Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Reading Challenges

Pretty Little Liars Challenge (status: 0/8)
Stephanie Plum Reading Challenge (status 3/8)
Alice in Wonderland Challenge (status: 6/8 tasks)
The Shelf Discovery Challenge (status: 2/6)
GLBT Challenge 2010  (status: 1/8)
2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge  (status: 6/50)
World Religion Challenge   (status: 2/5)
2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge  (status: 5/75)
Twentyten Challenge  (status: 3/20)
Take a Another Challenge  (status: 1.5/12 tasks)
E-Book Challenge 2010  (status: 1/6)
Audio Book Challenge 2010 (status: 5/20)
Read Your Name Challenge  (status: 2/6)
The Nancy Drew Challenge  (status:  3/56)
What's in a Name Challenge 3  (status: 0/6)
Rainbow Connection Challenge  (status: 4/7)
Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge  (status: 0/4)
A Buck a Book Challenge (status: 10)

    December Wrap-Up

    Books read:

    The Secret Hour (Westerfeld)
    Touching Darkness (Westerfeld)
    Random Magic (Soren)
    The Dreaming v.1-3 (Chan)
    Hershel and the Hanukah Goblins (Kimmel)
    Eyes Like Stars (Manchev)
    Gidget (Kohner)
    Good and Perfect Gifts (Moser)
    Let It Snow (Green, Johnson, Myracle)
    A Christmas Carol (Dickens)
    Wishin' and Hopin' (Lamb)

    Audio Books finished:

    The Wednesday Wars (Schmidt)
    A Christmas Story (Shepherd)
    Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Robinson)
    Skipping Christmas (Grisham)

    Abandoned: None

    Based on a Book Movie Reviews:

    The Muppet Christmas Carol

    Challenges joined:

    Twentyten Challenge (starts Jan.1)
    Take a Another Challenge (starts Jan.1)
    E-Book Challenge 2010 (starts Jan.1)
    Audio Book Challenge (starts Jan.1 )
    Read Your Name Challenge (starts Jan.1)

      Challenge status (for challenges carrying over to 2010):

      The Shelf Discovery Challenge (status: 0/6)
      Alice in Wonderland Challenge (status: 6/8 tasks)
      Stephanie Plum Reading Challenge (status 0/7)
      Pretty Little Liars Challenge (status: 0/8)

      Completed challenges:

      Much Ado about Shakespeare Challenge (6/6)
      Scott Westerfeld Mini-Challenge (2/2)
      Christmas Reading Challenge (4/4)

      I didn't really have a favorite this month though I did enjoy the Westerfeld books a lot.  I had a very Christmas-centri month but I'm ready for the new year now.

      Tuesday, December 29, 2009

      Teaser Tuesday - Wishin' and Hopin'

      Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
      Grab your current read

      Open to a random page

      Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

      That was when I realized I'd been wrong before.  Sister Mary Agrippina had not been my penance after all.  Madame Marguerite was or, by Christmastime, would be.

      p.24 Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb

      Monday, December 28, 2009

      Weekly Round-Up 12/28 + an award

      Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week and anything of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
      This week I'm reading Envy and Splendor (Godbersen) and listening to Twelve Sharp (Evanovich).

      Last week I did an all Christmas review week so I posted: 

      Good and Perfect Gifts
      Let It Snow
      The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (audio) 
      Skipping Christmas
      A Christmas Carol
      Wishin' and Hopin'

       In other news,

      Gofita at Gofita's Pages gave me the Circle of Friends Award which was so nice.  Thanks.  So I must mentioned five things that I love to do.
      1. Play with my son
      2. Read
      3. Watch movie
      4. Do crafty type things
      5. Shopping (though I hate to admit it)

      I'd like to give this to this five bloggers:
      1. Amanda at the Zen Leaf
      2. Bookworm Nation
      3. Runa at One Reader's Trash is Another Reader's Treasure
      4. Jill at the O.W.L.
      5. Kaye at Kaye's Book Review

      No books from the library this week

      Saturday, December 26, 2009

      Wishin' and Hopin'

      From Goodreads:
      It's 1964 and ten-year-old Felix is sure of a few things: the birds and the bees are puzzling, television is magical, and this is one Christmas he'll never forget.
      LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone's turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade—easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy.
      Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School—where Mother Filomina's word is law and goody-two-shoes Rosalie Twerski is sure to be minding everyone's business. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of substitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from QuÉbec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova. While Felix learns the meaning of French kissing, cultural misunderstanding, and tableaux vivants, Wishin' and Hopin' barrels toward one outrageous Christmas.

      This was a good book definitely in the vein of A Christmas Story and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  A nostalgic book about the good ole days, I liked it.  I'm particular to this types of books in general and thought this one was cute.  Felix is a very innocent 10 year old boy so there are some parts with dirty jokes and Felix doesn't understand them leading to a very hilarious incident.  But he is a sweet and kind boy.  The book starts with his teacher at his Catholic school having a mental breakdown through getting a new French substitute teacher and up to the Christmas pageant and a very special guest at the end.  Along the way there are some nice glimpses at life in the 60's.  I think I'm going to add this one to my Christmas annual re-reads.

      Friday, December 25, 2009

      Merry Christmas!

      I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all!  I hope your holidays are happy and full of family and the holiday spirit.

