Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Connie is a Harvard graduate student, struggling to find a topic and primary source for her dissertation paper in the summer of 1991, but to no avail. Eager to make her mark in the competitive world of Harvard research (who knew nerdy professors could be so cut-throat!?), Connie is at a loss until her family lineage intervenes to give her a most excellent topic. While cleaning up her grandmother's crumbling family home in Marblehead, Massachusetts, Connie finds an antique key in a dilapidated Bible. Inside the key on a yellowed piece of rolled parchment, she reads the name Deliverance Dane. Her quest to uncover the identity of Deliverance Dane leads Connie on a journey through the annals of time, and reveals the personal role her ancestors had in the notorious Salem Witch Trials.

Barnes & Noble has picked The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane as part of its "B&N Recommends" program. I usually enjoy reading novels in this selection because they take me to books I probably never would have picked up otherwise, and are now my favorite novels. (The Hunger Games, City of Bones, Garden Spells, etc...) However, I was a bit disappointed in this novel, not because the writing was bad, but because the ending was entirely too predictable. I pinpointed the villain in the first half of the book and never questioned it throughout! The rotation of the point of view and time frame from Salem 1692 and 1991 could be a bit confusing, but were very interesting and well-written. Connie's quest for Deliverance Dane's identity took us through her grueling process of research and following leads through libraries and records. Although intriguing for die-hard historians, the average reader (me!) finds her search through the stacks a bit dull and monotonous, and brought me back to my undergraduate days of researching in the creepy stacks of the Texas Tech Library. Maybe I've been reading teen books too long, but this book was a bit slow and predictable, so I give the book an "Ehhhh" and will hopefully reserve my "Wow" for my next read.

Monday, June 15, 2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

A morning car ride with her loving family turns Mia's life upside down within the first chapters of Gayle Forman's , If I Stay. The devestating crash takes Mia outside of her injured body that is fighting for survival. As an unseen observer in the ICU ward of the hospital, Mia is keenly aware of what is happening around her and the tragic aftermath of her familiy's crash. Mia flashes back to the past and reflects upon her life, her family, and her first true-love, Adam, who is ever-present and urging for Mia to fight her way back to him. The question is, will Mia stay and live in a world that is strikingly different than the world she woke up to that fateful day of the wreck?
Gayle Forman weaves a mystifying and emotional tale of the strong bonds of family and friends in a person's life. If you've ever had someone you love, fighting to survive in a hospital bed, you know the anguish that Adam and Mia's friends and family feel for her. To balance such an emotionally draining tale, Forman compliments Mia's present struggle with laugh-out-loud flashbacks of Mia's eccentric and humorous parents and family. I'm pretty sure that Forman based Mia's grandfather on my own Pawpaw, and I boo-hooed like a baby when Mia reflected on memories with her grandpa. Reflecting on Gramps's conversations with a comatose Mia still make me tear up as I type this review. Although a short narrative, this novel is powerful and will leave you savoring the everyday moments with your loved ones, because in the end, it are those moments that we will cherish the most! An AWESOME book that will also be a movie directed and produced by Catherine Hardwick (director of Twilight) in the next year.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The 20 Worst Foods of 2009

I think I have a minor obsession with the calories in the food I eat, so I love the Eat This, Not That books published by Men's Health magazine. You can check out the list in its entirety at this link, or click on the image of "The Worst Food of 2009" below! This shake is like the entire daily caloric allowance for a 250 pound man, I think! Good Gosh! The site also has listings of the worst restaurant foods of 2009. We eat out A LOT and it was very sad to see a few of our favorites on the list, but knowing what is in them will definitely make you question whether or not eating the crap is worth it! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, people!

Baskin Robbins Large Chocolate Oreo Shake

  • 2,600 calories
  • 135 g fat (59 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fats)
  • 263 g sugars
  • 1,700 mg sodium

(From Men's We didn't think anything could be worse than Baskin Robbins' 2008 bombshell, the Heath Bar Shake. After all, it had more sugar (266 grams) than 20 bowls of Froot Loops, more calories (2,310) than 11 actual Heath Bars, and more ingredients (73) than you'll find in most chemist labs. Rather than coming to their senses and removing it from the menu, they did themselves one worse and introduced this caloric catastrophe. It¹s soiled with more than a day's worth of calories and three days worth of saturated fat, and, worst of all, usually takes less than 10 minutes to sip through a straw.

