Monthly Archives: March 2010

Teaser Tuesday (3/30)

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TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

# Grab your current read.

# Let the book fall open to a random page.

# Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

# You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given! # Please avoid spoilers!

My Two Teasers:

You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore.

So it turns out Alicia DeVries is this crusty hippie who is like as old as my grandma, but wants to be all Earth Mother and everything, which I’m not against, because old hippies have teh best pot and they’ll just give it to you if you pretend not to notice that they’re crusty and old.

So Alicia picks me up in her crust-mobile rainbow peace-and-love Jeep CJ and I give her the requirements of the vampyre Flood, which were bedroom with no windows, a washer and dryer, private entrance with lockout, and at least above the ground floor, windows looking down on the street.

Half Minute Horrors

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Title: Half Minute Horrors edited by Susan Rich

Age: 10-12

Half Minute Horrors is a compilation of short stories by over 30 authors including Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket, Libbra Bray and Erin Hunter. The stories alternate from brief one-page tales, to poems and comic style renditions of nightmarish tales. There are tales of monsters under the bed, lurking shadows, kidnappings, and murder.

Truth be told, I was a little disappointed by the book. The tales weren’t really that scary and after a while, they started to feel repetitive. Some were very clever, like Stacey Godiner’s The Pink Bicycle; a tale of premonition. Others felt incomplete or were just plain boring. I did like that many heavy-weight authors participated in this compilation. I was surprised to see Margaret Atwood, James Patterson and Gregory Maguire on the author list, I didn’t think they wrote for kids. Some of my favorite stories were the psychological fears that children felt. These stories are more of parent’s worse nightmare than of a child’s nightmare, particularly those where children disappear into strange houses, or get thrown in the below freezing pond during summer camp.  Some gave me chills and made me go “ewww” (The Babysitter by Erin Hunter for those that read the book). I would recommend this for younger kids looking for scary stories, read in small portions the stories can be very frightening.

Half Minute Horrors
edited by Susan Rich
Harper Collins, 2009
ISBN 9780061833793
141 pages

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Find this book at your local library

Noteworthy Links #1

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Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin has been adapted into a musical production – Read more at SFgate.

created with veterans of “Avenue Q” and members of the rock band Scissor Sisters – will receive its world premiere in the American Conservatory Theater’s 2010-11 season.

I reviewed this title sometime last year, you can read my review here. Its a delightful ode to San Fransisco. The characters are creative, funny and loveable and the mentions of the city make any local’s heart melt.

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The Northern California Book Award Nominees are listed here. The Nor Cal Book Awards have highlighted some of the finest and most popular authors of our time; Michael Chabon, David Eggers, etc. I’m happy to announce that the winners will be announced at the San Francisco Public Library from 1p-2:30p on April 18th.

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Sid Fleischman, author of many beloved children’s books, including one of my favorites: The Whipping Boy, passed away at age 90. The New York Times has written a great mini bio of his life and career as an author. You should definitely stop by to check it out.

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Out of Print Clothing – great presents for the book lover in your life (or even just for yourself!)

Our shirts feature iconic and often out of print book covers. Some are classics, some are just curious enough to make great t-shirts, but all are striking works of art.

I like this one the best:

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Giveaways and other book blogger blurbs

** Check out Caribous Mom to enter a giveaway for the Patrick Taylor Irish Country series. The drawing takes place Tuesday March 30th, so make sure to get your name in there now!

** Check out an awesome 2.5 minute clip of the goings-on at an Amazon Warehouse over at Letters on Pages.  On a personal note, I think tours of any kind are awesome!

** Wonders and Marvels is hosting a giveaway for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The last day to enter is TODAY before midnight. Better get your name on the list pronto.

** Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is coming up quickly on April 10th this year. Do you have your books ready? I think I may actually be able to participate in this one, although I do have to go to a cousin’s engagement party that evening…but I’ll be reading before and afterwards!

Read, Remember, Recommend

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Just this morning I received a really wonderful email about my blog from Sourcebooks Inc. My blog will be featured in one of their upcoming titles: Read, Remember, Recommend: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers by Rachelle Rogers Knight.  You can check out her blog at www.bibliobabe.com. I’m not sure if there is a blurb associated with my blog, or if I’m just listed along with a number of other book blogs, but just that I made it into a published book is really amazing. I’ve been on cloud 9 all day today.