      "'And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

      A Christmas Carol

      First off, Merry Christmas!
      In honor of this holiday, I'm going to talk about one of the quintessential Christmas books, A Christmas Carol.  Most people have read this short novella or watched an adaptation of it in some form or other.  My favorite is the Muppets' Christmas Carol although it is much jollier than the actual book.
      Anyway, for those of  you who haven't heard of this book, here's the synopsis:

      Basically, Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly man who holds nothing dearer to his heart than money.  One night he is visited by his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, who tells Scrooge he will be visited by three spirits throughout the nigh who will try to show Scrooge the error of his ways.  Throughout each episode, we learn how Scrooge ended up the way he is and what his future will look like if he keeps up with his miserly ways.

      For such a short book, A Christmas Carol is a powerful mortality lesson.  It teaches that kindness and generosity are the way to happiness and that money doesn't matter if you have no one to share it.  Scrooge is a nasty man caring not for the poor or the less fortunate, but after seeing the plight of many people including his clerk, Bob Cratchit, his heart is changed.  There is a reason that A Christmas Carol has been such an enduring Christmas tale.  It teaches that each person can be redeemed and that redemption lies in our hearts.  We only have to reach out for it.

      And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

      Thursday, December 24, 2009

      Skipping Christmas (audio)

      With his daughter off to the Peruvian jungle for a year with the Peace Corps, Luther Krank convinces his wife to take all the money they spend on Christmas and go on a cruise instead.  Little does he know how their friends and neighbors are going to react to the idea of skipping Christmas


      Skipping Christmas is one of my annual Christmas books.  I listen to it every year and I still find it amusing.  There are always details that I forget and parts I think are funny or maddening every year.  This is my fifth year, I believe.

      The thought that occurred to me this year is how outraged his neighbors are by the idea that the Kranks aren't going to go along with the usual trapping of Christmas.  It seems the idea that a married couple with no children at home enjoying a vacation together alone is impossible to these people and they act in a very unChristmas-y way.  And yes, Luther Krank is a bit of an ass about the whole thing, but all he wants to do is get through Christmas without a tree or carols or putting a giant Frosty the Snowman on the roof.  And the reactions of everyone around him are absurd, but amusing.  And frankly, I'm right there with Luther.  The part of this book that aggravates me every time is the Krank's reactions when said daughter calls to surprise them that she is actually coming home for Christmas.  Keep in mind that it's only been a month since she was gone.  The mother, Nora, is excited as is Luther, but what gets me is that I don't know, personally, any parents of this age who would willingly drop a vacation that they've been planning to run around the city preparing for a holiday they had no intention of celebrating.  Instead of saying, honey we weren't expecting you, we didn't decorate or plan to do much if they really wanted to keep their trip a secret, they run about getting angry and doing stupid things while their neighbors give Luther a hard time.

      But I think the message of the book might come at the end.  Because really no one was really acting with the true Christmas spirit until the very end anyway, not the neighbors or the friends or even Luther.  But with the act of kindness at the end, the book redeems everyone and shows that people have kindness in their hearts, they just have look for it sometimes.  And Christmas isn't about the stuff.  It's about the people you love and kindness and good will.

      Wednesday, December 23, 2009

      The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (audio)

      One of my favorite Christmas movies growing up was The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and one day, I discovered the book.  It tells the story of a church that one year is invaded by the baddest kids in town and who decide they would like to be in the Christmas Pageant.  Everyone assumes that it will be a disaster but are surprised and delighted by the outcome.

      I think I always related to the movie because I went to a church like this when I was little.  My mother and my sister and I were very involved in our church until we moved to a new town when I was 13 so I understand about having the same old kids in your Sunday school and doing the same thing year after year.  We didn't do a Christmas pageant but I knew girls like Alice Wendlekin, who is just bossy.  And we didn't have any Herdmans, but that was okay.

      The nice thing about this book (and the movie) is that it emphasizes how most Christians take the Christmas story for granted and never really think about the deeper meaning behind it.  But since the Herdmans' had never been to church or heard about the birth of Jesus, they had questions and so made everyone think about it.  They are some mean kids but deep down seem decent enough, just neglected with too much time on their hands.

      I listened to it this year, something I've never done and Elaine Stritch does the narration.  I was a little taken aback since the narrator is suppose to be around 9 and Ms. Stritch is obviously older than that.  It threw me off for the first little bit, but once I use to it so does a great job of giving everyone character.  The only thing is I can hear the actor's voices from the movie over her.  This would be a great book for a full cast to do.

      Tuesday, December 22, 2009

      Let It Snow

      Book jacket:
      Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks.

      Comprised of three short stories by Maureen Johnson ("The Jubilee Express"), John Green ("A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle") and Lauren Myracle ("The Patron Saint of Pigs"), Let It Snow was a very cute holiday book.  The stories led around one town starting with the story of Jubliee and her parents getting arrested in a porcelain village riot through Tobin and his friends' quest to the Waffle House and cheerleaders and finally to Addie and her broken heart and Starbucks and a very tiny pig. Each story contains some element of the others and they are all wrapped up at the end in a nice little endings.

      Oh, and he was dressed in tinfoil.  Head to toe. Even had a little tinfoil hat.  Like you do. p. 31

      Maureen Johnson starts the book off with the story of Jubilee who is meant to spend Christmas Eve with her boyfriend, but ends up on a train to her grandparent's house when her parents are arrested in a fight over a china Christmas village.  Her train is delayed when it runs into a snowbank so Jubilee hops off and makes her way to a nearby Waffle House to escape a cheerleading squad.  There she meets Stuart and after a series of adventures, figures out what she has been missing in her life.  As always, Johnson's story is hilariously funny and so very cute.  This was my favorite of the three.

