Wednesday, April 14, 2010
How to describe it? It appears that all the pertinent adjectives have already been used up in all the posted reviews...
Heartbreaking, compelling, raw, beautiful, emotional and complex - Before I Fall is all that!!!
In her debut novel author Lauren Oliver manages to find a "teen" voice that is so real I felt like I was sitting at Starbucks at 3pm! ...of course that could be because Oliver is just barely beyond teen herself.
So - you have probably already gathered that this is a "groundhog day" style telling of the life and death of Samantha Kingston...you know this girl. She is the girl that hangs with the "cool kids", has everything yet doesn't appear to appreciate any of it.
The compelling nature of Lauren Oliver's writing takes you from disdain and revulsion to Samantha working through the process of understanding what is truly important and through 7 efforts - to change her outlook.
My one problem with the book was that Oliver does such a great job of developing Samantha's character that I seriously didn't like her and didn't care...but the writing is so good and the story draws you in...all I can say is trust and read this book all the way through to the end.
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.
Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.
In the forward of What's New Cupcake? they promise fun, spectacle and ease...and they deliver on all accounts. This book leaves you laughing out loud - calling people over to look at cupcake art (be careful husbands get grouchy after about the third time) - and racing to the kitchen to see what ingredients you have on hand!
There are cupcakes for every occasion and some just to titillate! From Stuffed Turkeys for Thanksgiving to Ghosts and Black Cat cupcakes for Halloween. Whole cake displays made of individual cupcakes artfully arranged in a Formula One car - a Summer Water Park - Golf Course (complete with sand trap) - Yarn Platter that will delight the knitter's (or crochet fans) in your life. Some standouts for me were the Ants on a Picnic and "I Thought You Ordered Chocolate Moose?".
From first hand experience I can confirm delivery on the "easier than the first book" promise. I made the Rubber Ducky cupcakes...yummy, easy and a definite conversation piece at the Easter table!
One of the really nice things about this book is the "so many ways to decorate" section where they breakdown various candies, cookies, toppings and misc. parts. It is a great how to for creating flowers, whimsical mosaics, borders, animals and more. This is knowledge that you can use to make everything you cook CUTE!!! but don't get carried away with it, even the most tolerant family may decide you need an intervention.
Ok now, off to the gym!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
| May 1, 2010|
...and now imagine that one of these books is stolen from the Library! How some of the world's most powerful men react gives us a look at the world of privilege and unlimited wealth. Everyone goes looking for the Book of Spies - leading authorities on the Library of Gold, scholars, government agencies, and the agents of the group of men from whom it was stolen.
The action in the book is very fast, hop scotching around the world (we should only be so lucky to be able to bypass and manipulate airports and security), involving a host of wonderful characters, quirks of the financial world, links to terrorism and much more.
This is a roller coaster ride to every corner of the earth - Gayle Lynds writing draws you into a world that few of us will ever know, offering thrilling locations, terrorist plots, CIA, and snipers all taking place among antiquity - everything I love in a mystery...I will be checking out more from this author.
Dr. Charles Norris, as chief medical examiner of the great city of New York, takes on murder, accidental and natural deaths, prohibition, politicians, sloppy police work, money-grubbing coroners and mortuaries in a battle for the recognition of Forensic Medicine as a legitimate science and admissible evidence in the courts.
Toxicologist Alexander Gettler, working with Norris, devises tests and experiments for detecting the most obscure poisons that kill by murder or accident.
The history of poisons goes back much further in time than can be imagined. The discoveries that led to how they work helped solved many crimes and improved the knowledge of how the human body works. The chemistry is there but simplified so that the average reader is not boggled by atoms and molecules. The tests and experiments are perhaps, a little grisly, but the results seem to justify them.
The cases are perpetrated by all kinds of people for many strange reasons - anger, hatred, money, insanity, desperation, pure wickedness, accidental, and the Prohibition war between bootleggers and government chemists. This is a telling history of crime in a great city, and those who were in the forefront of solving those crimes.
With The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York Deborah Blum gives us a readable (actually enjoyable) history of the development of forensics through some grim periods in history.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Alchemy and Meggy Swan
By Karen Cushman
The importance of being accepted is probably the number one issue facing children today as it was in the Elizabethan Era of Meggy Swann.
In the tradition of most Karen Cushman novels - this story takes you deep into the period "After the accession of Elizabeth I to the throne of England but afore London's first theater and Shakespeare".
You will feel the uneven cobblestones, smell the reeking streams of waste, hear the tunes of the balladeers and the jeers of the passersby at Meggy's crooked body.
Cushman draws you into the period and Meggy's world of daily pain and rejection - but this book is not without joy. When Roger and a troupe of "players" come into Meggy's life things begin to change.
5th Grade through tweens and teens will love Meggy's troubles, travails and her pluck!
While it can be a bit cumbersome at the start, the Olde English dialect soon feels second nature and what a great introduction for kids that will soon be asked to read Shakespeare. I think that starting them out with a storyline they will relate to and a heroine closer to their age will make learning to understand this conversational style so much easier.
Cushman includes information on the "alchemy" of the day and explanations of the language and customs of the time in the "Authors Notes" at the end of the book. What a wonderful teaching opportunity!