Read, Remember,  Recommend Reading Journal

The book won’t be released until April 1st, so I have to wait another 2 weeks before I can actually see my blog in print!! I’m very curious to see what other book bloggers were selected.  According to the table of contents, there are 10 pages of book blogs listed at the back under a section called Loaner Lists. The rest of the book is a compilation of international award winning titles, book lists, book clubs, etc. It seems like a pretty complete guide for librarians looking for books to order, or readers looking for books to add to their to-be-read list.

=) Whoo hoo!!

Beacon Hills High – Review

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Beacon Hills High by Mo’Nique w/ Sherry McGee McCovey

Age: 12-18

Eboni Imes starts off her middle school graduation on the right foot. Accepted into one of the top ranking high schools, Millwood, with her best girlfriends and starting a romance with the star athlete. Eboni’s dreams seem to be coming true, until she finds out that her family is moving to Los Angeles, where Eboni will have start a new life, make new friends and go through numerous challenges with the rich and the superficial.

I went back and forth on this book. I liked Eboni’s character. She’s a strong girl, but with insecurities. She’s funny and sweet, but also a bit naive and idealistic. The story itself didn’t seem very original, but the contemporary references and terminology make it more approachable for teens.

Eboni and her new friends deal with the school mean girl, Maya Williams, while Eboni tries to figure out her emotions towards Maya’s on-again/off-again boyfriend Gene Hicks, also a star athlete. Mo’Nique brings up the issues of body image, sexuality and self-esteem that teenagers go through at some point of their high school lives.

Nearly each chapter ends with Eboni either sending an e-mail to her best friend in Baltimore, Michelle, or having a conversation with God through a prayer. These talks help Eboni keep her perspective as she tries to stay level-headed and optimistic despite the challenges she comes across.

There is a lot of celebrity name-dropping throughout this book, which makes for a good contemporary read.  Kids reading this book now will understand all the musical and TV references, but I question the relevance of all these celebrities twenty years down the line. You have to know who she’s talking about to understand why they are important to the story.

Want to know more about the book? You can read the first 100 pages here

Beacon Hills High
by Mo’Nique w/ Sherry McGee McCovey
HarperCollins, 2008
ISBN 0061121067
189 pages

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Hiroshima – Review

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Hiroshima by Laurence Yep

Age: 9-12

Hiroshima is a novella detailing the events of the atomic bomb attack in Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. Yep centralizes the story on two tweleve year old sisters named Rikko and Sachi, composites of a number of resident’s of Hiroshima at the time. the majority of this book is a non-fiction and very straight forward account of the attack during World War II.

Laurence Yep is an acclaimed author of many children’s books, and this title does not dissapoint. Yep’s neutral tone makes this story a heart-breaking tale.His descriptions of the bomb, and the aftermath are inspiring and guilt ridden:

There is a terrible wind. Houses collapse like boxes. Windows break everywhere. Broken glass swirls like angry insects.

The wind strikes Sachi’s back like a hammer and picks her up. She feels as if she has fallen into boiling oil. It tears away her special hood and even her clothes. The wind sweeps her into the whirlwind of glass.

One of the most powerful bombs ever created, the nuclear bombed was dropped in Japan as retaliation against Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 2 years prior. Quick to discover the enormity of their mistake, the US rushed to work with Japan after the war ended, going as far as bringing in the Hiroshima Maidens for major reconstructive plastic surgery. Yep goes further into history by briefly explaing how the world reacted to the bomb, how other nations began developing their own bombs and the treaties signed to ensure that no one would use or test these bombs in open space where it could cause more damage or radiation to any living creature.

This is an excellent companion book to 1000 Paper Cranes by Ishii Takayuki. Sadako Sasaki died from the radiation poisoning from the bomb and tried to make 1000 origami cranes to follow a fable that anyone who makes 1000 cranes will have 1 wish granted. 1000 Paper Cranes is another tale of a girl in Japan ten years after the bomb had been dropped, Sadako and the Children’s Peace Statue built in her memory.