      "God, I am always foiled by my love of hash browns!" p. 134

      John Green picks up the narrative with the story of Tobin and his friends as they race to the Waffle House.  Tobin and his friend, JP, are lured to the Waffle House by a friend who works there with the thought of a cheerleading squad (yep) trapped inside.  His other friend, Duke who is a girl, tags along supposedly over her love of hash browns, but it quickly becomes apparent there is something more.  The only John Green I've read is An Abundance of Katherines and I wasn't impressed, but I really enjoyed his story.  It was very funny.  I might have to give some of his other books a go now.

      Inside of jingle bells, I had suckage bells. Lovely. p.215

      Lauren Myracle provides the last story and the wrap-up.  Addie is nursing a broken heart after she breaks up with her boyfriend.  And when he doesn't show up for a reconciliation talk, she assumes that he doesn't want her anymore.  But her friends and customers point out to her how dramatic and selfish she can be, Addie begins to take a closer look at herself and the reasons why he may not want her back.  I've only read a couple of books by her and while her story was cute, it was by no means the best.  Addie was the worst character in the book and, if this was a book just about her, I would have abandoned it.  She wasn't a strong enough character to end the book with and her story was the weakest.  I didn't get the character growth at all and the thing about the guardian angel was weird.

      But despite that, it was a very cute book with lots of Christmas spirit and a little slapstick humor.  I would recommended it to those looking for a little holiday cheer.

      Monday, December 21, 2009

      Good and Perfect Gifts

      An illustrative retelling of The Gift of the Magi, this little book is set in the American South.  In the original tale, the wife cuts off her hair to buy a chain for her husband's watch while the husband sells his watch to buy combs for his wife's long hair.  Later they find out what happened and are sad that their presents they gave our not useful but happy with what they have received as it represents a sacrifice on each other's part and shows their love.

      This retelling is faithful to that idea, but the husband and wife live in a trailer in a small Southern town.  They are poor, but love each other very much.  The wife sells her mama's quilt to buy her husband a tool chest while the husband sells his tools to buy his wife a chest for her mama's quilt.  In the end, the wife remembers a passage from the Bible: Every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17) and is happy that they have each other, that Christmas is not about the gifts but who you spend it with.

      It was a very cute book and the pictures look like wood carvings.  I liked the illustrations, but found the attempt at relating the accent awkward.  I thought the Southern twist very fun and a great way to update the story.  The Gift of the Magi has always been one of my favorites and I enjoyed this version of it.

      Weekly Round-Up 12/21

      Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week and anything of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
      It's Christmas week!  All my reviews are going to be from holiday books so look for that this week.

      This week I'm reading The Midnight Twins (Mitchard), Envy and Splendor (Godbersen).  I'm listening to Twelve Sharp (Evanovich).

      Since last week I've read Eyes Like Stars (Mantchev), Gidget (Kohner) and I've listened to The Wednesday Wars (Schmidt), The Great Brain (Fitzgerald), and Betsy-Tacy (Lovelace).

      From the Library is my weekly listing of what I checked out from the library this week.  I'm getting ready for some challenges and I'm in need of audio so most of what I got is audio.

      Sunday, December 20, 2009

      A Christmas Story (audio)

      I don't know how many people actually know that the movie A Christmas Story is actually based on some short stories by Jean Shepherd (who narrates the movie).  Most of them are contained in his book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash which I read long ago.  It's a funny book and Shepherd is a great writer who writes stories/rememberances of growing up in the Depression era and beyond. 

      Someone had the good idea to put together all the stories that A Christmas Story is based on into one book (I listend to it and it is narrated by Dick Cavett).  These are charming timeless stories.  There are five stories total in this compilation: "Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid" about the Red Ryder BB Gun; "The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message, or The Asp Strikes Again" with the decoder ring; "My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award that Heralded the Birth of Pop Art," the leg lamp; "Grover Dill and the Tasmanian Devil" about the bullies; and "The Grandstand Passion Play of Delbert and the Bumpus Hounds" the full story of the Bumpus dogs and the meal they stole (in the story it is the Easter ham).  Together these five make up the classic Christmas movie.

      Dick Cavett does a great job with the narration bringing to live this stories and the audio verision also includes music and sound effects so the effect is very much like a radio play.  It's really very neat.  I love how the stories bring to life that era in American history and how these little moments in time stick with people.

      Saturday, December 19, 2009

      TwentyTen Challenge - List - INCOMPLETE

      I'll list my books here.  To see the whole challenge explained go to the TwentyTen Challenge hosted by Bart's Bookshelf.  The aim is to read a total 20 books, over ten categories, in 2010.

      EDIT:   INCOMPLETE12/16/2010

      Young Adult

          Envy - Anna Godbersen             
          Splendor - Anna Godbersen

      T.B.R. **  
      Leviathan- Scott Westefeld
      Another Faust - Daniel and Dina Nayeri

      Shiny and New
      White Cat - Holly Black
      The Haunted Showboat - Carolyn Keene

      Bad Blogger’s ***
      Into the Wild -Sarah Beth Durst - recommended by Bookworm Nation
      Donut Days - Lara Zielin - recommended by Tales of Whimsy

      Charity (Library Book sale)

      Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
      Tennyson Lesly M.M. Blume

      New in 2010
      Very LeFreak - Rachel Cohn
      Lord Sunday - Garth Nix

      Older Than You 
      A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett
      The Secret of the Old Clock - Carolyn Keene

      Win! Win!

