Alma Short

December 24, 2009

I normally don’t post random videos, but I just had to share this one. I found it from the Mental Floss blog. It was created by Rodrigo Blaas, a former Pixar artist.

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Secret Santa #2

December 22, 2009

A few days ago, I received a gift from my second Secret Santa!

The gift consisted of Post-Its (!!!), a Borders gift card, and some Burt’s Bees Lip Balm. In the card, my secret santa revealed herself to be Wendy of Wendy’s Minding Spot, so thank you! 🙂


In My Mailbox Dec. 14-19

December 20, 2009

In My Mailbox was created be Kristi of The Story Siren. This was a big week for me because an order of 14 books came in, and I also received a few other books.

A Nixon Man – Michael Cahill

“My father was a Nixon man. Before that he’d been a Goldwater man. On most nights he could be found roaming the house like a ghost, wearing a tattered robe, reading about Ike. But on November 7, 1972, he wore his suit and tie well past midnight.”

Thus begins a charming yet realistic coming-of-age novel as seen hrough the eyes of a young boy in San Francisco in the early 1970s. A Nixon Man is a funny, perceptive look at the life of a family holding on during the turbulent Watergate years. It is a story of eccentric heroes, necessary secrets, and innocent schemes gone awry, all told by a precocious eleven-year-old Jack Costello.

Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense – Scott McCredie

Balance is the first book written for a general audience that examines the mysteries of the human balance system—the astonishingly complicated mechanisms that allow our bodies to counteract the force of gravity as we move through space. A scientific, historical, and practical exploration of how balance works, Balance also provides the keys to remaining upright for as long as humanly possible. From simple motion sickness to astronauts'”space stupids,” and from fetal somersaults to the Flying Wallendas, McCredie guides readers on a delightful quest to elevate balance to its rightful place in the pantheon of the senses.

Before I Die – Jenny Downham

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith

A propulsive, relentless page-turner.
A terrifying evocation of a paranoid world where no one can be trusted.
A surprising, unexpected story of love and family, of hope and resilience.
CHILD 44 is a thriller unlike any you have ever read.

“There is no crime.”

Stalin’s Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs. One of its fundamental pillars is that its citizens live free from the fear of ordinary crime and criminals.

But in this society, millions do live in fear . . . of the State. Death is a whisper away. The mere suspicion of ideological disloyalty-owning a book from the decadent West, the wrong word at the wrong time-sends millions of innocents into the Gulags or to their executions. Defending the system from its citizens is the MGB, the State Security Force. And no MGB officer is more courageous, conscientious, or idealistic than Leo Demidov.

In the Cherry Tree – Dan Pope

An ordinary suburban Connecticut summer in the seventies is the stage for the miraculous world of Timmy. Twelve years old and full of boundless curiosity, Timmy lives an ever-expanding life of record collections (of which Elton John is king), neighborhood bullies (of whom Franky DiLorenzo rules), best friends, and the darker, more lasting secrets of family. Over the course of the summer, Timmy will kill a frog, lose his baseball-card collection, alienate a friend, and witness his parents’ separation. An intruder will hide in his treehouse; his mother will threaten divorce; his father will move out and back in. Timmy’s childhood will end and his adolescence begin.

One of the most remarkable child narrators to come along in recent years, Timmy is the achievement of a stunning new voice in American fiction. In the Cherry Tree is an addictively clever and appealing novel of our universal coming of age.

My Father’s Scar – Michael Cart

Eighteen year-old Andy Logan has finally made it to his first year og college, but not without some struggle. As he tries to settle in this new environment, he cannot help but recall the events and experiences that have led him there.

It is in these recollections that we meet a vast array of people–those who had either helped Andy along the way or had threatened his hope to escape. These are the stories of his hope to escape. These are the stories of his great-uncle, the one person who seemed to understand him; his father, who domineering presence and unwavering anger were the rules, not the exeptions; and Evan, an older boy who became his first true love.

Rarely does a writer capture the essence of the journey from a child to adult so acutely. Cart’s dazzling novel is a potent reminder of the pain and the euphoria that come from growing up and how we remember our family, friends, and first loves.

100 Young Americans – Michael Franzini

One Hundred Young Americans is the first book to paint the full picture of youth culture in America today.

Gorgeously photographed and meticulously researched, this year-long project represents photographer Michael Franzini’s 30,000 search of what it truly means to be a teenager in this hyper-connected, media-driven society.

The book is packed with first-hand accounts of youth culture in America from 100 teenagers in 50 states. More than two hundred stunning images show every kind of teenager from every part of our nation, mirroring census data for gender, race, religion and sexual orientation and to strike a balance between urban, rural, suburban and small-town locations.

Someday This Pain will be Useful to You – Peter Cameron

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is the story of James Sveck, a sophisticated, vulnerable young man with a deep appreciation for the world and no idea how to live in it. James is eighteen, the child of divorced parents living in Manhattan. Articulate, sensitive, and cynical, he rejects all of the assumptions that govern the adult world around him–including the expectation that he will go to college in the fall. he would prefer to move to an old house in a small town somewhere in the Midwest. Someday This Pain will be Useful to You takes place over a few broiling days in the summer of 2003 as James confides in his sympathetic grandmother, stymies his canny therapist, deplores his pretentious sister, and devises a fake online identity in order to pursue his crush on a much older coworker. Nothing turns out how he’d expected.

