we have been genetically engineering food since we first selected the best of a crop to take the seeds from. And when we choose the best animals to breed. And there are good things done by science. Yes, there are bad things, but I just don't agree with setting up big scares over things constantly. So, I choose not to waste my time on this book.

I picked up Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub, another stripped cover book. While I could never get into the Talisman, a friend said this was really good and I could read it without having read the other. And I am a huge Stephen King fan, so I'm trying it. I have to say so far, it's not grabbing my attention. I'll give it another day, then it may go the way of Mutant.

Monday, February 22, 2010

White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages

This is the sequel to a book I reviewed a week or so ago called the Green Glass Sea. This picks up after the bomb has been dropped and the war is "over". The German scientists, Von Braun and others are now here in America helping us with our rocket program. Our main characters, Dewey and Suze are back. They mostly live with Suze's mom, Terry Gordon, because Suze's father, Dr. Gordon is busy working on the rocket. Mrs. Gordon is protesting the war, she's very upset at having helped create something that killed so many people. Suze and Dewey have created a whole carnival of Rube Goldberg type machines with Suze's artistic representations of people. Suze isn't happy with how her mom and Dewey seem to be best friends, and soon finds a friend in town called Ynez. From Ynez Suze learns about prejudice in the town, as well as Mexican culture. Dewey meets a boy named Owen, and a friendship turns into a young love type relationship, but never does the story get too gushy for a kid's book. And towards the end a mysterious woman on a motorcycle shows up, and things get to be interesting. Mrs. Gordon and Dr. Gordon are fighting, and of course they also have an issue showing up to mess with their relationship besides their disagreement on the science research.

This book had some great history in it. I know it was considered as a possible Truman nominee, but guess it didn't make it since I don't see it on the list this year. I feel they made a mistake. This book was really good, as was the one that came before it. Oh well, I will definitely recommend it to kids at school as well as at the bookstore. That is if I ever get to work in the kids department again.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Movie Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Wow, I was sooooooooooo disappointed in this movie. And anyone who knows me knows that it takes a lot to really disappoint me. As someone who has almost always read the book before I see the movie, I know that the movies never, or almost never live up to the book. One exception I can think of right now is the Green Mile, which I think they did an awesome job with! But anyway, back to my point. So much was left out of Twilight, I mean if you hadn't read the books, the movie doesn't really let you see how Edward and Bella fall in love. But I still was able to really enjoy seeing Twilight brought to the movie screen.

The Lightning Thief had too much changed and too many important things left out. Maybe it's because I've read this book so many times, because I've read it to like 3 different groups of students. And we answered questions and discussed it, so I know it detail by minute detail. But I feel they left out such important characters, such as Mr. D. (Dionysius), Ares, and Clarisse. Plus, they went to Nashville Tennessee instead of to St. Louis like in the book. And then, Annabeth is supposed to be blonde, not dark haired. And there was no mention of Kronos, the whole "voldemort" bad guy who goes throughout the whole series. (I threw the Voldemort reference in for those critics who called it a cheap copy of Harry Potter, which it SOOOOO is not). And then, Annabeth is supposed to have a crush on Luke, and not believe in Luke as a bad guy so quickly. Plus, there's the whole thing where we're not supposed to know who Percy's dad is right away. Plus, I feel like Percy is supposed to be 12 years old, yet the characters in the movie are all high school age.

If you haven't read the books, go see the movie, it's probably really good in that situation. But if you've read it, and love the books like I do, you might skip it. I'm not even sure how they can do a sequel with all the stuff they left out.

Deep Storm by Lincoln Child

I've been a fan of Lincoln Child since I borrowed the book The Relic from one of my high school students my first year of teaching. I've since read through all the books in that series that he co-wrote with Douglas Preston, and I've moved on to the books each of them has authored on their own. In fact, I think I'm a book or two behind in the Relic or Pendergast series.

Deep Storm is a science thriller. The US goverment has found something buried under the Earth's crust in the middle of the ocean near an oil rig. Peter Crane is our main character, a former Navy medical doctor called in to this top secret mission because of his past experience in a high stress situation. People in this amazing facility are getting sick, but their symptoms don't match, and there is no sign of what could be the cause.

Turns out there is more to what they're looking for, it's an alien artifact, and one they come to find should probably be left alone. And of course, as often happens in this type of book, there is one military person who is not seeing the bad things, and plans to continue for his country at all costs. Good read.