      The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Frank Baum

      Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynn Jones

      Who Are You Again?

      Beautiful Malice - Rebecca James
      A Golden Web - Barbara Quick

      Up to You! I like to challenge myself to read some romance, those little romance paperbacks like Harlequin or Silhouette.  It's not a genre I've really read and so I'm going to try something new!

      Frost Moon - Anthony Francis (not a Harlequin, but only not something I would normally read)
      Dylan and the Baby Doctor - Sherryl Woods

      TwentyTen Challenge - INCOMPLETE

      So I thought I was done with challenges, but this one looks very cool so I'm signing up for the TwentyTen Challenge hosted by Bart's Bookshelf.  The aim is to read a total 20 books, over ten categories, in 2010.

      I will list here as I go.  This should be fun.


      *Read 2 books from each category, making a requirement of 20 books total.
      *The categories are intended to be loose guidelines only, if you decide it fits, then it fits. (Apart from those marked **)
      *Categories marked with ** have tighter rules, and these must be followed.
      *Each book can only qualify for one category.
      *Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
      *Books read from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010 are eligible.

      The categories:

      So, on with the categories

      Young Adult
      Any book classified as young adult or featuring a teenage protagonist counts for this category.

      T.B.R. **  
      Intended to help reduce the old T.B.R. pile. Books for this category must be already residents of your bookshelves as of 1/11/09.

      Shiny and New   
      Bought a book NEW during 2010 from a bookstore, online, or a supermarket? Then it counts for this category. Second-hand books do not count for this one, but, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts or won in a giveaway also count!

      Bad Blogger’s ***          
      Books in this category, should be ones you’ve picked up purely on the recommendation of another blogger count for this category (any reviews you post should also link to the post that convinced you give the book ago).
      *** Bad Bloggers: Is hosted by Chris of Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

      Support your local charity shops with this category, by picking up books from one of their shops. Again, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts also count, as long as they were bought from a charity shop.

      New in 2010   
      This category is for those books newly published in 2010 (whether it be the first time it is has been released, or you had to wait for it to be published in your country, it counts for this one!)

      Older Than You
      Read two books that were published before you were born, whether that be the day before or 100 years prior!

      Win! Win!
      Have a couple of books you need to read for another challenge? Then this is the category to use, as long that is, you don’t break the rules of the other challenge by doing so! ;)

      Who Are You Again?
      This one isn’t just for authors you’ve never read before, this is for those authors you have never even heard of before!

      Up to You! I like to challenge myself to read some romance, those little romance paperbacks like Harlequin or Silhouette.  It's not a genre I've really read and so I'm going to try something new!
      The requirements for this category are up to you! Want to challenge yourself to read some graphic novels? A genre outside your comfort zone? Something completely wild and wacky? Then this is the category to you. The only requirement is that you state it in your sign-up post.

      EDIT:  This is the first challenge that I haven't completed but there is no way I'm going to finish so I'm counting this as INCOMPLETE12/16/2010

      Friday, December 18, 2009


      Franzie is a typical 16 year old girl.  When she is one day rescued by a handsome surfer, Moondoggie, she decides she wants to learn how to surf.  Made one of the gang by the local surfer boys who nickname her Gidget (girl-midget), she falls in love with Moondoggie and, most of all, with surfing.
      It takes so long to get old.  I wished I could have grown up over night. p.98
      Written in 1957, Gidget was written by Frederick Kohner for his daughter, Kathy.  Based on her adventures with surfing, Gidget was the first book to deal with a girl learning to surf which was almost unheard of at that time.  It was followed by five sequels and two novelizations of the subsequent movies.  I knew of Gidget from the Sandra Dee movie which I love a lot and had no idea it was based on a book until recently.  The movie follows the basic plot of the book, but cleaned up since there is more talk of sex and drinking and smoking in the book. And while it's not on the Gossip Girl level, there is certain more sex talk than I expected in a 1957 book.  But then when you are dealing with college age boys, what else would you expect. 

      Gidget and Moondoggie (Jeff)'s relationship is odd.  She doesn't pay much attention to him at first, thinking he is handsome but very focused on surfing.  But after a dream about kissing him, she begins to fall in love.  He, on the other hand, doesn't know what to do since she is so young (he thinks she is 17, she is really 15).  But they work it at in the end.  The ending is very empowering for Gidget as she defies the boys and learns to surf.

      Thursday, December 17, 2009

      Eyes Like Stars (The Théâtre Illuminata: Act 1)

      All her world's a stage.
      Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
      She is not an orphan, but she has no parents.
      She knows every part, but has no lines of her own.
      Until now.

      Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every place ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

      First up, let me say that I love the concept.  An abandoned girl grows in a magical theater where the characters in the play are not actors, they are actually the characters is so cool.  And I liked Bertie too.  She was feisty and conniving and, dare I say, a little sexy.  It was nice to see a strong female protagonist who isn't afraid to push down the boys and make them cry if she needs to.  And I loved the little fairies who followed her around like a little demon posse.  They were so cute. 

      It was interesting to see Shakespeare's, and other, famous characters brought to life in a different way.  So while they all retain their personalities as written, it's fun to see them outside of their own plays although this is mostly with Ophelia and Ariel.  I wasn't very fond of the love triangle between Nate and Ariel and Bertie though.  While Ariel might be charismatic, Nate is obviously the best choice.  Anyway, I'm curious for the sequel now especially with the great surprise at the end.

