Tuesday, November 30, 2010

REVIEW: The Lost Hero Read it or the Greek gods may smote you!

Riordan, R.  (2010).  The Lost Hero.  New York:  Disney Hyperion Books.

553 pages.

Appetizer:  When Jason wakes up in a school bus, he has no idea how he got there or who he is.  His friend Leo and girlfriend (surprise!) Piper try to fill him in on the last several months before exploring the Grand Canyon as a part of their class trip.

But before the trio can see the sights, they're attacked by a monster of mythic proportions.  They manage to survive with the help of Annabeth (famous for being Percy Jackson's girlfriend), who had arrived just in time to save them in the hopes that she would find Percy; who is missing.

Even worse, all of the gods of Olympus appear to be missing.  Hera seems to be trapped somewhere.  It's almost the solstice, when the gods are at their weakest.  AND it looks like The Great Prophecy (shared at the end of the last Percy Jackson novel) might be unfolding.

I don't think it could get any worse.  How could all these problem be solved?  A quest, of course.

So, my initial description sounds a little convoluted.  That's because the plot of this book is kind of complex.  The story is split to be shared in Jason, Piper and Leo's perspectives after every two chapters.  All three characters have dark aspects to their pasts.  Jason can't remember most of his life, but he is particularly skilled at speaking Latin (while most of the other demigods know Greek).  Piper is being told in her dreams that she must betray everyone that she cares about.  And Leo has lost his mother.

It's very interesting having to explore this book from three different perspectives and having much of the protagonists' pasts be mysteries.  It's a real departure from the Percy Jackson series, in which I felt like I knew everything about Percy as a character.

Having said that though, at several moments, I had trouble feeling some of the emotional tensions of the story.  As a part of their quest, Piper and Leo want to get back their coach who had been captured.  Since he was captured at the start of the book, I couldn't emphasize with the emotions or see how the coach was such an important person in their lives.

I had a similar reaction to when Leo's supposed jealousy of Jason comes to a head.  Sure, Riordan had dropped a subtle hint or two that there might be an underlying tension, but I didn't feel it.  Later in the book the tension was definitely there, long after the supposed-dramatic face-off was already over.  Meh.

Also, having the narrative split among three characters did make it more difficult for me to get into the story.  I felt like it took at least 100-ish pages for the story to start to roll.

After those first 100 pages though, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Hero.  In this book there are tensions between the Greek and Roman understandings of the gods and some mortal villains from myth manage to make some re-appearances.  I couldn't wait to get to the explanation of what exactly was going on.  (And wait I had to!  I'd figured out who the bad guy was looooooooong before I had any understanding of Jason's background.)

As a Midwesterner, I was thoroughly excited that this quest featured the midwest.  YAY!   I also like that the book was more multiculturally inclusive:  a Latino, Leo, and a Native American (Cherokee), Piper, were two of the heroes.  One of my biggest complaints about the Percy Jackson series was that the central cast all appeared white.  (Of course, when they turned it into a movie, they did cast an African American actor as Grover, the satyr.  I'm sure the thought process was:  Yes, let's take the character that is marked and physically different and part-animal and make him black. *Rolls eyes*  sigh.  That, my friends, is racial inclusivity at its worst.

Excuse the blurriness of the photo to the left.  I couldn't find a photo of Grover to my liking online, so I actually had to rewatch the movie.  I kind of like that it's blurry.  It makes it seem like I took the photo in the wilds of Camp Half-Blood.  It's kind of like a blurry photo of Sasquatch or an alien space ship.  I could have a future in the conspiracy industry.

(Random note:  As I was looking for a photo of Grover, I happened upon this gem of a picture.  One of my favorite actors, and the most redeeming aspect of the The Lightning Thief movie, Kevin McKidd reading the first PJ novel!  Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaart it!  Thank you, Poseidon!)

Focus, brain!

So, yeah.  Yay, The Lost Hero.  Bring on the next book (called Son of Neptune)!  I'm so glad that it will be coming out in 2011, so it won't have to be a part of my dissertation.  Every time, Riordan publishes a new book I have to revamp two or three chapters of Dudley the Budding Dissertation.

Dinner Conversation:

"Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day.
He woke in the backseat of a school bus, not sure where he was, holding hands with a girl he didn't know. That wasn't necessarily the rotten part.  The girl was cute, but he couldn't figure out who she was or what he was doing there.  He sat up and rubbed his eyes, trying to think" (p. 3).

"She had a vision telling her to come here, to find a guy with one shoe.  That was supposed to be the answer to her problem."
"What problem?" Piper asked.
"She's been looking for one of our campers, who's been missing three days," Butch said.  "She's going out of her mind with worry.  She hoped he'd be here."
"Who?" Jason asked.
"Her boyfriend," Butch said.  "A guy named Percy Jackson" (p. 31).

"Starting about a month ago, Olympus fell silent.  The entrance closed, and no one could get in.  Nobody knows why.  IT's like the gods have sealed themselves off.  Even my mom won't answer my prayers, and our camp director, Dionysus, was recalled" (p. 63).

"Real Greek warships moored at the beach that sometimes had practice fights with flaming arrows and explosives?  Sweet!  Arts & crafts sessions where you could make sculptures with chain saws and blowtorches?  Leo was like, Sign me up!  The woods were stocked with dangerous monsters, and no one should ever go in there alone?  Nice!  And the camp was overflowing with fine-looking girls.  Leo didn't quite understand the whole related-to-the-gods business, but he hoped that didn't mean he was cousins with all these ladies.  That would suck.  At the very least, he wanted to check out those underwater girls in the lake again.  They were definitely worth drowning for" (p. 66).

"Olympus is closed.  Percy's disappeared.  Hera sends you a vision and you come back with three new demigods in one day.  I mean, something weird is going on.  The Great Prophecy has started, right?" (pp. 121-122).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Literary Feast Discussion: Hush, Hush (Chapters 1-5)

Few But Dear Readers, I was denied a great beauty.  When my copy of hush, hush arrived in the mail it lacked a dust jacket.  I was depressed.  Where was my pretty?

I almost couldn't get over it.  My suffering was so great.

Only Monica's promise that we would read the book together managed to rouse me.

Our thoughts about the first five chapters are below.  Feel free to leave your insights about hush, hush in the comments.

