Monday, February 28, 2011

In My Mailbox: Meet Einstein by Mariela Kleiner and Illustrated by Viviana Garofoli

Yeah, this is a picture book, but it is about Einstein, and as I am a science teacher I am very excited that I was able to get a copy of it after emailing about an offer in the Shelf Awareness newsletter. It's a very simple story for kids about Einstein, and yes, I teach middle school kids, but sometimes it is fun for them to see a picture book. Case in point, one student had a Dr. Seuss book they'd checked out, and another had Chicka Chicka Boom. So I look forward to reading this to my students. Another part I also like is at the end, it has "Meet Einstein for parents" where it gives some very interesting facts, like how they preserved Einstein's brain, even though his body was cremated. I also like that it has question in the back for parents to go over with their kids. Great book!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop February 25th, 2011

Book Blogger Hop
So I found this on another blog I follow and thought it would be fun to do as well. It's sponsored by Jennifer at It's a place for bloggers and readers to connect and share our love for the written word. And each week there is a question, and here is today's question:

Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?

Why yes, I do, all the time! That is a great question. I have a friend named Charlotte who has an awesome name for her blog: Charlotte's Web of Books. The best I could come up with was an alliteration type title: Lisa Loves Literature. And in a way, my title is a bit misleading. Normally people think of literature as the classics, the award winning books. And not that I don't read those, but my tastes run to a bit quirkier titles as well as tons of YA books.

The Wake Trilogy by Lisa McMann

I've walked past these books in the teen section at the bookstore I work at for years. The covers always drew me in, and I did pick them up, and thought they sounded interesting, but just never got around to reading them. I once again have the Nook checked out from work, and so, decided to read them all in a row.

The first in the series is called Wake. Our main character is Janie. She lives in the poor part of town with her alcoholic mother. Next door is her best friend Carrie. Carrie is also friends with one of the snobs in town, Melinda, and often will have all her friends together. The funny thing about Janie is that she gets sucked into people's dreams. It's not a choice, if someone near her is asleep and dreaming, she can't do anything as she gets sucked in. She passes out and is stuck until they wake up. There is, of course, a cute boy named Cabel. Cabel has kind of a bad boy rep, drugs, kind of poor looking, until this year. He's got a new haircut, and all the girls are taking notice, although Cabel really only has eyes for Janie. At the retirement home where Janie works, she gets sucked into one of the women's dreams one night, and finds out that woman also goes into people's dreams. And Janie learns something about how to help herself get out of dreams, and how to try to help people in their dreams. It turns out this woman, Mrs. Stubin, helped the police with her talent in the past, and soon Janie will get the chance as well.

The second in the series is called Fade. In this book, Janie and Cabel are an item, but are unable to show this in public. Cabel is still working as a "narc" trying to solve a drug ring. And Janie and Cabel are called in on another case, supposedly there is a teacher at the high school that is slipping date rape drugs into girls' drinks and raping them. Janie thinks she's figured out who the teacher is, and the Captain, their police boss, asks Janie to be bait. Cabel isn't happy with this, he wants Janie to be his safe, he wants her safe. Cabel's had a rough life just like Janie. His father set him on fire when he was younger. Janie also soon learns that going into dreams saps her of her strength and really makes her lose weight. So Cabel tries to help her by always being there with a protein bar or food, and keeping an eye on her during study hall when students tend to sleep and suck Janie into their dreams.

The third and final book in the series is where Janie learns what will happen to her as time goes on and she continues going into people's dreams. She learns from notes that Mrs. Stubin left behind that she will go blind. Something Cabel has figured out and gets her glasses. She also always goes numb for awhile after a dream. Mrs. Stubin says that eventually she'll also lose her hands, they'll become all curled and shriveled up and and useless. In this book Janie also meets her dad, well, not exactly meets, he's in a coma. It turns out he suffered from the same issue, and he chose to solve it by living isolated, even though it meant he disappeared from Janie and her mother's life. So this book is about Janie trying to determine which future she wants. To stay and continue the work she's doing, but eventually end up blind and crippled. And each night she's living Cabel's dreams, where she can tell he's not sure about if he can handle this. The other future is to go isolate herself and maybe live longer without the crippling effects. However at the end, Janie learns the choice may not be quite so simple.

