Friday, February 26, 2010

Going Bovine

I had heard a great deal about this book but never came across anyone who had read it yet, so I thought I'd give it a go. The cover and the title peaked my interest - really? Going Bovine? There is no way this book is going to be any good. But low and behold it was - in its own very unique way.

This is the story of a boy named Cameron who has a sister, mom and dad but they all kindof live together but only as beings that co-exist. His sister, Jenna, is super popular, and he's a loser. He has an experience where he smokes some weed, thinks he got a bad batch because of the continued strange hallucinations only to discover after one incident that he in fact has Mad Cow Disease, and the lesions in his brain are causing the hallucinations. Then, while in the hospital, a punk angel with bright pink wings comes to visit him with a quest to save the world from the attacking parallel universe and find Dr. X, the only man who can save him. He grabs his roommate, a dwarf named Gonzo, and together they embark on the journey to save the world and each other before his E ticket runs out.

I know, right? Strange. But I couldn't stop reading! I wanted to know if this was reality or Mad Cow hallucinations, if Dulcie (the punk angel) really knew what was going on or if she was just the messenger as she said. I was giving up a little when they met the talking yard gnome who is really a Viking god that was transformed by a trickster. I know this book isn't for everyone, and there is more bad language that many will feel comfortable reading, eventhough it is absolutely spot on for the characters. The conclusion was perfect and sentimental and I really am glad I took the time to read this book.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Obviously I wanted to read this because it is by Laurie Halse Anderson, but it is also one of her books that seems to be involved in a great deal of controversy often. There have been superintendents pulling this book from schools because of it touches on the subject of suicide and rape, which could send me off on a whole different tangent about any kind of censorship that I will save for a different point in time.

This is the story of Tyler, a kindof nobody kid who everyone knows his name but no one really knows him. He has a successful younger sister, parents who barely speak to each other and finally gets the attention of, well, everyone when he pulls a prank at the school...and gets caught. He then spends his summer working the hours required by court and reporting to his parole officer. When school starts again, he is ready to start the new year with a new, bigger physique, the attention of a very cute and popular girl along with everyone because of his prank. But then he gets accused of a crime he didn't commit, with no one believing him and he has to figure out how to grasp on to the life that is swirling around him.

A couple of points. One, this is the first book by Laurie Halse Anderson that I've read where her main speaker is male, and a teen male at that. I could not believe this was written by a woman. Two, the story is so true to form, so real in comparison with many of the teen boys I work with that I can't wait to get this in their hands. Three, I know that she deals with some issues that are difficult to talk about, but she does it with grace, tact and reality. There is nothing in this book that is encouraging poor behavior or that, in my opinion, would warrant it to be pulled from a school. It's an amazing book that deals with the reality that is becoming more common. If anything, I wish this book was being read by more people, not taken away from them.


This is the latest book I've read in my quest to read everything written by Laurie Halse Anderson. This was a fun twist to present a main character that was very different from the others in books of Anderson's. Many of her lead characters are dealing with some huge issue that plagues teens, which I think is why there are so many people who enjoy reading her texts. They resonate with teens and adults who remember being teens. This one is no different except that this time, the main character is perfect.

This is the story of Kate - the perfect daughter of a widowed minister who is the top of her class, having an above 4.0 GPA, being the best runner on the cross country team, excelling at math and science and candidate for MIT. She is so sure of her abilities that she has not applied for another school besides MIT. She takes care of her family, is the mom to her dad and brother, super volunteer at her church and overall brainiac. Then things start piling on - the fact that she wasn't an early selection for MIT, that her nemesis suffers some unforeseen circumstances that force Kate's family to take them in, that her plans for the future are disintegrating beneath and all around her, and at any minute, she could lose it all.

I loved this book. I want to give this to all my students (mostly girls) who seem to think they need to conquer the world RIGHT NOW. This book was written for those who I see who stress if their A isn't at 100%, if they don't get the lead in the play, qualify for state, take all AP classes, get all their awards in church and can bake everything on the side. Again, Anderson captures the voice of a teen perfectly, seems to understand teens more than most psychologists could imagine and has a writing style that is stellar and addicting.

My author crush on Laurie Halse Anderson continues.

Monday, February 22, 2010


This is another one of those books that has been out for a while, but that I just never got around to reading until recently. I liked the idea behind it and it was showing up on enough "Best YA Books" lists that I decided now was as good a time as any to read it.

This is the story about a boy who really wants to fit in. He is picked up to go to a party and berates himself for not wearing the right clothes, not fitting in how he would like to, not making the transition into the "it" crowd as he would like. Then, he get humiliated by a girl who he has been crushing on for a long time and decides his life isn't worth living. He decides to kill himself but ends up taking the life of another instead. Part of his punishment is to build a whirligig at each of the four corners of the United States in memory of the beautiful and successful girl he killed.

I have mixed feelings on this book. I loved the idea - the writing, the intertwining story lines, the lessons learned. I think the problem I had with this book was that I really hoped it would be one that I could give to the kids who were on the same path as Brent, that it would help them see what was really important, etc. Don't get me wrong, this is a great book. The problem I have with it is really the expectation I had that was unfair. This book is a great one to give to someone who has been on a good path but may be playing with the idea to go down a different one rather than encouraging the struggling student to come back. It is a feel good book for feel good kinds of readers, great writing and memorable characters.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Am The Cheese

I saw this book on several different sites and apparently it had been out for a long time, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I was completely sucked in by this book. I honestly did not know what to expect at all, but knew that Cormier is one of the original YA authors and that I should read some of his work. If his other books are like this one, I will be reading more.

