Monday, 9 November 2009
This work presents an authorised and fully illustrated insight into the life and career of the award-winning director, from his childhood film projects up to "King Kong", together with Jackson's revealing personal account of his six-year quest to film "The Lord of the Rings". Once, Peter Jackson was a name unknown to all but a small band of loyal fans and fellow film-makers.
Now, he is the newest member of Hollywood's elite fellowship, with his name on the most successful movie trilogy of all time. Written with Jackson's full participation, this extensive biography, illustrated with never-before-seen photos from Jackson's personal collection, tells the inside story of how a New Zealander became Hollywood's hottest property - from the early cult classics, through Academy Award -winning success with Kate Winslet's "Heavenly Creatures", the abandoned "King Kong" remake, and the filming of "The Lord of the Rings", a project which was abandoned two years into pre-production, rejected by most of the other studios and then picked up by New Line Cinema in the biggest gamble in film history.
Drawing upon interviews with fifty of Peter Jackson's colleagues and contemporaries, author Brian Sibley paints a portrait of a true auteur, a man gifted with single-minded determination and an artist's vision. Jackson himself is both revealing and insightful about his entire film-making life, from his first childhood steps filming in Super 8 to the grand realisation of his life's dream: "King Kong". Together, these joint narratives provide a truly unique and compelling insight into one of the finest cinematic minds at work today.
I am a big fan of the Lord of the Rings movies. I read the trilogy during a vacation five years ago and I loved the movies directed by Peter Jackson. When I came across this beautiful hardcover biography of Peter, I couldn't resist it. I picked it up and started reading it and before I knew it I had read the entire book from cover to cover.
I guess to begin with I was fascinated that this little-known guy from New Zealand somehow came along and got to do one of the biggest film projects in history. That amazes me. I wanted to know how he did it. The book does a really good job of explaining the whole thing. It describes his humble beginnings and all the challenges he faced making his first movies. Then it gave all the details related to how he managed to get the LOTR movies. Simply fascinating.
I really liked the way the writer, Brian Sibley, managed to keep this biography moving along. I also was very happy with the way that he quoted a lot of what Peter told him. I loved being able to read full page excerpts from conversations he had with him. With authorized biographies like this, you get a lot more real information and it makes you feel good knowing you are getting to the heart of things and not just speculation from a book writer who may just be speculating a lot of the time (I recenly read parts of a Rowling biography that was a complete waste of time because it based a lot on stuff the writer got from newspaper articles and other secondhand sources).
I liked everything about this book and the stories it told. The only thing I felt I missed out on was more about the casting of Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures. Peter's film was Winslet's first film and, being a big Winslet fan, I really wanted to know more about her and how Peter felt about her work on his movie. Oh well, you can't have everything.
Having read this book, I'm very interested in seeing all of Jackson's movies. As well, it has made me even more curious about visiting New Zealand and it has further convinced me that Kiwis are amazing people.
Stay tuned for the new movie The Lovely Bones based on the popular novel by Alice Sebold which is being produced my Peter Jackson and should be released soon. The Lovely Bones is available in the SRR and I'm hoping to get a hardcover before January as it is going to be an even bigger hit once it makes it to the theater in December.
Note: I'm reading a lot of different stuff these days. I just thought I'd post this review to keep you all up to date. There are so many amazing books in the world. Just pick one up! Pick up something you wouldn't usually read. Read something totally "different" today! Take a chance on a different genre or a different writer. You never know.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson, the acclaimed author of such bestsellers as "The Mother Tongue" and "Made in America", decided it was time to move back to the United States for a while. This was partly to let his wife and kids experience life in Bryson's homeland - and partly because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another. It was thus clear to him that his people needed him. But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of modern-day Britain, and to analyze what he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite, zebra crossings, and place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey, and Shellow Bowells. With wit and irreverence, Bill Bryson presents the ludicrous and the endearing in equal measure. The result is a social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain.
I think I'm done with my tour of Bill Bryson books. It was a good run, but I'm done.
Bryson's Notes from a Small Island is a book that covers a trip he took around Great Britain. I thought that I would really enjoy this book, but I found it a bit tiresome.
The first quarter of the book was very good as he described his experiences in London when he was younger. I lived in London for six months and really liked hearing Bryson's take. I especially liked his description of his first trip to Dover and how he reacted to staying in a number of bed and breakfasts. I also found his work experiences in London to be of great interest.
However, as Bryson moved out into the countryside and travelled from town to town, he started to lose me. He gets excited about details and half the time I feel his enthusiasm and I want to know more. The parts I enjoy the most are bits about people and crazy situations and his thoughts on how ridiculous the world is. The problem is that he spent a lot of time describing buildings I have never seen and never will see. If he only wrote about half of the places he did and spent more time talking about the people he met and the funny experiences he had, this book could have been amazing.
My reading style changed as I read this. At times, I read the first sentence of each paragraph and scanned the rest. I only stopped to read the parts that interested me. The only thing is that by the last half of the book I was reading smaller and smaller patches.