      Wednesday, December 16, 2009

      The Wednesday Wars (audio)

      Holling Hoodhood can't win.  He's the only kid in class who doesn't have to go to either Hebrew school or Catechism thus making him spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker who makes him read Shakespeare.  This one fact leads to him performing in a play as a fairy, getting the girl, letting lose the class rats among other things all well learning some valuable lessons and suffering many death threats.

      I really enjoyed this book.  The reader, Joel Johnstone, did an excellent job bringing Holling to life.  I loved how Holling related the events in his life to the Shakespeare plays he was reading.  I felt sorry for how certain people in his life treated him (his dad mostly) and how he could never seem to get a break.  At first I was sure about Mrs. Baker but she proved to be the most reliable and honest adult in the book.  I guess because it was set in 1967 it was a different me then but I was bothered by Holling's father.  But Holling is a good kid and he tries very hard.

      I also loved Holling's interpretations of Shakespeare's plays and his attitudes about Romeo and Juliet, and Hero and Claudio among others were very funny.  This is a nice little introduction to Shakespeare for kids and might get them interested in reading some of the plays plus there is some history on the Vietnam War.

      The Wednesday Wars is a 2008 Newbery Honor book.  Recommended by Jill at The O.W.L.

      Tuesday, December 15, 2009

      Teaser Tuesday - Eyes Like Stars

      Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
      Grab your current read

      Open to a random page

      Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

      The Turkish Bath set disappeared whence it had come and Bertie's bedroom took its place. Her gaze drifted to the far corner of Stage Left, just in front of the proscenium arch, where The Book glowed with serene and even light.

      p. 152 Eyes Like Stars - Lisa Mantchev

      Monday, December 14, 2009

      Weekly Round-Up 12/14

      Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week and anything of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
      This week I'm reading Eyes Like Stars (Mantchev) and Wishin' and Hopin' (Lamb).  I'm still listening to The Wednesday Wars (Schmidt) and I'm not sure what I'm listening to after that, maybe Twelve Sharp (Evanovich).

      Since last week I've finished Touching Darkness (Westerfeld), Let It Snow (Green, Johnson, Myracle), Random Magic (Soren), The Dreaming (Chan) and Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Kimmel).  

      From the Library is my weekly listing of what I checked out from the library this week.

      Into the Wild - Sarah Beth Durst

      (Recommended by Bookworm Nation, this seems right up my alley.  I love fractured fairy tales and this looks so good.)  Twelve-year-old Julie has grown up hearing about the dangerous world of fairy tales, “The Wild,” from which her mother, Rapunzel, escaped.
      Now The Wild wants its characters back. Julie comes home from school to find her mother gone and a deep, dark forest swallowing her hometown. Julie must fight wicked witches, avoid glass slippers and fairy godmothers, fly griffins, and outwit ogres in order to rescue her mom and save her Massachusetts town from becoming a fairy-tale kingdom.

      Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story - Wally Lamb

      (I'm in the mood for lots of Christmas ficiton and this seems to go right along with the other stuff I've been reading) LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone's turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade—easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy.Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School—where Mother Filomina's word is law and goody-two-shoes Rosalie Twerski is sure to be minding everyone's business. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of substitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from QuÉbec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova. While Felix learns the meaning of French kissing, cultural misunderstanding, and tableaux vivants, Wishin' and Hopin' barrels toward one outrageous Christmas.
      From the Funicello family's bus-station lunch counter to the elementary school playground (with an uproarious stop at the Pillsbury Bake-Off), Wishin' and Hopin' is a vivid slice of 1960s life, a wise and witty holiday tale that celebrates where we've been—and how far we've come.

      A Year Down Yonder - Richard Peck, read by Lois Smith

      (I've started checking out for challenges and this one goes to two.)   Grandma Dowdel's back! She's just as feisty and terrifying and goodhearted as she was in Richard Peck's A Long Way from Chicago, and every bit as funny. In the first book, a Newbery Honor winner, Grandma's rampages were seen through the eyes of her grandson Joey, who, with his sister, Mary Alice, was sent down from Chicago for a week every summer to visit. But now it's 1937 and Joey has gone off to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps, while 15-year-old Mary Alice has to go stay with Grandma alone--for a whole year, maybe longer. From the very first moment when she arrives at the depot clutching her Philco portable radio and her cat, Bootsie, Mary Alice knows it won't be easy. And it's not. She has to sleep alone in the attic, attend a hick town school where in spite of her worn-out coat she's "the rich girl from Chicago," and be an accomplice in Grandma's outrageous schemes to run the town her own way--and do good while nobody's looking. But being Grandma's sidekick is always interesting, and by the end of the year, Mary Alice has grown to see the formidable love in the heart of her formidable Grandma.

      Saturday, December 12, 2009

      Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

      Barnes and Noble description:
      Can Hershel really rid the village synagogue of goblins? He successfully uses his wits to oust the eight creatures haunting the old synagogue and who are preventing the villagers from celebrating Hanukkah. Kimmel provides a humorous, entertaining and just slightly scary story for all young readers. Hyman's illustrations emphasize all of the tension with dark scenes of the goblins and their attempts to frighten Hershel. A Caldecott Honor Book.

      This was a very entertaining book as over eight nights Hershel figures out how to outwit a new goblin each night.  On the eighth night, he must make the King of the Goblins light the Hanukkah candles himself.  But Hershel is a very clever man and has something new every night.

