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And from a supercomputer beating a world champion at chess, it's just ONE SMALL STEP TO THE TERMINATOR.
And from the Terminator, it's just ONE SMALL STEP TO A SENTIENT PRISON THAT IS MAYBE POSSIBLY A LITTLE BIT BANANAS.
Then again, we could end up with Data instead, so maybe it's worth the risk...
Anyway, from my post about Incarceron:
Finn, a member of the especially brutal Comitatus, woke up three years ago with no memory of his past. Some of his fellow prisoners believe that Finn is 'cell-born', a child of Incarceron, created by Incarceron, while others believe he is simply half-mad. What he believes is quite different: He believes he came from Outside. Though no one has left Incarceron in over a century (except one legendary man), Finn believes his flashbacks of a life Before, his knowledge of things he could never have known or experienced Inside, could have come from nowhere but Outside.
On the Outside is Claudia. The Warden's daughter, she has been raised to be the next Queen. She lives in a world forced to adhere to the traditions, culture and technology of 17th-century life. Finn's world is brutally violent, and Claudia's world is no less so -- it's just less obvious. Violence, political machinations, blackmail and assassinations are hidden behind complex and formal etiquette. Within Incarceron, there are fights to the death. Outside, there are dangerous secret alliances, a secret society, even a secret religion.
I finally, finally read Sapphique a little while back... I should probably write about it, eh?
Including The Very Hungry Caterpillar:
The Wild Things:
And Alice in Wonderland:
Click on through to see the others!
I figured that since I check them every week, I may as well post 'em, eh?
1. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
2. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
3. Divergent, by Veronica Roth
4. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
5. While it Lasts, by Abbi Glines
American Booksellers Association, National (Children's):
1. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
2. Poems to Learn by Heart, by Caroline Kennedy
3. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
4. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
5. The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
New York Times (YA):
1. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
3. Divergent, by Veronica Roth
4. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
5. While it Lasts, by Abbi Glines
Publishers Weekly (Children's Frontlist):
1. The Third Wheel, by Jeff Kinney
2. Big Nate: Game On!, by Lincoln Peirce
3. The Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare
4. Theodore Boone: The Accused, by John Grisham
5. Middle School: My Brother is a Big, Fat Liar, by James Patterson
1. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
2. Divergent, by Veronica Roth
3. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
4. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
5. The Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare
Today is my sister's birthday as well, actually, but as I've never covered Beezus and Ramona* here, instead, I'll simply point you back to my post about John Scalzi's Zoe's Tale:
A lot of the SF I've read has felt like it held me at arm's length. Distance like that prevents me from ever fully connecting with a story or the characters in it. This one felt so real and so close that it was almost like Zoe was in the room with me. She made me cry. Like, three times. She also made me laugh out loud while I was crying.
And now I am reminded that I really need to read more of his books, as I enjoyed that one so very much.
Relatedly, I am now suddenly tempted to go up to the attic and dig through my boxes of books to find my Beverly Cleary.
*She is SO VERY, VERY Ramona, and I am SO VERY, VERY Beezus.
“Ansel is whip-smart and uber-charismatic and everything I dreamed for Augustus Waters,” John Green tells EW in an exclusive statement. “I am by nature a cautious pessimist, but I’ll just say it: Now that we have Shailene and Ansel, I am completely, unreservedly psyched about this movie.”
I used to post about older books a lot more. Somewhere along the way, though, in an effort to keep up with the never-ending supply of review copies and new books at the library (and new books that I buy), that except for the rare special series, I've gotten away from that.
So, for the foreseeable future, I'm going to start covering older titles on Fridays.
I've been a huge fan of this series from day one, and it recently occurred to me that I've never actually posted about the very first book, Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: SO HERE I AM, POSTING ABOUT MY LURRRVE FOR IT*. Just so you know, there will be lots of quotage in this post, as A) I find it impossible to pick this book up without sharing** and B) it's Georgia's voice that makes it so wonderfully funny.
Fourteen-year-old Georgia Nicolson has a whole list of problems:
(1) I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.
(2) It is on my nose.
(3) I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.
(4) In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberführer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic "teachers."
(5) I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.
(6) I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.
And that's all BEFORE she meets Robbie, AKA the Sex God.
