This Just In! undiscovered gyrl, by Allison Burnett

undiscovered gyrl, by Allison BurnettWhat’s This About? Only on the internet can you have so many friends and be so lonely.  Beautiful, wild, funny, and lost, Katie Kampenfelt is taking a year off before college to find her passion. Ambitious in her own way, Katie intends to do more than just smoke weed with her boyfriend, Rory, and work at the bookstore. She plans to seduce Dan, a thirty-two-year-old film professor.  Katie chronicles her adventures in an anonymous blog, telling strangers her innermost desires, shames, and thrills. But when Dan stops taking her calls, when her alcoholic father suffers a terrible fall, and when she finds herself drawn into a dangerous new relationship, Katie’s fearless narrative begins to crack, and dark pieces of her past emerge.
Why This? This was a contest win from Vintage.  I got an e-mail that I  had won and it showed up the next day.  It was all a complete surprise.  I took a read through the first chapters which are structured as blog posts,  and I am definitely interested to see where it’s going to go.  I would think that this is going to be toward the more adult end of the YA spectrum.  In just the first few blog entries there is already drug use, cursing and sex with guys Katie’s age and also a lot older.  I guess I will see what happens next.

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Horrid Henry, by Francesca Simon – Book Review

Horrid Henry, by Francesca SimonHorrid Henry, by Francesca Simon is published by Sourcebooks and is Recommended.

Between re-visiting favorites from my childhood and reading books with and looking for books for my young cousin, I have definitely branched away from my normal fare.  When I picked this up I was thinking that at nine years old,  Horrid Henry might be too young for her, but apparently Horrid Henry can be loved and appreciated at any age.  She seemed to really like it.

Horrid Henry can be summed up quite simply.  Henry is horrid; and he takes immense pleasure from it, and not only that, he’s good at it.  It’s totally wrong and fun in an OMG-I-hope-not-to-ever-raise-the-devil’s-spawn kind of way.  But if you are indeed raising Damien Thorn, then this is not the book for you. This will hit too close to home for parents raising little terrors.  It was almost too much for me, but being childless at the moment, I went with it.

There were four stories in this little book and I have to say that the one I loved the most was the very first one where Horrid Henry pulls a switch on his harried parents and brother, Perfect Peter, and behaves like an angel for a day.  It completely throws of the balance of the family and brings Perfect Peter down a notch or two when he spirals down into unfamiliar bad behavior and negativity.  Perfect Peter may have not deserved it, but I laughed at his expense anyway. It reminded me that I should always be looking to see people for who and what they are in the moment instead of already assuming that I know how they are going to behave.

Another of the stories I loved was when Perfect Peter and Horrid Henry spend the day playing with Moody Margaret.  Moody Margaret is just as smart and plotting as Horrid Henry.  She wants to have her own way and she has no problem doing what it takes to achieve those ends.  It’s nice to see that Horrid Henry knows that he has met his match, that is, until they team up against poor Perfect Peter.  In this book HH also goes camping with his family and has to participate in a ballet recital.  Fun stuff!

Read these for yourself or with your kids just for the fun of it. I was thoroughly entertained, my cousin was entertained and I think she made her mother read them as well.  Fun for the entire family.

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The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins – Book Review

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne CollinsIn The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, bad things have happened in North America and the only thing left is the nation of Panem, made up of 12 districts which have been subdued by the The Capitol, and ruled with an iron fist. Hunger and starvation are rampant, and all the district’s children have to compete in what’s known as The Hunger Games (now doesn’t that sound fun!). From the ages of twelve to eighteen, children are entered into a lottery, and get this, the older you get the more times your name is entered into the lottery, and the more chances that you have of being chosen to compete. The “lucky” winners, two from each district (one boy and one girl), are entered into a highly promoted and televised fight to the death tournament.