The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs

I've seen A.J. Jacobs' books around the store, The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-it All. They always sounded really funny, but I just never picked it up to read. The Guinea Pig Diaries is new enough that we had it in hard cover so that I could check it out. And it was definitely worth it. This was hilarious! From outsourcing his life to people in India, to living by George Washington's 110 rules of life, and it begins with his online dating experience as a beautiful young woman. The things he does are crazy. He even lets his wife be the boss of him for like a whole month! Wow, I can't recommend this book highly enough. I also can't wait to read his other 2 books. It is interesting to know that he is an Entertainment Weekly writer, which is the one magazine I subscribe to because I HAVE to read it every week.

I've also decided I need to get my reading journal set back up so that every 10 books I read a classic, or every 15 I read a nonfiction, etc. That way I can get through the 300 books sitting in my 2nd bedroom waiting to be read.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Take a Chance on Me by Susan Donovan

This was your basic romance book. I'd read another book by this author called He Loves Lucy. I enjoyed it, and this was okay, but almost too much your stereotypical romance. And one thing, it is like FOREVER before they actually have sex. It's kind of a big tease, even in the chapter where they finally do, it takes page after page after page leading up to it. Seriously. It was frustrating. I did enjoy the little dog, and can't remember if my sister has read this yet, but if not, the dog is a little chinese crested, like her dog.

Okay book, I won't read again, and will probably not keep this, I'll put it in a garage sale. It's actually not a strip cover believe it or not.
Later tonight I'll post my review of The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs.

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

This is a YA book, and I really enjoyed it. I've really gotten into the historical fiction lately, especially the YA stuff.

This is set in 1943, during World War II. One of our main characters is Dewey Kerrigan. Her father is a scientist and they live in a town that doesn't officially exist, Los Alamos, New Mexico. The scientists here are working on a very secret military project called only "the gadget" that is supposed to be able to end the war if they can just get it right. Dewey is kind of a tomboy in that she enjoys building mechanical type projects. Another girl living in this nonexistent town is Suze Gordon. Suze is also kind of an outsider with the other girls, but tries her hardest at first to fit in with the girls in the town. Due to Dewey's father being called to Washington to help with the project politically, Dewey ends up staying with Suze and her family. A friendship forms after they come to see what they have in common.

Of course the gadget does get invented, and there is a tragedy for Dewey. I was glad to see that there is a sequel, another book I had noticed before I even read this one, called White Sands, Red Menace. I have it to read, so it will probably be one of my next YA books. Or I'll read it after the Lincoln Child book I'm reading now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Confessions of a Serial Dater by Michelle Cunnah

I've enjoyed another book by Michelle Cunnah called Call Waiting. Another bargain book find. Confessions of a Serial Dater was one I ordered in, but still a bargain book. She is one author on my list to check in the computer every so often for her books in bargain. Her other book 32AA I haven't yet read, it kind of kept me a bit off due to the fact that I'm a bit larger chested, and wasn't sure I'd quite relate to someone like that. But after this book, I know that whoever her heroine is, I'm sure I'll enjoy the read.

Rosie is our main character, and she has a boyfriend named Jonathan. Now, she once told him her shoe size, but 2 sizes smaller than real life, because she was ashamed of how big her feet are. And so he buys her some really expensive shoes, but the problem is they are too small. The story starts out at a work event for her boyfriend with his obnoxious, lecherous boss. The fact that her boyfriend doesn't stick up for her when his boss comes onto her, well, it pretty much is a last straw. And it just so happens at this same event is a very handsome, charming doctor. Kind of a knight in shining armor as he picks her up and carries her because of her uncomfortable shoes.

He seems like the perfect guy, but like all good chick lit, there is a problem with him, or so she thinks. I loved this book because some of the ways she acted are the ways I do. Like, she acts like she's not really interested when she is, just because she thinks the guy isn't really interested, he's just acting like it. I so have always felt that way. I wonder how many opportunities I've missed because I doubted a guy was really interested, and so I played it way cool to not get hurt or made fun of.

And you know this is a really fun book if I have some actual pages/quotes to share in my review. The first thing I liked was about the fantasies she has about "Dr. Love" as she calls him before she learns his name. Her fantasies are love at first sight, although hers are more romantic than erotic she says, and mine often take a turn towards the latter really quickly. Another thing about her fantasies that is just like mine, is that she is always dressed really sexy, and her makeup and hair are perfectly done. Basically she looks hot. I rarely wear makeup in real life, and rarely look hot, but in my fantasies, I always do! And, later in the book, her fantasy is of being in a wedding dress, with Luke, Dr. Love, in a rumpled groom's suit. And she's skipped the wedding and gone right to the honeymoon. I often skip right from the whole first date/falling in love part in my fantasies, to the point where I'm settled in the relationship with the guy and getting married/etc. Jumping way forward.

