I recently started my own business, and one piece of advice I remember from internships and conferences is "advertising is what you pay for; PR is whaI recently started my own business, and one piece of advice I remember from internships and conferences is "advertising is what you pay for; PR is what you pray for." Since the rent was due before prayer could be enough, I thought it would be worth checking out the tips in here. Jennefer Witter has plenty of terrific suggestions about how to use free and low cost methods to help get your company noticed by your target audience. She also offers some helpful suggestions about defining and developing your brand and thinking beyond the obvious about who your audience is. (Without that, you might be able to craft a catchy message, but it's not going to go very far.)
Witter's tips on connecting with reporters are great and she even provides sample docs for outreach to the press and others so you don't have to completely reinvent the wheel. Like everything else I've read about PR, and cultivating a client base in general, it's all about building relationships, and that takes time and patience. Now, it would be really cool if Jennefer Witter came up with 100+ tips for overnight PR, but I think that may be something that does come down to prayer....more
Based on her experience as a high school English teacher, Rebecca Deurlein shares strategies for preparing teens for adulthood complete with the scienBased on her experience as a high school English teacher, Rebecca Deurlein shares strategies for preparing teens for adulthood complete with the science behind motivation and sample scripts for the very nervous parent.
Dr. Deurlein offers sound advice on many areas that don't get discussed often enough in education: is an AP class always the best option? What do you mean my child might not need (or want to) go to college? If my kid takes a gap year, what is she to do?
One of the best chapters in the book is about AP versus regular classes because it gives a frank explanation of what they are, the "tracks" that remain in schools (even though students aren't officially tracked.) She also explains the difference between IB (International Baccalaureate) programs and the regular curriculum.
I hope that parents who read Teenagers 101 can stick with the book in spite of the resistance that may creep up, especially when it comes to helping kids accept responsibility for their actions. The translation of this being, "Demonstrate that blaming teachers/coaches/or anyone else for their bad decisions" won't be tolerated. Bad teachers are out there, and they can make a class that is already challenging nearly impossible. One common denominator I have seen in almost all complaints even against college professors is a student who has a pattern of finding fault with anyone who gives him less than an A on anything. For this type of student, it's a pyrrhic victory. He might leave high school by arguing his way into a 4.0 and driving the adults around him insane, but that behavior will get caught in college and he will drop out. Blaming others for poor decisions has a way of catching up with us. Dr. Deurlein gives a particularly chilling example of a boy who went after his history teacher because she held him to a deadline for an assignment---just like the rest of her class. What amazed me about this story is that his parents never thought to question his ulterior motives for claiming this teacher was totally unreasonable or after receiving that grade, saying that she was completely incompetent. It's frightening that parents can force a teacher to extend a deadline for a student without even doing a real investigation of their own by talking to the teacher and observing so they can get the whole story.
I am not sure how all the testing and "student-centered" policies have turned schools and colleges into Starbucks of learning. There's a general attitude among students and parents that the teachers are just there to find something that makes students and parents happy. Well, I think most professionals working in education like happy students, and given the choice between two equally viable options will try to go with the one most likely to have happiness as an added bonus. Unfortunately, some subject matter just doesn't make people happy, but needs to be covered anyway. The misconception about consequences for teachers that come out of complaints is frightening. Keep in mind that teachers are poorly paid, may or may not ever get tenure, and have to jump through more and more hoops, and work more and more time for FREE to educate kids. Plus, they work under a microscope, so if anyone says something about them, regardless of how ridiculous it might be, that can do permanent damage to an already thankless career. Even at that, the biggest losers in these situations are the students because they miss an opportunity to learn about the consequences of their actions by making someone else bear them. Sometimes, these petty complaints can also deprive a future generation of students access to an excellent teacher who happened to have a budding sociopath in the classroom.
The only chapter I'm a bit unenthused about is on parent-teacher conferences. Dr. Deurlein actually makes fun of parents of good students who carefully monitor their student's progress and insist on attending these conferences. To make matters worse, Dr. Deurlein points out that parents "who don't need to be there" are taking away a slot from parents who should be there, wait until the last-minute, and complain that they wanted to attend conference, but couldn't because of (choose one): illness, child care, work, dishes, pandas, etc. Do you know how I know about these excuses? Those parents were my community college students. The ones who say those things are the parents modeling for their kids that the best way to handle a tough assignment is to whine until the professor gives you a reprieve and if that doesn't work, whine to every administrator who will listen until someone gives you what you want. So, responsible parents who have fostered good study habits in their kids should step aside so someone like that can book an appointment they won't book anyway? Um, no. That chapter seemed like gratuitous teacher whining.
Overall though, even with that one annoying chapter, this is an excellent book on preparing teens for adulthood, and helping parents prepare themselves to be parents of adults and stop treating their teens like children. It's also one of the first parenting books I've seen that emphasizes how to help students get the most out of school, and for that alone, it's worth the read.
Teenagers 101 by Rebecca Deurlein, Ed.D. is published by AMACOM and will be available for purchase on November 13, 2014 for $16 (paperback.)
I received no compensation for this review. ...more
Richard N Bolles is like a god in the career counseling world, but I have to admit that I have never been much of a What Color is Your Parachute? persRichard N Bolles is like a god in the career counseling world, but I have to admit that I have never been much of a What Color is Your Parachute? person. Knowing that makes me a pariah in career counseling circles even if my colleagues don't know they should treat me like one. However, I know that many job seekers every year turn to Bolles, and given The Great Recession, this minister's words of comfort have been greatly needed. Actually, when I found myself going through my own career crisis when it came time to read this galley, I also found comfort in Bolles' words. So, in this way, What Color Is Your Parachute? 2014: A Practical Manual for Job Hunters and Career Changers strikes a good balance between offering the hard-nosed advice most job seekers need and instilling hope. Bolles still includes The Flower Exercise even though I've always felt like it is way too much work. Also, how many people out there who are out of work are going to get excited about sitting down and saying, "I am someone who is . . . like a flower"? I think I'm kind of frilly, but I don't see myself doing that. It's a bit much. I did appreciate Bolles' tips on interviewing. He includes the normal checklist of grooming tips and pointers on wardrobe choices. He also mentions that the fact that candidates are judged on the cleanliness of their nails or the freshness of their breath is petty, but he points out, as do I, that it's much better to turn down an offer from a superficial jerk than to lose out on an offer because of silly details like that. The new edition of What Color Is Your Parachute? relies a bit heavily on Google for my taste. For some job seekers, that could seem a bit overwhelming and general. In a lot of the instances where Bolles refers job seekers to Google, he probably would have been better off referring them to their local librarian so they can learn how to use Google effectively to search for work. That said, this is a classic for job seekers, and I definitely feel comfortable directing job seekers to this new edition as a resource....more
American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System is a must-read for anyone who is a consumer of behavioralAmerican Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System is a must-read for anyone who is a consumer of behavioral health services or working in the field because it is such an eye-opening read about the complexities of why our current mental healthcare system (if you call it that) is totally useless. I am probably a bit more invested in the future of funding and the provision of mental health services because I am working in the field and often have to make referrals only to find that most of the referral resources are overburdened and under-funded, and we have yet to see a push that has any teeth to it to change that. I have even started to believe it's impossible to ever get people in power to take the need for comprehensive behavioral health care seriously, but, according to E. Fuller Torrey, that was not always the case. Thanks to progressive ideals in the 1940s and 50s, mental illness briefly went from being a state-funded issue handled in asylums to a federal-funded issue to be handled by community clinics. In theory, much of the original proposal sounded Utopian. Entire communities would be molded in such a way to prevent anxiety and eventually, we would have a great society free of mental illness. We just needed to focus on mental health. That type of model works fine for the "low pathology" populations