This was a great series. Each book was about 118 pages or so, so quick reads. But it wasn't just quick because it was short, it was quick because it pulled me in and I just didn't want to put the books down. I am so glad to have a new series to recommend at the bookstore and at school to my students!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 Debut Author Challenge 3: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

I actually didn't pick this book to read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge sponsored by Kristi over at The Story Siren. I had chosed to read So Shelly by Ty Roth. However, that book just didn't catch me. Sure, I only got to page 20, but I've decided there are so many books out there that I want to read, unless it is something I've heard that is great and I need to give it a chance, I am going to quit and read something else. I've actually heard many people talking about this book, and have seen it at the bookstore. So I chose to read it because it looked and sounded good. It was only after I finished it and went to the author's website that I realized it was a book that would fit this challenge, and then I checked Kristi's website and it was on the list, so I'm doing that for my next book.

And, on to the actual review. Our main character, or the first of our 2 main characters that we meet is Amy. Amy is going to be cryogenically frozen with her parents to travel on the first manned spacecraft to the first Earthlike planet. Her mom is a scientist, her dad is military. The first part of the book is intense. We get to read as Amy watches her parents get frozen. And it is INTENSE! Then we get to be in Amy's head as she gets frozen. They are going to be frozed for the 300 years it will take to get to the planet.

Now, every other chapter in this book is either Amy, or Elder, our other main character. And normally I don't like this, it can get too confusing if it is told too similar. However in this book, the two characters are so different that it works. Yet, at first, I sped through the chapters with Elder, because I didn't quite get where it was going, I didn't understand why Elder was the way he was or why there were people on the ship like him.

Soon though, Amy gets unfrozen 50 years earlier than planned. This is bad, because they are unable to re-freeze her, which means she will be an old lady by the time they reach the planet and her parents are unfrozen. Not to mention all the weird stuff going on around the ship when Amy wakes up. There is intrigue and mystery as more people get unfrozed ahead of schedule. Elder is learning from the Eldest how he will soon have to lead the ship. And we find out how things are going on the ship, and what is really happening with the landing.

I do have to say I guessed who a certain character was pretty quick. I won't say who, I'll let you read for yourself.

This was a great read, I will highly recommend it to science fiction fans, as well as romance fans, as it is both.

Waiting On Wednesday - The Slayer Chronicles by Heather Brewer

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It is a way to highlight those books for which we can't wait for their publication date. This week I choose The Slayer Chronicles by Heather Brewer. Heather Brewer is the author of the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, which I just finished reading over the weekend. Vladimir Tod is a vampire. In the books we meet a slayer named Joss, as well as learning about the other slayers in this world. In this spin-off we will find out Joss's story, as well as what happened during the summers that were left out of the Vladimir Tod series. It says it will feature our favorite vampires, so I'm guessing that will include Vladimir Tod. I enjoyed my last week that I spent getting away to this world, so I'm waiting now for September 20, 2011 to start this next series. If you want my review of the series, scroll down to the blog before this one. Since I don't have a picture of the cover for this book yet, you'll just have to wait.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer

Well, I wanted to go back and read my review of Eighth Grade Bites, the first in this series, but I can't find it on my blog. So it's possible I read this back when I was still blogging on either Live Journal or My Space. Neither of which I really use anymore. I remember thinking the first book was good, but not just extremely sucked in by them. But when it won the Truman award last year in Missouri, and then I started following the author on Twitter, I have had it on my list to finish reading. And THEN, I found out that the author is supposed to be at the Missouri Association of School Librarians conference this spring, that I am going to, I KNEW I had to read the books. And boy, once I picked up the 2nd one, Ninth Grade Slays, I was hooked! The story really picked you up and got you involved.

