Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review - Sean Griswold's Head

Sean Griswold's HeadSean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was just so fun and adorable. I have been reading so much heavy dystopian fiction that Sean Griswold’s Head was a breath of fresh air. I have not read a lot of younger teen fiction but I have to say, this one was right up my alley.

Payton Gritas has her life organized to a ‘T’. Being organized helps Payton feel confident in life. Everything has its place. Then she discovers that her dad has MS and everyone in her family knew but her. Payton is sent into a tailspin and she is unable to cope. Her guidance counselor at school encourages her to find a Focus Object that she can use to focus all of her emotions on while she learns to cope with her dad’s MS. Payton chooses Sean Griswold’s head. He has sat in front of her since elementary school. They are always paired because of their last names so he seems as if he is a constant in her life.

The problem of focusing on Sean’s head is that she slowly becomes more aware of Sean as a person and the more she leans of Sean, the more she wants to know. Watching Sean and Payton get to know each other was just so adorable. Honestly, their scenes together just made me smile. They were just so sweet and cute together. But admist the sweetness, Payton must come to terms with her father’s illness and the ver realness that he could become very ill. In the process, she lashes out at her family, her best friend Jac, and Sean. Payton comes to the realization that she can have a pity party for the rest of her life or just learn to deal.

The balance of learning to grow up, taking responsibility for oneself, heavy family problems and romance is just spot on. So good!


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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review - Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither (Chemical Garden, #1)Wither by Lauren DeStefano


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For me, dystopian novels seem to fall into one of two categories: Hunger Games/Katiniss-esque or Delirium/Lena-esque. Katniss kinda was whiny. Hey, I liked her! I devoured the books, but well, she got whiny. That’s all I’m sayin’. So in the world of dystopian fiction, the main characters tend to start out the series hating the way their lives are and wishing for a better life, and they tend to do this while being a kinda bit whiny. On the other hand, there is Lena who starts out the novel just wanting what her society wants for her. She has no desire to break the rules or live any differently than she had planned. And then she meets/sees/reads, etc. But the difference is that Lena was never whiny. She just realized that she wanted her life to change and did something about it.

Okay, onto Rhine. She falls into the category of Lena. At least in my opinion. She lives in a crazy world where humans no longer have diseases. Well, at least no diseases such as heart failure, cancer, etc. However, once humans were cured, the subsequent generations never lived beyond 25. No one knows what the disease is but it kills all females at 20 and men at 25. Rhine’s parents, scientists from the first generation, researching a cure for the disease that kills everyone, are killed in a lab bombing, forcing Rhine and her twin brother to fend for themselves in what once was New York City. Unfortunately, Rhine is kidnapped and forced to marry a man named Linden along with her other young girls. The only way to keep humanity from dying is for men to have multiple wives in which they can procreate with. You know, so that scientists can continue researching with these subsequent generations and hopefully find a cure.

Wither was such a captivating story! Definitely a fresh new take on a dystopian/fantasy world. As we strive for human genetic perfection, what happens when we achieve it? Nothing good apparently. Poor Rhine gets kidnapped and then thrown into a ginormous mansion to live with her husband and 2 other sister wives. She has no desire to ever remotely like Linden. He is a total villain to her. Then she meets Vaughn, Linden’s father and she definitely starts to realize who is in control. Ooh, he is a creepy one, he is.

Also, can I say how much I really enjoyed the interaction between Rhine and Gabriel? So good. Go read it. Cannot even wait until the sequel arrives!

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Populazzi

PopulazziPopulazzi by Elise Allen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Populazzi was such a fast read for me. I really got caught up in Cara’s life and the decisions she was making. Cara starts her junior year at a new school. Her best friend Claudia has devised a plan for Cara to follow to the letter. This plan called, The Ladder, will propel Cara from a nobody to the Supreme Populazzi at her new school. At her old school, Cara and Claudia had an unfortunate accident that followed them all the way from Kindergarten. With Cara’s new chance to start over, Claudia wants to help Cara transform into the most popular girl in school.

Despite the fact that I gave this book 4 stars, I still had some parts that I really really struggled with. I definitely understood Cara’s desire to become someone new. I think most of us would love to have do overs in life. And High School does tend to be the place that people want a do-over. I liked that Claudia used The Ladder to keep the two of them connected despite their distance. However, the execution of the plan just hurt my heart at times. Cara completely transformed and became someone she was not for several groups of people. She was not herself for most of the book. Again, though, that is something that I think a lot of us struggled with during high school. I think it may take High School for you to realize who you truly are and be authentic. I found myself cringing in many places as I watched Cara make some really poor decisions.