dealing with the normal stresses brought on by transitions through life stages. Unfortunately, for many patients struggling with chronic psychiatric disorders that require intensive treatment, community treatment does not work very well in large part because the patient needs to be proactive in obtaining, continuing and actively participating in his or her treatment. While all of that sounds nice, in many psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia, patients often do not realize that they are sick and need medication. Also, the ideal low-stress community (assuming will power and a clinic were enough to create that) would not bring someone with delusions and hallucinations the same sort of solace it would to a slightly anxious young woman who just had a bad day at work. American Psychosis is a bit information heavy and repetitive at times, but definitely worth the read. Also, it's worth noting that this review is based upon a digital ARC, so some of the repetitive sections could have been edited out since....more
No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood covers a lot of ground in a remarkably humorous and touching way in this collection of essays primarNo Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood covers a lot of ground in a remarkably humorous and touching way in this collection of essays primarily by comedians and television writers who have remained childless for a variety of reasons. The choice of whether or not to be a parent is a loaded one. Given the ongoing debates surrounding birth control and abortion, it's often hard to say if some women even have the right to choose a child-free life. Contributers to No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood include Henriette Mantel, Margaret Cho, Wendy Liebman and Laurie Graff (author of You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs), among others. All of these women surprised me with their candor as well as the compassion and humor they brought to hot button issue. Several themes resonated with me as a professional woman who has chosen to remain childless. The biggest issue: if you're a woman, almost everyone assumes you either are going to have kids or you've had kids. If not, there must be something wrong with you. Maybe you're barren or really immature. Another theme that emerged: most of the contributors to this collection noted that their parents were not paradigms of mature adulthood; they just spawned. Some contributors half-joked about not having children because they wanted to stop the madness from seeping into another generation. Several women noted that they have choices that their mothers didn't have and it was tough growing up seeing the potential in the women who raised them, but no time to develop it. Other women hit 40 and realized that it was just too late to have kids. They were so busy building careers, children just never happened. Also, there's the whole mate choice issue. It will be interesting to see what the next generation of professional women chooses to do and the reasons behind their choices. Will they feel guilt or the need to justify decisions to not have children? What barriers will they perceive in having children and raising them if they choose to do so? The only thing that I believe No Kidding is missing is an exploration of blended families--beyond step-parenting. Also, I'm surprised that so many entertainers were involved in this project and yet not one of them is someone who has chosen to adopt. The LGBTQ family is also neglected here. All that said, I believe that No Kidding may be entertaining and mainstream enough to finally engage people on both sides of women's choice issues in more productive discussions about roles and expectations. Let's hope this is just a starting point for other things to come....more
Sometimes a random book on NetGalley calls out to me, and The Scoop on Breasts: A Plastic Surgeon Busts the Myths was one of those books. I'm not sureSometimes a random book on NetGalley calls out to me, and The Scoop on Breasts: A Plastic Surgeon Busts the Myths was one of those books. I'm not sure if it drew me in due to the so-wrong-it's-right nature given that I just started as a guest blogger on a feminist blog or if girls like boys are drawn to boobies. Personal disclosure alert: my breasts are the only feature on my body that I'm reasonably happy with, so no, I am not considering cosmetic surgery on those. I tried to convince one doctor to say I needed a nose job, but he insisted that everything on the outside was perfect---the inside is another story. I think he may have been talking about more than my nose, but I digress.
The frustrating thing about reading an ARC for a book like this is I'm not seeing the beautiful finished product with the real pictures instead of the awful stock photos and the typos, but the content that I could read was hilarious and enlightening. The good doctor compiled all the questions he gets from patients on a regular basis and explains it all for you. If you have ever wondered something about breast implants, including why do doctors specialize in this, it's covered in here. Even if nobody asked, Dr. Eisenberg includes plenty of edifying titbits on fashion trends in lingerie (and out) including home grown versions of the bullet bra, euphemisms for cup sizes, and Marilyn Monroe's measurements.