2.5 / 5 Stars
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
1. Paper Towns by John Green
2. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
5. Identical by Ellen Hopkins
6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
7. Wake by Lisa McMann
8. Untamed by P.C. and Kristin Cast
9. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
10. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Okay, first of all, I'm excited because I actually read some of the books on the list this year. It is nice to know something about the kinds of books that are up for nomination. Second, I can't believe that Breaking Dawn didn't win! Wow. I figured the Twilight fans out there would crash the ballot boxes. Also, I can't believe they actually had 11,000 teens vote this year - that's amazing. I'm also happy to say that we already have some of the winners in the SRR. We have Breaking Dawn along with the other Twilight books. We have two copies of Hunger Games along with Part 2. We have City of Ashes along with City of Bones already. I have a copy of Wake. Plus Peta just sent us Untamed and Graceling. So, all in all, we are off to a really good start.
Monday, 19 October 2009
Yeah, I thought that would grab your attention. For all the Twilight fans out there, you'll be excited to hear that we now have the House of Night Series.
Here's how amazon describes the first book:
When sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird gets Marked as a fledgling vampire she must join the House of Night school where she will train to become an adult vampire. That is, if she makes it through the Change. But Zoe is no ordinary fledgling. She has been chosen as special by the Goddess Nyx and discovers her amazing new power to conjure the elements: earth, air, fire, water and spirit. When Zoey discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite group, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look within herself to embrace her destiny - with a little help from her new vampire friends.
Sounds good, doesn't it? I thought you'd like it. We now have four of the books in the series: Marked, Betrayed, Untamed, and Hunted. That ought to keep you girls busy for a while. In fact, I think I'll be adding this one to my to be read list (though it is getting very, very long at this point).
Once again, we have our book angel, Peta, to thank for sending us this series. All four books were ordered, brand new, from book depository and sent to us. Thank you so much Peta for sending us so many wonderful books. The girls are loving the Study Series and now we have another series that is bound to be just as popular. You're the best Peta!
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Here is our update on our SRR books. Books in BOLD are the ones we have.
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (P)
- City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (J/M)
- Heist Society by Ally Carter
- Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (?)
- Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (J)
- Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (P)
- Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
- If I Stay by Gayle Forman (M)
- Fire by Kristin Cashore (P)
- Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Paper Towns by John Green
- Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (J)
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (P/J)
- City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (J)
- Identical by Ellen Hopkins
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (M)
- Wake by Lisa McMann (J)
- Untamed by P.C. and Kristin Cast (P)
- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore (P)
2009 Nominated Books in SRR
1. Truancy by Isamu Fukui (J)
2. Bloodlines by Katy Moran (J)
3. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Su)
1. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (J)
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (J)
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (J)
4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (J)
5. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by J. Patterson (coming -Mary)
6. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (J)
7. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (J)
8. Extras by Scott Westerfeld (J)
9. Before I Die by Jenny Downham (P)
10. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (P)
1. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (J)
2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (P)
3. Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever by James Patterson
4. Firegirl by Tony Abbott (coming - Mary)
5. All Hallows Eve (13 Stories)by Vivian Vande Velde
6. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (M)
7. River Secrets by Shannon Hale (coming - Peta)
8. Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe
9. Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks
1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. (J)
2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (J)
3. Eldest by Christopher Paolini (coming - Mary)
4. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (P)
5. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (P)
6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (P)
7. Poison by Chris Wooding (P)
8. Captain Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart (P)
9. If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? by Melissa Kantor (P)
10. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (P)
1. Girls In Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
2. The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen (P)
3. Looking For
4. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (P)
5. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
6. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson (J)
7. The Gangsta Rap by Benjamin Zephaniah (P)
8. Teen Idol by Meg Cabot
9. The Garden by Elise Aidinoff (P)
1. Harry Potter and the Order of the
2. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
3. Pirates! by Celia Rees
4. Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
5 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
6. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
7. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (coming- Mary)
8. Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot
9. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler (P)
10. Curse of the Blue Tattoo by
1. “Faerie Wars” by Herbie Brennan
2. “What Happened to Lani Garver?” (M)
3. “Abhorsen“ by Garth Nix ("Sabriel")
4. “The First Part Last” by Angela Johnson
5. “Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale” by Holly Black (P)
6. “The Second Summer of the Sisterhood” by Ann Brashares
7. “After” by Francine Prose (M)
8. “Storm Catchers” by Tim Bowler
9. “Once Upon a Marigold” by Jean Ferris
10. “The Thief Lord” by Cornelia Funke
1. "A Wizard Alone: Young Wizards Book 6” by Diane Duane ("So You Want to be a Wizard" Deep in USA)
2. “The Second Summer of the Sisterhood” by Ann Brashares
3. “Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale” by Holly Black (P)
4. “The Thief Lord” by Cornelia Funke
5. “Abhorsen” by Garth Nix ("Sabriel")
6. “The Book of Wizardry: The Apprentice’s Guide to the Secrets of the Wizards’ Guild” by Cornelius Rumstuckle
7. “Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters” by Gail Giles (B)
9. “True Confessions of a Heartless Girl” by Martha Brooks (B)
Where are the books coming from?
