Books4Hearts – Book Reviews: June 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder (My Life on the Dork Side) by Julie Halpern

“You know,” I say, “with Chloe Romano as your homecoming date, you could be homecoming king.” Barrett lets out a scream of terror.
Jessie isn’t exactly a nerd. Well, she is a little. She’s a self professed “mathelete”, she aces virtually every test she takes, and she loves the first day of school. She is also in one of the “cool” clubs, because of her brother, Barrett, the punk-rock band member and best brother she could wish for. She has a bazillion skirts, a crush on her brother’s friend, Van, and two friends who she is suspecting are actually pretty crappy.
When her friends go punk, and one goes after Van, Jess’s life seems to be falling apart. Barrett is leaving for college in a year, her friends have abandoned her, Van seems to be less wonderful then she had thought, and now she has been invited to, horrors of horrors, join the Dungeons and Dragons club. But things aren’t really always how they seem, and becoming a “nerd” may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to Jess.
“Um, hey, how’s it going?” Real smooth-like. “Good. Just listening to Bob Dylan and studying for precalc. I pretend that the music helps me study, but I think it just gets songs stuck in my head and helps distract me from how stressed out I actually should be.”
I am, if you don’t already know, a total nerd, and a dungeons and dragons player/lover. So, when I saw this book, I was like… “cool cover. cool name. wonder what it’s about.” and then I read what it was, and I had to read it. It was fantabulous. I loved it. It was quite accurate when it came to being a DnD player, “I order an ale,” Eddie interrupts again. “If you insist on interrupting the DM, you may soon find yourself struck blind by purple lightning.”, I loved the characters, especially Jessie, but I also loved her “friend” Char, and her brother. I’d have to say her brother was my favorite character. This was a very hilarious book (like Julie’s other book, Get Well Soon,) and it is hard trying to figure out what quotes to use from this book. I’d have to say that I’d give this book five stars. (extra points for being a nerdy book.) I would definitely say though, that you should be careful when reading this book. The author uses quite a few swear words, and other inappropriate (to some ages) language.
This is a particularly brutal week for quizzes and tests. (Why do teachers do that? Is it some teacherly conspiracy to put students over the edge? Are they sitting in the teachers’ lounge evilly laughing about it right now?)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The King’s Rose by Alisa M. Libby

All of the court looks different to me now, somehow both clearer and more confusing than it appeared when this year began. Henry is besieged by those who undoubtedly would do him ill if it would benefit them to do so. During dinner I see him conferring with Edward Seymour, and the sight of it nearly knocks the wind out of me. I scan the faces before us and imagine in each of them a unique self-interest, a unique abuse or destruction of our king in the name of God or family or the true church- whatever that church may be. And I know, now, that I am no way different from any of them.
This is the story of Catherine. Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of king Henry of England, Father of the infamous Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. This is her story. Catherine is just a common girl. A beautiful, young girl who happens to be a Howard. Who happens to be a pawn in the most dangerous game. She’s not who she says she is- she’s acting. It’s all just an act. Just a part Catherine has to play, or risk her life. If she isn’t who she is supposed to be- if she isn’t Catherine the virgin. Catherine the rose without thorns. Catherine the queen, she is “Catherine the dead”. When Catherine (For the good of the country) commits treason against her husband, things start happening that are out of her control, but for the first time she can be her. She doesn’t have to act anything.
There is so little that I understand about this life- I wonder if I am the only one who feels so lost. We are all merely wandering down a road, in single file. We are not sure where this path will lead us. We do not know when we are walking headfirst into darkness. We are not sure when, or if, the sun will shine again.
I thought this book was very well written. I don’t usually enjoy romances- this was a romance, and I liked it. I don’t usually like books written in the present tense- this one was written in present tense and it didn’t irritate me. I enjoyed Catherine. I could sympathize with her, and just the fact that she has so many faults makes her human. She was a good main character. I would give this book four and a half stars, but leave that it has a huge amount of romance.
This was a different Catherine who received these letters, who responded to that kiss- since then I have been transformed by the king’s eyes, by the royal jewels around my neck and a cloth-of-gold gown… but who is the real Catherine: the shadow or the light? The smoke or the flame?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview with Rachael Herron.

I also want to say thank you for your words of encouragement about chapter 7. I got through it (finally) but it certainly was true advice. 🙂
I’m glad it helped!

What are some of the advantages of working on a computer at home (or homeish)? Are there some thing that you can do that you couldn’t do if you were working at a traditional job?

I love being able to work near my family, with all my animals around me (I have three dogs and four cats). I love being able to get up and walk to my computer and start working, all without fully waking up. I can wear whatever I want! Pajamas all day!

How do you manage your time- how do you decide when you’re going to work,

and how long do you usually work for?

I kind of work all the time. I have another job, and I write for 2 hours before my 12 hour shifts, and on my days off I write almost all day. I can sometimes write for 10 hours at a time, but I rarely write at night.

Do you hold any other jobs? Is it hard to manage to work two jobs at once? Even though one is at home?

It IS really hard to manage two jobs — I answer 911 fire/medical for a large Bay Area county, and I work long hours at that job. And then when I’m home, I write so much that people complain I never see them anymore. But maybe someday I’ll be able to support myself with just the writing money, which is why I’m doing so much of it now.

Do you use any special software or hardware? If so, what are they?

I love Scrivener — it’s a program in which to write novels or screenplays on the Mac. I also love Mac Freedom. It’s a tool that keeps you off the internet for whatever time you set. I like to kick myself off the internet for 45 minutes, and then come up for email/Twitter breaks for 15 minutes. I get a lot done this way.

Do you enjoy working at home/on a computer? Why or why not?

I love it. I wish I could do it all the time. My home is my favorite place in the world, and I feel like I never have enough time there.

Are there any tips you’d give someone who wanted to work from home?

Find something that you love to do. If you love it, and if you’re passionate about it, the method of making a living at it will come to you, I’m convinced.

Is there any advice you could give people (specifically young people- teens and kids) who want to become authors?

Read, write, read, write. But I think reading is the most important thing. You should read everything you can, everything you love, and keep pouring it in your brain. Write often, but don’t worry about if it’s good or not — you can always edit later. Just keep writing. And when you’re stumped, reach for the book again.

How did you get the idea for your book?

I was participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I needed an idea, fast. I love romance, and I love knitting, so I decided to combine both in a novel about a knitter and sheep rancher. I’d advise every person interested in writing to give NaNo a try. It’s liberating to write that fast.

What genres are your favorite to read? To write?

I love best to read and write romance — there’s nothing more fun and magical than two people falling in love — but I also love reading and writing memoir/creative nonfiction as well.

Did you base any of your characters off of real people?

No, I don’t, but each character displays a different side of myself. If there’s a terrible, awful character, it says more about the sides of me that I don’t like than it does about anyone else.

Did you ever “talk” with your characters?

I’ve interviewed them on paper before — asking them questions, and then writing the answer as if they’re writing it. It’s fun and you can learn a lot that way.

Does it ever get boring working at home/on a computer?

Never. And if it does, I can just write something else.

Do you ever get distracted when working at home/on a computer?

That’s the hardest part. I love Twitter, and I love reading my friends’ blogs, so I have to be really diligent when writing that I keep my nose down and JUST WRITE. When I’m done with my 2000 words for the day, then I can mess around getting distracted by the internet, or cleaning the house, or TV.

Again, thank you!

I hope this helped! Let me know if you have any other questions, or if I need to clarify anything. And you — keep on writing! How exciting!


