Monday, April 30, 2012
Back by popular demand!
Here's another Mad Lib for your enjoyment. This one is structured roughly as a review of a YA paranormal romance novel. So, if you pull from one such book your review my eerily make too much sense.
For those of you new to my online Mad Libs, take out a book you're currently reading. I'm going to make 10 suggestions of where to find names or words from a particular part of speech. You record your answers and after you have them all, copy and paste the incomplete review at the bottom of the text (no peeking before!) into the comments section and insert your words. Let me know which book you pulled your comments and names from. Be sure to also include you email (at) address (dot) com in the post so I can contact you if you win.
To the mad libber with the craziest review, I'll offer a $10 giftcard to the online book retailer of his or her choice.
Let's say the due date to post your response in the comments will be May 15, 2012 at 7 PM Central.
Now, on the the mad libbing!
Find the following in your book of choice:
1. List the first type of animal, supernatural being or piece of technology mentioned in your book. Reading a work of historical fiction? Then use "ye ol' butter churn" as your answer.
2. An adjective used in one of the quotation blurbs by another author recommending this book on the front or back cover, in the front pages, etc. If no authors recommended the book, then use the first adjective you encounter as you start reading the story.
3. A protagonist's name.
4. and 5. Two adjectives found on page 72 of your book (or on the nearest page with adjectives)
6. Another character's name.
7. An item of clothing that the first character described in chapter one or two is described to be wearing.
8. An active verb used on page 37 (or the nearest page with text) of your book.
9. The final verb used in the last sentence of chapter four.
10. How much you paid for your book
Have all of your words?
Now copy and paste the following into your comment and fill in the appropriate blanks with the names and words you found.
Hot Hairy Lurve in the Cafeteria (a title of Shel's own invention) is about falling in lurve with a
____(1)____ and this lurve is ____(2)____!!!!!!!!
I thought ___(3)____ was a ____(4)____ and ____(5)____ character.
As for the main love-interest, ____(6)____, (s)he made my ____(7)____ ____(8)____.
Overall, I would ____(9)____ Hot Hairy Lurve in the Cafeteria to anyone who has ____(10)____ to give me.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
REVIEW: Chopsticks (OHMYGOSH, AWESOME! One story: told in music, illustration, texts, articles and videos. Read it now!)
No page numbers....but, I'd guess it's more than 300 pages. Since most of the stories is told in images or small bits of text, it's a great read.
Appetizer: In December of 2009, 17-year-old Glory Fleming, a piano prodigy, disappears. But, much of the story of Chopsticks focuses on 18 months earlier, when Glory was still performing and an Argentinian boy named Francisco moves in next door to her house on Usher street in the Bronx.
A romance soon begins.
But the question is, can their romance survive as Francisco struggles with racism and bullying at school and Glory with her controlling father/manager who insists on touring. Can the two teens find a way to be together?
This novel is shared predominantly in images, with much of the plot being pieced together by found objects like newspaper clippings, programs, family albums, text messages, etc.
And it is wonderfully done. A relatively simple story, I found that a lot of details--like Francisco's anger with his ESL homework (pictured below) to add deeper layers and criticism.
I also loved the different forms of communication. Throughout the text messages Francisco and Glory exchange are urls to youtube videos that, while a little inconvenient to set down the book and type into my laptop, provide a lot of secondary depth. I liked the references to Sylvia Plath and Pablo Neruda. The book also includes playlists of songs that the two exchange, really providing a lot of focus on music. This story does an amazing job of using a lot of different forms to tell a story. I approve. I approve strongly.
Plus, there's an app version of the book. (But alas, after already spending $20 on the book, I'm too cheap to spend another $7 on the app. Somebody else buy the app and tell me what you think!)
If a teacher wanted to find a way to include Chopsticks into a classroom, he or she could focus on looking at a section of a text as an anthropologist, studying a person or culture through the objects they have.
Tasty Rating: !!!!!
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Appetizer: Sisters Kit and Fancy are close. Very close. In fact, with their mother working so much, they're pretty much all each other has ever since their father was convicted to death row as a serial killer and the family was ostracized from the entire town of Portero due to the fact that their father killed several of the neighbors.
After abducting a young trespasser who wanted to steal something from the house of the Bonesaw Killer and torturing him in the basement, the two sisters slowly begin to form a plan, establishing a gateway to another world where they can get away with murder. Kit and Fancy begin to advertise their problem solving services to the residents of Portero in the hope of being able to reconnect with the community. But as their plans unfold and the body count rises, Fancy and Kit's relationship becomes strained.