(J) = I've donated it
(P) = Peta has donated it.
(B) = Bikki in the
(M) = Mary in the USA donated it
Thanks to all of the people for sending us their books! I've listed their names and countries beside the books they have donated to us.
Sunday, 11 October 2009
The ghastly truth about the wild warrior race who weren't afraid to fight the Romans. The book includes stories about suffering saints, gruesome games for Celtic kids, and the dreadful Druids with their strange sacrifices and terrible trials.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: YOU ARE SO LUCKY. When I was a teenager we didn't have many great books to read and Horrible Histories is just another example of the type of book I would have eaten up if I'd had them around.
Terry Deary is amazing. He is funny and interesting. He really knows how to make history interesting for young readers. He goes after all the shocking stuff and all the disgusting stuff and he tells us his story in a most amusing way.
Martin Brown's illustrations are hilarious. My favourite was the comparison of the Celtic and Roman solidier ready for battle. The Roman is standing there in full armour, covered from head to toe. Next to him is the Celtic warrior, standing naked except for a little fig leaf over his private parts. My son and I laughed so hard when we saw that.
Deary's books get a lot of the facts on the table and he gives us maps and drawings to make things clear. He tells funny little stories about real people. He makes little question lists (followed by answers) and the result is usually shock and awe.
The Celts are an interesting group and well worth reading about. I think I know a little bit more about European history now. At the very least I know that reading about history is good fun!
Scholastic recently had the whole series in a box set. I'm still kicking myself because I didn't buy it. You see, I only recently discoverd Horrible Histories and their amazing creator Terry Deary. Even if you don't like history, I dare you to pick one up. I'm sure you'll find something in there that you'll love.
Terry Deary is a hero for making history exciting and fun for kids (well, and even for us older types). BTW, we now have a signed copy of the Second World War book for our collection! Yay! Stay tuned, I'll try to get more for the SRR as soon as I can.
An SF novel about vampires . . . Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville's blood. By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn. How long can one man survive like this?
This was kind of like a zombie book. These vampires are nothing like the Twilight vampires. They are mindless killers much more like the Dawn of the Dead zombies.
I saw the movie a while ago and it was okay. I like Will Smith and I found the story interesting enough. I figured I'd give the book a read and see if it was better than the movie.
Actually, it was much better than the movie. Hollywood made a lot of major changes to the script - almost so many that you wouldn't necessarily connect the movie with the book if they didn't have the same title!
As much as I really enjoyed the story, I found myself a bit disappointed because of the twist at the end. If you read it you will know what I mean. I really liked the beginning and Robert Neville's struggle being the only man left on earth. That was fascinating. I would have enjoyed 300+ pages devoted to Neville's struggle to keep sane in his bizarre situation. I really enjoyed the last half of the book and wanted to see how it was going to play out. The book has 317 pages so I was really geared up for a good, long read. However, when I hit page 170 I discovered that the story had finished. The rest of the book includes a variety of Matheson's short horror stories. In fact the horror stories are quiet good, but I had wanted more of I Am Legend. Oh well.
If you like horror or zombie stories, you'll enjoy this one. I Am Legend was published in 1954 so I think we can consider it as one of the first books of its kind. Even just for that, you can feel like you are biting into a bit of horror story history.
Witness Stephen King's triumphant, blood-spattered return to the genre that made him famous. Cell, the king of horror's homage to zombie films (the book is dedicated in part to George A. Romero) is his goriest, most horrific novel in years, not to mention the most intensely paced. Casting aside his love of elaborate character and town histories and penchant for delayed gratification, King yanks readers off their feet within the first few pages; dragging them into the fray and offering no chance catch their breath until the very last page.
In Cell King taps into readers fears of technological warfare and terrorism. Mobile phones deliver the apocalypse to millions of unsuspecting humans by wiping their brains of any humanity, leaving only aggressive and destructive impulses behind. Those without cell phones, like illustrator Clayton Riddell and his small band of "normies," must fight for survival, and their journey to find Clayton's estranged wife and young son rockets the book toward resolution.Fans that have followed King from the beginning will recognize and appreciate Cell as a departure--King's writing has not been so pure of heart and free of hang-ups in years (wrapping up his phenomenal Dark Tower series and receiving a medal from the National Book Foundation doesn't hurt either). "Retirement" clearly suits King, and lucky for us, having nothing left to prove frees him up to write frenzied, juiced-up horror-thrillers like Cell. --Daphne Durham
I have a confession to make. I love zombie movies. I don't know why, but I do. Zombies are really awesome. Dawn of the Dead is the best, of course. The idea that human survivors would hide in a shopping mall and fight off zombies is beyond cool.
I guess I'm fascinated by the human response to tragedy or extreme circumstances. It's the same reason I'm crazy about Titanic and why I enjoyed books like The Lord of the Flies. I always wonder what people would do if we stripped away all the technology and all the comforts of home that we enjoy. How would people react? How would I react? Would I have been one of the fine gentlemen on the Titanic sipping on a drink and vowing to go down with the ship or would I have snuck onto a lifeboat?