Shel:  Tell me, who describes herself as a "smoky-eyed brunette with volumes of curly hair that holds its own against even the best flatiron.  And I'm all legs, like a bar stool" (p. 9).  Well written, good imagery.  I've just never heard someone say, "Hi, I'm a smoky-eyed brunette" before.

Monica:  I’m not going to lie, it’s kind of refreshing to have a character describe herself good looking, for all that she follows it up with a description of how much better looking her bestie is.  I’m so used to the Bella-type descriptions, “OMG am so disgustingly plain and ugly, how could anyone like me, oh look, yet another ridiculously attractive man is drooling all up in my business….”

Shel:  This is true.  But of course, Nora still manages to be uncoordinated.  Apparently we can't have it all.  I have to say, from first meeting Patch is rocking the creepy vibe.  Why must stalkers be presented as sexy?  Why must this be a trend?  

Monica:  Say it with me, girls!  Stalking!  Is!  Not!  Sexy!  If there is a man who is a) watching you sleep, b) staring at you in a bizarre fashion for any length of time, c) telling you disturbingly accurate personal information about yourself, or d) expressing that you’re “Not what he expected” whilst gazing into your eyes and looking like he wants to eat you, GET AWAY FROM HIM AND CALL SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP.  Like Buffy.  Or Harry Dresden.

Shel:  If possible, I'd have Buffy on my speed dial.  I think when we finish this book we're going to have to add it to our Stalker Scale.  *claps*  Also, why the name Patch?  It makes me think of a stuffed dog.

Monica:  I’m assuming “Patch” is short for something, like Apatchapherialazaringal, and we’ll learn about in the presumably-upcoming big reveal.

Shel:  You're probably right.  But don't be too surprised if in the meantime I start referring to him as Patches and start cooing about his fuzzy little ears.  Who's a good puppy?  Muh-muh-muh.

Monica:  Wrong genre, Shel!  He’s not a werewolf, he’s a… actually, I don’t know exactly what he is, yet.  I assume some angely-type critter……

Shel:  Such an awkward classroom conversation.  What are your top three qualities for a potential mate?  Here are mine:  gentle...dumb...and easily manipulated.  Where does that leave the future of humanity?  That biology class needs to rebel against that coach/teacher.

Monica:  Dude, I’m finding the coach fairly stalkerish as well, really.  He seems to be breaking any number of classroom conduct rules.  I don’t care what he’s told them; I would be recording Biology like it was my job, via both video and a hidden microphone feed, and if he tried to take them away, I’d shriek about constitutional rights until he either left me alone or let me drop the class.  (This is obviously a function of me reading way too many Bruce Coville books as a child.  I am perpetually ready to assume that my teacher is out to get me.)

Shel:  I'd have a back-up microphone in my bag, just in case one of yours fails to record.  So, how threatened do you think Nora actually feels?  Like, I get the bad boy thing generally.  But if I actually felt threatened by a crush, I think in that moment he would stop being my crush.  Patch certainly is king of making a girl uncomfortable.  I wouldn't want to be his biology partner.

Monica:  Apparently it’s hot when a guy makes you want to hide under your desk?  Seriously, though, Nora.  If a guy makes you uncomfortable, stay away from him.  If the guy makes you uncomfortable and the professor refuses to allow you to stay away from him, contact a person in a position of authority.  What the heck is this book teaching young girls about protecting themselves!?!?

Shel:  I do not know.  And I really don't understand the motive for wanting to write such creepy, icky, fiends as the good guys.  I like a little romantic escape as much as the next girl, but that doesn't mean I want to see the female protagonists abandon their ability to, you know, manage their own bodies and decisions.  I do like Vee and her rapport with Nora, though.  It entertains.

Monica:  I also sympathize with Vee’s diet.  All fruits and vegetables on a color wheel of sorrow?  No thank you.  ;)

One does wonder, though, at what point she’s going to suggest to Nora that Stalker Patch is *not* endearing but rather creeptastic.  That’s kind of a best friend’s job, don’t you think?

Shel:  I don't know, I think she is crushing on Patch too.  I think she's more likely to be jealous.

Monica:  Girls, girls.  Fight over someone who seems like he’s worth it…..

Okay, cool cats and hot dogs, that's it for now.  Never fear, the next course in our literary feast will (hopefully!) post on Thursday.  Probably.  We'll be reading chapters 6-12.

This doesn't mean the discussion of hush, hush has to be put on hold until then.  Let us know what you think of the book!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Another 2011 Challenge Accepted: Read five historical novels in 2011

I know I just wrote about how I'd accepted a challenge for 2011 a few days ago.

And now I've decided to accept another one.  HAHAHA!  Aren't I optimistic about 2011?!

I know these posts are close together, but the challenge organizers like to see the post informing you, Few But Dear Readers, of my plans.

It's almost as though someone doesn't trust me to come through on my promises.  (See m non-existent, twitter story about...something...a mermaid?  I don't remember.)

Any-hoo, in 2011 I am going to try to read 5 historical novels intended for children or young adults.  I think this should be very do-able.  Possibly.  Most likely.

This challenge is sponsored by YA Bliss.  If you click on the link, you'll notice that I chose the option that involved the fewest number of historical novels.  I call this "the slacker level."  That is me!

While the books don't have to be published in 2011, I may try to sing at two birds with one tweet (yay!  my own non-violent version of an idiom that is nonsensical!) by reading a couple of historical books that will be published next year to save myself some time.  Because I iz smortz.

See, you in 2011!  *Does some more fist pumps*  My arms are going to be looking goooooo-ooooood.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Blog Challenge! Because Life Isn't Difficult Enough: Debut Author Challenge

Hello again, Few But Dear Readers!

How was your turkey/tofurkey day?

I would still be in a food coma, but the 2011 Debut Author Challenge at The Story Siren energized me.

Over the next year, I'm going to do my best-est to try and read and review (at least!  Cause y'all know I may be able to read more, right?) 12 novels by young adult and children's authors debuting in 2011.

I don't know which books I'll be reading just yet.  I'll try to pick a January release out as my chosen book within the coming weeks.

So, Few But Dear Readers, bring on the challenge!!!!!  *pumps fist in the air!  Woo-hoo!*  ...In January... *decides to give my arm a break for another month*

Thursday, November 25, 2010

REVIEW: Alchemy and Meggy Swann

Cushman, K.  (2010).  Alchemy and Meggy Swann.  New York:  Clarion Books.