Eat This Instead! (and ask for two spoons)

2-Scoop Hot fudge SundaeChocolate and Vanilla

  • 530 calories
  • 29 g fat (19 g saturated fat)
  • 52 g sugars

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (ADORE this NOVEL!)

Have you ever wanted to be really good at just one thing, or maybe have a unique talent or skill that you totally dominate? You would be "graced", as the characters are in Kristin Cashore's imaginative and energetic novel, Graceling. Katsa is graced in the art of killing, and her small frame can easily take down an army of men, without needing the aide of weapons. (No, this isn't a fluffy book about a girl graced with loving animals, or graced with the ability to wow suitors with her extreme beauty!) Her uncle, King Randa, uses her as his strong arm; threatening law-breakers and scaring his enemies or opposition. Katsa doesn't want to be a bully for the king, and endeavors to use her extraordinary grace for good through her work in The Council, which is a group of citizens who act for the betterment and support the rights of the common people. On a mission for The Council, Katsa meets Po, another Graceling who apparently is graced in the art of fighting and hand-to-hand combat. The romance that develops between Po and Katsa is down-right adorable in that it is so off-the-wall and unexpected as romances go. Have you ever fallen for someone you've beaten the tar out of, or physically beat to pulp on a daily basis? Such is the delightful romance between Po and Katsa, as Po has convinced Katsa to "train" him so that he may better his fighting skills with the only worthy opponent he has ever met. Po must also uncover the mystery behind his kidnapped grandfather, the king of a neighboring district and a rescuee of The Council.
If you loved Katniss in The Hunger Games, then Katsa will be a character you definitely root for and enjoy. She is strong, brave, fearless, and full of spunk. Graceling is packed with action, but has that extra sprinkling of romance that The Hunger Games lacked. I'm also told that this book is being developed into a series, and the second novel is titled Fire, which you can bet I will be purchasing as soon as it hits the shelf! Love, love, love this book and I'm so sad I finished it in two days and can' linger over it more.


Standing in the checkout lane at good ole' Walmart, I picked up a Life&Style, OK!, or whatever gossip mag was on the rack that claimed to have New Moon movie "spoiler" photos. First of all, why haven't you read the darn book if you are already into the whole Twilight buzz, anyway?? It's kind of like someone getting pissed at you for mentioning that the Titanic sinks at the end of the movie. Really?! If there is a book that depicts minute details of the ending that may not even be covered in this film, then why, oh why are these pictures "spoilers"? Those of us who are "true" fans find these pictures to be "pleasers", so don't heistate to send your "spoilers" our way, okay?!

New Moon Movie Stills put together an awesome gallery of The New Moon trailer that premiered on MTV last week, and it is a great way for you to dissect everything your TiVo couldn't. Click on the picture of teen-wolf Jacob above to see what I mean! Sorry that I did't happend to record my reaction to the trailer, but it wouldn't have been as entertaining as those I've been seeing online and on E!. LOL!

