Thursday, 25 September 2008

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Back cover blurb:

For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella could ever have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just beginning…

I've just finished New Moon! I know, I know, it took me long enough.

If you love the first book, then you will enjoy the second one. It is pretty good. I really enjoyed the first chapter and the last third of the book. However, there are times when this one was a bit slow.

*Spoiler alert* If you have not read New Moon, then do not read this part of my post. I felt that Meyer could have done a better job with this story. I was all excited about the possibility of Bella becoming a vampire. I didn't expect Bella to spend four hundred pages sitting around with Jacob and lamenting the fact that Edward left. Then, the bad vampires came along I expected things to get exciting, but that didn't last long. Thank goodness the book ended really well. I enjoyed the trip to Italy. In fact, I wish she had spent a bit more time with that part of the plot. A hundred pages less with Jacob and a hundred more in Italy would have been great. That's not to say I don't like Jacob. I found his character interesting and I get the feeling that he could play an important role in the next two books. Oh, and did you react the same as me? I assumed Jacob would become a werewolf way back in book one so having to wait for Bella to figure it out was excruciating. I was yelling in my head, "He is a vampire already! Come on! Let's get on with it!" By the way, did you notice the missing words? About four or five times I noticed missing words from the text. For an international bestseller, it could have been edited better. Anyway, the book ended really well, didn't it? Weren't you excited about reading the third book? I'm nervous, though. Will I get to the good stuff right away or will Meyer keep me hanging on at the beginning? We'll see.

4/5 Stars

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Back cover book blurb:

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license—for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’s rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world–and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Imagine what would happen if everybody in the world were beautiful. What would it be like? In Scott Westerfeld's book that's basically what happens. At the age of 16, everybody gets their body surgically enhanced so that they are a perfect "10". In fact, people can choose how they would like to look. Then, they go off to a city where all they do is party and have fun. Imagine.

Now, what would happen if you didn't want to become pretty? What if you liked yourself the way you were?

That's the idea in the Uglies Trilogy. The stories are very interesting and fun. I really enjoyed all three books and, at times, I couldn't put them down. I donated my copies to the Reading Room so you should get a chance to read them. Please, do yourself a favour and read Uglies first. There are plenty of copies floating around the country and you can usually find a copy in Best Eastern.

You'll think I'm a bit weird (like you don't already), but the last time I visited Best Eastern I noticed that Uglies was hidden behind some other teen novel. While the sales attendant wasn't looking, I moved it to the front of the shelf where people buying a copy of Twilight would likely see it! Yes, Mr. Jason is a bit of a nut.

I'd love to read your comments on this book and/or comments on the nature of beauty. After reading this book I started thinking about how we react to beautiful people. It is weird, isn't it? It really is just dumb luck that makes some people more beautiful than others. I mean, congratulations, your parents were attractive and so are you. So what. Anybody can be born beautiful. It doesn't take any special talent. Actually, I should mention here that I like beautiful people. Don't get me wrong. I just like them a whole lot more when they have other things going for them also.

It is sad really. If you are born beautiful and all you ever hear is, "Wow, you are beautiful" then you start to think that being attractive is your thing. That's who you are. That's what you do well. I really hope that doesn't happen to you. Don't let your beauty be everything. You've got more to offer the world.

I don't want to get too personal here, but as a teenager I wasn't very happy with the way I looked. I was so tall and thin. Besides, my family didn't have the money to buy me fashionable clothes. Being attractive definitely wasn't my thing. I was good at English. I was okay at a lot of stuff. I had convinced myself that looking attractive wasn't important. It's what is inside that counts, right? Well, of course that's true, but now I think that it's okay to do the best with what you have.

Anyway, enough about that. The Uglies Trilogy is a lot of fun. I hope you get a chance to read it!

By the way, I first heard about this book when I was looking at the New York Times Best Seller list. I stumbled on this article and it sounded like an interesting book.

5/5 Stars

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean

Inside Jacket Blurb:

Neverland is calling again. . .Something is wrong in Neverland. Dreams are leaking out—strangely real dreams, of pirates and mermaids, of warpaint and crocodiles. For Wendy and the Lost Boys it is a clear signal—Peter Pan needs their help, and so it is time to do the unthinkable and fly to Neverland again.

But back in Neverland, everything has changed—and the dangers they find there are far beyond their dreams. . .

Wouldn't you like to stay a child forever? Wasn't life much simpler then? Something changed in your world when, one day, somebody asked you "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and you were actually able to give them an answer. Being an adult isn't all it's cracked up to be. In Peter Pan in Scarlet the children from the original story have grown up, but they get one more chance to become children and return to the fantasy world of Neverland.

This is a very good book. I absolutely loved the first few chapters and I enjoyed reading it out loud to the class so much. This is the kind of book you just have to own. It is a work of art.

Confession time. I never really liked Peter Pan much. Even as a child, I never found the story to be very interesting. However, one day S.A., our delightful English HOD, came into the office with this book. I was immediately hypnotized by the cover and begged to be the first one to read it.