Hark!  Mistress Cushman, you are a luminous scribe, a queen who is greatly skilled at abracadra to summon your reader across ages back into the days of....

That's enough of making your eyes suffer and bleed by me writing super ol' school.  What was I trying to say there?  Cushman is AMAZING at allowing her readers to enter into the past.  Cushman uses historical vocabulary, tries to maintain the authentic voice of her characters and the keeps the worldview of the 1500s and still manages to make her books interesting and relatable.

Appetizer:  Meggy Swann has just arrived in London to live with her father.  Her mother didn't want her.  And it would seem her father would have preferred a boy who could serve him instead of a girl who felt pain with every step.

As Meggy adjusts to life in London and struggles to get around on her crutches to find food for herself and her goose, Louise, her father hides himself away in his workroom, trying to transform metal into gold and find the elixir for immortality.

When Meggie stumbles upon the fact that her father may be connected to a plot to assassinate a noble person, readers can reflect on what they would do if they were in Meggie's position, facing her difficult choice.

The fact that Meggie is sent to be raised by a single-parent is a modern parallel that a lot of readers could relate to.  Plus, the fact that Meggie had to deal with bilateral hip dysplasia can begin a lot of great conversations about the history of medicine and the way that people with disability have been discriminated against in the past (and now!).  Also, since Cushman's Author's Note does a great job of exploring how the study of alchemy would lead the way toward scientific inquiry and the study of chemistry.

I'd actually consider pairing Alchemy and Meggy Swann with the first Harry Potter book to compare both the fantasy and history of alchemy.

To go a Language Arts direction, I'd also use the book to study ballads and have my students write their own.

I enjoyed the book.  As I attempted to say in my bad Elizabethan English, I was very impressed by the way Cushman managed to draw me into the story.  For the past several months, I'd felt like I'd lost my ability to engage with historical novels, but this book proved that not all hope was lost.

I really liked Meggy's struggle to try to understand her father and to try to know how to reveal the assassination plot without putting someone she cares about at risk.

BTW, "Ye toads and vipers" will now be a regular part of my vocabulary.  I also plan to start calling annoying people Master or Mistress Peevish.  You should be prepared for me to say these things to you, World.

Dinner Conversation:

"Ye toads and vipers," the girl said, as her granny often had, "ye toads and vipers," and she snuffled a great snuffles that echoed in the empty room" (p. 1).

"Her name was Margret Swann, but her gran had called her Meggy, and she was newly arrived from Millford village, a day's ride away.  The bit of London she had seen was all soot and slime, noise and stink, and its streets were narrow and dark.  Now she was imprisoned in this strange little house on Crooked Lane.  Crooked Lane.  How the carter had laughed when he learned their destination" (p. 2).

"I do not allow beggars at my house" was the first thing he said to her.  "Begone and clear my doorstep."
"Pray pardon, sir, we are not beggars," the carter had told him.  "If you be Master Ambrose this be your daughter, come at your bidding" (p. 7).

"Just what does he do in the rooms upstairs?
He searches for the aqua vitae, the elixir of life that can rid substances of their impurities and make all things perfect."  Roger took another bite of bread.  "Transformation, he says it is, changing things in their essence."
"And that will turn metal into gold?"
Roger nodded.
You have seen him do it?" Meggy asked.
"Nay, he still has not the method, although he swears he is close to finding it" (p. 20).

Tasty Rating:  !!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

REVIEW: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Kinigsburg, E.L.  (1967).  From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  New York:  Aladdin Paperbacks.

162 pages.

As a child, I always meant to read The Mixed-Up Files.  I just never got around to it.  The same was true when I was an adult.

It took my students choosing it as a class read to finally getting around to reading it.

And as I started the book, I wished I'd gotten around to it much sooner.  From the first page I as entertained by Claudia's characterization.

Appetizer:  Claudia Kincaid, the oldest of four children, has decided to run away.  But the detail-oriented girl refuses to do it in the ordinary way.  She plots and plans, saves money and chooses one of her little brothers--who compliments her well--to join her in escaping to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Her and Jamie work as a team to mange how to get food, find a place to sleep and do laundry.
When a new exhibit of a small angel statue is put on display, Claudia can't help but be drawn in by the mystery of the sculpture and wants her and Jamie to to solve the mystery of whether or not Michelangelo sculpted it.

I like how practical the book is.  Konigsburg makes a point of dealing with all of the issues about how the Claudia and Jamie spent their money (got more money), remained hidden from the museum security and spent their time.

(Of course, including these practical issues also dates the text since the value of a dollar has inflated so much.  It's hard to imagine a train ticket, a meal, etc. ever being as cheap as they are in the book.  Plus, the siblings don't have to contend with any high-tech security systems that a runaway of today might face...not that I've given this thought and am considering running away to a museum.  Not at all.)

Hello, Columbus Museum of Art....

You are a nice museum, aren't you?

No.  No plans to run away to the museum.  None at all.

I mean, who would feed my cats while I was gone?

While the four students who chose to read the book (alas, this is the problem between having students pick between reading a novel and a picturebook, almost all of them chose the picturebook) enjoyed it, as a group we failed to address one of the biggest potential problems of the text.  The fact that the main characters run away and the messages that sends (while Claudia and Jamie do feel a little homesick, the reader is almost entirely denied seeing the grief that their family experienced at their disappearance).

The easiest argument is to say that the book provides the reader with a sense of escape and that no reader will actually be inspired to run away based on reading the book.  And I don't really have any thoughts to add to that argument since there aren't any statistics on children who were inspired by 1960s children's literature to leave home and camp-out at a national museum.

Dinner Conversation:

"You never knew that I could write this well, did you?  Of course, you don't actually know yet, but you soon will.  I've spent a lot of time on this file.  I listened.  I investigated, and I fitted all the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle.  It leaves no doubts.  Well, Saxonberg, read and discover" (p. 3).

"Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away.  That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her back.  She didn't like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient:  all those insect and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes.  Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere.  To a large place, a comfortable place.  And that's why she decided upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City" (p. 5).