The only complaint I had about this book, was that it was often that there were long periods where Luke, the dream guy, wasn't around. And I wanted him there. So it was my impatience that made me feel bored sometimes. But I do highly recommend it, and will be looking for her other book 32AA soon.

My current book is also laugh out loud funny. I should be done in a day or two and blog soon after.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

I picked this up as a stripped copy at work a week or two ago. Recently, or ever since the movie The Other Boleyn Girl, I've began enjoying more historical fiction. This book is set in the time of Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. It's about a boy who is a gypsy and his friend/mentor a fellow gypsy who is a dwarf. They work with a magician whose biggest trick is that a bullet is shot at him and he catches it. They are called to a wealthy man's house to perform for his guests, and this time, the bullet hits its mark. Well, the person holding the gun is Count Kalliovski, who knows the magician, and Tetu the dwarf from an event he'd like to bury. Tetu knows Yann must get away before Kalliovski finds him. In their hiding and trying to escape, they end up being helped by Sido, the daughter of the Marquis de Villeduval. Sido is not treated well by her father. And turns out that Kalliovski wants to marry her.

Count Kalliovski is not what he seems, and so Tetu gets Yann away, but not before he is wounded, maybe killed. He sends Yann to a friend in London to raise him and turn him into a young gentleman. The family he goes to live with is actually related to Sido, and Yann gets a chance to go back and try to help her.

It leaves on a cliffhanger, and I was worried it would just end like that, but no, there is a portion of a sequel at the end, so I'll be waiting for that to come out to read as well. A good historical fiction book for kids.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci

Can't remember for sure if this was a Gateway nominee in year's past, but for some reason I've wanted to read it. So when it was a strip copy at the store, I took it home. I had put it on my shelves at school for the kids to read, but decided to pick it up myself at lunch one day.

Christopher Creed, the class freak, disappears without a trace, and it becomes a huge town gossip item. The main character is Torey Adams, and he wants to know what really happens. In his search for the truth, he begins losing his current friends in exchange for realizing how uptight and snobbish they are to people that are just as normal and maybe braver than them. Anyway, it all leads up to Torey finding a body in a strange manner and how it kind of sends him over the deep end and he has to move away from the town to get a break.

Interesting story. Not great, but okay.

Good Luck by Whitney Gaskell

I've read at least one other book by Whitney Gaskell, Pushing 30, and I really enjoyed it. She is one of the authors that I look for her books to go on bargain. And this was another fun read.

The main character is a teacher, so obviously something I have in common with her, which is always something that draws my interest. Well, on the worst day of her life, she's accused of sexually harrassing a male student and gets fired, and then when she goes home because of being fired in the middle of the day, she finds her boyfriend cheating on her in their house! She just so happens to buy a lottery ticket that day because of her friend talking about it, and guess what, she wins! So what I wish would happen to me. Well, at the same time the press finds out about her firing, and all of a sudden she's in the middle of a media circus. So an old friend calls and offers her a chance to hide out in Palm Beach. She gets a makeover, new hair color, clothes, etc. And tries to figure out what she's going to do with all this money as her friends and family begin to get weird about it. One friend won't take the check she sends. Her sister turns into Bridezilla thinking of how much money she can try to spend on her wedding. She meets 2 guys there,and there's the chick lit part.

Such a fun story, I will be looking for the other Whitney Gaskell stories soon!

Dispatch by Bentley Little

I always pick up Bentley Little books at the store and the back cover reads like something I'd be very interested in. Then, half the time I pick them up and have trouble getting into them. They're rarely what I expect them to be.

This one took a looooooooong time to get to what the main story was thought to be from the summary. It ended weird, had an interesting twist to it. Not sure that I liked it though. It's about a guy who writes letters that get things done. Most of the time he doesn't write as himself, he uses an alias, or pretends to be someone else writing about himself, etc. He gets strange mail showing that someone knows what he is doing. And one day, he gets a job offer to do his letter writing for real purpose. And it all gets kind of weird at that point. I don't know. It actually made me consider tossing all the other stripped copies of Bentley Little books I have as I don't know how much this was really worth reading. Eh. We'll see.

I have 2 more book reviews to do after this. I'm a bit behind on my blogging again.