Hiroshima: A Novella
by Laurene Yep
Scholastic Inc, 1995
ISBN 0590208322
56 pages

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The House Called Awful End – Review

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The House Called Awful End by Phillip Ardagh

Age: 9-12 years old

Eddie Dickens is sent away to live with his Mad Uncle Jack and Even-Madder Aunt Maud while his parents suffer from a strange disease that makes with yellow and crinkly and smell like old hot water bottles. Unfortunately for Eddie, traveling anywhere with a mad aunt and uncle is not as much fun as a young boy would hope it to be. Eddie soon sets off on a series of adventures and events in a book set in the late 19th Century.  

For parents that consider A Series of Unfortunate Events to be too dark and dismal for their kids, this book is a good compromise. Ardagh’s play with words and puns creates characters that are irreverant, and ridiculous. Kids will find the incompetence of the adults to be entertaining in comparison to Eddie’s quiet and intelligent attitude.  There are many similarities between this book and the Series of Unfortunate Events; the children are more competent than the adults,  the children find themselves in dangerous situations based on the actions of their guardians, and the author even defines certains words and terminology in a similar fashion. While I think this book is a good alternative to readers that are not quite ready for the Lemony Snicket books, the Eddie Dicken’s trilogy is not the most original nor the most entertaining. Eddie’s mad aunt and uncle are more annoying than funny, and the same can be said for his parents. There is very little plot in this book as it is mostly filled with silly anecdotes and it really doesn’t feel like a cohesive story.  

One thing to remember, is that this book was written for kids, not adults reading kids books. Lemony Snicket wrote for both parents and children, which is why so many more adults prefer that series. For younger  kids, the Eddie Dicken’s trilogy will be an entertaining read.

The House Called Awful End

by Phillip Ardagh

New York : H. Holt, 2002, ©2000

ISBN 0805068287

144 pages

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If a Tree Falls At Lunch Period – Review

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If a Tree Falls During Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

Age: 10+

Kristin is your average 12-year old girl, concered about her weight, her looks and her friendships at a school were the academic competition is high and the popularity race is never ending. Walker made into the school through scholorships is trying hard to excel at a school where he is the only African American boy in his grade. As Walker and Kristin try to nagivate their lives through seventh grade, Kristin stumbles upon a secret that could change their lives forever.

Fans of Gennifer Choldenki’s historical Al Capone books will appreciate this contemporary tale of 12 year-olds struggling with their identities at an upper class private school in San Francisco, CA. Each chapter is told through the perspective of either Kristin or Walker. Each child has their own set of insecurities, worries and confidences. At the beginning of seventh grade Kristin’s best friend just leaves her to go hang out with the popular yet mean girl crowd. Kristin struggles with weight issues which her parents only worsens with their constant battles at home. Only Walker is a stable and reliable anchor in her otherwise topsy-turvy life. Walker is struggling to do well in school while living with his single mother in the slums of San Francisco.

Choldenko raises many issues in this book. Issues on; body image, racism, prejudice and friendship. Her characters are not heroes, they are normal seventh graders trying to figure things out. The major themes of racism are subtle and eloquently paced throughout the book through the conversations and the actions of the kids, which most likely mirrors what they hear at home from their parents. Most kids will be drawn to Kristen and Walker as identifyable characters. Kristin has her flaws, but is a good person with a big heart. Walker is smart, level-headed and is trying hard to succeed in a very white world.

If a Tree Falls At Lunch Period 
by Gennifer Choldenko
Houghton MIfflin Harcourt, 2007
ISBN 97801520066444
216 pages

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Find this book at your local library

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Other books by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts – Review

Al Capone Shines My Shoes – Review

Life: A Photo blog post

I’ve been very absent from blogging for the majority of 2010. I haven’t really been reading much. I haven’t been able to really get immersed into any adult fiction books this year. Maybe I read too many last year, but this year I’ve just been bored with every book I pick up, except for children’s and teen books. I’ve started out this year reading more children’s books and hopefully that’ll turn into more adult fiction books. I’m reading Anna Karenina for my book club, which is more of a reread actually. I don’t know why Russian authors get such a bad reputation for their books. I love Russian literature, except for Lolita…that book still give me shutters.