I ended up just buying the boxed set of the first 4 books. And zoomed right through the 3 I hadn't read yet. In ninth grade, we get a trip to Siberia for Vlad to learn some vampire lessons. We also learn there are actually vampire slayers, and one of them is in Bathoria to hunt. And Vlad is who they're after. It's shocking when we find out who the actual slayer is.

In Tenth Grade Bleeds, again, we get sucked in again. This time we learn that Henry, Vlad's drudge and best friend, wants to be released. And Vlad must once again go up against D'Ablo. Again, a very good story, I couldn't put it down wanting to know what was going to happen with Henry. And Vlad is thinking it is not safe for him to be around Meredith, his "true love" anymore, because when he gets close to her, he thinks about feeding.

In Eleventh Grade Burns, Vlad's uncle Otis must go to trial. And there is a strange vampire named Dorian, who wants to drink Vlad's blood. In this story, the slayer from ninth grade is back, and he is intent on killing Vlad this time. At the end of the book, there is a huge cliffhanger, leaving us wondering if Vlad's parents are really dead or not.

And finally, Twelfth Grade Kills, I had to check this one out at the library, as it is only in hardcover and I don't have the money to buy it till next weekend. But again, sucked right in. It's Vlad's senior year. And now Otis may be cleared, but Vlad is now having to stand trial, and the only way to save himself is to prove that he really saw his dad, that his dad is really alive. But finding his dad may not be quite the wonderful end that Vlad hoped for. Not to mention that because the slayer has not killed Vlad, the whole Slayer Society now intends to come and completely wipe out the entire population, both human and vampire, of Bathory.

After a week or so of being involved in this world, it's kind of sad to now be out of it. I know the author is writing The Slayer Chronicles now to show the slayer's side and life. And I eagerly await this. I'm so excited to meet Heather Brewer as well, and tell her how much I loved her books. And while I did recommend them before, now that I've read the whole series, I will be recommending it left and right to teens at the bookstore.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Hazards of Working at a bookstore Vol. 1.3

So I worked 2nd floor again last night, and saw several new books. One I didn't get a chance to write down before the name slipped my mind close to when we were getting ready to close. So I have two to talk about. First off I want to mention that one of the books I posted in an earlier Hazards entry, Ill Wind, was one that I found someone else had looked at and then set down somewhere else for me to of course pick up and put away. I thought that was interesting as it's not on a display anywhere.

Okay, first book is another teen one, The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore. It's main character is Sylvie, who was a ballerina until she broke her leg. Her father dies, her mother remarries, and moves her away from Manhattan where she's grown up to Alabama. In Alabama there are two boys that she is intrigued by, the golden boy, and a cousin's mysterious foreign guest. Then she starts seeing things, and that is what gets me interested. The book is not new, this is the paperback release, but the paperback cover is so much more attention grabbing as you can see in the picture I've posted. The hardcover had just a flower covering the entire cover. Kind of boring.

The 2nd book is The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean. The part where our main character, Dora, has a crush on her flirtatious coffee shop manager, is something that is familiar in my life. Also I've read that this book started on the author's blog, which also intrigues me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Another Pan by Daniel and Dina Nayeri

Wow! I haven't gotten to blog in forever! Hate being so busy.

Finally got to finish this book when we got it into the store and I was able to check it out. When I first started reading it, I wasn't sure if I would like it, it didn't sound like as good of a story as Another Faust was. But once I got into it, I actually liked it even better!

The Pan they're talking about is Peter Pan. Our main characters are Wendy and John Darling. Sound familiar? And their father is an Egyptologist who is currently teaching at Marlowe, the private school we learned about in Another Faust. He has a theory that he was basically laughed out of the Egyptology community for. He said the god of death was actually a woman, and that there were 5 myths/stories that were true. And there was a book of them that he studied. Turns out that this "Peter" is almost immortal, he is looking for the mummy/bone dust from these stories, and has already partaken of some of it. Our lady death is Madame Villeroy from the first book, or her true self. Only now she is back as the sickly, plain looking school nurse.