Such a Pretty Girl – Laura Wiess

They promised Meredith nine years of safety, but only gave her three.

Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.

Today her time has run out.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon

This brilliant epic novel set in New York and Prague introduces us to two misfit young men who make it big by creating comic-book superheroes. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America the comic book. Inspired by their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapists, The Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men.

The Opposite of Music – Janet Young

At first Billy’s father just seemed distant, as if he had something on his mind. Then he stopped listening to music, saying it hurt his ears. After a while he stopped eating and sleeping. And after that he just stopped. Stopped being Billy’s father and his friend and became someone else. Someone who was depressed and withdrawn and wouldn’t respond to treatments.

Determined to help their father, Billy and his family devise a series of unconventional therapies for him. But the strain of looking after Dad begins to wear on them all. Billy stops writing songs and starts avoiding his friends. His sister wants to suicide-proof the house. And his mother worries about losing her job because she takes so much time off. Taking care of Dad is starting to sap the strength they need to keep him alive.

The Opposite of Music is a powerful and realistic debut novel about the lengths a family will go to in order to save one of their own, and the strength it takes to learn how to ask for help.

Year of Ice – Brian Malloy

It is 1978 in the Twin Cities, and Kevin Doyle, a high school senior, is a marginal student in love with keggers, rock and roll, and-unbeknownst to anyone else-a boy in his class with thick eyelashes and a bad attitude. His mother Eileen died two years earlier when her car plunged into the icy waters of the Mississippi River, and since then Kevin’s relationship with his father Patrick has become increasingly distant. As lonely women vie for his father’s attention, Kevin discovers Patrick’s own closely guarded secret: he had planned to abandon his family for another woman. More disturbingly, his mother’s death may well have been a suicide, not an accident.

Complicating the family dynamic is the constant meddling of Kevin’s outspoken Aunt Nora-who will never forgive Patrick for Eileen’s death-along with Patrick’s inability to stay single for very long. His loyalties divided between his father and his aunt, between his internal reality and his public persona, Kevin is forced to reevaluate his notions of family and love as painful truths emerge about both.

Violet and Claire – Francesca Lia Block

This is the story of two girls, racing through space like shadow and light. A photo negative, together they make the perfect image of a girl. Violet is the dark one, dressed in forever black, dreaming Technicolor dreams of spinning the world into her very own silver screen creation. Claire is like a real-life Tinker Bell, radiating love and light, dressing herself in wings of gauze and glitter, writing poems to keep away the darkness. The setting is L.A., a city as beautiful as it is dangerous, and within this landscape of beauty and pain Violet and Claire vow to make their own movie. Together they will show the world the way they want it to be, and maybe then the world will become that place—a place where people no longer hate or fight or want to hurt. But when desire and ambition threaten to rip a seamless friendship apart, only one thing can make two halves whole again—the power of love.

Wuthering High – Cara Lockwood

Fifteen-year-old Mia is not exactly thrilled when she gets the news that her parents are shipping her off to boarding school. It’s not like she did anything that bad — all she did was wreck her dad’s car and max out her step mum’s credit cards. So, off she goes, from Chicago to Bard Academy, an exclusive prep school that treats troubled teenagers with a healthy dose of higher learning and old-fashioned discipline. But all is not what it seems at this educational institute, and Mia and her classmates soon discover that the teachers are actually ghosts, stuck in limbo, some of them famous authors who died before their time, including Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and Charlotte Bronte. And what’s even more disturbing is that not all the ghosts have good intentions. Mia and her friends must stop one evil instructor’s plan to bring down the school — and the entire student body with it.

The Lonely Hearts Club – Elizabeth Eulberg

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It’s a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there’s this certain boy she can’t help but like. . . .

The Dark Divine – Bree Despain (ARC)

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared–the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood–but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude’s high school. Despite promising Jude she’ll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel’s shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy’s dark secret…and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it–her soul.

New Moon – Stephenie Meyer

I felt like I was trapped in one of those terrifying nightmares…

For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella ever could have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just beginning. . . .


Going Too Far – Jennifer Echols

December 16, 2009

Green-haired Meg goes a step too far when she and her friends go on the forbidden bridge that is rumored to have been the death site of a girl and her boyfriend many years ago. As a result, instead of going to Miami for spring break, Meg must spend a week with Officer After. Officer After plans to teach Meg the consequences her actions will have and learn why Meg must rebel. All Meg wants to know, however, is why a nineteen-year-old decided to be a police officer in their small Alabama town, rather than getting out. Both John After and Meg will push each others limits to find out the answers they are searching for.

Going Too Far is a provocative novel that will leave readers wanting more from Jennifer Echols. Told in Meg’s perspective, Going Too Far gives readers an inside look into Meg. Readers learn that, far from Meg’s rebellious exterior, the real Meg is just an ordinary insecure teen trying to come to grips with life. John After will immediately be loved by readers. He is definitely swoon-worthy. 😛 Like Meg, readers will also want to know why John decided not to leave the small town. Meg and John may seem like an unlikely pairing at first, but after reading Going Too Far readers will believe that they are a perfect match.