      I really liked it.  I checked it out thinking I would read it to my 3 year old but he didn't want to sit for it.  I think it was too long for him.  But I liked it and thought it was very cute and clever.  The illustrations are great and I can see why it is a Caldecott Honor book.  I haven't read much on Hanukkah to be honest, but this had some of the Hanukkah traditions throughout and a longer explanation in the back.  I will have to read it to the boy when he is older to make sure he is introduced to other holidays and traditions other than our own.

      Today is the first day of Hanukkah and I'd like to say Happy Hanukkah to my readers who celebrate that holiday.

      Friday, December 11, 2009

      The Dreaming

      When twins Jeanie and Amber are sent to Greenwich Private College in Australia, they expect it will be a regular school. Things quickly turn creepy as the sisters are told to pretend they are not twins and start dreaming the same dreams.  As they delved further into the history of the school and the rumors of haunting and missing girls, the twins start to realize that the key might be in their dreams.

      Bought to my attention by Amanda who did not like the first one

      I went ahead and read all three since manga are short and it's only a three part series.  This is some creepy stuff right here.  The first volume is the introduction to the story with one of the twins getting weirded out right away at their new boarding school.  Then they have the same dream about the bushland that surrounds the school and girls with knifes.  The second and third volume give more history of the school and the disappearances that have happened over the years with the very creepy back story of the vice-principal.  At first, it seemed that the story was going to devolve into some lame fairy tale, but then it takes a sharp turn at what? and then stops at nightmarish so I was actually somewhat surprised at the end.  Though there was a storyline that feels like it was dropped somewhere along the way and I'm not quite sure what happened there at the end.

      As far the artwork, it is typical manga style although with more creepy eyes than I have read before.  I had some trouble with who was who until I realized that Jeanie always has a ponytail and then I got it.  I think it is hard to draw twins and not have confusion though.  The art really did add to the overall effect the story was going for and the paintings inside of the school were majorly horrible (like in scary, not in poorly drawn or anything).    

      Thursday, December 10, 2009

      Random Magic

      Professor Random has somehow lost the main character from Alice in Wonderland and sends Henry to find her.  Henry meets Winnie, a doodle witch, who leads them a series of crazy misadventures in search of Alice.

      I believe the word I'm looking for is random, very, very random.  Because that is what a lot of this book is, RANDOM.  At first, I wasn't sure because it seemed so all over the place, but after I got into the groove and understood where the author was going, I liked it.  I liked Winnie the Doodle Witch.  She is the coolest and made the book great.

      The search for Alice really does lead them through some crazy places and they meet a lot of literary characters and there are a lot of little allusions and tributes to great authors and books throughout.  So that makes it really fun.  Honestly, there could have been a little less, but overall I enjoyed this book.

      Wednesday, December 9, 2009

      Touching Darkness (Midnighters #2)

      The Midnighters find they are in danger not only from the darklings who exist in that hour, but from some humans during regular time too.  While they try to figure out the secret history of their town and past Midnighters, the enemies begin closing in on what they really want, one of the Midnighters.

      *highlight for spoilers*

      The second in the Midnighters series, Touching Darkness, was really good.  The action picks up a little more and some of the mysteries from the first book are solved while introducing new ones.  There is less to do with Jessica in this book and I have a feeling her backstory and powers will be more important in the third book than they were here.  Rex and Melissa play more key roles while Dess and Jonathan sort of slide into the backstory.  I really didn't like Melissa in the last book, but by the end of this one I was more sympathetic to her and to Rex.  I realize her powers must be awful to have.  But I was surprised at how the touching between her and Rex was akin to sex and orgasms and how much it helped her.  I don't know how much teens will catch of that, but it is definitely implied.  Interesting.

      There is much more about other Midnighters though not as much as I would have liked and the secret hidden in the town (the old Midnighter, Madeline) was interesting.  I hope they clear up more of that story and what happens to Rex now that he is a halfling.  That plot was horrifying, but will make for an interesting third book. 

      Tuesday, December 8, 2009

      Teaser Tuesdays - Let It Snow

      Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
      Grab your current read

      Open to a random page

      Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

      I tried to arrange my expression in the most casual funny-meeting-you-here, isn't-life-hilarious! way I could.  From the way my jaw muscles were straining by my ears, I'm pretty sure it was a lot more like my I've-got-lockjaw! face.

      p.113  From "The Jubilee Express" by Maureen Johnson
      Let It Snow - John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

      Monday, December 7, 2009

      Take Another Chance Challenge - List

      I'm going to keep track of the Take Another Chance Challenge here.  To see the whole challenge, check here.

      COMPLETE 11/14/2011

      1. Read Your Doppelganger: The Kid Table - Andrea Siegel
      2. Blogroll Roulette: Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder
      3. 100 Best Book: The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
      4.  Prize Winner Book: A Year Down Yonder - Richard Peck
      5. Title Word Count: Attack of the Volcano Monkeys - Wiley Miller
      6. Genre Switch-Up: The Education of Madeline - Beth Williamson
      7.  Break a Prejudice: Blockade Billy - Stephen King
      8.  Real and Inspired: The Wizard of Oz - Frank L. Baum and Wicked - Gregory Maguire
      9.  Same Word, Different Book: The Mermaid's Madness - Jim C. Hines and The Girl with the Mermaid Hair  - Delia Ephron
      10. Become a Character: Nancy's Mysterious Letter - Carolyn Keene
      11. All in the Family: Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld (husband) and Liar - Justine Larbalestier (wife)
      12. Author Anthology Pick: Up All Night - short stories by Peter Abrahams, Libba Bray, David Levithan, Patricia McCormick, Sarah Weeks, Gene Luen Yang
      Author pick: (David Levithan) Will Grayson, Will Grayson - David Levithan and John Green

      Take Another Chance Challenge

      Alright! Alright! Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here has announced that as a follow-up to the Take A Chance Challenge, she is doing the Take Another Chance Challenge.  This was one of my favorite challenges last year so I'm definitely joining again.  This year there are levels of participation and I'm joining at the high level: Gambling It All: Complete all 12 of the challenges described below. 