Anyway, I was pretty excited when I got a book shipment and inside there was a big, beautiful hardcover copy of this book. Thanks to Ann in the USA for sending it to us! I've never actually read a Stephen King book and after reading On Writing I really wanted to see him in action.
The first chapter will blow your mind. It is disgusting, frightening, and disturbing. If you are into horror, it will knock your socks off. King's story grabs you by the throat and never let's go. I really enjoyed the three main characters and the story was very interesting.
I had never read a zombie book but now I'm convinced there is a lot of room for fun here. I'd like to read more books in this genre. I'm certain if you like horror stories or zombie movies, you will like this book as much as I did.
*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. Steven Alper is a typical eighth-grader--smarter than some, a better drummer than most, but with the usual girl problems and family trials. Then, on October 7, his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, falls, has a nosebleed that doesn't stop, and is diagnosed with leukemia. All hell breaks loose. Mrs. Alper's days and nights revolve around getting Jeffrey to his chemotherapy treatments, and Mr. Alper retreats into a shell, coming out only occasionally to weep over the mounting medical bills.
Steven becomes the forgotten son, who throws himself into drumming, even as he quits doing his homework and tries to keep his friends from finding out about Jeffrey's illness. A story that could have morphed into melodrama is saved by reality, rawness, and the wit Sonnenblick infuses into Steven's first-person voice.
The recriminations, cares, and nightmares that come with a cancer diagnosis are all here, underscored by vomiting, white blood cell counts, and chemotherapy ports. Yet, this is also about regrouping, solidarity, love, and hope. Most important for a middle-grade audience, Sonneblick shows that even in the midst of tragedy, life goes on, love can flower, and the one thing you can always change is yourself.
Now, you might wonder why anybody would want to read a book about a teenage boy who has a little brother with cancer. However, this book was #5 on the 2005 Teens' Top Ten list so obviously a lot of teenagers read and enjoyed it. I usually only read books that I think will be fun to read, so I was skeptical about this one but I wanted to give it a try.
Actually, I'm glad I did. Sonnenblick's writing is very interesting and easy to read. I felt for Steven, the main character and I found his experiences to be fascinating. I could empathize with him and all the things he was going through. I think it is quite authentic - Steven probably reacts like any teenager would in times of a family crisis.
Steven is just trying to get on with his life. He enjoys playing drums and he's worried about girls and school and all that stuff. At the same time, he has to struggle with the fact that his brother has cancer. He has to face his relationship with his parents and deal with his own selfish feelings.
This book was different and because of that I really enjoyed it. It made me laugh and cry. I highly recommend it to students who want to read something more serious then the usual YA fair. The writer wrote this for one of his students who was going through a similar situation. If you've ever gone through a family crisis like a sick sibling, you might find this book a comfort as well.
Saturday, 19 September 2009
All her world’s a stage.
Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.
That is, until now.
Enter Stage Right
NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.
COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.
ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.
BERTIE. Our heroine.
Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.
Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.
Great cover artwork? Check. Interesting premise? Check. Support of a major new writer of a similar book? Check. Mantchey's novel is set for take-off. Seriously. Even Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) has been quoted as supporting it.
Thanks to Peta for sending us a brand new hardcover version of this book. It's obvious that she is getting really good at identifying great new books for young adult readers. The girls are going to love this. Well, as soon as I pass it on to them. LOL
In the sensational sequel to "Poison Study" and "Magic Study", Yelena's apprenticeship is over - now her real test has begun. When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder - able to capture and release souls - spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before. Honour sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself - and save the land she holds dear.
Sounds great, doesn't it? This will be a big hit with the students are into myth/science fiction like LOTR and the Narnia books. Thanks again to Peta for buying this book for us and sending it all the way from the UK. With so many incredible books, I'm not sure what to read first.
First of all, let me just say, check out the artwork on these novels! Wow! All three books have such beautiful covers that they suck you right in. As soon as I saw these three books I said, "I've got to read these!" Then I checked the blurbs and they make the books sound very interesting too. I can't wait to put these on display in SRR. Anybody interested? Waitlist in the comment section!
Thanks again to Peta for buying us this great set of books!!!
Amazon Description of Magic Study:
Completing her apprenticeship could prove deadly...With an execution order on her head, Yelena has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth. With only a year to master her magic - or face death - Yelena must begin her apprenticeship and travels to the Four Towers of the Magician's Keep.But nothing in Sitia is familiar. Not the family to whom she is a stranger. Not the unsettling new facets of her magic. Nor the brother who resents her return. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her rare powers, a rogue magician emerges - and Yelena catches his eye.Suddenly she is embroiled in battle of good against evil. And once again it will be her magical abilities that will either save her life...or be her downfall.
Amazon Description of Poison Study:
Choose: A quick death...or a slow poison...About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace - and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust - and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonising death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...
Those of you who are following my blog know that Stephenie Meyer, the writer of the Twilight Saga, wrote in her blog that she highly recommended that people read Suzanne Collins' book Hunger Games. I took her advice and loved the first book. Luckily for us, Scholastic offered it up earlier this year so a lot of girls were able to get copies. My copy has been floating around 5B for about three months now too!