Her home life could have been a whole story in and of itself. I think that was the one problem I had with the book. Her step-father was a complete nutcase. There were little tidbits dropped throughout the story about him but that story was never flushed out. I am curious to know if she will have a follow up to this novel. Because I seriously want to know why Cara’s step-dad is the way he is and why her mother sticks with him.

Thank you NetGalley for this book!
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Rage: Horsemen of the Apocalypse, #2

Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse, #2)Rage by Jackie Kessler


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rage is the second book in The Horsemen of the Apocalypse series. I did not read the first book, Hunger, but I believe the beauty of this series so far, is that you do not need to read them in order.

In this series, the author takes a deep rooted struggle of many, such as anorexia or in this case, cutting, and spins a different tale. Melissa Miller is a 16 year old cutter. Life makes sense for her after she cuts. For her, it helps her release all of her feelings that make her feel like she cannot breathe. However, one day she cuts too deep. She is given a choice: either she joins Death as his Handmaiden or her life ends.

I liked how the author uses Death to offer up the flip side of the emotions leading to the behavior. All feelings have a flip side. Melissa’s was Rage and then Peace. She soon learned that she could ease other people’s rage rather than feeding on that rage and continuing to destroy not only herself but others as well.

I thought the concept was interesting but I had a hard time connecting with Melissa. I wanted to care about her plight but I just never managed to find that reader connection with her. However, I also wanted to strangle her sister and hit her parents upside the head. Why must parents continue to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to their teens and the problems they are experiencing?

Thank you NetGalley for this read.






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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Horses (KY Derby) Storytime

Horse (Kentucky Derby) Storytime
   Family Storytime and Toddler Time

Books:
Gaston Goes to the Kentucky Derby  by James Rice


Are you a Horse? by Andy Rash


Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee

Songs:
Open Shut Them (Opening Song)
The More We Get Together (Closing Song)

We're Going to Kentucky, We're Going to the Fair
To See the Seniorita with Flowers in Her Hair
Shake It Baby Shake It
Shake It While You Can
Shake It Like a Milkshake
And Pour It In a Can
Shake It To the Bottom
Shake It To the Top
Shake It Round and Round
And Shake It 'Til You Stop!
(with egg shakers)

Fingerplays/Action Rhymes:
I Hop On My Horse
I hop on my horse and go to town (pretend to hop on a horse)
I ride up high and I don't fall down. (pretend to ride horse)
I wear a hat so my hair won't blow (put hand on head)
and when I want to stop, I just say WHOA! (pretend to pull back on reigns)
 
Galloping (with horse puppet)
I like to ride on a gallopy horse.
Gillopy, gallopy, trot, trot, trot.
Over the hilltop, down through the land,
Jumping the fence into the barnyard lot.
It's rilling, rollocking fun, it it not?
To ride gillopy, gallopy, trot, trot, trot!
To ride gillopy, gallopy, trot, trot, trot!

Klippity Klop (from the book by Ed Emberley)
Prince Krispin and Dumpling went for ride

     Klippity Klop Klippity Klop (Slap thighs)
They came to a bridge and rode over it
     Klumpety Klump, Klumpety Klump (Stomp feet)
They came to a stream and rode across it
     Kerplish Kerplash Kerplish Kerplash (Clap hands like cymbals)
They came to a field and rode through it
     Kwish Kwash, Kwish Kwash (Rub hands)
They came to a gravely hill and rode down it
     Krinch Krunch Krinch Krunch (Snap fingers)
They came to a rocky hill and rode up it
     Klick Klack Klick Klack (Clap hands)
They came to a cave and looked in it
And a dragon looked out and yelled at them!
     KAAAARRRGGGHHHH!
Well, the dragon didn’t have to yell twice
Dumpling turned around and ran:
Down the rocky hill   KLICK KLACK KLICK KLACK (Clap hands)
Up the gravely hill   KRINCH KRUNCH KRINCH KRUNCH (Snap fingers)
Trough the field   KWISH KWASH KWISH KWASH (Rub hands)
Across the stream  KERPLISH KERPLASH KERPLISH KERPLASH
                                               (Clap hands like cymbals)
Over the bridge  KLUMPETY KLUMP KLUMPETY KLUMP (Stomp feet)
Into the castle  KLIPPITY KLOP KLIPPITY KLOP (Slap thighs)
And closed the door
      KLANKETY KLANKETY KLANKETY KLANK!
      (Smack hands on chest, and then clap hands loud!)

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