In case you're a Sex and the City fan and you're wondering why plastic surgeons don't take unsightly thigh fat and implant it in your bosom, Dr. Eisenberg covers that in The Scoop as well. At approximately 208 pages, The Scoop passes the test most men use for finding the perfect ta tas: a handful, but no more than that. All of those embarrassing questions your weird friend has ever asked are answered and you are left free to go on with your life, this time, better informed about jubblies....more
**Full disclosure--this review is based on a digital, uncorrected proof received from the publisher for review purposes. I didn't receive money, free**Full disclosure--this review is based on a digital, uncorrected proof received from the publisher for review purposes. I didn't receive money, free drinks or trips to alternate universes in exchange for this review.**
Don't You Wish reminds me of so many fun things, mainly movies. I would say it's sort of like a mash-up of Back To the Future, Somewhere In Time, Time After Time, and Mean Girls. In the interest of sounding like a sort of literate person, there's a little bit of Rival thrown in there too. Also Somewhere In Time was a book originally, but I'll admit I haven't read it. The movie with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour is marginally watchable. By contrast, Don't You Wish is compulsively readable.
Annie Nutter is fed up with being one of the "invisibles" at school. Her father, a wannabe inventor, has practically driven his family out of the house with his "Nutter Clutter" encroaching on every flat surface in there home. (I'm not sure what my excuse is for doing the same thing since I'm not even trying to invent anything new--uh hem.) Annie is asked to the Homecoming dance by a popular guy only to have her heart broken when she realizes it was a joke. Still, she has a good relationship with her mom and a close family. On one trip to Walmart, her mom picks up a copy of Architectural Digest and finds out that her ex boyfriend's house is featured--her single ex boyfriend. Her mom starts fantasizing about the life she might have had, and even though Annie feels guilty about it, she kind of fantasizes too. Then, they come home to find yet another half-baked Nutter contraption waiting in the basement and instead of being impressed, Annie's mother goes ballistic. When Annie goes up to her room to drown out the family argument, she tries to salvage the remains of the laptop her father used for his latest invention when lightening strikes and transports her into an alternate universe where she is wealthy, beautiful and popular Ayla Monroe. Before long, she realizes that while being a queen bee has its perks, it's a tough spot to maintain and she wonders if it's worth the despicable things her friends expect from her. Ayla/Annie needs to grapple with the question of whether this other life is better or worse, and is going back to her old life even an option?
Annie Nutter is such a lovable character and Roxanne St. Claire is spot on with her observations of the bizarre things girls do for status in high school. Admittedly, some of the observations are probably more objective than the ones most of us could make when we were still in the thrall of high school and all the stupidity that goes with the social order of it, but I think people on both ends of the social spectrum will take comfort in Annie's story of transformation and interdimensional travel. Of course, all my husband would get out of this story is that the science (specifically physics) is bogus, but who asked him anyway? Nerd alert!...more
Homeownership is tough, but renovating a house yourself, especially if you’re one of those wimpy grad student types? That’s just insane. I wouldn’t want to do it, but it’s so much fun to read about!
Matt and his wife, Janae, decide that they need to start doing grown-up things. They’ve bounced from one degree to another, and now they are in Salt Lake City, UT, surrounded by responsibility, domesticity and people who believe caffeine is the devil. Living in an apartment with their dog, Maggie, and cat, Skillet, just doesn’t seem right anymore. Yet another sign they should buy? Matt’s recently widowed grandpa gets sloshed one night and not only tells Matt about a remnant of his midlife crisis (aka Tonya) he has an obsessive relationship with, but also shares that he would love to help Matt and Janae buy their first house. As if Matt needed another sign: he sees a house go on the market it in a nice neighborhood and it’s dirt cheap. Of course, in the land of homeownership, you often get what you pay for and this isn’t one of those exceptions.
Armed with a vision of what the place could look like, advice and flooring installation classes, and a butt-load of beer and pizza, Matt and Janae gut the inside of what used to be the neighborhood crackhouse and turn it into a beautiful home. Along the way, Matt also comes to terms what it means to him to be a good husband, and to take pride in a job well done.
Adventures in home renovation aside, Sugarhouse is also packed with family drama, toilet humor, and (my favorite) an icy pet water rescue--yes, it’s in there.