I was just about to order my copy of the book as I knew it was supposed to come available in September. Imagine my shock when it arrived from bookdepository last week!!! I was shocked. How could that be?
You guessed it: Peta. Peta, our book angel, has been following the blog and knew we were anxiously awaiting the release of this book. She also is one of the few people on the planet, I think, who figured out that bookdepository changed their stock to "available" about ten days before Amazon was scheduled to start shipping. Anyway, the rest is history!
Thanks Peta! Your generosity is amazing!
I'll be reading this one in the next few days and then I'll post my review. For now, if anybody wants to waitlist for this book (and I know you do), please just add a comment to this post.
I'm totally amazed at the generosity of people around the world who send us books and to those wonderful individuals who agree to send us their books in spite of the high costs of shipping. In many cases the cost of shipping is the same as the value of the book being sent! Incredible.
I'm getting so many books each week I can no longer salute each book with an entry here on the blog. Many thanks to our kind donors. Please feel free to continue sending notes and postcards along with your books! That is an extra special personal touch and will create even more interest in the books you send us. Besides, it's so fun to tell the girls where the books are coming from. They are like little visitors from countries all over the world!
My hat goes off to Peta again. Her generosity knows no bounds. Last week she sent us six brand new, never read, books. Unbelievable! In the coming week, assuming I have time, I will highlight some of them here on the blog as I believe they are wonderful selections and they deserve a bit of attention before being set loose on the SRR shelves.
As well, I'd like to just note a few of the incredible new books that have just arrived:
We have four new Nicholas Sparks hardcovers from Cosette in the USA: True Believer, A Bend in the Road, At First Sight, and The Wedding! These are beautiful books and will be well-loved by all the Sparks fans.
We also got a hardcover version of Cecelia Ahern's If You Could See Me Now from Chelsea in the USA. Ahern is one of the most popular authors for young women and the girls in my classes won't be able to keep their hands off this one!
Some of the special requests have come in: How to Deal by Sarah Dessen, She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, and The Freedom Writer's Diary by the Freedom Writers.
We have also received a hardcover of Meg Cabot's Ready or Not from Caitlin in the USA as well as two copies of Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me? and one of the large paperback versions of Shopaholic and Sister!
There are so many other amazing books I've received as well. I just wish I had time to list them all! The Goosebumps collection is well on its way as is the collection of Madison Finn books and more Chicken Soup books.
Friday, 28 August 2009
When asked about good books that we should get for the SRR, one of the other teachers suggested the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.
Now, Beverly Cleary was a popular writer of children's books when I was a boy. Of course that means her stuff is pretty old, so I was skeptical. I wasn't sure if anybody would read them.
Okay, confession time. When I was younger, I was a bit of a reluctant reader. I know, it's hard to believe, but it's true. I didn't read many books for fun.
As a child, I loved Dr Seuss books. I remember visiting a friend's house and leafing through her entire collection and I remember being hypnotized by them all. After that, I got into books about kids who had horses and went on adventures. Later, in high school, I read a number of books that qualified as "literature" and I was pretty keen on all the ideas that the books gave me.
However, I rarely read stories just for the pure fun. Looking back now, I think it is because I was never really introduced to all the great books that were out there so I didn't know what to read. And, as I've said before, I think the writers of books for young people are much better these days than they were when I was a kid.
Anyway, I DO remember one book that I read and enjoyed as a boy and it was "Henry and the Paper Route" by Beverly Cleary. I can't even remember why I enjoyed it. I just remember thinking that Beverly Cleary was awesome and that she was going to be my "favourite author" - not that anybody knew, or cared to ask.
Yesterday I thought I'd give Ramona the Brave a few pages and see what it was like. Well, I read it from cover to cover and then went on to read a second book. Ramona the Brave is pretty fascinating. I was so impressed by Cleary's ability to get into the heads and hearts of young children. Her story captures how it felt to be in first grade. All the feelings and thoughts and anxieties of childhood came rushing back to me yesterday. It was so amazing to remember what that was like.
The main character, Ramona, is interesting because she tries so hard to be good, but things happen and she just keeps getting into trouble. I like her older sister too. She gives her little sister a hard time and doesn't enjoy being around her that much, but just when Ramona is at the end of her rope, her big sister will say something that turns everything around and makes it okay again. I thought that was so cool and heartwarming. The mother, also, surprises Ramona with her kindness. She feels like her mother prefers her older sister and there are times when she gets shocked by her mother's reactions to things that are developing.
I can't wait to read "Ramona and Her Father". In the two books I've read, the father seems like a really nice guy (kinda cool) and everybody says Ramona is "her father's daughter" like she and her father have a magical connection or something. I'm eager to read more about their relationship and to see more of how the father and daughter interact.
Cleary was born in 1916 and just died a few years ago (in 2004). That means she lived through WWII and was writing during the 1950's and 60's in America a time that the modern notion of the "traditional family in America" comes from. Dads went to work and Moms stayed at home and baked apple pies. You get the idea. Anyway, Cleary's narrative captures that innocent time. Interestingly though, Ramona's mother starts working in Ramona the Brave and her father is out of work and has gone back to university in Ramona Forever. I guess Cleary's work was heralding a change in American society at the time.