Set in the same fantastic Texas town as Reeves's other novel, Bleeding Violet, there are a few moments when the characters from that novel make their presence known. When comparing the two, I'd have to say I preferred Bleeding Violet, as a character, I could sympathize with the character of Hanna a little more. While still very interesting, and even when taking on a bit of the feel of Kill Bill's Bride character by exacting vengeance against characters who wrong others, I couldn't really connect with Kit or Fancy.
This novel is doing a lot of really complex stuff: exploring the tension of coming to age, of acknowledging the violence of the world, of the sisters' relationship changing as they encounter these realities, face falling in love with two brothers for the first time as well as seeking trust, control and escapes from reality. This book makes me wonder what it's like in the author's head.
"Fancy only allowed three people in the whole world to get close to her: Daddy, who was on death row; Madda, who was working the graveyard shift; and Kit, who was dead to the world in the bed next to hers. And so when she awoke to find a prowler hanging over her, violating her personal space, her first instinct was to jab her dream-diary pencil into his eye.
But even in the dark of night with a stranger in her room, Fancy wasn't one to behave rashly. Daddy had been rash, and now he was going to be killed. No, Fancy would be calm and think of a nonlethal way to teach the prowler why it was important not to disturb a young girl in her bed late at night." (p. 3)
"She had far-sight. That's what Daddy called it, an ability to see what was happening in the next room or miles away. All she needed was something reflective to look at and she could see anything: She could even make up things. Like the happy place, a world she'd invented after Daddy had gone away, a world she needed. The real world had stopped being fun a long time ago." (pp. 14-15)
"'I know how sy you girls are,' she said gently, "but Juneteenth means something, especially in our family. You girls are direct descendants of Cherry du Haven. She--"
"We know, we know," said Kit. The sisters had heard the Cherry du Haven bit of trivia a million times. "Once upon a time there lived a famous slave who died and then came back as a ghost or whatever to grant wishes for all the good black children in town." She tapped Fancy on the head with an imaginary wand. "Bippety, boppety, boo!'" (p. 29)
"'Don't lose your head just because he was flirting with you. Our dad killed his dad. The only thing that boy could possibly want from you is revenge.'
Kit's giddiness drained away, and she was silent a long moment before she admitted,"That's what I'd want."
"But the rest of the world ain't like us, Fancy."
"You say that like it's a good thing. At least we're honest about being the bad guys."
"Honest to who? Nobody knows what we're really like. Except Franken."
"Yeah, and he's tied up in our cellar, so I guess that's just as well, Kit." (p. 87)
Tasty Rating: !!!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Appetizer: Immediately after deciding *not* to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge, Ricky Fallon slips and falls to his death anyway.
Looking down at his broken and dead body, Fallon's soul is approached by an angel. It would seem Fallon had some unfinished business. He's to serve as a Cupid, fanning the flames of interest among potential love birds at a local high school, feasting on love (it looks like fudge), dealing with co-workers and battling Suicides or other dead souls with unfinished business who spread depression.
While first walking the halls of his assigned high school as an invisible cupid, Fallon encounters a familiar face from his own life, that of his former "friend," a girl named Susan who had systematically clung to him, separated him from his friends and girlfriend and driven Fallon to consider suicide on the top of that bridge.
As Fallon watches as Susan targets another boy, he begins to suspect that there's something strange about this girl, that she is somehow doing the same work as the Suicides. The only person who can help Fallon is a girl named Trina, who, somehow, despite the fact that he now exists on a different plane, can still hear Fallon's voice.
I liked the concept of The Cupid War. It is interesting; the idea of Cupids and Suicides battling for the souls of people to spread love or dispair. The fact that love is actually a food that the cupids feast upon also has a lot of wonderful potential.
But I wasn't crazy about this book in execution. The writing felt rough. A lot of the action scenes were too quick or underdeveloped. I didn't feel a lot of the tension that the author was trying to create. I found myself writing "ugh" in the margins of quite a few pages that didn't impress me. A lot of the plot "twists" were pretty apparent. The narration also included a lot of telling as opposed to showing. A lot of tensions were also underdeveloped. Like Fallon's relationship with his mom. It felt like an early draft that needed to be expanded and revised extensively.
But that's just my opinion. What did you think?
"Ricky Fallon sat on the bridge railing, preparing to jump. It seemed like the least painful way to die, while ensuring the best chance for success.