If you step back and look at her critically, Georgia is pretty terrible. She's self-absorbed and vain; selfish, petty, and a mostly-awful friend. BUT. She's also a totally believable depiction of an extremely confused ("See you later?" What does that mean?), boy-crazy girl who's in that My Parents Are So Old And Uncool And Impossibly Dumb stage. This is her diary, where she can be as awful as she wants with no repercussions, and she's cheerfully raunchy and laugh-out-loud hilarious, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. She's also got a real gift for describing everyday embarrassments (being late to school, getting all red and sweaty running there, running into a hot boy) and making them seem EPIC and HORRIFIC and channelling her embarrassment so that you feel it, too. (Even as you're laughing.)
Also, despite her utter disinterest in school, she's a clever, witty girl! Her invented slang is a complete joy and totally contagious (I still use it on a daily basis), she's a reader (lots of Cosmo, yes, but she also mentions reading books on a regular basis), and she's prone to making terrible jokes along these lines:
The Peter started nuzzling my neck and I thought, Oh, we haven't done necks before, he's branching out a bit, and then I nearly choked to death trying not to laugh (up against a tree . . . branching out, do you get it?) . . . but I stopped myself. You have to keep reminding yourself about boys not liking a laugh.
As much as she tries to act with dignitosity and maturinosity, her exuberance and humor are both irrepressible, and as beastly as she can be to her parents, it's ALWAYS clear that she adores her (smelly) younger sister. While some of the cultural references are a bit dated—Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Sharon Stone, payphones—fourteen years later, the emotional aspects of Georgia's trials and tribulations still ring true.
*Apologies for being so caps-happy lately, btdubs. I think spring is making me EVEN MORE textually enthusiastic than usual.
**Think I'm exaggerating? Just ask Josh. If given a test on these books, he'd totally ace it despite never actually reading one.
Book source: Borrowed from my library.
...have been announced.
The YA list is:
Man, that cat has appeared on the cover of every one of the Hex Hall books, despite there distinct lack of cat in the series. IT DRIVES ME BANANAS.
Yes, I realize I should get out more.
Anyway, Spell Bound. SPOILERS ABOUT THE FIRST TWO ARE A NECESSITY.
At the end of Demonglass, Sophie had finally come to terms with demonic heritage... only to be magically prevented from accessing her own powers. As if that being powerless and being-hunted by the same jerks who bound her powers isn't enough, she gets captured by the Brannicks—specifically the youngest one, which just adds insult to injury—a family whose monster-hunting legacy goes back for decades.
But get this: it turns out that Sophie's mother is a Brannick.
Which means that so is Sophie. So she's got demons on one side, and demon hunters on the other... which, if she makes it through all of this alive, will make for some HELLISH (<--ho ho ho) family reunions.
Oh, ALSO, she's not sure if any of her friends are even still alive. And IF THEY ARE, she still doesn't know how she's going to deal with that whole in-love-with-dreamy-Archer-the-triple-agent-but-betrothed-to-hottiepants-Cal-the-healer thing.
Like Hex Hall and Demonglass, Spell Bound is energetic, fast-paced, and funny. Sophie continues to by likable and entertaining, and her habit of making terrible, terrible jokes whenever she's nervous never gets old. Neither this installment nor Demonglass ever quite reaches the heights of Hex Hall, but the whole series is still immensely fun, and I LOVE that it's a smart, witty, mostly-boppy paranormal romance peopled with characters that I care about, rather than being ANGSTY and OVER-DRAMATIC and RIFE WITH TRAGEDY and FILLED WITH CHARACTERS I WANT TO SLAP.
La la la la la la la.
SPOILER: I didn't particularly like how the love triangle was resolved—killing off Cal seemed more cop-out than resolution—but that's a pretty small issue, especially since now Elodie can pursue his ghostly hotness for all eternity, and as she's one of the best characters in the whole series, I'm glad that Hawkins gave her a happy ending.
NOW, ON TO SCHOOL SPIRITS, WHICH I'VE BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO FOR AGES.
Previously: Hex Hall, Demonglass.
Book source: ILLed through my library.
If you're a fan of Elizabeth Peters, then chances are, you already know Howard Carter.
But, just in case you don't, I shall tell you: he's the archaeologist credited with finding the tomb of King Tutankhamun.
At first, I figured I'd highlight Wrapped, since it's a hugely entertaining Egyptology-themed mystery.