Anyway, Cleary is a master storyteller. I love the way she uses language and I'm amazed at how well she captured the thoughts and feelings of her main character. I really enjoyed the trip she took me on - back to those first days of school when I was just a little blonde-haired, freckle-faced boy walking three blocks from my home to elementary school. Cleary's work is sweet, funny, and heart-warming. I'm going to order a few more and I hope some of you will read and enjoy them as much as I did.
BTW, two years ago HarperCollins published a new set of Cleary's books. They've modernized the cover art and even made a nice collection box for the set. I'm so glad to see publishers breathing new life into great books like these. Good job HarperCollins!
4/5 stars - well worth reading if you'd like to relive your childhood!
Saturday, 22 August 2009
I have a lot of students in my classes who are actively writing stories in their free time. In fact, I've been telling people for years that this is the perfect place for a young writer to break out.
Part of the reason I say that is because we have so little access to distractions here that a young writer should be able to find the time to sit down and focus on their work. The other thing is that there is so much food for writers here.
I've just finished reading Stephen King's On Writing from cover to cover. It is fun to read and would certainly catch the interest of anybody who has ever thought of becoming a writer.
The first half of the book is autobiographical. King tells us interesting stories about what happened to him as he was growing up. This allows us to understand him as a writer and how he became who he is today. I love that he gets to the point. He isn't overly self-indulgent even when he writes about his own life.
The second half of the book gives us practical information on how to improve our writing. He really stresses the importance of doing two things if you want to be a writer: read a lot and write a lot. Sound advice really. He also gives us some insider information on the life of a writer when he reveals the fact that he aims for ten pages a day and that he usually writes in the morning. He speaks of shutting the door and not letting anybody see the work until it has gone through a couple of drafts. He even suggests that you let your work sit for a long time before you go back and edit it.
His advice gives us a rare opportunity to see into the life of a writer. His tone is encouraging and at the same time it is direct, almost in-your-face. I like that. King is honest and open. He encourages that in writers.
I highly recommend this book for all my student writers. I suggest, at the very least, that you read the chapters titled "Toolbox" and "On Writing".
I like this book so much that I'm going to buy a copy of it myself. I'm going to read it again, only this time I will have a pencil in my hand and a notepad nearby.
Friday, 21 August 2009
Imagine what it would be like if, whenever you were near people who fell asleep, you entered their dreams. That's what happens to Janie. She'll be walking along and then suddenly her body gets paralyzed and she goes blind and the next thing she knows she is inside some weird world - the world of a nearby dreamer.
Most of the time it isn't something she enjoys. Nightmares are the worst of course. Anyway, I loved the idea and I have to say that McMann delivers. She explores the idea fully while creating a very engaging and mysterious story filled with teen angst.
I read this book over two nights. Even though I'm very busy and have other things to do, I just couldn't put this one down.
By the way, I've got the hardcover version and it is so perfect. It has 210 beautiful pages and a really interesting looking cover which looks like it is glowing in the dark. Well done Simon Pulse publishers on printing a delightful book. There's just something about holding a book that is the right size with pristine, white paper stock and just the right font and print.
Anyway, I have to tell you more. This book is unique as far as I know. The writer is doing something very special here. McMann writes in third person (he/she). That's not super strange, but so many YA books are first person (I) so it is a bit different. It is also written in present tense. I don't know why, but it often sounds strange to me. The story moves along and kind of unnerves you. It seems strangely unreal. To add to the weirdness of it all, McMann writes in very short, choppy sentences. There are more three-word sentences in this book than you will find in a book of poetry. It is strange. Like poetry sometimes.
I's like when you see one of those hand-held camera movies for the first time, you think, "What's this?" And at first you aren't sure if you like it. It doesn't feel right. You may wonder whether you like it or not. However, the hand-held camera creates an unusual feeling of realism that brings you into the story and changes your reaction to the movie. McMann's writing does something like that. It makes you feel strange - mirroring the feeling that the character gets from her experience of being in other people's dreams. By the end of the book, the style draws you in and hypnotizes you. It has a strange disjointed rhythm to it.
I highly recommend this book. At 210 pages, it is an amazing, quick read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. BTW, this book has become so popular that it has been worked into a trilogy now. Fade (book 2) is out and the last book Gone is due out in February.
Additional Comments Added 22/08/09
I'm not going to tread too far on a slippery slope here. I like this book and I am featuring it on my blog because I believe other readers should know about it. I will, however, reiterate that the intention of my blog is to promote great books that I think will be interesting for the young people in the country where I presently live. Suffice it to say, I'll be keeping this book in my own collection to read and enjoy again someday.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Wicked stepmother? Check.
Evil stepsisters? Check.
Miserable life? Check.
Lucy Norton's life has all the makings of a Cinderella story. Her dad's always away on business, leaving Lucy with her cruel stepmother and bratty stepsisters. She's burdened with chores, and has a hard time fitting in at her new school. So when she sees Connor Pearson, the star player on the varsity basketball team, Lucy hopes her destiny has finally changed. With everything else going on in her life, doesn't she at least deserve to get the handsome prince?
Melissa Kantor's enchanting novel proves that sometimes the happy ending isn't quite the one you'd expect. Lucy's about to discover the truth about finding her real Prince Charming. and finding herself.
It's a modern day Cinderella story, right? Sounds like another interesting novel (well, for the girls I mean - I'll stick to the action stuff myself).
Once again, Peta has saved the day and sent this one from bookdepository in the UK. As one of the winners of the 2006 Teens' Top Ten list it is safe to say that this is a book worth reading. I'm sure that it is going to be loved by many, many of the girls at our school. Thanks again Peta!
This book sounds amazing.
Thanks to Peta who sent this to us from bookdepository after Sakina in 5C requested it.
Have a look at the book description and see what you think. With so many great new books in the SRR now, I'm not sure which one to read first.
BTW, I'm curious how Sakina heard of this incredible book. It sounds too good to resist.
Once again, thanks Peta!
When Naomi tries to piece back the fragments of the last three and a half years of her life, she discovers a lot. She has a boyfriend but can't remember him, her mother and father are divorced, and she has forgotten that she is supposed to hate her mother. She also has a group of friends which simply doesn't seem that attractive any more and, despite having meticulously kept a diary, she only mentioned what she ate every day in it! But it's not all bad, because when a girl loses three and a half years she gets a chance to reinvent herself. After all, who is to say that everything has to be the same?
The first book she sent us is one of the most famous graphic novels in the world. If you like graphic novels, this is a MUST for your collection.
I've wanted to get this one for years. It's not that I'm a big graphic novel / comic fan or anything, but the reputation that this one has can not be ignored.
The book is called "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" and it is a collector's book for sure. If you have a dark side, I think you'll enjoy this.
In order to make sure it is well cared for and so that many students can have a look at it, I think we will need to display it as a reference book (red dot - can't borrow). Look for it in the reading room next week! Enjoy, and once again, thanks to Peta for donating this amazing new book to our collection! I can't wait to read it myself.
Monday, 17 August 2009
This book is great for a quick read. It is only 96 pages and you will rifle through them in no time. The font is quite large so the writer has cheated a little. As well, about 30 to 40 pages are filler stuff that you won't want to bother with - like summaries of the books (um, like you would read this book if you hadn't already read the series?). However, the first half of the book is broken into questions and answers and that is the best stuff and well worth reading.
I enjoy reading every word that Rowling has to say. She is an inspiration. This book is a fun, quick read and I think you will enjoy it. You should pick it up at the beginning of a reading room period and you will be able to get at the best parts before the period is over.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. By the way, don't you just love the cover? The artist did such a good job of the picture. It's cute, isn't it? And it is so appropriate to have her sitting down at the coffee shop with a pen and paper - just the way she wrote a lot of her books!
Saturday, 15 August 2009
With her sixth novel, award-winning author Sarah Dessen offers up another generous helping of finely crafted storytelling about real teens dealing with real life. In The Truth About Forever, when asked how she is coping with her father's death, invariably 17-year-old Macy Queen's answer is "fine", when nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, she is drowning in grief while maintaining a flawless façade of good grades and unblemished behaviour. Though she feels lost when her boyfriend heads to "Brain Camp" for the summer, she finds herself a job with the quirky Wish Catering crew, and meets "sa-woon"-worthy Wes, whose chaotic lifestyle is in direct opposition to her own. As the two share their stories over the summer, Macy realises she can no longer keep her feelings on ice. Though it feels like her future ended with her dad's death, Macy learns that forever is all about beginnings.
Thanks to Peta for sending this one to us! It is bound to be a popular book with the girls.
Friday, 14 August 2009
Did you enjoy Twilight? Did you enjoy Hunger Games? You'll love this one too! I've just finished it and it will be in the reading room once you have finished your qualifying exams.
Amazon UK review:
Fifteen-year-old geek hipster Clary thought she was just a normal kid, but normal kids don't see invisible people, and normal kids' mothers don't suddenly disappear, seemingly captured by horrific monsters. But like many fantasy heroines, Clary isn't normal, and she's got all the secret parentage, dramatic revelations and amazing magic powers to prove it. Clary is a Shadowhunter, brought up as a mundane but born to fight demons. She and her mundane friend Simon fall in with a trio of Shadowhunter teens, and are soon embroiled in a quest to understand Clary's past - and incidentally save the world. Rich descriptions occasionally devolve into purple prose, but the story's sensual flavor comes from the wealth of detail: demons with facial piercings, diners serving locusts and honey, pretty gay warlocks and cameo appearances from other urban fantasies' characters. Complicated romantic triangles keep the excitement high even when the dramatic revelations tend toward the ridiculous. Lush and fun.
I really enjoyed this book. I like the world that Clare develops and I like the characters. The pace is perfect. She takes time to make her characters interesting, but she also moves the plot along so the story keeps you interested. If you took half of Meyer's brain (Twilight) and connected it to half of Collins' brain (Hunger Games), you'd get Cassandra Clare. She struck an excellent balance between story and plot.
Seriously, if you like the whole vampire/monsters-living-in-the-real-world type of book you will enjoy this. Right from the first chapter, Clare grabs you and doesn't let go.
The book is complete in itself, but you also get the feeling that Clare was really gearing up for the series and setting herself up well I'd say. It's only going to get better as we get to know the characters and what they can do.
I can't wait to find out what happens in the next book. Wait a minute, I've already bought it! Yay!!!
Flaws? I'm not sure. I had the ending figured out pretty early on, but I'm not sure if Clare intended it that way or not. Still, there are two more to go so surprises may be in store!
I highly recommend this one.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
Today was an amazing day for the SRR. I got a shipment of a mountain of new books. On top of that pile I found two books shipped from bookdepository by none other than our own book angel Peta!
Thanks Peta, we have quite a few Jonas Brothers fans in our school and I'm sure your books are going to be a big hit.
Too bad the girls will be so busy studying for their exams to read these in the next couple of weeks, right girls? :-)
Monday, 20 July 2009
Okay, listen. You know I love buying books and one of the things I've been doing this year is buying some from Amazon in the UK. I like buying them here in Brunei when I can, but some books are so hard to get.
Try finding a copy of Hunger Games in Brunei. You won't. How about Vampire Academy? Not likely. It's just impossible. Even Twilight was hard to get a hold of for most of last year.
Well, I order the books I want from Amazon, but the cost of shipping is often the same price as the book itself. In my last two orders I think I was paying about $8 per book in shipping.
But imagine if you could get free overseas delivery. Wouldn't that be awesome? You could have great prices and get the book delivered to you. You could have any book you wanted, whenever you wanted it. Can you imagine how that would change things?
Welcome to the world of book buying heaven!!! Welcome to the Book Depository!
I've just placed an order for the two books we are missing from the 2008 Teens' Top Ten list. I got Sweet Far thing for 6.28GBP and I got Vampire Academy for 6.14GBP. No shipping fees. That's 12.42GBP total. (The UK pound is making a comeback, but that's still only $29BND for two books.)
Over at Amazon I would have paid 30.93GBP for the same two books. Wow!!! How is that possible? Half the price is in shipping fees.
Anyway, I've placed the order today. Let's see how this works. If this pans out, I will be ordering A LOT OF NEW BOOKS this way. You know, I was going to wait until September for these two books because I was trying to cut down on the shipping costs. Now I can order books whenever I want. This is so amazing. Happy days!
Thursday, 16 July 2009
BTW, as happy as I am, I should mention it cost me $1.50 more buying it here than it would have from Amazon (yes, I'm still complaining about the Brunei book markup).
In City of Bones (2007), normal teenager Clary discovered she was a Shadowhunter, long-lost daughter of murdering megalomaniac Valentine - and therefore the sister of her new boyfriend Jace. Now she's caught up in the dangerous politics of the Downworld, where Jace is suspected of treason, non-human kids are being ritually murdered and best friend Simon is transforming into a werewolf. Clary must protect Simon, save Jace from a vindictive Downworlder Inquisitor, prevent Valentine from building an unstoppable demon army and fight her undiminished passion for Jace. The prose is exceedingly purple: Eyes are always paint chips, black pits or jewels in a spider's web; ichor-leaking demons have voices like shattering glass; fairies have hair like autumn leaves or poison green skin. But this action-packed tale uses melodrama and florid descriptions to good effect, crafting emotional tension and heart-wrenching romantic dramas. Readers of urban fantasy will devour this deliciously overwrought adventure.
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
This book is one of the hottest new books to hit our SRR bookshelves. Bray has struck gold on the Teens' Top Ten list with "A Great and Terrible Beauty" placing 6th in 2004. I can't wait to read it.
Arni in 5D has said it was good and wants to read the other two in the series. She has returned it and right now it is sitting on the shelf in the SRR just begging to be read!
It sounds different from other teen lit books as it is a period piece set in Victorian England. I also like the supernatural side of it in that the character has "visions" of what will happen in the future. Sounds good to me.
A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.
Gemma, 16, has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left wi! th the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.
You can order A Great and Terrible Beauty at Book Depository
Monday, 13 July 2009
"Somewhere," muses Noah Calhoun, while sitting on his porch in the moonight, "there were people making love." Anyway, head elsewhere for Great Literature, but if you're in the market to get your heartstrings plucked, look no further. The Notebook, a Southern-fried story of love-lost-and-found-again, revolves around a single time-honored romantic dilemma: will beautiful Allison Nelson stay with Mr. Respectability (to whom she happens to be engaged), or will she hook up with Noah, the romantic rascal she left so many years ago? We're not telling, but you have two guesses and the first one doesn't count. Decades later, after Allison develops Alzheimer's, her beau uses "the notebook" to read her the story of the great love she's plumb forgot. The Notebook--film rights already sold, thank you very much--is a little glazed doughnut of a book: sticky- sweet, satisfying, not much nourishment. But who cares? Take an extra vitamin and indulge.