If you’re thinking of buying your first home, this book might be too scary for you, but for anyone else, I highly recommend it....more
Review: Torn by Stephanie Guerra Published by Marshall Cavendish Pub Date May 15, 2012 263 pages **This review is based on an uncorrected digital proof reReview: Torn by Stephanie Guerra Published by Marshall Cavendish Pub Date May 15, 2012 263 pages **This review is based on an uncorrected digital proof received through NetGalley**
In her debut novel, Torn, Stephanie Guerra shares the story of an unlikely friendship between Ruby Caroline, a badass redhead out of Utah, and Stella Chavez, a soccer champ who has lived in South Bend, Indiana for all 17 years of her life. Stella is both terrified and fascinated by Ruby. She’s beautiful, brave, and more hip and “advanced” than just about anyone Stella has ever known. For Stella, Ruby is a lot like chocolate: tempting, addictive, and bad for your health in large quantities. After one lunch together, Stella and Ruby become inseparable. They go on what Ruby refers to as “adventures” that include things like trysts with the college boys from Notre Dame, and flirtations with an even older guy, aka the “Silver Fox.”
For Stella, Ruby is such a refreshing break from her normally structured and responsible life where she goes to several AP classes, dates the nice guys, and goes home to take care of the house and her siblings while her mother works double shifts as a waitress. However, as Ruby’s behavior becomes more erratic, Stella starts questioning her loyalty to an increasingly stressful friendship. Is Ruby fun or just a sociopath?
So, what did I think? Honestly, I didn’t think the writing in Torn was as strong as it could have been in spots, but so many of the observations were spot on, and I ended up reading the whole thing in one afternoon because I couldn’t put it down. Guerra’s snippets about the catty tactics of high school girls, and the sleazy older guys who try to pick them on kept making me laugh, and sigh in recognition.
I rarely comment on covers, but I’ve got to say that I don’t think the cover or title give a good idea of what the book is about. If I hadn’t read the summary on NetGalley, I don’t think I would have picked this up in the bookstore.
What really hooked me was the main character, Stella Chavez. She’s so strong, thoughtful, spunky and all around amazing, it’s impossible not to fall in love with her. Don’t be put off by the generic title and the wimpy-looking girl on the cover. ...more
Vampires: A Field Guide to the Creatures That Stalk the Night By Bob Curran Published by Open Road Press
I’d like to make it clear that I’m biased--zombiVampires: A Field Guide to the Creatures That Stalk the Night By Bob Curran Published by Open Road Press
I’d like to make it clear that I’m biased--zombies are my first love. If the creature doesn’t lust for brains and has all its parts intact, it’s not going to be my cup of tea---or entrails, or whatever. That said, I really enjoyed Bob Curran’s Vampires: A Field Guide to the Creatures that Stalk the Night. Folklore and mythology are two of my loves, and this illustrated guide satisfies my lust for both.
Curran compiles vampire lore from all over the world into this concise guide, complete with popular legends from each region. While the sophisticated vampire fan out there might find a lot of this information obvious, this is a terrific first book for the new vampire lover.
**This review is based on an uncorrected proof furnished by the publisher via NetGalley**...more
Dying apparently was not the hardest part for Kate Winters. Aimee Carter's Goddess Interrupted, the sequel to The Goddess Test, begins with Kate arrivDying apparently was not the hardest part for Kate Winters. Aimee Carter's Goddess Interrupted, the sequel to The Goddess Test, begins with Kate arriving in her future kingdom, The Underworld, filled with doubts about her ability fulfill her duties as queen, and about her husband's feelings for her. Henry (aka Hades), clearly still has feelings for Persephone even though she walked out on him to frolic with Adonis in the afterlife. To make matters worse, before the coronation ceremony can be completed, the Titans decide it's time to try wreak havoc on The Underworld. Henry and the other members of his Council have to go to war against the Titans while Kate is fighting an internal war with self doubt.
As a huge fan of Greek mythology, the premise behind this series is compelling, and Aimee Carter explores her updated version of The Underworld in a playful way that keeps it true to the original material without it reading like a Classics textbook. Overall, the characters are well-developed. James (Hermes) is a lot of fun as the wannabe Casanova who is always trying to steal the girls out from under Hades' nose. Then, there's Ava (Aphrodite), who enjoys making Kate squirm whenever she gets too up front about sex or just too girly. Kate is a low maintenance kind of gal, and Ava loves her hot pink way too much.