Most of my enery this past week has been towards my guinea pig, Ginny. She had a really bad limp on Monday night, but she’s mostly recovered now. She’s 7 years old (really, really old for guinea pigs), but she’s still really stubborn and resilient. I’ve had her for about 5 years now and she’s a wonderful pet.

Miss Ginny!

I’ve been on a knitting whirlwind this year, which is why I haven’t been reading much. I can only do one or the either. I’ve made a good number of large projects this year. A sweater, a cardigan, a pair of socks and a shrug.

weekend hoodie  Alpine  socks!  Melody Shrug

Chris and I celebrated Valentine’s Day by going to see Cirque du Soilel this year, Ovo. If you haven’t been to a performance, then I highly recommend it. Ovo is a lot more dance-influenced than the other ones I’ve seen, but the costumes are amazing, the story is enchanting and the acrobatics are just stupefying.

Well, that’s my 2010 in a nutshell. =p Hopefully it’ll get more entertaining as the year progresses.

Clean – Review

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Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D.

Age: Adult

Clean by Alejandro Junger, is a book about a detox program that Junger created called Clean. Junger’s specialty is in cardiology, but he ventured into the detox arena based on some of his personal experiences early in his career and in his life. Clean is a compilation of Eastern and Western medicine this is supposed to help rejuvenate the body, cleanse the body of toxins and restore healthy and vibrancy to the body.

The short version: Eat healthier, exercise and be aware of your environment, mental state and what you are putting into your body and how the domino effect of your actions.

First off, I did not actually complete the detox because of financial reasons (I have no need for a blender or juicer and with a diabetic boyfriend, neither appliance would get much use after the program and both are required for the program as 2 of 3 meals of the day are liquid meals).

Junger thrives on scare tactics in the first section of the book. He really drives home the point that the world is not clean, that our lives are not clean and that we have no control over these unclean elements that are effecting our bodies. Not long into the book, we are bombarded with worries about the toxins in us, and around us. Toxins that we control and toxins that we don’t have any control over. The trick worked. The more I read the book, the more I felt like I needed to detox and rid myself of all the evil molecules roaming around me. The scare tactics I did not appreciate. At some points, I just felt manipulated by his statements.

The parts of the book that I enjoyed the most where his discussions on the human body, how it works and how different food effects the body. It felt like a mini science class. Although I really got into those sections of the book, Junger would throw in little commercial breaks; brief sentences of how the Clean program would support whatever point he had been making up to that point. I didn’t really care for the reminders that Clean is an amazing, life-changing detox, particularly since this was only a statement, with no detail about the actual program.

The first 6 chapters are devoted to information about toxins, the body and food. Chapter 7 is a hefty chapter that actually goes into the details of Clean. the rest of the book is about life after Clean and Clean recipes to use during the three weeks of the program. You basically replace 2 meals with liquids from a chart of Yes foods and No foods. Some of the food that popped up on the no list was surprising (oranges and strawberries). What I appreciated was that Junger went into detail about why certain foods were ruled out of the diet. He encouraged an elimination diet before starting the cleanse so that the 3 week detox would not be a complete shock to the body. He also made sure to mention plenty of times the safety concerns of this program. Some people think of detox as a way to just lose weight. From Junger’s point of view, a detox is a fresh take on life. Its is cleaning your slate and allowing your body and your mind to go into a newer and healthy direction.

As a book that is heavily steeped into scientific information and terminology about the body, I would have liked to see a bibliography of his resources, to validate the facts he throws in about the Clean program. His anecdotes of patients who did the Clean program felt scripted and fake and just thrown in to prove a point rather than be a honest testimonial about the program. While reading this book, I felt as if I was watching an infomercial late at night, it has that same feel and tone to it.

I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say if anyone needs to do a detox. For the most part, I already eat most of what on Junger’s Yes list and don’t eat a good chunk of the foods that are on his No list. If anything, I just need to drink more water and cut back on the caffeine, carbs and dairy. Although I don’t plan on going through the detox, I have taken note of Junger’s diet recommendations and will try to alter my diet to include healthier foods and encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Clean
by Alejandro Junger M.D.
HarperOne. 2009
ISBN9780061735325
278 pages

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Find this book at your local library