Katniss Everdeen has been the de facto head of the family since her father died in a mining accident. Her mother doesn’t seem equipped to handle the realities of family life after the death of her husband, so a resentful Katniss takes charge of the family and illegally hunts in the woods alongside her friend Gale. Together, they supplement the meager food allotments that their families receive from the government.  When Katniss’ sister Prim turns twelve and enters the lottery for the first time, Katniss is shockedto hear her name called, and quickly volunteers to go in her place.  Although she figures it’s the end for her, she promises Prim that she will do whatever it takes to stay alive, but that’s before she meets her competition.

So…yeah.  I have pretty much nothing new to add to The Hunger Games discussions. It’s a fantastic read. I picked it up and only put it down after I finished it  a few hours later. It wasn’t anything that I expected I would like. I haven’t been a big reader of either dystopian fiction or apocalyptic fiction, but it was the book that I just kept hearing about. The book that would not go away. So, finally I just gave in and read it.

Katniss Everdeen is a great heroine – especially for a trilogy. There is a lot to find out about her. She has a compelling story.  Her father has died, she’s angry,  has issues withe her  mother and she has the weight of the family on her shoulders. She’s trying to survive in a tough world with a lot of responsibility, but not a lot of adult support. The two joys in her life are her sister and the deep friendship that she shares with her fellow hunter, Gale. We slowly get to know more about her character and the experiences that have made her a bit sullen and somewhat withdrawn, and also her determination to fight for her life throughout the novel.  It is so spell-binding as she is competing during the games, and I could hardly read and turn pages fast enough to see how she was going to get out of each deadly situation, and the twists and turns that she encountered.

I also like that that the book was peopled with others besides Katniss who are equally compelling, and whose stories you want to find out.  Peeta Mellark is the other participant from Katniss’s district and their relationship is fraught with complexity as they work together to make the most of their drunken trainer, Haymitch. They do this even as they know that they will have to face off against each other at the end. The Hunger Games can only have one victor. Cinna plans the costumes  and marketing/advertising strategy needed for both Katniss and Peeta to gain sponsors, and he has mysteriously chosen to work with this district specifically- though they have only managed to win the games once before.

Suzanne Collins does a great job in setting up the first book in the trilogy.  Just enough questions in the story are answered to give a bit of satisfaction, but it’s only enough to leave you wondering and wanting more.  No matter what it is you like to read, I would definitely recommend checking this series out.

Read More Reviews At:

Have you read The Hunger Games yet?  Resisting the hype or planning to read it later?

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This Just In! Royal Blood, by Rona Sharon

Royal Blood, by Rona SharonWhat’s It About? In the Tudor Court of 1518, your friends and enemies can be one and the same…During the annual celebration of the Order of the Garter, Sir Michael Devereaux arrives in King Henry VIII’s court on a mission for his benefactor. The celebration’s endless feats and sumptuous women delight the charismatic newcomer, who becomes captivated by the enigmatic Princess Renee of France. But evil, it seems, has followed Michael to the court. Shortly after his arrival, an unknown killer claims several victims, including the Queen’s lady-in-waiting, and the powerful Cardinal Wolsey asks Michael to help with the investigation. As he searches for the killer, Michael is haunted by disturbing images of the victims – flashes of violence that lead him to doubt his own sanity. Michael soon realizes that the key to solving the crime is connected to both the Pope’s Imperial vault in Rome and a mystery from Michael’s own past – revealing a secret that is so damning, it could forever alter the future of mankind.

Why This? I love to read historical fiction and the time of Henry VIII is a time period that I particularly enjoy.  I was really interested to see how a murder mystery would be carried out in this time period.  I read Sweetsmoke, by Robert Fuller, which is a period murder mystery with an unlikely detective, told during the Civil War.  I really liked it.  So I want to see how the court of Henry VIII does it.  I also heard a rumor that there are vampires, which puts a really surprising spin on things if that turns out to be true.  I could be totally making that up, but I think I saw it somewhere.