One thing Kate really has going for her is she's scrappy, and I really admire that. Clearly, she believes she's in love with Henry and will do anything to be with him, and when she says anything, she means it. She travels all the way to the gates of The Underworld and survives being eaten by Cronus. That's impressive stuff.
Kate's relationship with Henry is less satisfying. Of course, she's not satisfied with the relationship herself, but it's almost impossible to see why she stays with him or even why she believes that this mysterious "man" she spent one night with is the one for her.
Overall, this was an entertaining read. I enjoyed the vivid depiction of The Underworld, and the cliff-hanger endings kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next. Fans of The Goddess Test shouldn't hesitate to read on....more
**This review is based on a digital galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley.** The only time I regret spending on this book is the time I spent**This review is based on a digital galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley.** The only time I regret spending on this book is the time I spent avoiding it. I added it to my NetGalley requests one evening when I was on one of my crazy searches for what could be "the next big thing" and I had to make sure that if it was out there that I could review it. The Rules of Inheritance sounded promising.
Claire Bidwell Smith takes us on a cyclic journey through her grieving and healing process. Her parents were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other while she was still in high school. Within her first year of college, her mother died, and she had no idea how to cope with the void in her life where her mother used to be. The Rules of Inheritance contains so many passages that I want to share, but this passage resonated the strongest with me, "I write her a letter on the one-year anniversary of her dead. Dear Mom, I don't know how to be without you. Please come back."
Since Joan Didion's memoirs about the death or her husband, The Year of Magical Thinking followed by the tragic death of her daughter, Blue Nights, it's hard not to compare any memoir with death and dying at its core to hers. However, what kept me reading Smith into the night and through this afternoon was the way her honest and compassionate voice highlights the grief all of us experience not just when we lose someone, but when we change. The hardest person to find when you think you've lost everything is yourself, and going from childhood to adulthood, all of us need to face that challenge. We have to learn how to sit alone with our thoughts; how to stop doing the things that hurt us; how to forgive. We also have to come to terms with our own mortality. As Nietzsche put it, " [W]hen you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." It's hard to watch someone die and scary to even find out someone has passed away not just because we grieve the loss, but because it's a reminder that our own time is limited.
I hope that Claire Bidwell Smith continues her work as an author and grief counselor. Everyone should read this book. It's one of the most beautiful books I've ever read....more
Career guides are always a risky proposition when it comes to books I review. On the one hand, I feel like I should know what's out there so I can makCareer guides are always a risky proposition when it comes to books I review. On the one hand, I feel like I should know what's out there so I can make good suggestions to my clients and my boss. On the other hand, reading bad ones makes me mad. Fortunately, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Building Your Career is a good one and I recommend it to anyone who is considering entering a competitive field. If you're planning on going to college and possibly graduate school or if you graduated a year ago and are wondering when the fun is supposed to start, this is a great book.
What I appreciated the most about The WSJ Guide is it covers the steps to take toward building a career during college as well as how to look for work, and how to make the most of that first job and take control of your career during those crucial first years. Most of the advice in this guide is more realistic than the ego-boosting fluffy career books out there, but it's good information to know. Even if you don't agree with everything in the book, it contains a lot of insight into the inner workings of most businesses, so you can better understand what you will be up against in the beginning.
If you are a non-traditional careerist who waited a while between high school and college, a lot of the information in this book still applies. The only downside is the author doesn't address issues like searching for work as a married couple or balancing career demands with children or elderly parents. However, it's unfair to expect one book to cover everything. The information on office politics, mentoring, and how to strategically plan your career and choose the projects you take on is invaluable for anyone....more
This is one of those books that I wanted to like, and while I enjoyed reading it, I didn't find it to be a very satisfying read. Our story begins withThis is one of those books that I wanted to like, and while I enjoyed reading it, I didn't find it to be a very satisfying read. Our story begins with the main character, Mary, dealing with the loneliness of her best friend moving away. Her mother, Scarlett, has her own challenges; her mother, Emer, is in the hospital and she knows Emer isn't getting any better. Doyle weaves in flashbacks of Scarlett growing up, as well as Emer's memories of her mother, Anastasia, aka, Tansey. As you might imagine, with all of these female characters from different generations, it doesn't take long for this book to get confusing.
