Friday, March 30, 2012

Who needs therapy when you can make cards?

Something Mum and I (& Esso) enjoy is making homemade cards. It is relaxing, fun, and therapeutic. Yes, grown women can color for fun…with a purpose! I can’t wait to give these cards away! Can I convince Mum to permanently give up her dining room table so we can use the space for making cards??? Probably not, but I can try!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Classroom Library

We are in the midst of standardized testing, and the only activity students can do after testing is read. As a result on the way back to my room at lunch yesterday I ran into students in desperate need of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I was able to accommodate the first but not the second. I think I will have to check out more books for students to read.

Why this makes me excited:

1. Students are reading!!!

2. The students who came looking for me were last year’s students and their friends.

3. Students are reading and sharing!

Spread the word! The (classroom) library is open!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Would You Live? - The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey

Just the facts:

Overall: 4 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it when I had spare time.

Believe-ability: I daydream about the created world and wonder how I fit in.

Favorite Scene: (Oh, you’ll like this.)

Leaning over, he whispered into my ear, “Every day I pray for you, and God in his mercy must hear. But what is this?” He had noticed my bandaged hand.

“An accident,” Warthrop said tersely.

“Dr. Warthrop chopped off my finger with a butcher knife.”

Von Helrung’s brow knotted up in confusion. “By accident?”

“No,” I answered. “That part was on purpose.”


     So, I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been putting off writing this review. It’s taken me weeks to even start it and now I know why. It’s because I really don’t want this series to be over! I know the series was supposed to be longer, then the publisher dropped it, there have been rumors that another book is in the works, etc. AGH! I can’t take it! I’m just going to hide under a rock when it comes to this series and if I become pleasantly surprised at some point I’ll take it. Until then, I’ll just pout and wish that I really could meet Will Henry. *sigh* I think I have a crush on him, but not in the “I can’t stand how hot/romance-a-licious he is”, it’s more like an “I can’t stand how remarkable/amazing/awesome he is”. There are few characters that I really like, but Will Henry is definitely one of them. There may be a tie for my number one spot between him and Kolya Vlasov.

     I really don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’m going to keep the rest of the review short. (It’s mostly a rant, anyway.) In the Isle of Blood, Dr. Warthrop sets out to find the biggest, baddest monster there is and decides that he can do it without the help of Will Henry. You can see where this leads, I hope. Dr. Warthrop needs Will Henry and Will Henry needs Dr. Warthrop! They’re like peanut butter and jelly – you can’t have one without the other! Needless to say, another heart stopping adventure ensues and nearly everything comes to end.

     There is no other book series like The Monstrumologist, so the last thing I want to do is beg and plead with you. If you haven’t read this series, you need to! You have no idea what you’re missing!

Series to Finish in 2012 Completed: 1/5

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Two Points to Ponder - Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Our March book for book club was Blood Red Road by Moira Young, but instead of having opposing opinions, Rebecca and I both disliked the book. So, here are two reviews focusing on different aspects of Blood Red Road.

Sci-Fi Splicing Failure: Rebecca's Review

Just the Facts:

Overall Rating:  2 stars

Addiction Level:  I read it every waking moment.

Believe-ability:  My childhood imaginary world was more real.

Dystopia Factor:  The world has been turned upside down and all hope is lost!


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to combine all your favorite movies into one?  Yeah…me neither.  Young unsuccessfully combines Mad Max, Gladiator, and Tremors to create a far-fetched splicing nightmare.  The problem begins when she jumps from Mad Max to Gladiator.  I was just beginning to adjust to a hell-bent 18 year old (Saba) and her 9 year old sister (Emmi) and their quest to rescue their kidnapped brother when both girls are duped, drugged, and enslaved. 

The dialect, made-up language, and lack of quotation marks make this a challenging read.  Add that to an unbelievable protagonist and wa-la = disaster!  I do not like Saba, nor do I buy her character.  For someone so sheltered and isolated, I find it hard to believe that she is a survivor who can fight her way out of a corner, be a horse whisperer, and charm dashingly handsome men.  At least Katniss’ survival in The Hunger Games is believable, because she uses those same skills at home.

