Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - 'Salem's Lot

'Salem's Lot is a 1975 horror novel written by Stephen King, and was his second published novel. The title King originally chose for his book was Second Coming but he later decided on Jerusalem's Lot. The publishers eventually shortened it to the current title, thinking the author's choice sounded too religious.

Ben Mears, a successful writer who grew up in the (fictional) town of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine (or “The Lot”, as the locals call it), has returned home following the death of his wife. Ben plans to write a book about the Marsten House, an abandoned mansion that gave him nightmares after a bad experience with it as a child.

The Marsten House has been purchased by Mr. Straker and Mr. Barlow, a business pair who plans to open an Antique Mall, even though Straker is the only one who is ever seen in public. The arrival of this pair in town coincides with the disappearence of a local boy, Ralphie Glick, and the suspicious death of his brother Danny.

Over the course of the book, the town is slowly taken over by vampires, reducing it to a ghost town by day as they sleep.

King has stated that during a high school class he taught, he was inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula and wondered what would happen if Dracula lived in 20th century America. King originally wrote of Jerusalem's Lot in a short story which was eventually published in the collection Nightshift. He is said to have also drawn heavily from the works of H. P. Lovecraft.

The novel has been adapted into a television mini-series twice, first in 1979 and then in 2004. The novel was also adapted by the BBC as a seven part radio play in 1995.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No Reading Rulz

There are no reading rulz.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There's a Dead Person Following My Sister Around

There's a Dead Person Following My Sister Around by Vivian Vande Velde

Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Harcourt
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0152021000
ISBN-13: 978-0152021009
Ted's big problem is not his annoying brother Zach, his social studies report on Luxembourg or his stuck-up cousin Jackie. He has ghosts in his house. His five-year-old sister, Vicki, is the first to see them; she starts keeping a hammer under her pillow for protection.

12 year old Ted Beatson lives in a 150 year old ancestral home with his parents, older brother Zach and little sister Vicki. The home, which has been handed down through the generations, and is located near the Erie Canal in upstate New York. It was also once used by the Underground Railroad.

When Vicki begins talking to a supposed imaginary friend, Ted quickly learns the friend is actually a ghost named Marella and there is another ghost - the bad lady - who appears to be after Marella. In trying to research the ghost origins, Ted uncovers a family secret, leading him to a connection between past and present.

Although this is a fictional book, it does have many interesting facts concerning the Civil War, the Underground Railroad and the history of the Erie Canal.

This book is spooky but not super scary, so younger children will also enjoy reading this tale. It is suspenseful, funny, clever and has a tad bit of sadness. A great book for children who are interested in reading scary stories that aren't too scary.

You can also check out my reviews on these Vivan Vande Velde books:

All Hallow's Eve

Monday, May 18, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

All Hallow's Eve: 13 Stories for Halloween by Vivian Vande Velde

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Harcourt
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0152055762
ISBN-13: 978-0152055769
"Witches are dancing
The Dead are walking
Vampires are feeding
For tonight is All Hallow's Eve!"

I am a big fan of young adult books, but I had not read any of Velde's work until her most recent release, Stolen. Stolen was such a riveting book, I've been on a quest to read more of Velde's books.

I won't give a synopsis of all 13 stories - although they were all good - but I will highlight my favorites.

"Cemetery Field Trip" - in this creepy story, a class field trip to a 1800s cemetery leads to mortal danger and a ghostly rescue for one 9th grade girl. Just when I thought ghosts were the thing to worry about, Velde switches gears to the unexpected.

"Best Friends" - this story has an unusual twist told in the narrative of 2 young girls. Nikki is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who befriends a classmate and claims they are "best friends forever." Aimee Ann is a spoiled little rich girl, forced by her parents to be friends with Nikki. Great ending for a scary story.

"Pretending" - when the Halloween trick of an entire family portraying vampires goes awry, an unlucky boy meets another fate. I thought I knew who this one would end, but I was wrong.

"Marian" - when a young man hits a speed bump after dropping off his girlfriend, he is surprised to learn his old car has a GPS. "Marian" or Mobile And Regional Interactive Assisted Navigation, is not your average GPS - she is a spector looking for revenge.