When Mary tells her mother that she made a new friend, Scarlett is delighted until she finds out that Mary's new friend is named Tansey. When she discovers that Tansey isn't just any Tansey, but her great great grandmother, she and Mary become very interested in why Tansey is back from the grave.
For me, this felt a lot like The Monsters Of Templeton minus the strange family pictures and sexual tension. What piqued my interest in A Greyhound of a Girl was the ghost story part of it, but it's more of an intergenerational novel. Doyle was just extra thorough in bringing in a generation that had already passed on. For readers who are into feel-good, low-stakes stories with a lot of female bonding, this one might be good, but for that, I usually prefer Maeve Binchy....more
When I started Chomp, I had reservations. The description mentioned other installments in Carl Hiaasen's foray into young adult literature that have aWhen I started Chomp, I had reservations. The description mentioned other installments in Carl Hiaasen's foray into young adult literature that have a humorous and environmentalist slant. The humorous part sounded good. The environmentalist bit gave me pause. Don't get me wrong: I love Mother Earth and all that jazz. I recycle as long as our program allows, I compost in my backyard and I never release reptiles from the pet store into the wild. I just don't consider reading a sermon entertainment. Fortunately, Chomp is not a sermon on eco-friendly living.
Our hero, Wahoo, is trying to help his family get back on its feet financially. His father, Mickey Cray, is a well-known animal wrangler for nature programs, but he has been laid-up for a while due to a concussion. A frozen iguana fell out of a tree and hit him on the head. Apparently a lot of pet lovers have turned way too many iguanas loose over the years, and they don't mix well with Florida's ecosystem. (Oh yes, you got your dose of environmentalism there now didn't cha?) Wahoo's mom is so concerned about the family finances that she has run off to China to teach and send some money home. Her absence only makes Mickey's condition deteriorate further. Wahoo finds out about a job opportunity with Derek Badger's reality TV program, Operation Survival!, and even though he still has doubts about his father's condition, he knows his family can't afford to pass-up the job.
Unfortunately, once Wahoo and Mickey meet Derek Badger, they realize that Derek needs more wrangling than the animals. At least the animals were born with some natural sense. Derek on the other hand doesn't have any. He just wants crazy stunts that look cool on camera and he's a monumental klutz.
It's tempting to give Chomp a five star rating because as I think about it, it's hard to imagine what anyone might need that this book doesn't have in it: critters with big sharp teeth, the Florida Everglades, a crazy TV star, and references to a terrible vampire series---no, it's not what you think....more
As a self-proclaimed hypochondriac and fan of Contagion, I had high hopes for The Way We Fall. Admittedly, I don't always jump into my galleys with thAs a self-proclaimed hypochondriac and fan of Contagion, I had high hopes for The Way We Fall. Admittedly, I don't always jump into my galleys with this feeling of, "Oh, this will be a good one! I know it." I really wanted to like this one, but in the end, it was kind of meh.
In a nutshell: Kaelyn lives on a small island that is mainly a vacation town, but for whatever reason, her family has decided to live there permanently. One day, her father, the local microbiologist (doesn't every town have one?) gets a distressing call from the hospital. Within days, the island is home to an unidentified plague that gives its victims an annoying itch, a sniffle, the warm fuzzies, and, finally, screaming fits followed by death. The government intervenes. Soldiers guard the food. Soldiers shoot people accidentally. All social structure on the island seems to start disintegrating but not in the fun Lord of the Flies way; just a few teens breaking into people's houses and wrecking up the place a bit. I'd go on, but I don't want to spoil the ending if you must read this one.