      The challenge runs from January 1 to December 21, 2009.

      List will be keep here.

      The 12 Challenges

      Weekly Round-Up 12/7

      Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week and anything of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.

      This week I'm finishing Touching Darkness (Westerfeld), and then I'm reading Let It Snow (Green, Johnson, Myracle) and finishing Random Magic (Soren).  I'm listening to The Wednesday Wars (Schmidt).

      Since last week I've finished The Secret Hour (Westerfeld) and posted a review of The Muppets Christmas Carol. I finished A Christmas Story (Shepherd) and Skipping Christmas Grisham) on audio, but those reviews are coming later.

      From the Library is my weekly listing of what I checked out from the library this week.
      I only got a few this week.

      Touching Darknss (Midnighters #2) - Scott Westerfeld

      (liked The Secret Hour, need to finish this challenge) The Midnighters of Bixby, Oklahoma, know that their town is full of secrets. These five teenagers are the only ones who know about the mysterious hour at midnight when the world freezes, except for them and the creatures that inhabit the darkness.
      But they do not know why earlier generations of Midnighters all disappeared, or why they are now the only Midnighters in town. As they learn more about the secret hour's twists and turns, they uncover terrifying mysteries woven into the very fabric of Bixby's history, and a conspiracy that touches both the midnight hour and the world of daylight.
      At the same time, the Midnighters' own secrets start to emerge, including some that were never meant to come to light, changing the fragile dynamics among the five.

      The Wednesday Wars (audio) - Gary Schmidt, read by Joel Johnstone (Newbery Honor 2008)

      (Jill at the O.W.L. recommended this and said it was funny).Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn't like Holling—he's sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

      Sunday, December 6, 2009

      The Muppet Christmas Carol (Based on a Book)

      The Muppets take on Charles Dickens' classic tale "A Christmas Carol" with their own special twist of course.  Starring Michael Caine as Ebeneezer Scrooge and the cast of the Muppets in various role, this is a fun take on the old story. It follows the Dickens story fairly faithfully and most of Scrooge's dialogue is straight on.  The addition of Charles Dickens (Gonzo) as the narrator is funny.

      It is a musical as Muppet movies usually are, though the songs are less memorable.  I like particulary "It feels like Christmas," a jauntly little tune.  The special effects are well done for 1992 and the Muppets are so great.  Michael Caine makes an excellent Scrooge and I love Miss Piggy's Mrs. Cratchit.

      Friday, December 4, 2009

      E-Book Challenge 2010 - COMPLETE

      This is the other challenge that I've been waiting to join.  I am getting an e-reader (Nook) for Christmas so I'm excited to join the E-Book Challenge hosted by Royal Reviews.

      There are four levels and I'm joining at the -- Fascinated – Read 6 E-Books level.
      Any genre counts.
      You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
      Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.

      So I'll list these as I go.

      1. Very LeFreak - Rachel Cohn
      2. Sister of the Bride - Beverly Cleary
      3. A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett
      4. The Clue in the Diary - Carolyn Keene
      5. Frost Moon - Anthony Francis
      6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Frank L. Baum

      COMPLETED 5/5/2010

      Audio Book Challenge 2010 - COMPLETE

      So this is one of two challenges I've been waiting for.  I joined last year when it was hosted by J.Kaye and now it is hosted by Royal Reviews.  The Audio Book Challenge 2010 is just that, a challenge to listen to audio books.

      There are several levels so I'm joining at the -- Obsessed– Listen to 20 Audio Books level.

      Audio books only.
       You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
      Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.

      I will list them as I go.

      1. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace, read by Sutton Foster
      2. The Great Brain by John Fitzgerald, read by Ron McLarty
      3. A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck, read by Lois Smith
      4. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, read by Jeff Woodman
      5. Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande, read by Kali Vernoff
      6. Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich, read by Lorelei King
      7. Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich, read by Lorelei King
      8. Nancy's Mysterious Letter by Carolyn Keene, read by Jessie Birschbach
      9. The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene, read by Laura Linney
      10. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, read by Anne Bobby
      11. Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich, read by Lorelei King
      12. The Sign of the Twisted Candle by Carolyn Keene, read by Danica Reese
      13. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by by E.L. Konigsburg, read by Jan Miner
      14. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich, read by Lorelei King
      15. Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich, read by Lorelei King
      16. Plum Spooky by Janet Evaonvich, read by Lorelei King
      17. Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn, read by Jon Cryer
      18. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich, read by C.J. Critt
      19. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Jeanna Lamia and David Ledoux
      20. Graceling by Kristen Cashore, narrated by David Baker, read by full cast

      COMPLETED 4/22/2010

      Read Your Name Challenge 2010 - COMPLETE

      I've been wanting to do this challenge for a while, but wanted to wait for the new year. So here it is.  The Read Your Name Challenge is just what it sounds like: Using your first name, or blogger name, or your pets name, or even your favorite literary character's name; whichever you like, choose books with first title letters that spell out your name. (Audio books and eBooks are also okay.)