"I want you, Jamie, for the greatest adventure in our lives."
Jamie muttered, "Well, I wouldn't mind if you'd pick on someone else."
"Claudia looked out the window and didn't answer.  Jamie said, "As long as you've got me here, tell me" (p. 13).

"This was all Claudia needed.  Something that had been smoldering inside her since she first saw the statue, that had been fed by the Times article, now flared into an idea.
"Jamie, let's do it now.  Let's skip learning everything about everything in the museum.  Let's concentrate on the statue" (p. 62)

Tasty Rating:  !!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Literary Feast Invitation: Hush, Hush

Hi friends! We're back, having recovered from the stress of werewolves, sisterly angst, and unrequited longing for scarred subway drum players brought about by Sisters Red. Now, energy restored, we've decided to hit up yet another bastion of angst and unrequited longing -- namely, Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush.

To be fair, I haven't actually read it before. I'm just assuming the angst and longing from the description on the flap:

A Sacred Oath.
A Fallen Angel.
A Forbidden Love.

Apparently Average Student Nora Grey finds herself irresistibly drawn to the obnoxious but mysterious Patch. Terror and mistrust ensues, along with An Ancient Battle and a Way Unsettling Truth. And presumably lots of romance.

Plus, guys, I'm having kind of a crush moment with the front cover. Take this in, in all its glory.
How can you not want that to fall directly into your lap!? Granted, I'm not completely sure what's up with the guy's lumpy-bumpy left shoulder, but we'll ignore that in favor of drooling. Shel, you up for drooling?

So grab yourself a copy of the book -- we'll be reading up to page 80 (or the end of chapter five, for those of you who dislike page numbers) and will report back next Monday. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get my forbidden love on.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

REVIEW: Troy High

Norris, S.  (2010).  Troy High.  New York:  Amulet Books.

Appetizer:  In this modern retelling of The Iliad, sophomore Cassie Prince has always been in the shadows of her popular, football playing brothers, Hunter and Perry at Troy High.  She's in-like with her best friend Greg (a student at the rival high school, Lacede) and wants to be popular.

When the beautiful girlfriend of Greg's older brother, Elena Argos, has to transfer from Lacede to Troy due to redistricting, knowing Elena could be Cassie's one chance to become popular.  All she has to do is lie for Elena and help her to win Perry's affections.

But when Elena doesn't handle her break-up with her Lacede boyfriend in the best way possible, what has been a school rivalry for 50 years turns into all out warfare that Cassie fears will lead to ruin.

I was really surprised how easily the plot of The Iliad leant itself to teenage drama, especially when focusing on the romantic entanglements.  That was pretty awesome.

While I found the book enjoyable, I wasn't blown away by it.  I thought the writing was so-so (especially when compared to the oral epic it is based upon) and when Norris tried to use metaphors of warriors to describe the football players, it felt very forced.  (Plus, there were several pages of intense football description, which made me tilt my head to a side and ask, "Say, what's happenin' now?").

Nothing about Cassie's character or voice really impressed me.  (But given the fact that she was based on Cassandra the seer, living up to the expectation was difficult.)  I did find a few of her interactions with Greg to be cute (see the last quotation in the dinner conversation for an example).

Elena/Helen was annoying (but she often is) and Achilles/Ackley is barely memorable.

I also thought the ending was a little too quick for me.  I won't give spoilers, but some people were too quick to forgive some incidents and other people remained unpunished for other incidents.  I did not likey.

On the plus side, the book did make me want to reread The Iliad.  Or watch Troy (Brad Pitt!).  Whichever.

Troy time!

Smile, Achilles.  Smile!

Dinner Conversation:

"It was a late Sunday afternoon when I kissed my best friend.
We had been playing our favorite video game, Martial Battle 2, in his parents' den.  Playing video games was something we did a lot.  Kissing was not" (p. 1).

"So, tomorrow's the big day," he said as he selected his next fighter.  "We go back to being enemies again."
I rolled my eyes.  "I can hardly wait."
Every school had a bit of a rivalry with other schools, but the one between Lacede High and Troy High was legendary.  It made sense, I suppose, that our mascots were the Spartans and Trojans, respectively.  Just as the Greeks and Trojans battled thousands of years ago, our schools fought wars on the football field" (p. 2).

"The second reason the rivalry had grown so huge this year was that over the summer the board of education had redrawn the school district lines to help ease overcrowding at Lacede.  Which meant that some of the Lacede students would now be attending Troy High, starting tomorrow.
And the most beautiful girl at Lacede, Elena Argos, was one of those students" (p. 9).

"You haven't broken up with Lucas?  But I thought you were so crazy over Perry?"
"I am," Elena said.  "I'm going to break up with Lucas before I go out with Perry.  I promise.  Don't worry, Cassie, I'll treat your brother right.
It wasn't my brother I was worried about" (p. 52).

"Tell your brother that he has no idea what he's started.  Steal from me, and you have to deal with every Spartan wanting revenge" (p. 69).

"Who's going to make sure you get back home okay then?" I asked.
Greg puffed out his chest.  "I can take care of myself."
"And I can't?" I asked.  "What do you think I am, some defenseless little girl?"
"Sorry," Greg said, rolling his eyes.  "I didn't mean to offend you.  What I meant to say was, let me ride home with you so that I can protect innocent pedestrians from making the mistake of thinking that they could easily overpower a ninja disguised as a five-foot-tall, one-hundred-pound girl" (pp. 144-145).

Tasty Rating:  !!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

REVIEW: The Outsiders

Hinton, S.E.  (1967).  The Outsiders.  New York:  Speak.

180 pages.

To start this post I need to tell you a secret, internetz.  I know most would say it is unwise to share a secret on the internetz, but I think in this case it will be okay.

*Looks around for people who might be eavesdropping*

I haven't read The Outsiders before now.

I know, I know.  That pretty much makes me a YA failure, but never fear.  I am no longer a failure.

Appetizer:  Ponyboy (yes that is his legal name) and his friends are outsiders.  They're from the wrong side of town, they wear their hair long and everyone judges them on sight.  They're the greasers and they are constantly at war against the privileged Socs who live on the other side of town.

When a gang rumble goes wrong, Ponyboy and his friend, Johnny, wind up on the run, with their futures uncertain.