BUT THEN I REMEMBERED The Professor's Daughter.
And while I enjoyed Wrapped, I LOOOOOOOVED The Professor's Daughter. It's a hugging book. Like, I love it so much that whenever I pick it up, I feel the need to hug it:
Lillian is the daughter of Professor Bowell, the eminent Egyptologist. One day, while the Professor is out, Lillian wants to go to Kensington. As she can't go out unchaperoned, she brings along Imhotep IV. Who is a mummy.
Brief moment for gushing about the adorablosity of it all: How did Sfar and Guibert make Imhotep IV (who, other than a bump for a nose, has no real visible facial features) a wicked hottie? Is it the cigarette holder? The top hat? The spats? Or is it his romantic nature? His melancholy? His tragic background? Whatever it is, it works. I fell in lurve with him by the end of the first page.
SAH-WOON. And obviously, highly, HIGHLY recommended.
...I wrote about Michaela MacColl's Nobody's Secret, which OH MY GOD, I WANTED TO LIKE.
I WANTED TO LIKE IT SO, SO BAD.
Alas and alack, though, sometimes we don't get what we want.
From the Tri-City Herald:
The Prosser School Board deadlocked on a vote to remove The Popularity Papers from some of its school libraries Tuesday night. That means a recommendation approved by Superintendent Ray Tolcacher to keep the book remains in place.
But board members did not support Tolcacher's recommendation to keep Dave Pelzer's A Child Called It on book shelves. The board tabled further discussion of what to do with the book when they were unable to reach a consensus.
BECAUSE HOLY COW, IT IS AN AWESOME STORY.
From an interview at KidsEBookBestsellers:
I guess Traditional is probably the right word, but it was highly unconventional. I sent two of my short stories to Diana Wynne Jones. Not only was she gracious enough to read them, she recommended I send them to her American editor Susan Hirschman who agreed to publish my collection of short stories, Instead of Three Wishes.
That's as rad as Lyle Lovett crediting Guy Clark for kickstarting his career by talking up his demo tape way back when. MY SHRIVELED LITTLE HEART, IT JUST GREW THREE SIZES.
...from eighth-grade classrooms in Glen Ellyn, Illinois:
On Monday, those who spoke on this topic during public comment disagreed with the board's decision. Students said they didn't want their ability to read certain books to be determined by other parents in the district and board members, rather than their own parents. Many also said certain objectionable passages in the book were focused on rather than its overall message.
"This book gave me hope," said Carly Basler, Hadley eighth-grader. "This book inspired me. This book showed me my differences are my strengths."
Last week, some Hadley students demonstrated their support for the book by placing sticky notes with drawings of flowers and quotes from the book on walls in the school, Hadley teachers said. They also started their own petition, which was sent to board members, teachers said.
A teeny bit of background from the LA Times:
CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Citadel graduated its first female cadet Saturday, ending a male-only tradition at the military school that stretched more than 150 years before ending as a result of a federal court fight.
Nancy Ruth Mace, a magna cum laude graduate in business administration, received her degree from her father, Emory Mace, the school's commandant of cadets.
In a news conference after the ceremony, she told reporters she does not regard herself "as a pioneer" in ending single-gender education at The Citadel.
While I know there must be other applicable books, the first one that comes to mind is Marie Lu's Legend, since the heroine, June, is also famous for a military first: she's the first one in history to have earned a perfect score on the test that decides the future of every citizen:
Cinematic action, romance, politics, extremely sketchy medical experiments, some possible Soylent Green-ish doings (<--that one is extremely unlikely, but sicko that I am, I can't help but hope for it), codes, cage fights, and a couple of seriously shocking-ass moments... Legend is fun stuff. I don't know if I totally buy the speed at which June and Day trust each other (especially after [REDACTED]) and for people that should be mega-guarded and focused on life-and-death stuff, they sure do think about the smoochies a whole lot, but that certainly didn't stop me from reading it in one sitting.
Man, I NEED to read Prodigy.
...have been announced.
The YA list is:
Gold: The Immortal Von B. by M. Scott Carter (The RoadRunner Press)
Silver (tie): Bi-Normal, by M.G. Higgins (Saddleback Publishing) and Untraceable: The Nature of Grace series, Book 1, by S.R. Johannes (Coleman & Stott)
Bronze: The Elephant of Surprise, by Brent Hartinger (Buddha Kitty Books)
Click on through for the other categories.