Do murderous vampires running around in the court of Henry VIII appeal to you?

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Either You’re in or You’re in the Way, by Logan & Noah Miller – Book Review

Either You're In or You're In The Way, by Logan and Noah Miller Either You’re In Or You’re In the Way: Two Brothers, Twelve Months, and One Filmmaking Hell-Ride to Keeping a Promise to Their Father, by Logan & Noah Miller is published by HarperCollins and is Highly Recommended.

Noah and Logan Miller are twin brothers who both had dreams of playing major league baseball and when that didn’t work out they went and did the only other thing they were equipped to do- went to Los Angeles to become filmmakers.  While they are out in Los Angeles trying to break into the film business they take odd jobs (I mean really odd, and sometimes dangerous jobs), writing screenplay after screenplay and developing their talent though they have yet to land their big break.  When they get a chance they spend weekends with their father, a drifter who has struggled with alcoholism and has been in and out of jail for years.  Their dream is to make a movie about their life and the joke is that Ed Harris, whom has always reminded the boys of their father, will play their dad in the film.

Their father’s death and their promise to him that they will complete their film lights the proverbial fire under their behinds, and they give themselves a year to complete the task.  From that point forward everyone is either in or on the way because nothing will stop them from fulfilling the promise they made to their father.  This book tells the improbable and heartwarming story of the journey to get their film “Touching Home” made into a movie with none less than Ed Harris in the role of their father.

This book was a joy to read.  I love to read books that are explanatory of things that I both do and don’t know anything about; and when they are poignant, heartwarming and fun to boot- you’ve got a real winner.  Noah and Logan Miler  have been trying to break into the film industry for years, but sometimes you need a little extra motivation, and once they had it and stopped taking no for an answer, doors started to fly open in their favor.

It took me a minute to figure out the way the brothers were speaking, in almost a first person plural narrative.  Everything was we, we, we and then when a particular brother was mentioned they were spoken of in the third person.  We didn’t let anything get in our way. Logan did this.  Noah said that.  It was really interesting and such a touching way to show that these brothers have and have always had each other’s backs and believe in each other and completely work together as a team, sharig everything (they have one phone, one car, etc).  You would think that maybe it would get tedious or tiring, and I was wary of the technique in the beginning, but it absolutely never did.  It was charming, funny and endearing.

The most important thing that they are trying to convey about their whole journey was how much they wanted to fulfill the promise that they made to their dad, and the fact that they weren’t going to let anything get in the way of what they needed to accomplish.  In doing so they provide a humorous yet sobering overview of the film business, what a daunting industry it is and just how much you need on your side in order to be successful- lots of preparedness, flexibility, money, connections and lucky breaks.  I would have liked to have heard some more of the details in how they pulled of the miracles that they did, but this is really just a hilarious and touching overview of the process.  This book has wide appeal and I would recommend it to anyone.  It’s a great for anyone in your life who has a dream that they want to follow.  Guaranteed to provide a can-do attitude, hope and inspiration.

Read More Reviews At:

Want an example of twin speak?  Check out Amy’s interview with the Miller brothers.

Have you reviewed Either You’re In Or You’re In The Way, by Logan and Noah Miller? Please e-mail me your link or leave it in the comments, I’d love to have it here.

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Bloggiesta Wrap-Up

BloggiestaMy wrap-up is super late and will be super-quick.  I have been trying to sneak on in the morning when my company is sleeping, so I didn’t get to post yesterday.  I would like to thank Natasha at Maw Books.  I got caught up some things but I also learned a whole lot more things  that I will be looking into to improve my blog.  It was nice to have a group Bloggiesta.  So often these are things I have to accomplish on my own without fun support and prizes.  I would absolutely love to do this again and help out in any way.