He also wanted to cause the least amount of trouble for the city; his father believed a jumper was involved every time there was a delay on the subway. Fallon didn't want his dad to think he was inconsiderate. At least, no more than he already did." (p. 1)
"However, as he sat on the edge looking down at the barely visible Don River below, Fallon changed his mind. It wasn't because of a ray of light from Heaven, or an angel appearing to tell him there was a better way. Instead, Fallon changed his mind due to a very simple realization. On Monday morning at school, there would be shock. By afternoon, however there would be jokes. He called himself Fallon. The word "fall" was right there in the name. Sure, it was pronounced differently, but he knew his classmates would make the connection." (p. 5).
"'Every soul has karma,' Bud told him. "It's the stuff your soul has to work through, the things you do to become a better person. Some people work off their karma by the time they die, and there's a place for them that you'd think of as Heaven. Then there's the rest, the people like you, who didn't use their lives the way they should. If you didn't work it off in your life, you have to work it off now."
"Nobody told me that was the deal!" Fallon said. "If I'd known that....'" (p. 13)
"...You, pretty boy, are gonna be a Cupid."
..."A Cupid?" Fallon asked. "You mean...?"
"That's right," Bud replied. "You're going to make people fall in love."
"Oh," Fallon said. When it came to afterlife assignments, this wasn't what he'd been expecting." (pp. 14-15).
"Fallon looked at the brick of Love in his hands and thought about all that had been said and written about love throughout the ages. All the sonnets, poems, and greeting cards, and all the boy-band songs. Love, he'd heard, was the answer. God is love, the spiritualists said. Love made the world go' round, love is the most powerful force in the universe.
Fallon wondered if all those things would have been said if the speakers knew that love was a bunch of big chunks of red fudge." (p. 25)
"'People with severe depressive disorders are the victims of Suicides. Strong people struggle to hang on, to fight back with drugs and therapy. Weak ones, however..."
"Jump?" Fallon said quietly.
"Yes," Caleb replied.
Fallon stopped walking. "Is that what happened to me?" he asked. "Is that why I wanted to kill myself?'" (p. 42)
"Here, in the afterlife, he had a chance to start over and do something truly great. He had it in his power to bring happiness to the world. All he had to do was learn how.
He also had the chance to fight off the forces that had led to his death. He could literally save lives. If he stopped only one more Suicide, the world would be the better for it.
What in the world could be better than that?" (p. 66)
Tasty Rating: !!
Sunday, April 22, 2012
(For those of you who haven't completed a mad lib before, I'm going to ask you to choose words from the text(s) you're reading and sub them into a short script.)
Using whatever book you're currently reading (or several of the ones you've read through the loooong night), assemble the following:
1. A noun from page one of the text you are reading.
2. An adjective to describe the cover of your book.
3. Your name or the name of a character.
4. A verb found on page 23 of your book (or the nearest page with text on it).
5. A noun from the title or the "About the Author" section of the book.
6. A verb ending in -ing from approximately page 76 (or the nearest page with text on it).
7. and 8. Two adjectives from the opening paragraph of a chapter or article from anywhere in the text.
9. Another verb found at the bottom of page 100 (or the nearest page with text on it).
10. The longest time period it has ever taken you to read a book.
Don't look ahead to see the text you'll be using these words in until you're ready to let the hilariousness unfold.
Now, copy and paste the text below and sub your selected words into their appropriately numbered blanks. Leave the completed text in the comments section of this post or leave the url to a post at your own blog. Be sure to let us know which books or texts you pulled your words from.
And remember, humor is always appreciated.
This ____(1)____ is ____(2)____! ____(3)____ has never ____(4)____ so much.
The ____(5)____ I'm currently ____(6)____ is ____(7)____ and ____(8)____.
When this is over, I will ____(9)____ for ____(10)____.
The winner will be chosen at random and our good friends at Dewey will provide a prize.
This challenge will run until the end of the readathon and a prize will be awarded through the Dewey Prize Pool.
Happy libbing and reading!
Update: We have a winner! Using random.org, the winner is Shayna Gier. You can see her madlib here.
Thanks to everyone who participated. You created some hilarious mad libs!
Saturday, April 21, 2012
I'll admit, I've gotten a bit of a late start to the morning. But in my defense, I'll be hosting a mini-challenge for hour 23...AKA 5 AM tomorrow. (So, stop by then...or around then.)
I'm excited for a day of reading. I could use the fun!
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I'm hoping to start Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. It's been on the top of my To Be Read Mountain for weeks.
I'm an uber-nerd who teaches literature and writing courses.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I think this is my fourth...or fifth-ish? readathon. This isn't something I'll do differently, necessarily. This is something I learned from other participants that really helps: Break-up your reading and read some quick reads (like picturebooks or graphic novels) early on to help you feel a sense of accomplishment and encouragement.