Um, so this is the second snake Lemon has dragged into the house this morning.
(I know this because the first one was way skinnier, and last I checked, it was really, really dead.)
It's now hanging out under the radiator.
The first book in Rick Yancey's Monstrumologist series is $1.99 today, so if you don't have it, I'd TOTALLY suggest snagging it.
If you haven't read it, DO. After all, like Arrested Development, it has such devoted and vocal fans (not to mention stellar reviews) that the series survived cancellation. (More on that here and here.)
Oh, and Artemis Fowl is $2.99 today. I almost didn't bother mentioning it, because A) I'm not a particular fan and B) it's not like the series needs a push from me, but C) I figured that since I was writing this post anyway, I may as well throw it in here, too. So there you go.
[ETA: Huh. Variant, by Robison Wells, is also $1.99. Worth a purchase? The description makes it sound like Lord of the Flies in boarding school.]
Currently on repeat in my car: The Milk Carton Kids' The Ash & Clay.
It's one of those records that just keeps getting better and better every time I listen to it. Also, every time I think I'm ready to listen to another album, I only get two songs in before popping this one in again. CLEARLY I NEED TO GO BACK AND GET THEIR PREVIOUS STUFF.
I'd forgotten about all of the bizarre details of that theft... most notably that it only took 50 seconds and that the thieves left a note that said, "Thousand thanks for the bad security!" Talk about adding insult to injury, YEESH.
Anyway, when it comes to art thieves, the first thing I think of is (probably obviously) Ally Carter's Heist Society series.
While I TOTALLY appreciated its appeal factor, I wasn't overly enthused about the first book, but Carter completely won me over with Uncommon Criminals:
While Heist Society relied on TELLing and infodumps to Set the Stage, Uncommon Criminals didn't. True, that was partly because the storyline had already been set in place in Book One, but it was mostly because the comparable section in this book—the part at the beginning where Carter reminds old readers What Is What and gets new readers up to speed—was handled much more gracefully. So that was really nice to see, and much more enjoyable to read. Recommended to the usual suspects: fans of the Gallagher Girls and chick-lit-ish mysteries.
Heist Society is going to be a movie, and I think it'll translate really well to screen—though after reading this one, I think it might be even more fun as a CW series. Now that Kat is doing the Robin Hood thing, it's basically Leverage with teenagers.
I should probably ILL Perfect Scoundrels, huh?
From the St. Louis Beacon:
But her dream soon became his dream and one of the nation’s most prolific and successful writing teams was born.
They set out to fill the void of missing African-American history and to counter stereotypes of popular children’s books such asThe Story of Little Black Sambo. "These images,” Mr. McKissack said, “last a lifetime.”
Via cynsations, where there is an excellent round-up of remembrances and appreciations.
Image via the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance.
As I always get a giggle out of Travis Jonker's One Star Review Guess Who posts, I figured I'd swipe the idea and post the occasional one-star Amazon review of a much-lauded YA title.
So, can you guess what book this disappointed reader is reviewing?:
Click on through for the answer
This book is so boring. I felt like I was being forced to read it for school or something. The whole first half of the book is 5 men/youths traveling across mountains, plains, forests, rocks, pebbles, blah blah blah. The author spends WAY too much time describing the mundane things the characters are doing and the boring scenery they are passing. I don't want to read about how many hills they hike up, or how many mountain peaks or 'flat spaces' they can see, or what direction they are traveling. It is so tedious. I don't want to read about how many naps [PROTAGONIST] takes, or how much oatmeal he eats, or how hungry he claims to be.
Just writing about this makes me hate this book even more. [PROTAGONIST] is the most unlikable, whiny character ever. I admit that I didn't finish the book; I wasn't enjoying it at all. I do know what happens at the end, but I feel that the author had no excuse for boring her readers so thoroughly in the first half of the book. I even flipped through the rest of the book and I saw a lot more descriptions of landscapes and food and other boring things.
There are so many better books to read than this one; books that are a joy to read, books that captivate you from beginning to end instead of making you power through pages and pages of boring text like this one does.
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Errr... if you haven't read the book, this is pretty freaking spoilery: