Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Long time no blog

Wow, I can't believe I haven't been on since January. So much has been happening I can't quite believe it myself. I start a MLIS program in January and it basically took up all my time. Work has been very busy for the last two months and I haven't had much time to do any reading really. We had a book fair in May and I was able to read a few good books during that week. One of the books that I highly recommend is a novel called The Godmother. I was entrance with this book and I think that it's a really good read. I am currently reading The Ghost Huntress by Marley Gibson and this is really good as well. It's a modern day girl can hear ghosts story that's got all the chills and thrills like The Sixth Sense. I am going to be off of work for the summer and I will be reading a box of books that I received from a bookstore. I look forward to posting their reviews!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Looking Beyond Fantasy

I had a student ask me the other day to recommend a book for him to read. I asked him what subjects he liked and he said he didn’t know. I asked what other books he had read that he liked and again he didn’t know. I knew that I was going to be digging deep on this one and trying to figure out the just right book for this guy. He finally decided that he liked fantasy and proceeded to ask me if I knew what the book about “dust” was called. Immediately my brain was searching for a book about dust – hmmm let’s see is it "The Golden Compass"? The student was astonished. He asked me how did I figure that out just by me saying “dust”? Well, I have read the book and love it very much and I know that Lyra is a journey in search of dust. When I read the book a few years ago I was amazed by the cosmic references to dust and how it related so much with my master’s degree in Consciousness Studies which was all about the “dust”. But to my dismay the student did not want to read "The Golden Compass".

So, the search was on again. We talked about "The Alchemyst" by Michael Scott and "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman and even "The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan but none of these tickled his fancy. It was in a desperate moment that the student asked me, “What is your favorite book?” I knew I better search my mental favorite book list and think about this very carefully. Taking in the statistics, 8th grade student, looking for book probably with action and adventure and then it hit me! One of my favorite books is "Ender’s Game" by Orson Scott Card would you like to take a look at it? As the student read the back of the book I heard him saying oh aliens and oh this looks good. And then I told him the best thing of all is that it has an ending that will jump out and grab you. You will be totally surprised at the outcome. He looked inside the book and saw the chapter Thirds and had a very quizzical look on his face. I said you have to read about the thirds it’s so cool. And that was that. He was hooked on the book and I can’t wait to hear back from him to see his reactions on one of my all time favorite book.

The great thing about science fiction is that it can really captivate the fantasy lover as well. There are so many great elements in science fiction that you don’t see in fantasy. Some of the main elements are technology and invention, which are weaved into the story and it may be set in the future or the past, and includes all time travel. The cool thing about science fiction is that it can be set on other planets, dimensions, and can include catastrophes or natural or manmade disasters. I believe the main point of this genre is to allow the reader to draw conclusions on the characters and how the scientific possibilities affect their fictitious world. Also, the interesting factor in science fiction is that it introduces ideas that are wild and out there that can include the past or present.

The difference between science fiction and fantasy is that the latter is a world that does not exist in our reality. In other words, it is a place that is made up and is imaginary and its existence will never be possible. A few ideas that go hand in hand with science fiction are the point of disconnection from our life which is considered mainly normal and in the science fiction world we would say that way of life is not normal such as robots or machines coming alive or travelling through time and getting stuck in Dracula’s castle. The other point in science fiction that makes it stand out from the other genres is the understanding that as the whole planet Earth is connected as a race, we are also constantly moving forward with technology and really this advancement has progress massively over the last ten years. We are also always trying to find ways to move forward in finding cures to diseases and making ourselves live longer and this plays into a lot of ideas for many new science fiction books such as, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, "The Adoration of Jenna Fox" by Mary Pearson and "Double Identity" by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Now, I just want to say that I am a big fan of the fantasy genre and it seems to be the area that I enjoy reading the most. However, I feel that science fiction offers an interesting alternative to fantasy and gives the readers much satisfaction in knowing that there is something else out there. Cue the weird space odyssey music - ooh eee ooh.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Love & Vampires

In "Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer, our beloved Bella finally is forced to make the most ultimate and final choice in her life. She and Edward are married in old world style with the help of her true friend Alice. While Bella and Edward are honeymooning Bella begins to feel very ill and their trip is cut short when she feels that there is something growing inside of her. The tension of the story grows as the little "nudge" grows larger and larger itself. The chain of events from this point on lead up to the most amazing transformation I have ever seen in a character. Let’s just say that Bella becomes the main focus of the story and her drive to protect not only Edward and her family but any other vampires that support her family is truly incredible. I have to say that I have heard and read negative reviews of this book and I do not agree with those reviews. I think that "Twilight" fans will find all that they have been waiting for in this final installment of the series. There is a complete and solid ending and everyone in this story does end up happy and that's what I had really wanted for all these wonderful characters that Stephenie Meyer has created. Will Bella’s dream of spending an eternal life with Edward finally come true? I can’t tell you that! It’s up to you to read this book to draw the conclusions yourself. With a mighty bit of blood and ewww the story really lends itself to the true nature of what being a vampire must really be like. This book leaves me thinking that for the vampire the blood is the most motivating goal and that love is the unending desire to protect those you love.