Cups of coffee: 0 :(
Pages read: 0
Time for caffeine and reading!!!!!! :)
But, I'm not track now. I finished re-reading Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate, a novel in verse that I assigned to my literature class.
Next, I'll work on tackling Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves and The Cupid War by Timothy Carter. Both are books I started reading last week while in Boston for the Popular Culture Conference.
Plus, I'll also be hosting a mini-challenge during hour eight and nine. Be sure to stop by for that!
Cups of coffee: 1
Pages read: 75
I'm also started to hunger for food as well as my books. I'm currently preparing a pasta for lunch. I'm listening to the audio book of Cassandra Clare's City of Glass as I do. Very enjoyable.
Cups of coffee: 1 (still nursing that first cup and regularly reheating it)
Pages read: 120 (still not as many as I would like that this hour) and a lot of wonderful found poems!
I went through a graphic novel called Hybrid Bastards. I'd loved the comic series when it came out five or six years ago (but I couldn't get ahold of all of them). So, I was super excited when a graphic novel collection of the series came out. Hybrid Bastards imagines that the goddess Hera and the god Hypnos put a spell on Zeus so that for one night, he fell in love with inanimate objects, birthing the hybrid bastards whose mothers were things like a car, apple tree, homeless man, etc.
Eighteen years later, the bastards start to assemble and form a plan to take revenge upon their absent father.
I love the concept and story...but I found the art to be difficult to follow.
I'm currently thinking of ways that it could be included in a revision of my dissertation.
Back to the reading! (Although, I have to admit, I predict a nap may be in my future.)
Cups of coffee: 2
Pages read: 252
Pages read: 252
1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?
I've been a little sleepy, but the coffee is kicking-in. Mostly, I've started to feel the need to move and have missed the sounds that human make. What's the word? Oh, yeah, talking.
2) What have you finished reading?
I finished Home of the Brave, The Cupid War and Hybrid Bastards.
3) What is your favorite read so far?
Well, I've read Home of the Brave before and have enjoyed it each time. Hybrid Bastards was fun. And it was exciting to finally know how the story ended.
4) What about your favorite snacks?
Same as at the start: Coffee. Though, I may have to break out some ice cream pretty soon.
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!
Each blog I've visited has been great! It's been nice to see an international showing as well as a lot of people who read young adult and children's books.
Cups of coffee: 2
Pages read: 335
During the last few hours, I got distracted and did some work on some reviews for the blog. Then I got even more distracted and starting moving some books around. I think I needed the physical activity. But, I was still listening to the audiobook of City of Glass. Reading was done! Although, I have no idea how to add that to my page count.
Now, I'm going to transition and read in bed with the hope of falling asleep.
Don't worry though, this isn't the last you'll be seeing of me. I'll be back to host another mini-challenge for hours 23 and 24.
See you then!
Happy reading to all
and to all a good night!
Cups of coffee: 2.5
Pages read: 368
Last hour! Yay!
As I was waiting for the responses to the mad lib challenge to come in, I filled-out the end of the Readathon meme:
Cups of coffee: 2.5
Pages read: 472
Pages read: 368
Last hour! Yay!
As I was waiting for the responses to the mad lib challenge to come in, I filled-out the end of the Readathon meme:
- Which hour was most daunting for you?
- Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
- Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
- What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
- How many books did you read?
- What were the names of the books you read?
- Which book did you enjoy most?
- Which did you enjoy least?
- If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
- How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Cups of coffee: 2.5
Pages read: 472
Based on whatever reading you're currently enjoying, jot down some favorite phrases and words and create a found poem. You are welcome to change tenses, add or drop words and mix up the order of the words or phrases.
When ready, type your poem into the comments box of this post (or post a link to an outside site if you prefer to share your poem on your blog or in another medium).
Let us know which book or text your found poem originated from.
This challenge will run for two hours (or until the bells chime, signaling the start of hour nine of the Readathon).
A winner (who will receive a $10 giftcard from an online bookstore retailer of his/her choice) will be selected based on content and how the poem sounds.
Humor is always welcome!
Happy reading and poem finding!
UPDATE: This mini-challenge has now closed. The winner of the $10 gift card is Sam. You can see her found poem here.
Sam, send me an email at s.j.kessel.writes (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll be sure to arrange the book store of your choice sends you your prize.
Thanks to everyone who participated! It was a lot of fun reading your poems!!!!! It was very difficult to choose just one winner (but alas, I lack the funds to allow for you all to win a prize).
