Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Bonechiller

I'm a big, big fan of Graham McNamee's Acceleration, (a very intense thriller that I highly recommend!) so I grabbed Bonechiller when I spotted it on the shelf. Although not quite as intense as Acceleration (which is ok, given the level of intensity in Acceleration), McNamee does keep his reputation for suspense with this one. Danny is a high school student, living with his dad since his mom's death. They keep drifting from place to place and are now spending the winter in a remote Canadian village where Danny's father is caretaker of a marina for the off season. While walking home one night, Danny is stalked by an immense, bizarre creature. After Danny falls into a ditch, the creature catches up with him, looms over him, and stings him with it's tongue, rendering him unconscious. When he wakes up he is shocked but thrilled to still be alive, but wondering why the creature left him. Since the only mark he can find on himself is a small blue dot where the stinger got him, he wonders if the entire experience may have been a hallucination, or at least been exaggerated in his mind, due to the concussion from hitting his head on the ice when he fell. The huge footprints he finds the next day in the ditch seem to indicate that it was real. When he finds that his friend Howie has had a similar experience, and they start to experience very bizarre symptoms like shared dreams, and immunity to cold, they get concerned. Further research shows a string of unexplained disappearances of teenagers periodically, going back as far as the local records go. It also sounds a lot like the old native legends of wendigos. Can they figure out how to stop the creature before they both fall victim to it? There is also a well done side story of Danny's growing relationship with, Ash, a local girl who is half native, and a champion boxer. His initial meeting with her takes place in the boxing ring, when she just about knocks him into next week. Nice to see a strong (in this case literally) female character. McNamee keeps the suspense up, and you'll like the characters, even Howie's psycho older brother, Pike, so you'll be pulling for them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Guitar Hero 3 Tournament Results

We had a smaller than usual crowd, probably due to some freakishly delightful weather, as well as the Steelers game being broadcast. (Yes, I already got that bad news, courtesy of the dads who were listening on the radio back in the back corner. But back to the GH tournament...) We were able to play double elimination for the first 2 rounds, which is always a plus. Wow, we had a strong field today! There were about 6 people who, on any given day, probably could have won it with that same group in the mix. There were a few excellent rounds! Our grand prize winner today was newcomer to Fredricksen tournaments, Tom D. , with a very respectable second place finish by Fredricksen veteran, Jared M. And it was an incredibly neat group. I have no idea why, but any day I don't need to sweep up popcorn, I just accept gratefully without asking too many questions. The board game of the day appeared to be Simpson's Clue. A big thank you to Andrew C for his help setting up and unlocking songs for today's tournament. Our next game day will be a retro game day in December, open play, no tournament. See the list of upcoming programs for details. Pics from today's tournament are below.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - London Calling

Just finished Edward Bloor's London Calling. Not sure what made me pick this one up, because the cover is kind of bland, but I sure am glad I did. I really liked this one! Kind of hard to describe without giving too much away, but I'll give it a shot. Martin Conway is just finishing 7th grade at a private school, when the story begins. He really hates the school, because the students are mostly rich kids. He's there because his mother is the school secretary, so his tuition is free. On the last day of school he ends up in the middle of a disturbance instigated by the son of a prominent family. When Martin's best friend, a kid on scholarship because his dad is a mason working on a project at the school, defends him and winds up getting expelled, Martin goes into a bit of a depression and holes up in his basement bedroom. After Martin's Nana, who seems to have been slipping into dementia, and who he always felt close to, dies, he inherits an old cathedral style 1940's radio from her. When he falls asleep with the radio tuned between stations acting as white noise and a night light to help him sleep, Martin has a very detailed and nagging dream in which he is sent back to 1940 London during the blitz, and meets a boy named Jimmy. But was it a dream? Martin writes down details and starts to research them to see if the events he witnessed and the people he met were in fact real. This sets him off on a long adventure that ends with him traveling to England to try to right a wrong. He ultimately changes some of what had been accepted as historic facts, and changes the course of several families' futures including his own, some for the better, some worse. The end is very moving. I was sniveling. Excellent book! Nothing objectionable for middle schoolers, and you may learn a little history along the way as well. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Carter Finally Gets It

Just finished Brent Crawford's Carter Finally Gets It. I was long overdue for something funny, after having literally, gone to hell and back with The Black Tattoo, and the excellent, but very dark and heavy Living Dead Girl before that. The story starts as Carter is about to enter high school. He's ADD (no H) and stutters when he's under stress or nervous, so he's got an assortment of issues in school and in dealing with girls. The back of the book gives you a good idea of what to expect. There's an actual warning that reads, "Warning: This book contains lewd humor, underage drinking, illicit fantasizing, and very bad decision-making." What it doesn't tell you is that the book also deals with the consequences of the actions described in the warning. There's nothing really graphic, but this one's not for younger middle-schoolers. Older kids, guys especially, will probably relate to Carter, unless of course, they are the perfect student, star athlete, and drop-dead gorgeous. But you know what? Carter finds out some things but one of those seemingly perfect upperclassmen that lets you know that they might not be quite what they appear to be. Despite his frequent real bonehead moments, you'll find yourself rooting for Carter because his intentions are usually good, but he gets sucked into some peer pressure situations and really manages to foul things up. I found myself frequently stifling laughter while reading this one. Reminds me a bit of David Lubar's Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie.

Monday, November 02, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - The Black Tattoo

Just finished Sam Enthoven's The Black Tattoo. Jack and Charlie are 2 seemingly ordinary London teenagers. When Charlie's ATM card is swiped and the stranger who grabs the thief and retrieves the card, asks them both to come with him and take a test, it's the beginning of an adventure that will literally take them to hell and back as they end up fighting demons and taking on the ultimate evil in an attempt to save the universe from complete destruction. Descriptions are very good without getting so drawn out that you lose interest. The characters are ones that you'll come to care about, and that always helps keep my interest. Don't know if anyone has bought the rights to this one, but it would probably make a pretty cool action flick, especially if they get the right people creating the demons. There's a fair amount of fighting with some gore, but it's just enough to keep middle school boys interested without being inappropriate.