For a list of my accomplishments see Bloggiesta Update 1 and Bloggiesta Update 2.  The final three hours I participated were spent organizing and making updates to some challenge lists (more of that to come), updating my blogroll, and organizing my book collection.  I also did a post on the YA Book Carnival (that’s this week) and some little things that escape me in the moment.  All in all I was able to get in a good 14 hours of blog work and had a grand time doing it. Ole!

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Bloggiesta: Update #2

 

I have another 5 hours to report on for Bloggiesta.

  • I ate up major time playing with themes.  Frequent visitors will have noticed that they have as much chance heading over here for a new theme as a new post.  I think my huge problem is column width and a few other things that I can’t seem to combine into one freebie theme.   At some point I will probably spring for a custom one, but I’ve settled on one for the next week at least. This really shouldn’t surprise me.  I change my furniture constantly too.  It might be an issue thing, as in I have issues. Like book addiction it’s not the worst problem to have.
  • I updated my gravatar so that it shows up everywhere I go.
  • The Website Grader said I need to add myself to some directories because I am not listed at the big ones like DMOZ and Yahoo!, so I added myself to those and a bunch of other.  I really thought Yahoo! would have been automatic.

So far I have worked for 11 hours.  I had company all day and until 2.  I am sneaking in a few hours this morning while they are asleep so I think I will finish up with about 14 Bloggiesta hours.

Not bad for dealing with house guests!

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YA Book Carnival ~ June 21-June 27

YA Book CarnivalThe YA Book Carnival is being hosted over at Shooting Stars Mag starting today and ending on June 27.  Check out this this post  on the  YA Book Carnival Info & Dates if you have a giveaway that you would like to submit.  Once you know what giveaways you will be submitting, post them on the Mr. Linky at the YA Book Carnival sign-up post.  You should also go to this post if you are interested in entering all the great giveways.  Check back daily because great giveaways will be posted every day!

Have fun!

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This Just In! An Acquaintance with Darkness, by Ann Rinaldi

An Acqauintance With Darkness, by Ann RinaldiWhat’s It About? Fourteen-year-old Emily Pigbush suspects that her uncle is involved in body snatching. Meanwhile, her best friend’s family is accused of plotting to kill Abraham Lincoln, and Emily is left unsure of whom she can trust. Includes a reader’s guide.

Why This? A Presidential asssination, a bodysnatching, a heroine with the last name Pigbush…and it’s historical fiction? Who could resist? The front cover also promises that it will be “deliciously macabre”.  Not just macabre, but deliciously so.  There’s also, get this, a reader’s guide. I’m so in.

How exciting!

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Bloggiesta: Update #1

BloggiestaThis Bloggiesta thing is tough work!  I was hard at work for 6 hours today from 8-2, and while I was working steadily I don’t feel all that accomplished.  It takes a long time to complete these tasks.  Maybe that is why I am so far behind.

So far :

  • Wrote my intro to Bloggiesta Post.
  • Fixed the tags and categories for my 2009 posts.
  • Did the Website Grader for Bookish Ruth’s Mini-Challenge, but still have to go and comment.  My blog got a grade of 97/100.  Sweet! Totally unexpected and they gave me some tips to improve my blog more.
  • Wrote a “My Thoughts on Books” Post and then immediately published it (The  Reincarnationist, by M.J. Rose), lol- see how much I’m behind!
  • Wrote a “My Thoughts” Post on Either You’re In or You’re In the Way, by Logan and Noah Miller (loved it!)
  • Updated plug-ins and added a few new ones.
  • Made updates to my Google reader, added a bunch of Bloggiesta participants- don’t know how helpful that was but I found a lot of great blogs!
  • Wrote a “This Just In!” Post, again, for tonight- lol.  And I have so many more to do.  Got two additional books to go to wait with the stack I already have.
  • Commented on 15 Bloggiesta posts.
  • Created a blog schedule. (Following it is another thing entirely- just being honest)
  • Wrote a list post specifically for June.
  • Fixed settings on Tweet Feeder.

Is it Sunday yet? I’m pooped.

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