One of the things I liked most about Going Too Far was the amount of depth Echols put into a novel that is mostly romantic. I seriously do not think I have read another romantic story with such depth. Readers will feel their heartstrings pulling while reading this novel. It’s that good! While Going Too Far did have some non-bothersome predictable parts, the parts I did not guess were simply amazing.

If you are looking for a romantic coming-of-age novel or just a good book in general, then I recommend Going Too Far.

Related Links
Jennifer Echols’s Site
Jennifer Echols’s Blog
Amazon
Powell’s


Holiday Books

December 14, 2009

Now that Christmas is about 10 days away, I thought it would be fun to list some holiday books!

Jingle Boy – Kieran Scott
Sixteen-year-old Paul Nicholas is a self-confessed Christmas fanatic. That’s why he’s so smitten with Sarah—a girl who smells like peppermint and thinks picking out presents to the strains of “Winter Wonderland” is the ultimate afternoon activity. But when he catches Sarah making out with Santa Claus at the Paramus Park mall, his dad’s over-the-top lights catch the Nicholas house on fire, and his mom gets fired from Fortunoff’s because of something he did for Christmas for Sarah, Paul gets caught in a downward spiral of holiday gloom. This year, the spirit of Scrooge has settled in—and it’s not going to be pretty. Or will the spirit of the holiday prevail?

I have wanted to read this book ever since I saw it years ago. The book seems cute. I do not know why I have not gotten around to reading it yet.

The Nightmare Before Christmas – Tim Burton
Meet Jack Skellington. He’s in charge of making Halloweenland the coolest creepy place around. But when Jack suddenly grows bored with tricks and treats, he goes searching for new ways to celebrate… and he finds them in Christmas Town! Christmas, Jack decides, is just what Halloweenland…and the world…needs! He sets out to take over the role of Santa. But can anything good come of a tall and lanky skeleton dressed up as everyone’s favorite jolly old elf?

Okay, I admit it: I have never completely watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. I have, however, played Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2, so I basically know the gist of the story. xD Anyway, this book seems like a great choice for any Nightmare Before Christmas fan.

Let It Snow – Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle, and John Green
The weather outside is frightful, but these stories are delightful! When a huge blizzard (that doesn’t show signs of stopping) hits, Gracetown is completely snowed in. But even though it’s cold outside, things are heating up inside, proving that the holiday season is magical when it comes to love. In three wonderfully (and hilariously!) interconnected tales, YA stars John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson create a must-have collection that captures all the spirit of the holiday season.

This is another book that seems adorable, yet I have yet to read it. I love John Green though, so I really ought to read it. Also, I prefer this cover to the other one.

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
In his “Ghostly little book,” Charles Dickens invents the modern concept of Christmas Spirit and offers one of the world’s most adapted and imitated stories. We know Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, not only as fictional characters, but also as icons of the true meaning of Christmas in a world still plagued with avarice and cynicism.

A Christmas list just would not be complete without Dickens’s classic.

Are there any other holiday books you can think of? If so, what? 🙂


The Boyfriend Game – Stephie Davis

December 13, 2009

Freshman Trisha Perkins loves playing soccer on her JV team with her friends Sara and Beth. Then, the soccer coach gives her the opportunity to try out for the varsity team. For the next few weeks, Trisha plans to devote her time improving her skills. Her friends, on the other hand, would much rather flirt with boys at Pop’s. While practicing, Trisha meets Graham, a recently transferred sophomore who is on the varsity team. Together, they declare their passion for playing soccer and their dislike for the dating scene. Things become complicated though when Trisha develops a crush on Graham.

Have you ever had one of those days where all you wanted to do is stay inside, eat cookie dough ice cream (or whatever flavor),  and read a book? If so, The Boyfriend Game is the type of book you would want to read. The novel potrays a first love that could only happen when one is in their beginning years of high school. By the end of the novel, readers will have a small smile on their faces. Everything turns out happily-ever-after, just what they expected.

The Boyfriend Game is not a novel that is going to wow readers. Everything was pretty much average. The plot, the storyline, the writing, etc. This means that readers will unlikely read the book over and over again. One thing I disliked about The Boyfriend Game was how complicated Davis made some of the situations, that in reality, were quite simple. I believe some of this was meant to reflect the awkwardness of first love, but personally I was just annoyed the entire time. Trisha and her friends remind me of some of the annoying freshman at my high school. Maybe I would be able to relate more if I had a first love in freshman or sophomore year.

I would recommend The Boyfriend Game if you are looking for a sugary sweet love story.

Related Links
Stephie Davis’s Site
Amazon
Powell’s


Secret Santa Gift

December 12, 2009

Today I received my one of my Secret Santa gifts. I absolutely loved it! I received Darkly Dreaming Dexter, several bookmarks, Bubble Tape, and a peace ornament along with a lovely card.

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I have no idea who my Secret Santa is, but I do know that gift came from CA, so hmmm… Anyway, thank you Secret Santa, and have a Merry Christmas!