The Egyptology and myths really sucked me in. I loved the stories. Probably because I have always been such a huge fan of Egyptology. One of my dream careers would be to be an Egyptologist. Right behind being a Paleontologist and a Librarian.

Another thing that I loved was the scene that is so recognizable for anyone who knows the Peter Pan story, where Peter takes Wendy and John Darling out their bedroom window. That occurs in this book, and I love that it was a part of the modern story.

It says this is the 2nd in the Another Series, so surely if it is a series, that means there will be more. I just wonder what the next story they will re-do is. I will have to do some internet research.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Hazards of Working at a Bookstore Vol. 1.2

So, I worked at the bookstore again last night, and got to be upstairs in the Kid's Department, my preferred position in the store, but of course, since it was a weeknight, I was basically the whole 2nd floor as well. Found 3 books to share last night.

The first is a book I was able to read in one standing, because it was a children's picture book. But it was soooooo cute! It was called Little Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby. It's about a piglet that was the runt of the litter and wasn't getting any milk. So the family's dachshund had just had puppies and they brought the piglet in and it was nursed by the dachshund mother. It was one of the cutest stories I'd ever seen! Of course, anything about a dachshund grabs my attention, but this was just adorable. And the picture at the end of the book of the pig, Pink, and his doggie mommy, Tink. And the difference in size is so funny! I highly recommend this book. You can go here, to the author's blog to read about:

The 2nd book I found when I was straightening the science fiction section. It is called Ill Wind and it is by Kevin Anderson. I'm not positive, but I feel like I've read a book by this author before. Anyway, it's about an oil spill, and they release a microbe to clean it up. Only soon the microbe spreads and all the cars nearby have no gas in their tanks, and they begin eating any petroleum type of product. I don't know, as a science nerd, it sounds kind of good to me.

And finally, the 3rd book was on our Biography table. It's called House of Cards by David Ellis Dickerson. It's about an ex-greeting card writer who was a fundamentalist raised, 26 year old virgin. He found it was kind of hard to write some of the cards based on his background, and his religion and outlook on life changed through this experience. It just sounds really interesting. Plus, Hallmark is located here in Kansas City, or Liberty, Missouri to be exact.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we are eagerly awaiting.

My choice this week is one I'm very excited about! I love the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I was looking at our SOS (Strict on Sale) list in the computer at the bookstore I work at this last Saturday night and was pleasantly surprised to see this book pop up! This is the 6th in the series, but I'm a little concerned that I haven't read the 5th. I don't have a copy of it, but I have it marked as read on Goodreads. So, it's possible that it came out in hardcover, and I just checked it out from the store, and was waiting for it to be in paperback, since I own all the others in paperback.

This is a neat series about detectives who go into books and solve mysteries. In fact, I read Jane Eyre for the first time because of this book. I don't quite know exactly how to explain this strange world, but you can read about it at the author's website: In this 6th book there is about to be a genre war, and it is Thursday's job to try to prevent it. Thursday is our main character, she was once a detective for Jurisfiction. She also has written about her adventures, and now her written Thursday is asked to solve a mystery within a book. I think it will be neat to get into fan-fiction within this story. But, in order to prepare, I'd better find book 5 and make sure I've read it.

2011 Debut Author Challenge 2: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

I read this book as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge being sponsored by Kristi over at The Story Siren. And actually, this was not on the original list I posted when I signed up to do this. However, the ARC was sitting on the table at the bookstore, so I decided to pick it up and read it. And boy am I glad I did!

This is another book about angels on Earth. At first, I almost didn't read it. I did love the book Hush, Hush and it's sequel Crescendo, and I like the tv show Supernatural which has had an angel storyline for a few years now, but I wasn't sure if I could get into another angel story.