Rachael’s book is called How to Knit a Love Song, and you can find it here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Love, Football, and Other Contact Sports by Alden R. Carter

Kicker. Can be identified by his clean uniform, small size, nervous tics, and a perplexed frown that seems to be asking, “What am I doing here?” Kicks the ball as far as he can (a kickoff) to start the game. He will then jog down the field, hoping to avoid any further involvement in the play, an exceedingly intelligent thing to do leading the casual observer to wonder what mental aberration caused him to engage in a contact sport with large people in the first place.
This book is a series of a couple of stories dealing with mostly love and football at Argyle Highschool. The mostly main character is Ken Bauer, and Randy “the Doughnut” Schmidtke, but involving everyone from “Elvis”- a “latino beauty”, Rollin Acres (Ken’s best friend) and his girlfriend Sandy Dunes (who everyone jokes should start a golf course together and call it Rollin acres-Sandy Dunes), Ken’s cousin Rebecca, and a dozen other characters. An unpopular girl gets help from an unexpected source. A football player discovers that he loves little kids. A feminist girl gets a jersey on her desk, and an old lady is reunited with her lover.
“Ah, my friend,” he said, “karma’s character is of necessity mysterious or it would not be karma. It is like cement in the hands of the Builder, who of simple bricks makes many wondrous forms.” “What is that supposed to mean?” “I am not sure. I just made it up. It is worth thinking about, though.”
I originally picked this book up thinking it was by the author of “I’d tell you I love you but then I’d have to kill you”… but it’s not. I read it anyway- a little bit wary. After all, it’s not normally the type of book I read. I read fantasy and fluff and mystery. Not goofy highschool stories which aren’t really one continuous string of story line. I really did like it, though. I thought the first two things in the book- “A Girl’s Guide to Football Players” and “A Football Player’s Guide to Love” were equally hilarious. 🙂 I’d give this book about 4.5 stars and recommend you to read it. Because they have seperate stories, and they are all short, and not at all dangerous, I think, I got a feeling of “this is the end” every time I finished a story. So, it gained points for that. 🙂

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors

Lady Capulet grimaced. “Young ladies are incapable of taking care of themselves. Young ladies must be directed. There is only one thing to be done. Since your mother is dead, I shall take her place. While you are here I shall act as your new mother.” She placed an ice-cold hand on my shoulder.
Oh, no thank you. Because you scare the crap out of me. You really do.
You know those girls who dream of becoming famous? Of being on stage and being actresses? Yeah… Mimi Wallingford doesn’t. She’s been acting in Shakespeare plays since she was old enough to be on stage, and she hasn’t stopped. She’s seventeen now. Seventeen and never gone to a regular school. Seventeen and never gone on a date. Seventeen and didn’t have a best friend. Seventeen and hadn’t had her first kiss. Wait. She had. With Troy- a jerk who plays Romeo in the Wallinford production of “Romeo and Juliet”. In which Mimi plays- you guessed it- Juliet. When she storms out of the the theater and breaks a charm, she and Troy are transported back to the time of the Capulets and Montagues. While she’s there she meets Juliet and becomes her friend. But what about the ending? If Mimi changes it- if Romeo and Juliet don’t die- if it never happens- will Troy and Mimi ever get home?
She cried for a bit and I kept hold of her hands. Shakespeare may have created this predicament but I was the one who could change it. I wasn’t going to let this girl kill herself. Even if it meant that I had to stay in this dream for a very long time. I was determined not to wake up until Juliet got her happy ending. One of us deserved a happy ending. “I do not wish to get married,” she pleaded, squeezing my fingers.
The title of this book was what first caught my attention. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the name “Juliet” I immediately think of “Romeo and Juliet”. And “Saving Juliet” definitely sounds interesting. It makes the book sound like what it is- someone saving Juliet and Romeo from their sad ending. I really liked this book. It had likable characters (You go Juliet with gravity defying hair!) and a good plot line. I also liked the ending- it wasn’t as good as some of the ones that I’ve read, but it definitely gave me at least a little of that “this book is DONE” feeling. Four and a half stars out of five.
While the microwave hummed I pulled off my hat and started muttering to myself, a perfectly normal thing to do when there’s no one else to talk to. Solitary muttering allows you to say all those things you don’t have the courage to say to all those people who are driving you nuts. I told Clarissa she had no right to judge me. I told Troy he was a jerk for making me think that I actually “liked” him. I told my mother to stop controlling my life. I told my father I would never forgive him for dying so young and leaving us with that cruddy theater. And I told William Shakespeare that Romeo and Juliet totally sucks because everybody just dies and none of the characters get what they want. What kind of ending is that, anyway?

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