Okay, so over the past couple of years, a handful of students have raved about this book, and I doubted I would share their love.  I'd seen the movie.  I could barely pay attention to it.  Despite the fact that there were a lot of famous actors in the cast, I could keep the boys straight and couldn't remember their names.  (Sidenote--In the introduction to the "platinum edition" of the book, Hinton writes that the actors were a "group of sweet, goofy, incredibly talented and at the same time incredibly normal teenage boys."  *snort*  What happened, Tom Cruise?)

When my students chose to read The Outsiders, I pretty much assumed I would have to suffer through reading it.

Surprisingly, that was not the case.

It took a little while, I initially had to laugh through some of the slang, the fact that Ponyboy described how he wished he looked like Paul Newman, etc. but then I got to the first scene with Cherry Valance (Oh, what a name!) and I somehow got into it.  It was easy to get into the book on an emotional level and feel the frustration of Ponyboy and the other greasers.  This book rings of truth.  I couldn't help but feel for Johnny.

Based on the movie and some of my students' assignments, I had a general memory of the plot, except for the fact that I didn't remember who died when (see the part about not being able to keep the character's names straight--and that was still a problem as I read.  I mean, Dally and Darry?  Come on!  I won't be able to tell those two apart without cues.)

I wouldn't say I thought the book was perfect.  There were some moments when I felt the book told me things instead of showed me.  Plus, with presenting it to younger readers, the danger of the book seeming dated is very real.  But I think if a teacher focuses on the emotional truths he or she can still manage to reach a lot of reluctant readers.

Dinner Conversation:

"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind:  Paul Newman and a ride home.  I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman--he looks tough and I don't--but I guess my own looks aren't so bad" (p. 1).

"So Dally, even though he could get into a good fight sometimes, had no specific thing to hate.  No rival gang.  Only Socs.  And you can't win against them no matter how hard you try, because they've got all the breaks and even whipping them isn't going to change that fact.  Maybe that was why Dallas was so bitter" (p. 11).

"Why did the Socs hate us so much?  We left them alone.  I nearly went to sleep over my homework trying to figure it out" (pp. 16-17).

"You take up for your buddies, no matter what they do.  When you're a gang, you stick up for the members.  If you don't stick up for them, stick together, make like brothers, it isn't a gang any more.  It's a pack.  A snarling, distrustful, bickering pack like the Socs in their social clubs or the street gangs in New York or the wolves in the timber" (p. 26).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

REVIEW: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Angleberger, T.  (2010).  The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.  New York:  Abrams.

141 pages.

Few but Dear Readers, I kid you not, when I saw this book's cover online, I had to buy it.  I didn't even read the book's description.  I just boooouuuuuuught it.  And then I read it.  And then I assigned it to my students.

As a child, I spent a coud three-ish years obsessed with the original Star Wars series.

Appetizer:  To record the strange events of their school year, Tommy and a couple of his sixth grade friends put together a case study to determine whether the finger puppet made and used by an odd by named Dwight was really channeling the wisdom of Yoda or whether Dwight was sharing his own opinions and hitting on truths by chance.

Despite the fact that the book is set in middle school (6th grade), and that some "does he like me?" "Does she like me?" "Should I ask her to dance?" potential romances are at the heart of the story, Origami Yoda is very popular with a younger set of kids.  Like second grade younger.  (And it makes sense.  The stories are episodic, which is good for read alouds with that age.)

I LOOOOOOOOOOVED this book!  For realsies!  Loved!  It's a fast fun read.  As I was going through it, I was SUPER impressed at how well Tom Angleberger captured a sense of childhood with his characters.

I liked the book is about a pseudo-anthropological study to try to understand that "weird" boy in the class.  (And what school doesn't have a least one odd little duckling?)  I like that the book included so many different voices (all though, all the different characters do have the potential to be overwhelming, especially since so many of them are introduced in the second chapter).

There are a lot of fun ways to use this book.  There are A LOT of characters (29 by my count) so each student in the class can pick a character to become an expert on.  Students could also have debates about whether or not they think Origami Yoda was real.

Also, I gave my students the extra credit option of making their own origami yodas.  You'd be surprised at how many of them took up the option:


Here's a video of the author introducing how to make one:

Of course, there is one potential drawback to using this book?  What about those poor peeps who haven't seen or have no interest in Star Wars?  While this book can entertain a select group of readers on sight, it can send others running at the mere idea.

A few of my own students complained about having to be seen reading the book, since the cover so clearly included Yoda.  (I personally have lost all sense of shame at being caught reading potentially embarrassing books, no matter the cover.)

Dinner Conversation:

"The big question:  Is Origami Yoda real?
Well, of course he's real.  I mean, he's a real finger puppet made out of a real piece of paper.
But I mean:  Is he REAL?  Does he really know things?  Can he see the future?  Does he use the Force?
Or is he just a hoax that fooled a whole bunch of us at McQuarrie Middle School?" (p. 1).

"Now, we had all seen Origami Yoda before, but this was the first time Dwight had asked us to talk to it.  It was a historic moment, but I didn't know it then.
"Would you put that away?" hissed Harvey.  "You're making us all look like losers."
"Fine," said Dwight, and he started to walk away.  "I just thought Tommy needed some help."
"He needs all the help he can get," said Kellen.  "What's your advice?"
"I don't have any advice," said Dwight.  "But Origami Yoda does."
Then Dwight wiggled the finger puppet and made this weird, squeaky voice:
"Rush in fools do" (pp. 12-13).

"So, basically, Origami Yoda saved my butt!
That's when I started listening to Origami Yoda, and eventually a lot of other people did, too." (p. 15).

"...Except that to figure out Origami Yoda, I've also got to figure out Dwight.  And I've got to figure out if Dwight is trying to trick me for being a jerk to him sometimes" (p. 39).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

REVIEW: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

Kinney, J.  (2010).  Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  The Ugly Truth.  New York:  Amulet Books.

217 pages.

Appetizer:  When I think about The Ugly Truth, the fifth installment in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, I'm probably just going to refer to it as "the puberty one."

Greg seemed more concerned with aging in this book, as he had to attend a sex-ed lesson in school, received a book on puberty and a stick of deodorant gift wrapped from his mother and his father pressured him to try to take on more responsibility.