This has to be one of the best book covers ever! I love the shimmering map that is kind of in the background. I liked to just hold it in my hand and walk around with it. Even the paper is that beautiful, thick white paper that feels so good to the touch. Wherever I went, people kept coming up to me and asking to take a look at it. I love when that happens.

Anyway, the story is very good. You will enjoy it. It is a teen novel rather than a children's story and I think most people would get something out of it. It is so nicely written and really captures your imagination. The first three chapters are incredible and rank up there with some of my favourites. Geraldine has such a great start in this one. The climax hit pretty early so I was a little slow in finishing it, especially when I got Twilight and I wanted to see why everyone was reading it.

However, I still think it is very interesting and I would highly recommend it. The story really wrestles with the idea of becoming an adult and what that all means. I liked that about the book.

There is something strange about that time in our lives when we go from being a child to a teenager and then from being a teenager to an adult. For me, it was a tough time. I wasn't in a big hurry to grow up - which might explain why I still behave a bit like a teenager. :-)

5/5 Stars

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Deeply sensuous and extraordinarily suspenseful, TWILIGHT captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite. Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.

Imagine if you fell in love with a vampire. What would happen? Can you imagine how hard it would be for your vampire love to resist biting your neck and damning you to a life as a blood sucker? Cool!

Twilight is an excellent book! You should read it. I give it five stars.

After seeing so many copies of Twilight bouncing around my class, I just had to ask. I was told it was a vampire love story and I guess that sounded interesting so I Googled it and found out that it has been a bestseller for a few years now. Actually, I felt a bit embarrassed that I hadn't heard of it. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about so I went down to Best Eastern at The Mall. I didn't see any copies on display so I asked one of the sales attendants about it. To my surprise, she knew what I was talking about and directed me to the counter. She pulled a bag off the floor in a spot hidden below. She uncovered it and placed it in my hands. I think it had somebody's name on it, but she let me buy it anyway (sorry if that copy was yours). If I had known that it was the last copy available in the country, I guess I would have been jubilant. Instead, I simply grinned with satisfaction, not knowing how lucky I really was.

Anyway, I was tired the night I got it so I only read the first 20 pages. The book seemed pretty good, but I was so busy at the time and I still had a couple chapters of Peter Pan in Scarlet to finish off. A few days later I read another 50 pages or so. That's when it took off. I coudn't put it down and one night I stayed up late to read it. I was so tired the next day I wondered if the students could tell. Yes, even teachers stay up later than they should sometimes. Great book. Everyone should read it.

I give this book five out of five stars simply because there are times when you just can't put it down. No, it isn't as incredible as Harry Potter, but it is still very good. I suspect the reason why a lot of the girls like this book would be their attraction to Edward. Also, they probably like the first person narrative because they get to see the world through another girl's eyes. I'm just guessing though. You will have to tell me (maybe in the comment section of this post).

For me, I couldn't help wondering what it would be like to be Edward. Wouldn't it be great to be a vampire? You could live forever. You could be rich. As Edward, you could read people's thoughts and charm them. You'd be super strong and fast. You would never have to sleep or eat (well, except for drinking blood). You could study all kinds of things like piano, languages, and history. And, you could be a "good" vampire. You could go out and hunt down evil criminals and make them pay! In other words, you could be a superhero! I like that idea. There should be a TV series like that. Good fun.

(*Spoiler alert* do not read this paragraph if you haven't read Twilight) I guess it was the whole saving Bella from the car accident that caught my attention and the mystery behind why Edward seemed to hate her at the beginning. I knew it was a vampire book so I was curious as to how Meyer was going to develop the story. How would she find out that he was a vampire? What would happen next? Would she want to become a vampire? Actually, I was a bit disappointed when Jacob just out and told her about the Cullens. I had hoped Bella would slowly put the clues together herself. Still, that was okay. Oh, and one other thing I really liked was the references to literature like "Romeo and Juliet". I hope it inspires you to read it someday!

5/5 Stars

Our Amazing Donors

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Updated Oct. 20th, 2009

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Do you believe in "happiness"?

Think about it.

What would happen if one day you woke up and realized that you had almost everything you have ever dreamed of? Could you handle it?

Welcome to my life. I'm an English teacher in paradise. I have the best job ever and I work with the best students at the best school in paradise.

I don't want to lay it on too thick, but I love my job. I go to work with a smile on my face every day. Sometimes I pinch myself and I think, "Do I really work here? What did I do to deserve this?" Ten minutes before class I start pacing back and forth. I can't wait to get there. I don't want to sit at my desk because I can't wait to see what is going to happen next. I look forward to seeing their smiling faces and hearing, "Good morning Mr. Jason" in their, soft, sweet, enthusiastic voices. It's amazing!

I'm not sure why I want to start a blog. Perhaps I could put some pictures here. Maybe I could talk about all the great books my students and I are reading. How about if I write down some personal stuff or just random thoughts? Could I add some school stuff like advice or tell some stories about my students? Who knows where this road will take me? I hope some of you will join me on the journey...