A senior in high school, Ben Wolf goes in for his annual physical before school starts. The doctor calls him afterward and says he wants to discuss soA senior in high school, Ben Wolf goes in for his annual physical before school starts. The doctor calls him afterward and says he wants to discuss some test results with him - and please bring your parents. The ominous message makes him decide he wants to hear the news first, whatever it is. The doc doesn't want to tell him without his parents but he says he's 18 and legally an adult so 'fess up with the news. The doctor tells him he has one year to live. So he decides he's going to forget what he's supposed to do and what he's afraid to do, and have the best senior year ever.
I really liked the way the author addresses what really matters after you decide that you're going to live your life. Although writing from a teen perspective makes this a young adult novel, the universal themes make it a great read for adults too....more
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The premise is really cool: two twelve year-old girls enter an alternate London (Un Lun Dun) where everythI wanted to like this book more than I did. The premise is really cool: two twelve year-old girls enter an alternate London (Un Lun Dun) where everything that has been lost or broken in London create the buildings, vehicles, and inhabitants of Un Lun Dun. Even the arch-villain is the pollution that leaks over from London. It was worth reading to experience the acrobatic imagination of the author, but the story really could have been about 150 pages shorter. The characters meet one fantastical creature after another, and I would have liked it more if there were say, 15 incredible creatures instead of 50. (That's just an estimate folks!) It does have a clean-up-the-environment message that I think tweens would catch on to....more
I don't consider myself to be a historical fiction enthusiast, but this book may change my tack. A man waiting at a bus stop recommended this one to mI don't consider myself to be a historical fiction enthusiast, but this book may change my tack. A man waiting at a bus stop recommended this one to me, and I wish I could thank him now. The story takes place in midieval times and is about a prince who is told a truce has been made between a long time rival kingdom. He travels to the neighboring kingdom expecting to banquet with his father and former enemy family. When he arrives he has been tricked and he is forced to become the rival kings court jester. The perspective of the jester gives a chance for a thorough look at both upstairs and downstairs in the palace. Mimus was written by a midieval scholar and the whole world of the palace comes to life. I had just visited France and Germany and this book helped me imagine the workings of a castle much better than any tour I took....more
I read this book because my co-worker said it was like watching The Sopranos; it's all about the family, there's murder, conspiracy, adultery... I'llI read this book because my co-worker said it was like watching The Sopranos; it's all about the family, there's murder, conspiracy, adultery... I'll admit, with the amount of young adult novels I read, the text was a little slow going at first. It reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitudein that there's a lot of establishment of family characters. Once I got the hang of the family tree, it was a fascinating read. Although fictional, it is based on Roman history. Having recently traveled to Germany and France it was fascinating to imagine Roman armies pillaging their countries. You will not believe some of the stuff these emperors got away with. The story is told from the point of view of Claudius, who because he stuttered and lacked physical strength, was overlooked as a threat to the throne. This read is soooo worth it. And if you like the book, you can watch the 13-hour BBC mini series......more
Vince is the son of a Mafia Boss. His entire life he has made it clear that he wants nothing to do with "the life." Even though his dad respects his wVince is the son of a Mafia Boss. His entire life he has made it clear that he wants nothing to do with "the life." Even though his dad respects his wishes there seems to be no escape. Just to give an example, Vince is on his first date. His best friend Alex is helping him out with the details to make everything go perfectly. He tells him to wear the soft cotton sweater instead of the scratchy wool sweater just in case she leans up against him in the horror movie. He tell him to bring a blanket just in case they end up at the beach. And everything is going smooth. They're having a good time, she seems to be into him, she even suggests they go to the beach. When he goes to get the blanket out of the trunk of his car, he finds a body wrapped up in it!
The humor in this comes from a character who really just wants to be a normal, honest teen but is foiled at every turn....more
On Wednesday afternoons at Camillo Junior High half of the class goes to Hebrew School at Temple Beth-El and the other half goes to Catechism at St. AOn Wednesday afternoons at Camillo Junior High half of the class goes to Hebrew School at Temple Beth-El and the other half goes to Catechism at St. Adelbert’s. But Holling Hoodhood is Presbyterian so he stays with his teacher on Wednesday afternoons. At first the teacher gives him tasks to do like clean the chalk boards and erasers. But soon she has a better idea: she teaches him Shakespeare. Holling thinks this is all intended to torture him. But his teacher’s nefarious plan doesn’t work because Shakespeare isn’t that bad. He figures she must not have read them or she would never have let him read about attempted murder, witches, wizards, invisible spirits, revolutions, characters drinking until they’re dead drunk, and angry cursing monsters. Soon he is recruited to play a part in the local Shakespeare Company’s production of the Tempest.