The book begins with Rowley refusing to be Greg's friend (once again).  As to what they were fighting about I had no idea.  I probably would have looked it up in Dog Days, but that book was all the way over there in my office at school and I was reading The Ugly Truth all the way over here in my home.  So, I had to start out confused.  (Side note--I'm also too lazy to check my own review for Dog Days to see if I left any hints about what happened.  This is why I fail as a book blogger.)

Luckily, there was a lot of other stuff going on with Greg to keep me distracted:  Greg's mother has decided to go back to school, meaning Greg, his older brother, Rodrick, and his dad have to help around the house and that they have to hire a maid (who may not be doing the best job ever).

My favorite scene was where Greg's dad had to help him with his math homework instead of his mom:

Greg also tries out for a role in an ice cream ad campaign, stays at a school overnight lock-in, have a role in a family wedding and receive "the talk" from his grandmother.

I enjoyed the book, but I have to say that my appreciation was back down to how I felt about the first two books.  Greg was still a selfish character (but I'm not holding my breath for that to change.  Besides, it's kind of nice to have a character who never learns his lesson).  The Ugly Truth also lacked the critiques of classic children's books and authors that I had found so hilarious in a couple of the past books.

Plus, I (again) had some trouble with the way gender was constructed.  When Greg's mom decided to go back to school, I was super excited.  But then Greg has a conversation with another student, Chirag Gupta, and there was kind of this expectation that it's better for a mom to stay at home (p. 120).  (Where are the stay-at-home dads?!)  Then, *spoiler* at the end of the book, after one semester Greg's mom decides to put "her academic career "on hold" for a while and spend more time with the family" (p. 214.).


I know it's just one character.  But there's never really been much of the way of dynamic female characters in the series (which is why they had to awkwardly insert Chloe Moretz into the movie version after her success as Hit-Girl in the movie Kick-Ass.

If only she'd still been playing the same character.

"What's that, Greg?  Fregley is chasing you around his house, threatening to touch you with his booger? Well, he won't have boogers, a nose, an arm or feet to chase you with ever again after Hit-Girl is done with him."

Dinner Conversation:

"It's been almost two and a half weeks since me and my ex-best friend, Rowley Jefferson, had our big fight.  To be honest with you, I thought he would've come crawling back to me by now, but for some reason, that hasn't happened.
I'm actually starting to get a little concerned, because school starts back up in a few days, and if we're gonna get this friendship back on track, something needs to happen quick" (p. 1).

"So, it's only been a few days without Mom, and things are already starting to fall apart.  We've got one serious injury so far, and who knows what's in store down the road" (p. 60).

And one of my favorite images:

Tasty Rating:  !!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The YA Fiction Factory. Would Someone Please Shut it down for being Inhumane!

So, over the past few days, some drama has been redirected at James Frey (of truth vs. fiction in memoir fame).

To be honest, when all of the drama went down several years ago, I felt pretty bad for him.   I am one of those people who thinks that the way you present a memory can be highly interpretative.  Plus, when I learned that he'd originally tried to publish his manuscript as fiction, I viewed him as a victim of circumstance (and Oprah).

If you may recall, Monica and I figured out that James Frey had worked on the YA book I Am Number Four.  We did a literary feast with that book since the premise seemed so interesting and we. tore. that. book. to pieces.  Pieces.

Well, in a recent Wall Street Journal article that has been making the rounds, Frey describes a YA writers' "factory" that he has formed.  He comes up with an idea for a series, then contracts an author to do the actual writing.  The contract language describes how Frey still owns the story and that he may or may not given the authors credit.

I find this all pretty disturbing.  (And I'm not alone.)

While I had thought that I Am Number Four was pretty much a piece of crap and I had trouble understanding how a group of people (two authors, editor, marketers in the publishing house, etc.) could have all come together and produced something so awful (and then gotten a movie deal on top of it), the fact that the book wasn't actually born of a partnership is upsetting to me.  I can't quite name why.

I feel like a bunch of authors should form a picket line in front of Frey's house.  Since the factory doesn't really exist.

On the plus side, there is a bit of humor to all this drama.  I find it utterly laughable that Frey thinks that he might be the author to be as esteemed as J.K. Rowling was for the Harry Potter series.  And that this might be the way to accomplish that possibility.

No.  Just no.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Literary Feast Discussion: Sisters Red (The End!)

Okay, so I don't even remember when I said we'd post our final comments.  How late are we?


I wish I had a good excuse...but I don't.

Check out our final thoughts about Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red.  Keep in mind, spoilers abound.  Read at your own risk!

Shel: And Silas is back in the running for being evil-bad-guy. Color me completely unsurprised. I KNEW IT! *Spikes the football or whatever and does a victory dance*

Monica: I’m not sure if you can do a victory dance if you were totally unsurprised… you should definitely fake a little bit of “OMG, I can’t believe it! I cannot believe that my totally unsubstantiated and wild and crazy thought could POSSIBLY come true!!” And then do the dance. With jazz hands.

Shel: I'm all about the jazz hands. Rosie's tendency to forget her knives is really starting to annoy me. At this point I think the wolves should get a decent bit in. Does that make me mean? I feel mean.

Monica: It is not mean at all. I do not even hunt the Fenris, and I am armed both with pepper spray and a tiny key that transforms into a jackknife. At all times.

Shel: Good point. I have pepper spray, a rape whistle AND I hold my keys like claws when I walk. We are some fierce ladies. No! Not the hair! Not Rosie's dark and beautiful hair!

Monica: But now, she’s all savage! She’s got her hair hacked away, and she’s setting fires, and she has an eye patch and EVERYTHING! I’m liking her quite a bit more now, actually. She should have gotten kidnapped *ages* ago.

Shel: I really do like all of the references to The Allegory of the Cave. And I really like the way the ending has come together. It's distracting me from the fact that in this world, all men seems to be vicious girl-devouring monsters.

Monica: I’m… I’m still having a problem with that actually. No lie. I am really enjoying the book, and I think it’s smart and well-written, but I cannot get over the fact that there are almost no redeemable male characters. They’re all either dangerous, or totally have the potential to be dangerous. (Or they’re awesome and playing the drums in the subway. Hot subway drummer! Call me!)

Shel: I hear you there. After the drummer calls, I 'm going to insist on a performance in my living room. So, what happens in another seven years?

Monica: I am pushing for them to rent a hot air balloon and remain airborne for the entirety of the month. Yes? Yes.