Saba’s lack of growth frustrates me and turns my attention to the minor, more relatable characters.  I feel more invested in them than I do the protagonist.  What the heck?!?!?!?  Additionally why do so many characters like Saba?

The only thing I like/can stand is the role Fate plays in the story.  Young does not beat the reader over the head with it; she seasons the story nicely with it.  Perhaps this strikes a cord with me, because I believe God ordains everything for our good.

In conclusion Blood Red Road epically fails for me, because too many overused ideas are crammed into one story.  Not enough cohesion exists to bring the story or characters close to my heart.  I expected more from this disappointing read.

Catch & Release: Esso's Review

Just the facts:

Overall: 2 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it when I had spare time.

Believe-ability: It was believable.

Dystopia Factor: The world is starting to disintegrate. (I guess…)


     Blood Red Road is about a teenage girl who finds herself parentless and searching for her kidnapped twin brother, all the while having to tote her kid sister along with her. Mindful of, although not necessarily adhering to the conventions of the dystopia genre, Young sets free her characters in a post apocalyptic world full of danger.

     I love to fish. Put a pole in my hand and I’m happy. I’ll fish from dawn to dusk, nonstop, even if the fish aren’t biting. I’ve been this way ever since I was a child and my parents would take my brother and me for day trips around the state. However, I’ve never been one to clean and gut my fish. Growing up, the rule always was that if you caught a fish you had to be the one to clean and gut it. No exceptions. Well….I do not eat fish or any creature that originates from some body of water. No thank you! I quickly learned that if I wanted to be able to fish I would have to take up catch and release (and later acquire a loving, fish-eating husband who would do it for me).

     I feel that this is exactly what Young has decided to do with her debut novel Blood Red Road. Catch and release. Engage the reader and then disappoint the reader.  As I said earlier, it is obvious that Young knows the general conventions of writing a dystopia. A fear inducing ruler, some means to control the population, a post-apocalyptic landscape, futuristic dangers that are not found in the present, a protagonist with the ability to kick ass, etc. Throw in a possible love triangle for good measure. Catch. Nevertheless, having all of the boxes checked doesn’t make a great dystopia in and of itself. You have to elaborate on these areas and make them feel believable. Engage your reader! There was no depth to the story. Release. Throughout the entire book, Saba kept facing situations which could have been really engrossing if it weren’t for the feeling of a teenager saying to her dad, “First I did this, then I went there, blah, blah, blah,” no details, no emotion. She spends weeks on end forced to fight for her life, but you never get the desperate, heavy feeling that you should in that situation. Release. Saba and her friends have to face a seemingly unstoppable and endless attack from man eating creatures, but it’s over before you can even believe they’ve gone through their stores of ammo. Release, and I haven’t even gotten into the characters yet.

     I’m finding it hard to believe that Young plans to weave a series out of Blood Red Road. Where will she go from here? This may be a little *spoiler*, but it seems like all of the ends are pretty tied up. Not much left to go on; unless she plans to make her other books primarily a love story. So, here’s what I would like to ask and hope for - even if it means I have to finish the series.

  • Please give DeMalo the attention he deserves. There were only 3 real interactions between him and Saba. He’s the most intriguing character in the whole book!!!
  • Please create something tangible and real between Jack and Saba. She can’t just fall for a guy she knows nothing about!
  • Please give us a story full of depth and emotion. Catch your readers; snare them, whatever it takes!
     I trust that Young gives up on the idea of catch and release and really cleans and guts her next book. After all, an author can’t have someone else come in and do it for her.

(Looking for more about how powerful books should be? Check out this post from Divergent author Veronica Roth.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

   Here at Apocalypse Reads, we like to keep you updated on what our book club is reading, so that you have the opportunity to read along with us. Well, this post isn’t as much about what we’re reading as it is what we’re doing. Here’s a picture:

   What does this have to do with book club, you say? We’re getting ready to pull off our 1st ever Training Day! Inspired by The Hunger Games, our Training Day will be a day of learning new skills so that we can attempt our own (not so bloody) Hunger Games! Tell us how you and your friends are planning to celebrate the release of The Hunger Games movie and then come back for pictures and a recap of our day!