The backdrop of the story is the Viet Nam War. His teacher’s husband and school lunch lady’s husband are both soldiers in the war. The war seeps into the living room via the nightly news with Walter Cronkite. His father admonishes his sister for admiring the Flower Children. This is a great plot but it’s also written well. I found myself slowing down just to enjoy how the author described a winter storm “wailing and throwing itself against” the main character. ...more
Daniel H. Wilson is actually a Ph.D candidate at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. All of this sci-fi robotic hijinx is real – andDaniel H. Wilson is actually a Ph.D candidate at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. All of this sci-fi robotic hijinx is real – and real cool. The way the book is set up, he describes the real robot forms and their history. Then, by examining the actual robotic mechanics he instructs you how to escape when the robot inevitably gains autonomy and attacks its human creators. For example, modular robots can assume any form and they can self-repair almost instantly. The technique for escape is to divide and conquer. “Coat the modules. Use any available liquid. Thick, dark syrupy liquids will work the best. Opaque molecules will stick to each module and block communication pathways.” This will be the handbook for the next great screen play, graphic novel, short story, and epic poem. This is a great book is fantastic for imagination stimulation, for any creative teen or adult who has a penchant for sci-fi – whether it’s creating science fiction or science fact....more
Feed takes the theme of bucking the mainstream to a whole new level. Books like Vote for Larry by Janet Tashjian and Jennifer Government by Max BarrFeed takes the theme of bucking the mainstream to a whole new level. Books like Vote for Larry by Janet Tashjian and Jennifer Government by Max Barry tackle the external pressures of a consumer society, but Feed goes inside your head. The title doesn't refer to food. It refers to a chip that is implanted directly into the brain that broadcasts commercial advertising in sound and vision. It's a bleak future but not that far off! It's right up there with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World in the creepy/real factor.
And it has one of the best first lines of a book, "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck."...more
This is a manly man's cookbook. It's illustrated with photos of using a hand saw to cut a steak and the icon for doctoring up a recipe is a ratchet wrThis is a manly man's cookbook. It's illustrated with photos of using a hand saw to cut a steak and the icon for doctoring up a recipe is a ratchet wrench. Creative recipe titles include innuendo like "Meatball Three-Way", and cheeky chapter titles such as, "Salad? Uh, can I have fries instead?" But don't let the machismo lead you to believe that this isn't a serious collection of recipes. Going with the philosophy that the best way to learn to cook is to make what you want to eat, the contents include pulled-pork sandwiches, hash 'n' eggs, and fish stew with beer and chorizo. This isn't a manual for guys who are afraid of the kitchen, i.e. it's not a novice cookbook. It's got some fun recipes in it for men with adventurous palates. I wouldn't mind adding this cookbook to my collection, but first I'm going to give it to my brother-in-law....more
Looking For Alaska doesn't take place in Alaska. It takes place in a boarding school in Alabama and Alaska is the girl that introduces Miles to sex, dLooking For Alaska doesn't take place in Alaska. It takes place in a boarding school in Alabama and Alaska is the girl that introduces Miles to sex, drugs and the Great Perhaps. Miles' makes a hobby of quoting famous people's last words. (The Great Perhaps refers to the poet Francois Rabelais last words, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps".) Miles and his new friends the Colonel, Takumi, and Alaska study hard and still have time to plan brilliant pranks at the school. Yes, this is a young adult novel. It's not for middle schoolers though. I would recommend it to juniors or seniors in high school. It's perfect for book groups or class discussions. It reads like a classic....more
American Born Chinese is a great argument for graphic novels as literature. I would love to see this book in an American Lit class in a high school. TAmerican Born Chinese is a great argument for graphic novels as literature. I would love to see this book in an American Lit class in a high school. The narrative interweaves three stories, a heretic monkey god who wants to gain entry into the realm of heaven, the early school life of an American-born Chinese boy, and a grossly stereotyped Chinese caricature of a cousin who visits an American high school boy. This book is heavy on metaphor and would be great for a book group or class discussion. Because of the strong metaphorical comprehension needed I wouldn't recommend this to middle schoolers. It's definitely for high school young adults.
Post Script: I was just talking to a teen that said a seventh grade class read this book. I guess I didn't give the middle schoolers enough credit for being able to understand the book....more