Shel: What's your overall rating?

Monica: I give it a solid 8 out of 10. Like I said, it was well-written and interesting. I’m madly in love with the cover. And I think it’s a cool update of the original story. But the entire time I was reading, I kept thinking, “Dang, author. Did you have a bad breakup and never got over it? Not all men are animals!” It sort of… overshadowed my reading experience. What about you?

Shel: Apparently a companion novel Sweetly is coming out soon. It's a modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel? Will you pick it up?

Monica: Sure! That one has a female character as the villain. ;)

Shel: Great, so now I'm going to have to fear all men AND old ladies. I'll have nobody left!

Okay, cool cats and hot dogs, that ends this literary feast.  We'd love to see your thoughts and opinions of Sisters Red in the comments.

Until next time!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

REVIEW: Countdown

Wiles, D.  (2010).  Countdown.  New York:  Scholastic Press.

377 pages.

Appetizer:  The first book in the Sixties Trilogy, Countdown is set in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and when Americans were certain that at any minute the Russians would bomb the U.S.  Franny is an eleven-year-old with her hands full.  As the middle child, she often feels ignored by her parents and teachers.  Her big sister, Jo Ellen is keeping secrets from her.  Her Uncle Otts is having trouble remembering that he's not a soldier anymore and she's not certain that her best friend Margie wants to be her best friend anymore.  Plus, her crush, Chris, has just moved back into the neighborhood.

Wiles refers to Countdown as a "documentary novel."  That seems as fitting a term for it as any.  Surrounding the chapters of Franny's story are posters, song lyrics and biographical sketches of major figures from that time period.

When I first picked up Countdown to read, I was a little nervous.  It is a thick book, my friends.  Did I have time for this?  The energy?  Then I opened it and was greeted by pages and pages of images, newspaper headlines and quotes.  I was reminded of Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a 540-page long picturebook.

Also, as a random note:  Here's a picture of a boy that looks a lot like Hugo.  How fun is that?  Brian Selznik, when will you immortalize me in a masterpiece?

Apparently the boy's name is Max and he wasn't cast for the Hugo movie.  Oversight!

Internetz:  Brain!  What are you supposed to be doing?
ShelBrain:  *sheepish*  Reviewing Countdown.
Internetz:  Don't you think you should be doing that then?
ShelBrain:  Fiiiiine.

Countdown is more text heavy the Hugo Cabret of course.  As a reader, I did find myself tempted to skip over some of the biographical sketches (I know I would have when I was eleven), but I remained strong.

About 100ish pages in, I had a child-like reaction to the book.  (AKA juvenile!)  My inner 10-year-old boy reared his wee pimple-free head.  (I don't mean to imply I actually am part boy.  Rather, I often react to books like a young male reader.)  My inner ten-year-old rebelled, saying "Deborah Wiles!  You're trying to trick me into learning!  I don't like to be tricked!  There are too many words!  What happened to the pictures!  I want more pictures!  I like being able to skip through ten pages in under a minute!  Bring the pictures back or I'll stop reading!!!!!!"

I stopped reading the book for over a week.  I was frozen.  Dead in the water.  With sharks circling and me clinging to a piece of drift wood, weeping and praying for rescue.

I suspect that most readers don't have the problem I had.  Most reviews of Countdown have been so sparly, glowy that you have to wear sunglasses just to read them.  I think I wound up with skyscraper-high expectations, when I should have been expecting to be able to enjoy a nice two-story suburban home.

(I have no idea where that housing metaphor came from.  I think all the talk of the housing crisis has finally invaded my brain synapses.  Or other brain anatomy stuff.  Oh, science.

Despite the fact that the book didn't meet my expectations, I was still surprised by the world Wiles created.  I couldn't believe the lack of privacy Franny had throughout the story.  There was also this scene where Franny mentions that some of the students actually brought her teacher apples.  My response was, Really?!  Really?!  ...how come nobody give me gifts.

Dinner Conversation:

"I am eleven years old, and I am invisible.
I am sitting at my desk, in my classroom, on a perfect autumn afternoon--Friday, October 19, 1962.  My desk is in the farthest row, next to the windows" (p. 16).

"It's the air-raid siren, screaming its horrible scream in the playground, high over our heads on a thousand-foot telephone pole--and we are outside.  Outside.  No desk, no turtle, no cover.
We are all about to die" (p. 21).

"What's worse:  your best friend doesn't feel like your best friend anymore, or the whole neighborhood thinks your family is an embarrassment?
Or maybe it's worse that you wouldn't acknowledge your uncle, Franny.
Maybe I'll just stay here, hidden behind the bush, forever" (p. 45).

"Nobody asks about my hard day," I say.  I apply Jo Ellen's red lipstick thickly to my thin lips.  "Nobody even cares that I was stuck outside during the air-raid drill and everybody panicked and cried and bled to death.  But no...that's not important in this family, because I'm not important.  Daddy hardly said two words to me today, but he plays a whole ball game with Drew" (p. 84).

Tasty Rating:  !!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

REVIEW: Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens

Sanderson, B.  (2010).  Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens.  New York:  Scholastic Press.

292 pages.

Internetz, you have not been witness to it.  But a great battle of wills was just averted.  When my co-assistant and I learned that our boss was receiving an advance copy of the fourth book in the Alcatraz series, we went to war with one another.  My boss's office was left in far from perfect condition.  Her many books were tossed from their slumping shelves, torn to pieces.  Shredded pages rained down like apocalyptic ash.

Who would get to read the Alcatraz book first?!  She was willing to skip classes to read it.  I was willing to set aside Dudley the Dissertation for Alcatraz.  Who would win?

Perhaps some great power sensed that another war to end all wars was brewing.  Perhaps somebody over at Scholastic can't read.  But we were sent TWO COPIES of Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens.  One for each assistant.  (Our boss doesn't get to read it.  When we informed her of this, she took it surprisingly well.)

Appetizer:   The fourth book of Alcatraz's memoirs can be thought of as "the part where everything goes wrong, and then Alcatraz has a cheese sandwich."  Alcatraz's words, not mine.

War has broken out between the librarians and the free kingdom of Mokia.  Alcatraz, his friends and family hope to send reinforcements.  But the Knights and other kingdoms won't help.  So it's up to Alcatraz and his friends to figure out a plan.  There's just no guarantee that it'll be a good one.