Here's the thing: Kaelyn and her family just weren't that interesting. Okay, so Kaelyn has some weird mutation in her blood that makes her resistant to the virus. That's kind of abstract for me. Oh yes, and this is the year she's trying to be her "new" self. Yeah, and what teenager isn't? In fact, who isn't? Hasn't anyone seen the Scrubs episode where Elliot doesn't want anyone from her "old" workplace visiting because she doesn't want them detracting from her new image? Okay, it's a relatable desire, but something needs to happen beyond the character walking around going, "Oh my god, that lady over there just sneezed one me. Would the new Kaelyn run screaming to wash her hands? Hmm. Could this be the end to life as we know it? Hmm."
I am a sucker for witty graphic novels with a female protagonist that don't involve random threesomes. Even if Tina's Mouth had a threesome in it, I tI am a sucker for witty graphic novels with a female protagonist that don't involve random threesomes. Even if Tina's Mouth had a threesome in it, I think would be more awesome than the rest because the writing is hilarious. Tina's family moved to California from India before she was born, and even though her parents raised her like an upper middle lass white girl, some of the homeland vestiges linger e.g. saris at weekend parties, and matchmakers.
Tina's best friend, Alex, "dumps" her when she gets her first boyfriend leaving Tina to complete her existential diary for philosophy class during a time of personal disaster. For short, Tina refers to this period in her life as the "Post Alex Epoch" (PAE.)
Tina gets involved with a new group of students by joining the cast of the school play, and even has her first brush with romance.
Kashyap captures the pleasure and pain of the teen years in a way that many writers have not. The diary feels totally authentic in the way Tina thinks and the details in the squiggly drawings. I love this book!...more
I wanted to love this book. The title is awesome, and I'm a huge fan of procedural crime dramas so anything involving humor and forensics has to be faI wanted to love this book. The title is awesome, and I'm a huge fan of procedural crime dramas so anything involving humor and forensics has to be fabulous, right? In the case of Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator, the uneven quality of the writing brought it down. When Guy is describing situations in the present and in his own voice, he's funny and quirky, but the sentimental slumps into memories about things his dad used to say.
Guy is still recovering from his father's recent death, and parts of the book are entries in a journal Guy's therapist asked him to keep to process his feelings as he goes through the five stages of grief. Meanwhile, Guy joins Forensics Club because his best friend, Anoop, tells him this girl Guy has a crush on will be there. Through the nifty tricks he learns in Forensics Club, Guy figures out that he has a brother from his father's previous marriage. He also thinks said brother might be a suspect when a box of valuable coins goes missing from Langman Manor. Did I mention that it takes about 100 pages for anything to actually happen in this book?
I think Josh Berk has a lot of potential as a writer and this cast of characters could turn into something cool if it becomes a series, but as is, this book seems to be having an identity crisis. It's not plot-driven enough to be a mystery and it isn't deep enough to be realistic YA which means readers looking for either in this book will be disappointed....more
If you are looking for a book that isn't quite like anything else, Wuftoomis an excellent choice. I have seen other reviewers compare it to Kafka's MeIf you are looking for a book that isn't quite like anything else, Wuftoomis an excellent choice. I have seen other reviewers compare it to Kafka's Metamorphosis, and it is similar in that the main character, Evan, transforms from a sixth grader into a giant worm---a Wuftoom. Another shared trait between Wuftoom and Metamorphosis: the ick factor. Readers with weak stomachs, consider yourselves warned. Evan's transformation is chronicled in painstaking detail complete with sights, sounds, textures, scents, and tastes. It gets really gross. While this may be a turn-off for some adult readers, the good news is this book should be a hit with the age 10 and up crowd.
While my husband wouldn't be suprised if I gave a book five stars on gross-out factor alone, the reality is, I just wouldn't do that. Sure, Wuftoom has some wonderful passages you can use to antagonize the ninnies in your household, but the story raises some interesting questions about what it means to belong, to be human, and to be a friend.
After Evan's transformation, two different night creatures propose offers to him in exchange for his loyalty. The viscious Vitflies promise not to harm his mother if he helps them defeat the Wuftoom. The Wuftoom can promise Evan long life and companionship even though he knows he will never completely fit in with them, and joining them means giving up life on the surface and living in the dark forever.
This is a terrific book, but be warned: once you start reading, it will be hard to stop....more