This is the story of a boy who knows something isn't right in his life, starts to put the pieces together and, for most of the book, keeps these thoughts to himself. He discovers conflicting stories in what his parents have told him and what he can find out through libraries and databases. The story is told through two different settings - one in which he is remembering trying to figure out what is going on, and another is the transcription of interviews that are being conducted though by whom and for what purpose is hidden.

I could not put this book down. It is probably best for an advanced reader, not necessarily for the content, but the way the story is told makes it difficult to figure out what is going on. I was sure I knew what was happening several times, only to have that idea tweaked to the point where I wasn't sure anymore, would come up with a different idea, be convinced that idea was right and then be unsure again. I have every intention of reading this book again in the near future just to see what I missed the first time when I was convinced it was something else.

I like that about a book, that as soon as I'm done, I really want to re-read just to catch everything that went on. It give a book lasting power. I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love and Music

Chocolate on my Cranium did it again - a great Wordful Wednesday prompt. Yea, I'm a day late (yesterday wasn't a good day) but as I went through my crappy day yesterday, I found that I longed to here these songs more. So, here are the three songs that while they may not be "our songs" they are ones that make me think fondly of Enoch and adore him a little more.

*Note - I'm updating this at my school which has YouTube blocked, so I've linked to the songs - just look around for the play buttons on each site to hear these songs, and some are just a part of the song, but you'll get the basic idea :)

When Enoch and I started dating, I had a compilation of Blues CD's and this song came on one night. We danced to it in my room, and it kindof became the song that we loved to listen to, dance to and that makes me smile everytime I hear it.

I LOVE her voice! I could listen to her all the time. When Enoch and I had been married just a year, we found this CD and gave it to Enoch's dad for Christmas. We then promptly stole it back, put it on our computer and gave it back to him. This song is sung by many other people, but I think it needs to be by Ella - she did it best, and Louis Armstrong is just awesome. My sweet husband just put his arms around me yesterday while we listened to this song. Yea, he's amazing.

I guess these are more a build me up songs and make be feel beautiful, sexy and amazing. They are the songs that Enoch says he plays to remind him of me. Every girl needs a guy who has a few songs that make her sound this good, right?

And there you have it - some of "our songs" - what are yours?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Love is in the Air

I have four books that I need to write reviews for, three or four goodies that we have made that I haven't posted about yet and about 80 tests to grade. So what am I doing with my time? Blogging. And not even blogging about what I usually blog about. What am I blogging about?


I'm blogging about love because I meant to do in at Christmas time when I first started on this little journey, but as you can see, I'm practicing my procrastination with the only thing that won't fall apart if I procrastinate it. My blog.

For Christmas, Enoch really bought his own present - some TaylorMade irons from his friend - he needed them, they were a great deal and so he got them. That and a four day guys only trip to California to see Metallica, golf three courses, see a Jazz vs Lakers game...yea, I really wasn't going to spend anymore money on him. But, I wanted to make sure there was something for him to enjoy, to open, from me on Christmas morning. That's about the time I found this blog.
This is such a fun blog. It's written by a woman named Cher who has and shares her great creative ideas on how to keep the love alive - especially difficult with kids, jobs, callings, life. She had the idea to make a Date of the Month club that I could "sign him up" for, which featured tickets, a date of the month selection and two premier weekend/overnight experiences. The catch? It's all done at home and for a relatively low cost. It gives us the opportunity to have a date (watching TV DOES NOT COUNT) without having to find a babysitter or spend money (because we don't have any right now) or have any elaborate plans.

Here were the 12 choices Enoch had -

Pizzeria Night – a saucy night where we will cook up some masterpieces

Night at the Spa – a night to soak and rub away all the stress

Cosmic Date – a romantic date under the stars with yours truly

Tailgate Party – You choose the game, I’ll take care of the rest

Chinese Date – We’ll be eating on the floor and finding out our fortunes

Pirates Quest – embark on the adventure to find your own treasure

Exclusive Movie Preview – Get the red carpet treatment tonight

Words of Love – Words you create will let you win in more ways than one…

Love Doctor – Need a Checkup? Perhaps bed rest is just the cure you need...

Wild West Night – This saloon’s got the best grub and prettiest girl in town

Here Birdie Birdie – Playing a round or hitting the range, just you and me

Mystery Date - Some clues and reasoning required to solve this puzzle

If you want to see how it is all supposed to turn out you can click here. I put all of Enoch's gifts in different sized manilla envelopes and then all in one big envelope. So far we have had some fun, it gives us something to look forward to and reminds us to have time for each other.

Seriously, check out her blog (set aside some time) the ideas are cute, sexy and fun. And just in time for Valentine's Day. Also, she has a deal where she will make all this for you and all you have to do is print - if you are too busy but still want to do it, you really should contact her. She customizes the dates to your preference and for only $9.99. Really? What a great deal. Go on - click on this link.

Get out of here and remember what it's like to do silly things because you are in love.

Monday, February 1, 2010

When Things Go Wrong

Struggling with some stuff right now and just clicked on a link that lead me to this quote - I needed it today, thought someone else might too.

"To do well does not mean everything will always turn out well. The key is to remember that faith and obedience are still the answers, even when things go wrong, perhaps especially when things go wrong."
--David E. Sorensen, "Faith Is the Answer," Ensign, May 2005