He Aint Just Nobody

"The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman is one of the most refreshing books I have read in a long time. We begin with an eerie story about how a horrible man murders a family quietly sleeping in their home. However, the man can’t seem to find the baby who has mysteriously slipped out of the house and into the graveyard across the street. When the baby is found by a pair of old married ghosts in the graveyard they decide to raise him and call him Nobody Owens. Now, he must stay in the graveyard because the terrible man named Jack is the one that killed his whole family and he is still after him. At any time he could strike terror in the graveyard. As Nobody grows up he begins to refer to himself as "Bod". Bod has a good time at the graveyard and makes many ghostly friends. He also makes friends with Scarlet who happens to be the exact same age as he is. Sadly, though Scarlet thinks that Bod is a ghost and her parents make her move far away. As time goes on, Bod grows into a strapping young boy and must face his worst and greatest fear, the man called Jack. He is prone to going on many interesting and ridiculous journeys that always bring him straight back to the graveyard. Will Bod ever get out of the graveyard and live a normal life? This book is a fun and intriguing tale that will definitely have you rooting for Nobody Owens.

Get the Doll Rolling

Decapitated doll heads and aliens are the focus in "Carlos Is Gonna Get It" by Kevin Emerson. Trina and her friend Sara are really tired of Carlos and his strange antics. It seems like 6th grade couldn’t get any worse except that it can when Carlos has one of his “Day After” episodes. Trina can usually tell when it’s going to happen right away. Carlos comes into class late and then he starts to fall all over the floor and on top of his classmates.

The problem is not that Carlos is so clumsy; no it’s that Carlos says he is visited by aliens at night. This makes the class think he’s so weird that no one wants him near them.

Tired of all of the alien talk and crazy outburst, Trina and her friends begin to hatch a plan that they think will teach Carlos a lesson. The plan is to teach Carlos a lesson that he will never forget.

Unfortunately, as the plan is being mapped out Trina and Carlos get hooked up as science partners. They are assigned to do an oral presentation on any subject they like. Trina’s reaction to finding out that Carlos is her partner is not a pretty one. She is really upset. Her friends think this is perfect because Trina can learn more about Carlos so they can execute their plan.

When Trina visits Carlos at home she sees that his home life is not so great. He has a little sister who bites the heads off of dolls and a teenage cousin who babysits them while his mom works. Trina starts to feel sorry for Carlos and that means that she really starts to question the need to continue with the plan.

After a lot of hard work, Trina and Carlos are ready for their presentation. Carlos has drawn some great pictures and is prepared for his part of the talk but something goes drastically wrong and Carlos has a meltdown right there in class in front of everyone. Trina is humiliated and vows never to speak to him again and she immediately thinks to herself – the plan is on!

Taking into consideration the difficulties that young adults face in middle school and the challenges of fitting in this book covers a lot of emotions that many people can relate to. The issues that Trina is faced with and the decision that she makes will decide her fate as well. Can she live with the consequences that the plan leaves her with? Can Carlos help himself for things he says and does? Read this book to find out and watch out for aliens and flying doll heads!

If He Looks Guilty Is He Guilty?

"Falling From Grace" by Jane Godwin in an amazing mystery that will have you on the edge of your seat right from the start. Sisters Grace and Annie are trying to help a dying penguin on the beach at Point Nepean in Australia. Grace and Annie are 11 months apart and for one month out of the year they are the same age so at the time they are both 12. On the other side of the beach 14 year old Kip is dealing with his own issues, his thoughts, his feelings on being a teenager, and then there is this strange man that appears from nowhere. The man says his name is Ted and he’s bleeding and in need of help.

These young people’s stories collide when Kip finds a backpack in the water with a ringing cell phone. Kip drastically changes the course of his destiny when he answers the phone and hears the panicked voice of Grace and Annie’s father on the other end. Back at the point, Annie has lost Grace, there is a heavy mist and Grace has fallen through the sand on a cliff. Annie panics as well and runs home to find her father.

Kip’s life becomes a whirlwind of secrets, lies, and grunge rock. After the police begin to interrogate him, he begins to look very guilty in the eyes of everyone including his own parents. The police have been searching for days for Grace, but they have not found her. There were only a few clues, her pants were found on the beach with blood stains and her backpack that Kip said he found.

Finally, Kip has had it with all eyes focused on him and decides to try to find Grace himself. It would be a miracle if Grace was alive. Told in the perspective of mainly Annie and Kip, this book is riveting. It rocks you to the core and is sure to have you wondering – did Kip really do it???