Monday, March 31, 2014

Hysterical Modern Day Fairy Tale with a Touch of Heart: GORGEOUS by Paul Rudnick

"Oh my God. OH MY GOD!!! No that's not right, that's not nearly enough because right now even God must be tweeting everyone in heaven and asking, 'Did U hear what Jate just said???'"

GORGEOUS was a lot of fun! It's like the Meg Cabot PRINCESS DIARIES series with some supernatural thrown in. And it works, actually. Really, it's a modern day fairy tale.

Your synopsis:
When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle's mother dies, Becky is whisked away from a trailer park to New York City, where fashion designer Tom Kelly offers to transform her into a glamorous Rebecca, a girl fit for a prince--but soon she begins to fear that she will lose touch with her real self.

I enjoyed Becky, and her best friend, Rocher, is hysterical. She's the perfect sharp witted, funny sidekick to Becky's leading lady/Cinderella character.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Neil Gaiman's THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

Yes, it's been a while since I've posted a review. I'm overcome with a sense of ennui about reading lately. I've started a book, put it down, picked up another, put it down. Nothing lately has has lit that book-passion fire in me. Did this one?

First the synopsis:
When a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home in Sussex, England, for a funeral he remembers frightening childhood memories relating to the neighbor girl who promised to protect him from the darkness unleashed by a suicide at the pond at the end of their street.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

BORN AT MIDNIGHT by CC HUNTER has Supernatural Fun and Romance

So, the annual Montgomery County Book Festival is coming up on Saturday, bringing over 40 authors! It's a free event and includes panel discussions, three keynote speeches, and autograph sessions. I've been meaning to read a series by one of the authors, C.C. Hunter, called BORN AT MIDNIGHT. I'm sure I would've gotten to it eventually. But then a student told me about it in book club last week, and her excitement was so contagious, I picked it up.

Yay! I'm glad I did. Kylie Galen had been feeling like her world was crushing in on her. Her boyfriend dumped her, her grandmother died, and her parents were divorcing. The last straw is when she's inadvertently arrested at a party. Her parents send her to what appears to be "juvenile delinquent" camp to straighten her out.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chilling, Horrifying, and All Consuming - You Won't Soon Forget THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey

"I am the one not running, not staying, but facing.
Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity.
And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield."

I'm not sure why I didn't know about this book until now. Apparently, it's been out since May, and it's on several "best-of" lists. But, anyway wow! I couldn't put it down. And after stopping halfway along in two other books first, it was super satisfying to find this one. You probably recognize the author, Rick Yancy. He wrote THE MONSTRUMOLOGISTand THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ALFRED KROPP.

The 5th Wave is a great combination of dystopian and alien invasion/science fiction. It begins with the electricity going off at school. Cassie Sullivan, along with her entire high school, is rounded up into the gym. Soon, they began to feel that something major has gone wrong when parents are showing up on foot to pick them up. Cars no longer work. Nor does any other device requiring electricity, batteries, or radio.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Eugenics, Ghosts, and Ethics with a Dash of Love Keep Interest High in SECOND GLANCE

"Love's not a because, it's a no matter what."

Did you know that Nazi scientists cited American eugenics programs as the foundation for their own plans for racial hygiene?

Did you know that in the early 30's there were scientists who created the Eugenics Survey of Vermont to study heredity and create family trees to determine which lines needed to be sterilized to reduce "problematic" citizens. Yep. All true.

That was one of the kernel of ideas that Jodi Picoult used to create SECOND GLANCE. I heard her speak recently. She was wonderful! She's quite an engaging speaker and storyteller. She spoke of the lengths she goes to research her books. She explained the background for three different books. SECOND GLANCE involved the eugenics in Vermont, mentioned earlier, as well as how she learned about the life of a ghost hunter.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Your Friendly Librarian's Five 'Sticky' Books of 2013

I didn't read as many books this year as I have in past years, but that doesn't mean I cannot judge the ones I did read. Yes, many people do "favorite books" or "best books" or "most pretentious literature" of the year awards, yada yada. And that's great. But I have my own version of favorite books. I present you with the Friendly Librarian's Five "Sticky" Books of the Year. (not necessarily all published in 2013.)

How is a book sticky, you ask? If a book sticks with me till the end of the year - if I'm still thinking about it long after, then that is my measuring stick for "best" and what I'm calling "sticky." For example, Susan Beth Pfeffer's LIFE AS WE KNEW IT (and the two that follow) has stuck with me these six years after I read it. There are still times when I open my pantry and count how many cans of food I have, because of that book. Two years after reading Mike Mullin's ASHFALL, I still smell ash in the air when I recommend that book to a student.

So, the following are the five books that have stuck with me the most. I read other great books, for sure. But these stuck with me - each for wildly different reasons.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Words aren't Simply Powerful, They are Deadly in LEXICON by Max Barry

The book jacket had me at "secret organization of poets," so this was a very easy sell. Words are powerful and a book based around that fact sounds great, right. I enjoyed most of the book, and maybe it's just my curiosity, but I was left with more questions than answers.

Your quickie synopsis:
Emily Ruff belongs to a secret organization whose "poets" can break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. Then she makes a catastrophic mistake and falls in love, breaking her organization's rules.

Emily is recruited to a secret school to become one of these individuals, called poets, who can take control of people by analyzing their personality type and categorizing them. Certain phrases (that look like nonsense words to everyone else) can trigger whatever actions a "poet" wants from another person.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

VoiceThread How-To Videos

I have a few teachers trying out VoiceThread for the first time in my school, so I thought I would share with you the screencasts that I created for them. Feel free to ask questions, comment, or share with others in your school. Remember to click "full screen" to see a nicer view.

First up - How to Create Your First VoiceThread in 5 Easy Steps:



Next - Setting Up Your Classes:




I have more on the way that will spotlight some of the advanced features.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Veronica Roth's ALLEGIANT, an Action-Packed Conclusion to the Most Anticipated Finale of the Year

Everyone I know who reads YA has been anticipating this one. When DIVERGENT first came out, I remember telling students that I liked it better than HUNGER GAMES, and that's saying a lot. If you haven't read DIVERGENT, you need to just go do that right now. The rest of you, keep on reading.

Here's your quickie synopsis - The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered--fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kick Back and Enjoy a Rollicking Good Time in WHAT I REMEMBER by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

Kylie wakes up in Mexico the morning of graduation, miles away from home where she is scheduled to give the valedictorian speech later that day. As Kylie remembers the previous 24 hours, she learns more about life and herself than the last four years at school taught her.

Here's your quickie synopsis: Just before her graduation from La Jolla's exclusive Freiburg Academy, valedictorian and scholarship student Kylie Flores inadvertently ends up in Ensenada, Mexico, with Max, one of the most popular boys in school, where, in twenty-four jam-packed hours, their lives dramatically change.