The resulting story involves a better understanding of the Smedry talents, meeting another Smedry cousin (this one is bad at math), lots of stoopidity and a nakey Alcatraz.  (Naked, to you adult types.)


I am SO amazed by Brandon Sanderson's ability to be consistently HILARIOUS throughout his children's books.  I've tried to write funny in the past and it almost always ends painfully for me.  And not in a humorous painful way with a bucket on my head and with boxers with little hearts exposed.  Just painfully with me deciding to limp back into my serious (with moments of levity!) fiction.

(Sidenote:  Have you heard of Writing Excuses?  Sanderson co-hosts regular fifteen-minute podcasts about various aspects of creative writing.  The podcasts are essentially an awesome writing MFA program that you can listen to at your leisure for free.  I highly recommend listening!)

Where was I?


The fourth Alcatraz book still had me chuckling.  In this round, I especially liked Sanderson's approach to chapter titles.  Some chapters are missing.  (Gaps!  The reader can fill them in!  Funzies!)  Others are titled according to some advanced math  (Or advanced math for me.  My brain stopped accounting for what those crazy numbers were doing after eighth grade.)  Maybe the chapter titles are just nonsense.  I wouldn't know the difference!

My biggest complaint about the book is the cover.  I know I'm not really the target audience, but I really don't like the photoshopped appearance.  Especially since it seems like Bastille is in the exact same position on the covers of both the third and fourth books:

Call me crazy, but I don't think that's the best stance for fighting a knight OR a giant robot.  I guess I should just be impressed that they used the same models.  Way to be cohesive!

It is worth noting that this book ends with more problems left unresolved than the other books so far.  It gave the book a "the end of The Empire Strikes Back" feel.  To be concluded in the next installment.  So, stay tuned!

So now the wait for the fifth and final (*weeps*) book begins.


Dinner Conversation:

"I am an idiot.
You should know this already, if you've read the previous three volumes of my autobiography" (Author's Foreword).

"So, there I was, holding a pink teddy bear in my hand.  It had a red bow and an inviting, cute, bearlike smile.  Also, it was ticking" (p. 1).

"We'd need to put someone in danger who is so valuable the knights have to respond.  But this person also has to be uncompromisingly stoopid.  It's idiocy on a grand scale to send oneself directly to a palace on the brink of destruction, surrounded by Librarians, in a doomed kingdom!  Why, they'd have to be stoopid on a colossal degree.  Of the likes previously unseen to all of humankind!"
And suddenly, for some reason, all eyes in the room turned toward me" (pp. 27-28).

"If you've ever thought that books are boring, it's because you don't know how to read them correctly.  From now on, when you read a book, I want you to scream the words of the novel out loud while reading them, then do exactly what the characters are doing in the story.
Trust me, it will make books way more exciting.  Even dictionaries.  Particularly dictionaries.  So go ahead and try it out with this next part of the book.  If you do it right, you'll win the bonus prize" (p. 37).

"...I haven't talked much about religion in these books.
This is intentional, mostly from a self-preservation standpoint.  I've discovered that talking about religion has a lot in common with wearing a catcher's mask:  Both give people liberty to throw things at you.  (And in the case of religion, sometimes the "things" are lightning bolts.)" (p. 107).

"...We are faced by superior numbers and superior firepower.  In the moments before you arrived, I had made the difficult decision to surrender.  I was on my way to the wall to announce it to the Librarians."
The words hung in the air like a foul stench--the kind that everyone notices but doesn't want to point out, for fear of being named the one who caused it" (p. 113-114).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Literary Feast Discussion: Sisters Red (through Chapter 20)

Oh my goodness, Cool Cats!  Would you believe that I dropped into a time warp thingy and that's why this is so late?  Because that's my story.

So, since you've clearly been desperately waiting for a week, lets dive straight in and discuss the third quarter of Sisters Red.

Shel: So, I know you were all, "every guy is a wolf!!!!!! What a skewed sense of danger!" But SERIOUSLY. These fenris (fenrises?) are EVERYWHERE! Damn. I may never leave my house again. Every man is a potential wolf waiting to devour us.

Monica: Which is the thing I'm a little confused by... What is the moral of this!? That the only good guy is the one who has been with you your whole life, except that he might turn out to be evil too?

Shel: I'm confuzzled. Why are there woods by a bowling alley in a city? I don't understand.

Monica: ::: laughs ::: I didn't even THINK about that! Maybe they're just on the very edge of town? Maybe we're supposed to draw some sort of parallel about the creepiness of the woods encroaching on the people-filled city? Maybe it's an editor's error?

Shel: Let's see, "With knowledge comes responsibility." Where have I heard something like that before? I think Spiderman wants its butchered line back.

Monica: I thought that too, for real. It's the problem with epic lines that are both true, and apply to many situations; you're never really able to use them again once they are associated with something famous, or people think you're copying. Like, if Scarlett was all "TELL ME THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING!" and Rosie was like, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!" You know?

Shel: I CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!!!!  These relationships could be a case study on co-dependency.

Monica: Or an episode of Jerry Springer, for real. "I'm In Love With A Man Who Might Be A Vampire... And He Is In Love With My Sister!" And the audience goes wiiiild!!

Shel: I would not watch that show.  Wow, this section is an emotional rollercoaster. I may break down and weep, uncertain if I should be overjoyed, angry, depressed. So many emotions!

Monica: I'm staying with "hesitant" and "vaguely worried." I'm not sure how this is all going to turn out.....

Shel: So...how do you feel about Silas's "I always wanted you" confession in chapter 19? I have to say, he lost points with me for that.

Monica: MAJOR POINT LOSING. Seriously, dude, way to phrase it in the most ridiculous way possible. I don't know. Especially since I would definitely have thought he would have viewed her as a younger-sister figure earlier on... eh. I'm not too concerned, though, since probably he's going to end up eating her anyway.

Okay, hot dogs, that's it for this round of the discussion.  Next up, we'll finish the book.  (And hopefully you won't have to starve, waiting for us to update.  HOPEFULLY.  Maybe.  Probably.  We'll see.)

As an I'm sorry offering here are some Sisters Red buttons:  YAYZ!  You luvz us again, right?


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