But once I got to reading this story, I was hooked. I had to know. Our main character is Clara Gardner, who has learned she is part angel, 1/4 to be specific. Her mother is 1/2. When angels get to a certain age, they start getting visions of their purpose. In Clara's vision she sees a boy from the back, who is in a forest fire, and she feels really sad. Every time Clara has the vision she sees a little more, and soon she is able to find out where this is going to happen. So she moves with her mom and younger brother to Wyoming. Here she sees the truck that was in her vision, and meets the boy she is to save. It's not forest fire season yet, so she knows there is time to figure out the where and how. And she also has to continue to learn her powers, like flying. In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Clara will meet lots of interesting characters, and learn more about being an angel. It's definitely a romance, a triangle of course. And I know exactly who I'm rooting for, and it's not who you'd probably think.

I'm hoping/assuming that there will be a sequel to this, especially based on how it ended. But I highly recommend it to anyone who is a Twilight fan, Hush Hush fan, or any type of supernatural romance fan.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Hazards of Working at a Bookstore

Last night as I was working at the bookstore, I found myself noticing books that I wanted to read, and trying to remember to put them in my account marked as to read. And I got to thinking, why don't I do something like other blogs I read, where I have a weekly, or regular type of post. At first I wanted to name it "The Day After" and every day after I worked, post the books that I saw that I wanted to read. I think I'll call it The Hazards of Working at a Bookstore, or "The Hazards" for short. What I mean by that is, if I didn't work there, there are so many books I would probably never read. I tend to have my set types and authors, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, young adult, etc. But working at the store, yes, part of it is the cover pulling me over, but then, I'll pick it up, and read the back or the inside of the dust jacket, and be kind of hooked. I don't need to buy anymore book, or check out anymore, or ask for any more ARCs, because I have about 300 books in my office that I have NOT read yet! However, it is a sickness. I think there should be a Books Anonymous group, for people like me who can't walk past a display of books without stopping to check it out. I can't, whether it be at Walmart, a gift shop, a garage sale, I have to stop.

And so, in my first "The Hazards" blog, I have two books to tell about. First is Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux. It is a zombie book, and it is about Allison Hewitt of course, and her coworkers at the bookstore where she works. They become trapped because of zombies, and she uses her blog to communicate. This books sounds like it will be very humorous and I cannot wait to read it! It's paperback, so I'll have to buy it.

The 2nd book is Delirium by Lauren Oliver. First of all, I must say the cover is beautiful!! But then of course I picked it up, and it sounds really interesting. It is a YA/Teen novel. In dystopian future, you can be cured of love. How deep is that? But then once you've done it, what if you wish you could be uncured? I can't wait to read this one either. Forutnately it is a hardcover book, so I'll be able to check it out from the bookstore.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Crashed by Robin Wasserman

I was so excited when this came out and I actually ordered it in to the bookstore because we didn't have it in. But, something else came up, can't remember what it was at this time, and I just now got around to reading it. And it was good, just like I knew it would be.

This is the sequel to Skinned by Robin Wasserman. Our main character is Lia Kahn. In Skinned, Lia died in a car crash and her father had her brain scanned and put into a robotic body. A skinner as the people call them. Well, people aren't really accepting of these robots. Including Lia's own family members. Even though she has all her memories and feels like herself, people won't give her a chance. There was one guy, Auden, who did believe in her, and at the end of Skinned he got hurt from trying to save her, and then he sent her away. So she's gone and lived with the other mechs, as they call themselves. Jude, Riley, Quinn, and Ani. Among others who come to live with them in Quinn's huge family home.

There is the religous group trying to stop this practice of putting people's memories into these robots. And Auden has joined in against Lia. It has become a big deal, mechs against orgs(living people). And after several attacks, the government has started to consider taking away any "rights" that the mechs have, turning them back into machines or property.

I'm told that the shortlived SyFy show called Caprica is a lot like the theme in this book, so I'll have to find it on DVD and watch it. Now I'm just looking forward to reading Wired, the third in the series.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Breathless by Dean Koontz

First off, Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors ever. His last few books though haven't been my favorite types of his, because he does have a wide range of stories in my opinion. This book came out last December, when I was broke. I normally buy all his books, well the last 10 or so, in hardcover. However, I had to wait until this came out in paperback, and I even had to wait longer. But this was really back to the type of his books that I like. My favorite Dean Koontz book of all time is Watchers. I love the way Dean Koontz writes about animals, dogs especially. The way he makes them out to be is exactly how I see dogs in my life. This book has a dog that fits this perfectly. It's not a Golden Retriever for a change, but that's okay. The expressions and actions of the dog are just perfect, you know Koontz loves his dog and other dogs from the way he writes about them. Another thing I loved about this book is that I had just been reading an article in Discover magazine about how science theories/laws that we believe are being disproved, and this book touches on that. Not that I agree with all he has to say about evolution, but it still makes you think.

As usual, we meet different characters, that we can't see how they would be connected to start with. But in the end, they do all come together. What happens is one of our main characters, Grady Adams sees two creatures playing when he's out on his daily walk with his Irish wolfhound. These are creatures he's never seen before, and can't find anything to tell him what it is. And that is our big mystery that in some way connects all the characters.

The only thing about this I didn't really like, is how we had all the build up, but then I felt the end just was rushed and over so soon. I feel Grady and his helpers got away from the bad guys really quickly and easily and that there was just an anticlimactic ending. I wanted more. But I loved it all up to that point.

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop
So I found this on another blog I follow and thought it would be fun to do as well. It's sponsored by Jennifer at It's a place for bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word. And each week there is a question, and here is today's question:

What are you reading now? And why are you reading it?

I am reading Crashed by Robin Wasserman. I am reading it because I had 3 snow days this week and as I was finishing my 3rd book of the week I saw it when I went to pick a new book from my unread shelf and was in the mood. I've really been in the mood for mostly YA books lately.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

I got this book as an advanced reader's copy back in October, right before the author was coming to our bookstore to do a signing. I didn't get to go to the signing because it was right when our parent teacher conferences are, so didn't feel the urge to pick it up and get it read. Now that I have however, I am very excited to go back and read her first teen book, A Northern Light.

Revolution is a historical fiction about the French Revolution. Our main character is Andi, she goes to a very exclusive school called St. Anselm's in Brooklyn. Her father is a famous geneticist, and her mother an artist. However, her brother died a couple years ago, and we don't find out exactly how until later in the story, but we get some kind of idea, that Andi, who is hanging out with pot smokers and druggies from her school, may have been somehow responsible for his death. Andi is currently not able to do anything other than her music lessons. Music is the only thing that makes her feel okay. As she gets close to flunking out and messing up her chances of getting into a good college, her father who left the family, comes home. He sees that her mother is a mess and puts her mother in a hospital. He then makes Andi go with him to Paris. In Paris he will be working to prove whether a heart preserved in a glass jar is really Louis-Charles, son of Marie Antoinette's heart. While Andi is there she is expected to work on her thesis for school, which is kind of handy because the person she is researching is from Paris, his name is Amade Malherbeau, and supposedly he came up with some of the unusual note combinations modern musicians use today. The people Andi and her dad stay with are old friends of theirs. The man is a historian and the woman is an artist. They have all kinds of historical documents and artifacts where they are living because they are preparing to turn the building into a museum. There is even a guitar from the time of the French Revolution, and Andi finds a secret compartment in which there is a diary and a picture of Louis-Charles. The diary is of a girl who was a servant to him and how she tried to be there for him in whatever way she could, even when he was walled up alone in his final prison.

I loved this story, could barely put it down when I needed to. It made me eager to read more about this time period. I think a good historical fiction is one that makes you want to learn the real stories, and this totally does it. I could even see it being read in a classroom to tie in both literature and history. As I said, I will now have to go back and get her book A Northern Light and read it soon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we are eagerly awaiting.

As I mentioned earlier, from reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, I am eagerly awaiting the 3rd book in this series about zombies. In the last book we met Gabry and Elias, and learned that Elias had left Gabry in the woods, and when he came back she was gone. He then took her twin sister Annah and took care of her until he left to join the Recruiters. While he is gone she meets Catcher, and she feels not alone anymore.

I'm hoping that we'll end up with a reunion of them all in this book, but who knows!

Water For Elephants Movie Trailer Official (HD)

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I have wanted to read this book for a long time. Many of the people I work with at the bookstore loved this book. I put it on my list to read, figuring it would be good, but another of those popular books that wouldn't make my favorites list. Boy was I wrong! I finally figured I needed to get it read before the movie comes out, as I prefer to read books before movies, even if that often ruins the movie.

I haven't read a good circus story in a long time, probably not since Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I loved this story! It starts out with our main character as an older man living in a nursing home. Jacob Jankowski is living there when the circus comes to town and they can see it from the nursing home. As it is getting set up, he drifts off into memories of when he was a part of the circus. How he left vet school because of his parents dying, and ran off and jumped on a train. The train happened to belong to the Benzini Brothers circus. And there were already some people in the train car he jumped on. They helped him get a job in the circus. Once it was found out about him almost being a vet, the big guy, Uncle Al, hired him to take care of the animals. Jacob gets a look at one of the stars of the show, Marlena. He becomes a friend/companion to her and her husband August. August has issues with his temper, and as the time goes by Jacob and Marlena deal with this, even while the two of them begin to fall in love. Uncle Al likes to swoop in on circuses that have gone bust and take what he can. After one spot he finds and purchases an elephant. At first it seems as if the elephant is stupid, but soon Jacob finds that is just that the elephant doesn't understand English commands.

This historical novel ties into prohibition and all the stuff going on with circuses at the time. The end is so good, so so good. I still remember gasping as one thing happened, sitting with my mouth wide open as I read the book in shock. I am so ready to see the movie now. Never mind that it stars Robert Pattinson. :-)

One other thing that I really love about this book is that the author wrote it during National Novel Writing Month. It just awes me because this book is so well researched and I love the pictures that are from actual circuses from the past with each chapter.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri

I'm a bit behind on my blogging, teaching two online classes and no snow days last week left me kinda too busy to blog. I promised myself if I actually got a snow day this week, I'd get my book blogged. And I have two to blog about, but I'll just do this one today, so let's see how much I remember.

We start the books off learning about 5 children who are all about 10 years old. Four of them all want something more than they have. One night, they all disappear. Five years later they reappear in New York at a very exclusive school with their "governness," Madame Vileroy. Madame Vileroy has given them all gifts, but she expects something in return. Whether it be inside information about wealthy people, or to sabotage even each other's goals. Victoria can read people's thoughts, she calls it "cheating," to find out what she needs. And what she wants is to win all the awards, be the smartest, be the best. Bice and Belle are twins, who look NOTHING alike. Because what Belle wants is to be beautiful. As a girl, everyone always fawned over Bice, and Belle just wanted to be pretty, but no one fawned over her, because she was so plain as a girl. Christian wants to never have to be homeless or steal, which is what we saw him doing at the beginning of the book. And his dream is to be an athlete to do this. So his gift is that he can steal from other people, their energy, skills, etc. But he hates himself for doing this, because he doesn't want to steal. And Valentin can stop time and go back and do things over and over to try to get what he wants to happen, or get the best outcome he can. What he wants is to be a poet, a good one. Bice, she only wants to hide and learn as many languages as she can. Her gift is to slow time down so she can learn what she wants.

Madame Vileroy wants their souls, and they must decide if their gifts are worth giving up their souls and doing the evil things she wants.

I enjoyed the story. I think it had some clever twists and ideas in it. I liked it enough to go ahead and start reading the 2nd in the series, Another Pan. Unfortunately, I had to turn the Nook back into the store, and we didn't have any copies of the book in the store, so while I wanted to read both and post one blog about both, I will just have to wait until I get the other book to finish it.