Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Can't Keep My Own Secrets

HarperTeen, 2009
ISBN: 9780061726842
192 pages
5 out of 5

One life.  Six words.  What's yours?

True tales of love, loss, good friends, and bad hair days filled Not Quite What I was Planning, the New York Times bestselling first book in the Six-Word Memoir Series--and an international phenomenon.  Some of the most compelling were by teens, so now SMITH Magazine has compiled a book written entirely by these bold, brash truth-tellers.  From cancer to creativity, prom dates to promiscuity, and breaking hearts to breaking laws, the memoirs in this collection reveal that often the youngest writers have the most fascinating stories to tell.

Met online; love before first sight.
Hair's pink to piss you off.
I fulfilled my awkwardness quota today.
I'm seventeen, engaged, and not pregnant.
My mom had my boyfriend deported.
Late for school every single day.
According to facebook, be broke up.

From the moment I read this first memoir,  I could not put this book down.  This book contains some of the funniest, saddest, and most heartfelt sentiments I've read in a while, and it's all done in six words.  To some that might seem easy, but can you explain your life in just six words?

This is an excellent book for any teen to read.  If you read straight through it's pretty quick, but the beauty is that you can read these in any order.  Start from the back, the front, the middle or somewhere in between.  Any way you choose to read it, you'll be sure to read them all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Challenge Wrap-Up

This year I took part in two reading challenges and one personal challenge:

1.  The Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren

I failed miserably at the Debut Author Challenge.  I thought maybe I could get twelve titles read even though I started late (like August late), but it didn't happen.  I wasn't even close.  I read three debut novels: Firespell by  Chloe Neill, Split by Swati Avasthi, and How to Grow up and Rule the World by Scott Seegert.  Oh well, the point was still made and I added new authors and new books to my ever-growing TBR pile.  Maybe I'll have better luck next year.

SplitFirespell (Dark Elite, Book 1)Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World

2.  100+ Reading Challenge hosted by Home Girl's Book Blog.

This reading challenge included almost everything.  Any novel read in any way, including audio. Even though I joined this one late too, I could count everything from the beginning of the year. And thanks to Shelfari, I still knew what those titles were.  I hit the 100 book mark at the beginning of December.  Click here to see the complete list.

3. Nanowrimo

Participating in nanowrimo was an awesome experience. Almost every day I hit a new high in terms of writing for one specific story idea than I ever had before.  I pulled out a win this year and I still grin like an idiot when I get emails from Nano calling me a writer.  I'm also following up pretty well by editing and rewriting as necessary.  The scariest part is remembering that I agreed to let someone read it.  Dear Someone, Please be gentle. Loves, Jenn

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cirque du Freak Series

Cirque du Freak: A Living NightmareA Living Nightmare by Darren Shan 
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2002
ISBN: 9780316605106
266 pages
4 out of 5

Cirque Du Freak is the frightening saga of a young boy whose visit to a mysterious freak show leads him on a journey into the dark world of vampires.  Filled with grotesque creatures, murderous vampires, and a petrifying ending, Cirque Du Freak will chill, thrill, and leave readers begging for more.  (Description from Shelfari)

The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque du Freak, Book 2)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2002
256 pages
ISBN: 9780316606844
4 out of 5

As a vampire's assistant, Darren struggles to resist the one temptation that sickens him -- the one thing that can keep him alive.  But destiny is calling -- the wolf-man is waiting. (teaser description at the end of book 1).

Cirque Du Freak #3: Tunnels of Blood: Book 3 in the Saga of Darren Shan (Cirque Du Freak: the Saga of Darren Shan)Cirque Du Freak: Tunnels of Blood
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2003
240 pages
ISBN: 9780316606080

Darren Shan, the vampire's assistant, gets a taste of the city when he leaves the Cirque Du Freak with Evra the snake-boy and Mr. Crepsley.  When corpses are discovered drained of blood, Darren and Evra are compelled to confront a foul creature of the night who may prove to be the end of them all. (Description from Amazon)

The above titles are just the first three of twelve books in the Cirque du Freak series.*  I quickly fell in love with these.  They are a lot of fun and though the writing occasionally gives me a giggle (the interestingly placed exclamation points get me every time!), I have trouble putting them down.  This series makes me nostalgic for the days of borrowing Fear Street Saga novels from the library fifteen at a time. 

The majority of chapters end with some type of cliffhanger that encourages continued reading and I've fallen for it a number of times.  When I started Book 3, my plan was to read just a few chapters before bed, but I ended up reading half the book. 

One way I think of this series is as a step up from Goosebumps.  The writing style is similar, it's a nice long series that kids can stick with for a while, and the horrific events are intriguing more than terrifying. The way a young adult horror novel ought to be.

* See all titles and descriptions of the entire series here

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Grow Up & Rule the World

(transcribed by Scott Seegert)
New York: EgmontUSA, 2010
ISBN: 9781606840139
208 pages
4 out of 5

Are you someone who likes "doing the right thing"?  Do you enjoy "sharing" and "caring" and "treating others the way you would like to be treated"?

If so, you are a pathetic goober and a complete waste of my time.  Put this book down immediately!

But if your feeble little mind dreams of a bigger, better, more EVIL future, then I, Vordak the Incomprehensible, will teach you everything you need to know about Supervillainy. From selecting a supremely evil name, to molding a menacing multitude of minons, my magnificiant manual will make dominating the planet so simple that even a sniveling little pipsqueak such as yourself can one day GROW UP AND RULE THE WORLD! MUAHAHAHAHA!!!

Vordak the Incomprehensible is exactly what it says: a manual for evil-doing.  The style of this book reminds me of Edgar and Ellen's Mischief Manual but Vordak is all about villainy (as opposed to pranks) and the eventual success of his "diabolically clever yet extremely slow-acting death trap."  Even though Vordak occasionally uses deprecating language when he chats with the reader, the tone of the book is light and humorous.

The only pitfall are the references to popular culture.  The Simpsons, which at this point is pretty iconic, is mentioned once, but there were other mentions that already felt dated and irrelevant to this age group.  They are easily skimmed over and do not detract from the villainy and enjoyment of the text.

The text is broken up by activities (such as the Evil Aptitude Exam), Vordak's commandments, and illustrations.  The illustrations only add to the humor of the book often acting as punchlines.  Overall, this book is pretty great. I found myself laughing out loud at least once a chapter and I am looking forward to the next one. 

I even made my very own minion at Vordak's website.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a meme hosted by Kristi at the The Story Siren.

From the Library:
Teenage WaistlandTeenage Waistland by Lynn Biederman and Lisa Pazer
Havoc (Malice)Havoc by Chris Wooding
Dirty Little SecretsDirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu
City of Glass (Mortal Instruments)City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (audio book)
Inside OutInside Out by Maria V. Snyder (ebook)

From the  bookstore:
Twenty Boy SummerTwenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
RxRx by Tracy Lynn
The CompoundThe Compound by S.A. Bodeen
When the Stars Go Blue: A NovelWhen the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer