Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Dooley Takes the Fall

Man, I'm tired! Take that as praise for Norah McClintock's Dooley Takes the Fall which I finished reading at about 1:00 a.m. What can I say? Just had to finish it. The story starts with Ryan Dooley, out for a walk after being sent home from his video store clerk job early on a slow night, looking down at the body of a fellow student who had fallen (or jumped, or was pushed?) from a bridge a moment earlier. Dooley is a high school junior (or the Canadian equivalent) who was recently released from a juvenile prison on a restricted release, and is just trying to stay clean and under the radar. With a record, the police are suspicious when he is the one with the body when they get there. That gets worse when word gets out that Dooley had been in a fight with the dead student previously. Things get even worse as it seems that Dooley is being set up to take the blame for, not only that death, but another one that occurs a few days later. Who would want to do that to him, and why? This reminded me a lot of Gail Giles' books. I'm a big fan of hers, as you probably know if you've been reading my other reviews. Gail, if you're reading this (and she probably actually is, since she has commented on my reviews of her books) happy to get a plug in for your books, even when I'm reviewing someone else's. Anyway, Dooley is the kind of character that Gail would have written about - comes from a miserable home background, has been in plenty of trouble, yet you still find yourself liking him and pulling for him. No one is the type of person they initially appear to be. There is plenty of suspense, and twists and turns. Highly recommended for older middle school students and high school students. McClintock has also written several books in the Orca Soundings collection. If you aren't familiar with those, they are geared toward older middle school or high school students who are not strong readers. They're right around 100 pages long, with no difficult vocabulary, but a plot that will keep the interest of an older student. Every middle school, high school, and public library should have some of them. Nice to see McClintock getting into the longer teen books, as well. I look forward to more from her.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Taken

Just finished Edward Bloor's Taken. It takes place in Florida in 2035. Society has become extremely "haves vs have-nots" polarized, with the wealthy holed up in gated communities with armed butlers, and their children attending school on-line to avoid leaving the community. Kidnapping wealthy family's children has become an industry, with lots of class time spent instructing kids on how to act and react, in the event that they are kidnapped. The book opens with 13-year-old Charity waking up strapped to a stretcher, after being drugged and kidnapped. She thinks, from the school training, that she knows how things will progress, but things soon stop following the script. Early on, I thought I saw a plot twist coming. I was right about a plot twist, but the one that Bloor used was much better than the one I thought I saw coming. Very good book that will have you thinking a bit about the direction our current society is heading, and the way we treat others. Nothing that would be objectionable for middle schoolers, so go ahead and check it out!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Guitar Hero Tournament Results

Just wrapped up our first regular Guitar Hero Tournament of the year. Nice group! Wasn't sure what kind of crowd we'd get since there were tournaments being held other places today, but, hey ours are always free! And that includes the snacks and drinks. Anyway, with 16 in the tournament we had time to make the first round double elimination, which lets everyone play at least twice during the course of the afternoon. In the end, Joshua K was our big winner. Douglas S pulled in at second. Logan D filled out the final round. There was a reporter there from the Patriot News, so check out tomorrow's paper and look for us.
If you missed it, some pics are below, and our next Guitar Hero tournament will be a World Tour, 2 on 2, drums and guitar tournament on Saturday April 18th at 2. For other upcoming video game tournament info check out the schedule to the right. See you there!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Spanking Shakespeare

Just finished Jake Wizner's Spanking Shakespeare. Not a favorite of mine, but will probably be enjoyed by older teens. It's the story of Shakespeare Shapiro's (Yes, that is his real name. Explains a few of his issues in life.) senior year of high school, at the start of which, he vows to finally get a life, get a girlfriend, and get into a good college. As a senior project, all students at his school must submit a memoir of their life. Shakespeare looks both forward and back in his life as he works on the memoir, and along the way learns a bit about himself and his family, and helps a fellow student get past some horrible things in her life. Some mature content, so not for middle schoolers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Bad Kitty

Just finished (ok, not quite, just - it was a few days ago, and I'm behind once again, or still...) Michelle Jaffe's Bad Kitty. It's a nice light mystery. If you liked The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, you'll probably like this one. It takes place at a resort hotel during the summer before Jasmine is to start her senior year of high school. She's been interested in criminology and forensics since her mother died back when Jasmine a little kid, but her father wants her to have absolutely nothing to do with it. She manages to find herself in the middle of strange situations regularly, and tries to find clues and do some detective work on the sly. This time, she is randomly attacked at poolside by a 3-legged cat, ruins a wedding and gets hauled in by hotel security and banished from the property. That's just the setup for the story. It's a light read, with enough twists to keep your attention. My only complaint was that the author put in, essentially lengthy footnotes, consisting of Jasmine and her friends talking about what's going on in the story as though they are looking at it from outside. Once I got annoyed enough to just skip those, I enjoyed the book again. Despite the characters being a bit older, there's nothing in here that would be really objectionable for middle school kids, so I'd recommend it for about 7th grade through high school.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Valentine Boxes Update

Just finished making those cute decorative boxes. I'm surprised anyone showed up for this one. I was tempted to call it off due to fabulous weather. How often do we see temps in the 50s in February in central PA? Anyway, glad I didn't 'cause we had a lot of fun with them. If you were outside instead of here, check out the pics below.