If you are a hardcore horror fan, then this book will be too tame for reading. But if you have children or young adults who love reading scary stories, then All Hallow's Eve should fit the bill.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, is the first science fantasy novel I ever read, starting my love of sci-fi. First published in 1962, this book won a Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. It is the first in the Time Quartet books - the other 3 books are: A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978) and Many Waters (1986)

The book begins with the infamous line,
"It was a dark and stormy night."

Teenage Meg Murry has a bad-temper; her family recognizes her problem as a lack of emotional maturity but think she can do great things. The family includes her mother - a scientist - her scientist father - who is missing in action - her five year-old brother Charles Wallace — a nascent super-genius — and her 10-year-old twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys.

During the stormy night the Murrys are visited by Mrs. Whatsit - and we later meet Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which - who tells an already perplexed Dr. Murry that
"there is such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract is the fifth-dimensional analog of a cube refers to a scientific concept Meg's father was working on before his mysterious disappearance. It is explained as a fifth-dimensional phenomenon similar to folding the fabric of time and space.

The 3 ladies W transport Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin, through the tesseract, to find Mr. Murry. This begins a wild trip through time and space.

This was one of my favorite books when I was 10 years old, and another book I bought when my children were younger. This is the book cover my children remember, although I remember the cover noted with the 1at photo. The 2nd photo is the original cover from 1962.

This is a great read-aloud book and would be good for a class read, giving teachers math and science to incorporate with reading time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Children's Book Week

May 11 - 17 is Children's Book Week - the oldest national literacy event in the United States.

It all began with the idea that children's books can change lives. Since 1919, Children's Book Week has been celebrated nationally in schools, libraries, bookstores, family homes - any place where there are children and books.

Some of my recent favorite children's books are:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This book just won The John Newbery Medal.

Read my review here.

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

This is the last book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Current books include:
The Lightning Thief
The Sea of Monsters
The Titan's Curse
The Battle of the Labyrinth

Read my review of the 3rd book, Titan's Curse, here.

The Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven #4) by Brandon Mull

Current books in this series include:
Rise of the Evening Star
Grip of the Shadow Plague

The last book in the series - Keys to the Demon Prison - will be released in 2010.

Read my review here.

The Dragon's Eye (Erec Rex #1) by Kaza Kingsley

Book #2 is The Monsters of Otherness and the 3rd book - The Search for Truth - will be released on June 30th.

Read my review here.

The Journal of Curious Letters (the 13th Reality #1) by James Dashner

The 2nd book in the series - The Hunt for Dark Infinity - was released in March.

Read my review here.

The Ruby Key (Moon and Sun #1) by Holly Lisle

The 2nd book in the series is The Silver Door.

Read my review here.

Stoneheart (Stoneheart trilogy #1) by Charlie Fletcher

Rounding out the trilogy are Ironhand and Silvertongue.

Read my review here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Go Ask Alice

I'm interrupting Way Back Wednesday this week with a book I just re-read over the weekend. My local public library - Mercer County Public Library - just acquired a new copy of this book and it practically jumped off the shelf and into my hands. Talk about a blast from the past.

Go Ask Alice

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416914633
ISBN-13: 978-1416914631

Go Ask Alice is a book I read when I was an early teenager and it scared the beegeezees out of me! It was years later before I realized this was a work of fiction - not a true teen diary by Anonymous as it was marketed.

Work of fiction or not, it is an interesting read into the teenage drug world of the 1960s. Although dated, I think this would be a good book for adults to read before they have "the drug" talk with their children.

The book begins with a 15 year old named Alice who is living in a perfectly normal home with two parents and a younger brother and sister. She had everything, but like most teenagers, she didn't realize it until it was gone.

Supposedly tricked into taking LDS when offered a laced Coke at a party, this work of fiction depicts Alice's downward spiral into drugs and her eventual climb back out the other side.

Written in "diary" form, it is a quick read and can easily be read in one night. Although continued to be touted as a true story, be aware that the truth of this book's origins was debunked many years ago. However, this doesn't stop it from being a good read.

Just a note to parents: This book is ranked very high on many of the banned books lists in the USA. If you care concerned about your children reading "banned" books, this many not be the book for your family.