      Come back here every month if you wish, and leave your link in the Mr. Linky that will be up containing the link to your challenge page containing the books you've read or each review you've written for books that count for this challenge. (Crossovers with other challenges are okay.) I will make a new post for this during the first week of every month.

      The challenge runs from Jan. 1st 2010, to Dec. 31st 2010. You may join at any time.

      I'm going to join using my first name Andrea. So my list will be:

      A - And Another Thing - Eoin Colfer
      N Nothing Pink - Mark Hardy +
      D - Does This Make My Head Look Big - Randa Abdel-Fattah
      R - Rampant - Diana Peterfreund
      E - Envy -  Anna Godbersen
      A - Alice I Have Been - Melanie Benjamin

      *cross over with another challenge

      Thursday, December 3, 2009

      The Secret Hour (Midnighters #1)

      Jessica Day moves to the small town of Bixby, Oklahoma with her family when her mom gets a new job.  At first, everything seems normal.  That is until midnight rolls around and the world around her freezes.  Jessica learns she is a "Midnighter," one of the handful of teens in town who can live in the blue time between midnight and 1 am.  But something about Jessica is different and she attracts trouble in the form of the darklings who live in the blue time, ancient creatures who are out for Jessica.  With the help of the other four Midnighters, Jessica must fight the darklings and learn why they want to kill her so much.

      "Something about you is so ... 11:59.  You don't belong." p.124

      So this is Scott Westerfeld's first young adult book.  I've read all the rest except this series and Leviathan, which just came out.  It was really good and I enjoyed it.  The concept is great though less original than his later books.  It came across as appropriately chilling and suspenseful and occasionally funny and moved along at a nice pace.  I liked Jessica and Jonathan and Dess and I'm not real sure about Melissa but Rex was okay.  I've always found the idea of ancient creatures intriguing (must be why I'm a Buffy fan) and the mythology is great in this book without being too overwhelming, just enough to tantalize. I got a good image out of the book and I could definitely see it as a movie.

      Wednesday, December 2, 2009

      Cover - Passing Strange

      Daniel Waters recently announced the cover of the third Generation Dead book, Passing Strange.  I really liked it but it freaks me out a little because I fairly certain that those are the twins from America's Next Top Model.  If not, then that girl looks a hell of a lot like them. 

      The Nancy Drew Challenge - COMPLETE

      Now I have a well known Nancy Drew addiction.  Once I became obsessed with her and read everything I could on her character and history so I can't resist this challenge.
      Deborah at Books, Movies and Chinese Food is hosting The Nancy Drew Challenge where participants are encouraged to read all 56 original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories.

      Here are the guidelines:
      • Only the yellow hardback versions of the books count
      • Audio and e-books are allowed
      • Re-reads count and you can count ones you've read in the past
      • Reviews are not required
      • Crossovers are allowed
      • You don't need a blog to participate
      • .The dates for the challenge are January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.
      I doubt I will review all of them because there are only 52 weeks in a year and 56 books.  But then again I might.

      COMPLETED 1/1/2011

      1.   The Secret of the Old Clock
      2.   The Hidden Staircase
      3.   The Bungalow Mystery
      4.   The Mystery at Lilac Inn
      5.   The Secret of Shadow Ranch
      6.   The Secret of Red Gate Farm
      7.   The Clue in the Diary
      8.   Nancy's Mysterious Letter
      9.   The Sign of the Twisted Candles
      10. The Password to Larkspur Lane
      11. The Clue of the Broken Locket
      12. The Message in the Hollow Oak
      13. The Mystery of the Ivory Charm
      14. The Whispering Statue
      15. The Haunted Bridge
      16. The Clue of the Tapping Heels
      17. The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk
      18. Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion
      19. The Quest of the Missing Map
      20. The Clue in the Jewel Box
      21. The Secret in the Old Attic
      22. The Clue in the Crumbling Wall
      23. The Mystery of the Tolling Bell
      24. The Clue in the Old Album
      25. The Ghost of Blackwood Hall
      26. The Clue of the Leaning Chimney
      27. The Secret of the Wooden Lady
      28. The Clue of the Black Keys
      29. The Mystery at the Ski Jump
      30. The Clue of the Velvet Mask
      31. The Ringmaster's Secret
      32. The Scarlet Slipper Mystery
      33. The Witch Tree Symbol
      34. The Hidden Window Mystery
      35. The Haunted Showboat
      36. The Secret of the Golden Pavilion
      37. The Clue in the Old Stagecoach
      38. The Mystery of the Fire Dragon
      39. The Clue of the Dancing Puppet
      40. The Moonstone Castle Mystery
      41. The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes
      42. The Phantom of Pine Hill
      43. The Mystery of the 99 Steps
      44. The Clue in the Crossword Cipher
      45. The Spider Sapphire Mystery
      46. The Invisible Intruder
      47. The Mysterious Mannequin
      48. The Crooked Banister
      49. The Secret of Mirror Bay
      50. The Double Jinx Mystery
      51. Mystery of the Glowing Eye
      52. The Secret of the Forgotten City
      53. The Sky Phantom
      54. The Strange Message in the Parchment
      55. Mystery of Crocodile Island
      56. The Thirteenth Pearl