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

As you all know, I blogged about the first book in this series, City of Bones, in which I explained the basic premise of the book and let you know a bit about the main characters. Go to this link to read about City of Bones. Clary, the protagonist in the series is coming to grips with the fact that the life her mother carefully constructed for her was a total sham. In fact, the world that Clary once knew is also a farce, being that she can see demons, vampires, werewolves, and the Nephilium that keep all of them in-line. Clary is part of this Nephilium lineage (part Angel, part human) that call themselves "Shadow Hunters". Jace, Isabel and Alec are the Shadow Hunters that come to Clary's aide after the mysterious dissappearance of her mother, which may be demon-related in execution. Both the first, City of Bones, and second book, City of Ashes, vividly describe the world of Shadowhunters and the other downworlder creatures that humans didn't know co-exist with them. Clary also feels romantically attracted to the heavenly gorgeous, and smartass, Jace Wayland.
The third book in The Mortal Instruments trilogy, City of Glass was a satisfying finale to a well-written series. Clare's main characters are definitely dynamic, but I think she has a knack for keeping them true-to-form from the first book, to the last. I hate it when I begin a series and by the last book, the characters I've been reading about for hundreds of pages, have huge about-faces and perform feats that are totally out in left field. City of Glass kept Clary, Simon, Jace, and his Shadowhunting companions as interesting and complex as they were in the first two novels. I didn't blog about the second book because I was a little pissed that Jace was thought to be Clary's long-lost brother, which ooged me out, considering I was eagerly anticipating more smoochy scenes between the two! However, Cassandra Clare does a superb job of integrating and resolving the many plot lines she's developed in the first two novels, and the Jace and Clary situation is resolved, but not enough time is spent on the two after the resolution, in my humble opinion. Sebastian also should have been further developed, and possibly mentioned in the second novel to enable readers to develop a relationship with him, thereby making the finale all the more exciting. Loved the ending, and it is what made me appreciate the series as a whole. The only thing dissappointing is that City of Glass is the final book in this series!
Not only has Stephenie Meyer recommended the series to you, I have, too! What is stopping you from trying them now, huh?!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 6th is an Important Day...

Me at my 1st Birthday!

Not only is today my birthday (29, Yikes!), but it is also a significant day in the history of mankind! Ha! Here are a few other reasons why June 6th rocks! (From Wilkipedia).

June 6th is the 157th day of the year!

Today is "National Huntington's Disease Awareness" Day. Click on it to learn more about it, so you are "aware" of what it is!

1844 - The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) is founded...where would we be in the world without the YMCA and the kick-ass song that it inspired???

1867 - David Abercrombie is born..."I like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch"

1923 - Much debate and laws occur when one-piece swimming suits become the fashion for beach-bound women. Various cities ban the new style while others will allow it but only if the new suits are appropriate for swimming and not just for fashion....if only those law makers could see what is on beaches today! Ha!

1932 - The first federal gasoline tax ( All US States had a gas tax prior to this starting in Oregon in 1919 ) was created with the enactment of the Revenue Act of 1932 with a tax of 1 cent/gal ...too bad it isn't just a cent anymore!

1933 - The first drive-in theater opens in Camden, New thing to do on my birthday!

1944 - D-Day, US Troops storm the beaches of Normandy. The allied soldiers quickly break through the Atlantic Wall and push inland in the largest amphibious military operation in history. My birthday was a start to the end of World War II.

1980 - Yours truly was born at 8:08pm...and WILL be famous someday, so it is an important date in American just don't know it yet!

1984 - Tetris was wonder my mother was so addicted! It was in the stars!

1985 - Authorities in Brazil exhumed a body later identified as that of Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who conducted medical experiments on inmates at Auschwitz during World War II. (I talk about Dr. Mengele and his sadistic experiments a lot during my Holocaust Unit...wierd that his body is identified on my birthday decades after his death!)

1967 - Paul Giamatti, American actor is born...loved him is Sideways!

1970 - Sarah Dessen, teen literature writer is born (my junior high female students love her stuff!)

1972 - Natalie Morales, Journalist on The Today Show born. (Love her!)

1975 – Staci Keanan, American actress - remember the TV show "My Two Dads"? She was the daughter! Loved that show!

1968Robert F. Kennedy, 64th United States Attorney General & former U.S. Senator from New York (b. 1925) died on this date....not an awesome day in US history.

1999 - Napster the online music file sharing service starts as the first widely-used peer-to-peer sharing service allowing music fans to easily share MP3 format song files with each other. The service is shut down by court order in July 2001...dang it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New New Moon Stills!

I like the look of New Moon way better than the visuals of Twilight. Yeah, I said it! Check out these new stills released of the movie.

The Hunger Games UK

Click on the picture above to visit the UK Hunger Games website. Even though the character illustrations look a bit too young for my taste, it has really cool pics and downloads for the novel.