Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Icecore

Just finished Matt Whyman's Icecore. Carl Hobbes, a British teenage computer hacker manages to penetrate the security at Fort Knox and remotely open up the vault. He was doing it purely for bragging rights, and never left his house. But when gold bars disappear and start turning up in the hands of terrorists, the authorities, who did manage to track him down, want to know how he did it. Rather than interrogate him locally, they ask him to go to an undisclosed location to speak with American authorities, promising him that they'd send him back home after questioning. But both he and his father have to sign a document promising never to speak to anyone about the entire situation. After agreeing, he finds himself on his way to an undisclosed remote location that is basically an arctic Guantanamo Bay, in a cage next to some of the world's worst terrorists. When his questioning becomes brutal, and the questions indicate that the authorities think he was part of a conspiracy, Hobbes realizes that his situation is far different from what he was led to believe, and they he may never be released. Just when he starts to come to grips with this reality, things take a surprising twist that make makes his situation even worse. A good thriller that ends up having plenty of action. A fair amount of violence, so not for younger middle-schoolers. A sequel, Goldstrike, was just published recently. I'll be including that one in my next book order, so keep an eye out for it as well.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pics from GH5 Tournament

OK, the gremlins appear to have vacated my computer, so here are a few pics from Sunday's tournament.

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Stick Figure

Just finished Lori Gottlieb's Stick Figure. This book's been around a while, originally published in 2000, but I suspect it will be around for a good few years to come. It's based on the actual diaries of the author when she was 11 years old in 1978, and becoming severely anorexic. I found it somewhat disturbing, because I kept thinking as I was reading it, how little society has changed, despite some effort to stop young girls from obsessing about body image and looks. In fact, while I was reading this, I witnessed a teacher using some of the language that helped push the author toward anorexia, with a first-grader. Since the book is based on the author's diary, you are really inside her head, and hearing her process things that are said by the people around her. It's funny and heartbreaking, frequently at the same time. If you know anyone with an eating disorder, this may help you to see how that person may be processing things that other people say, which may appear to be innocuous, but may have serious consequences in that person's mind. Highly recommended!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Guitar Hero Tournament Results

Just wrapped up our first Guitar Hero Tournament using GH 5. Not a bad playlist on that version! We had a nice mix of regulars and new faces. Always glad to see both. 2 of our regulars took top honors, with Jared M walking away with first place bragging rights and a GH controller case, and Chase S taking second place. Hope to see all of back in here again soon! I took a few pics, but I'm having serious computer issues today and trouble loading. If I can get them up in the next few days I will. Hang in there!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Killing Britney

Just finished Sean Olin's Killing Britney. It's a suspense-filled story of a teenage girl, Britney, who just recently reinvented herself and has been accepted by the popular group at school since she started going out with the star hockey player. Life seems to be going well, but suddenly people close to her are dying, and their deaths aren't accidents. Is someone really out to kill Britney? Are they trying to scare and intimidate her? Why? Even though, as it turned out in the end, I did have the plot twists figured out correctly early on, it still kept me in suspense and kept me reading. In fact I was up a little later than I should have been last night getting to the end. I kept thinking that the book would have benefited from slightly better editing - some parts just read a bit awkwardly, but overall, the storyline was quite good. Deaths are described in a little more gory detail than appropriate for many middle-schoolers, and there's some drinking and reference to drug use. More appropriate overall for high-schoolers.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Me, the Missing and the Dead

Just finished Jenny Valentine's Me, the Missing, and the Dead. It's the story of 16-year-old Londoner, Lucas, who happens to walk into a taxi office and notice that they have an urn on the shelf. When he asks about it, he finds out that the urn, containing the ashes of someone named Violet, was abandoned in a cab one night and has been sitting on the shelf in the office ever since. This bugs him, for reasons he can't quite understand, and with his grandmother's help, he manages to get the urn. While he has it, he has a sense that Violet is communicating with him. Mixed in with this story line, is the back story that Lucas' dad disappeared without a trace a few years prior. As Lucas finds out more about Violet he uncovers a connection between her and his missing dad, learning a bit about the father he has idolized, along the way. There were enough plot twists to keep me reading, and the book had a satisfying, but not nicely-tied-in-a-pretty-bow, ending. (That's a good thing!) There were a few fleeting references to drug use and drinking, but otherwise, nothing objectionable. If you need a quick book for a report, this one's only 201 small pages, but there's enough complexity to be able to write something up.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

What Mrs N's Been Reading - The Phantom of the Opera

OK, here's what happens when you say to a kid who's going back into the stacks to look for a book, "Hey, get me one while you're back there." I end up with Gaston Leroux's classic, The Phantom of the Opera. True story. Wouldn't have been a choice I'd have made on my own, but I ended up enjoying it more than I thought, particularly since I had just recently watched the latest movie version and didn't particularly like it. In fact, as the credits were rolling, I said to Mr. N., "That's why I don't usually go for musicals." Well as usual, the book was a good bit better than the movie. Especially since the particular version I had (the Barnes and Noble Classic) also included some interesting background info on Mr. Leroux, the Paris Opera House, and the phantom stories. Even if you've never seen a movie version or read the book, you probably know the basic plot. A horribly disfigured man who lives in the bowels of the grand opera house, kidnaps a beautiful young singer and tries to convince her to marry him despite his appearance. If she rejects him, some horrible fate will befall a large group of people as the disfigured man seeks vengeance, unless she can be rescued and he can be stopped. You get a lot more character development and insight than you do in the movie version, and a little more of a look at the evil side of the phantom. Not recommended for younger middle school students, just because the language used at the time that it was written may put off younger kids. For older middle school students who are solid readers, or high school students, it's an interesting book that might stretch them a bit, in a good way. Enjoy! And thanks Nia!