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Appetizer: Karou is not like the other girls who live and go to her art school in Prague. Her ultramarine hair is its natural color since she wished it that way. She's had some tattoos for as long as she can remember. She lives alone in her beautiful flat. And when summoned by a bat-bird creature, she does errands all around the world for the demons who have watched over her for as long as she can remember.
Karou travels from place to place through a network of doors that always open into her guardian, Brimstone's, store where he sells wishes for extracted teeth. Karou's biggest fear is that, someday, when she knocks, nobody in the magical realm of the demons will answer and she will be stranded in a strange city, penniless.
When Karou begins to notice handprints burned onto some of the entryways that the demons use, she discovers that the angels may be planning a strike against them. And Karou will be stuck in the middle with one angel in particular fixated on her.
I had heard rave reviews of Daughter of Smoke & Bone as well as Laini Taylor's other book, Lips Touch. I had been meaning to get around to reading both of them for a while now. And I'm glad I finally did!
Taylor's writing is beautiful. I mean it. This is an author who knows how to use words to affect emotion in her readers. Arguably, there were sections of Daughter of Smoke and Bone that fascinated me less than the rest, but Taylor's prose were beautiful enough to keep me reading and engaged.
From it's first few pages, Daughter of Smoke and Bone drew me in with Taylor's accessible and beautiful prose style and Karou's emotional turmoil with her ex-boyfriend. Taylor does an amazing job of describing the setting and setting up a tone that was haunting and dark, but that also had a touch of humor.
Read it. Or else....
"Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day. It seemed like just another Monday, innocent but for its essential Mondayness, not to mention its Januaryness. It was cold, and it was dark--in the dead of winter the sun didn't rise until eight--but it was also lovely. The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze." (p. 1)
"It wasn't like in the storybooks. No witches lurked at crossroads disguised as crones, waiting to reward travelers who shared their bread. Genies didn't burst from lamps, and talking fish didn't bargain for their lives. In all the world, there was only one place humans could get wishes: Brimstone's shop. And there was only one currency he accepted. IT wasn't gold, or riddles, or kindness, or any other fairy-tale nonsense, and no, it wasn't souls, either. It was weirder than any of that.
It was teeth." (p. 33)
"Sometimes, maybe most of the time, she forgot to see Brimstone. He was so familiar that when she looked at him she saw not a beast but the creature, who for reasons unknown, had raised her from a baby, and not without tenderness. But he could still strike her speechless at times, such as when he used that tone of voice. It slithered like a hiss to the core of her consciousness and opened her eyes to the full, fearsome truth of him.
Brimstone was a monster.
If he and Issa, Twiga, and Yasri were to stray from the shop, that's what humans would call them: monsters. Demons, maybe, or devils. They called themselves chimaera." (p. 38-39).
"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil's lair. She wasn't innocent now, but she didn't know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing." (p. 45)
"In general, Karou managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand,she was a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand girl to an inhuman creature who was the closest thing she had to family. For the most part, she'd found that there was time enough in a week for both lives. If not every week, at least most.
This did not turn out to be one of those weeks." (p. 60)
Tasty Rating: !!!!!
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Appetizer: Aliera Carstairs fences. No that's an understatement. She is a champion fencer, someone who has fought at Nationals, beaten fencers older and stronger than her. She knows how to defend herself and her heart.
Yet, she's invisible at school. Aliera watches as a new boy, Avery Castle, arrives at school, she watches as he holds the attention of every girl. When they are paired as lab partners, Aliera must struggle to guard her heart.
Sooooo, lots of people talked-up Foiled, describing it as amazing and wonderful. It could have been all of they hype, but I was left disappointed within the first few pages. For a graphic novel, I thought Aliera spent waaaaaaaay too much time talking at the reader. I wanted more focus on the visual and to get lost in the story. That never happened with Foil.
On top of that, I strongly disliked Avery as a love interest. Certainly, he's not supposed to be perfect. But it was something about this panel that made him completely unredeemable in my mind:
Yep, something about object raping a dead animal for his own amusement makes a man unappealing.
*vague spoiler*, when the fantasy elements emerged, my response was essentially, "What the hell?" I would have been content with metaphors. There was very little foreshadowing of the magic and the way that it emerges--when Aliera puts on her fencing mask--an act she's done hundreds of times before in the storydidn't work for me as revealing the magical elements of the world. *end vague spoiler*
This book just didn't work for me.
What are your thoughts?
Tasty Rating: !!