Archive for April, 2013

27
Apr
13

Bunnybean’s #CBR5 Review 5: Bake Sale by Sara Varon

UnknownBake Sale is a really cute graphic novel about food — the two main characters are Eggplant and Cupcake, who are best friends.

Cupcake has a problem: He wants to go to Turkey with Eggplant to meet Eggplant’s aunt’s friend, Turkish Delight, who is a great baker. And Cupcake owns a bakery!

So Cupcake starts saving up money by baking special things and having really popular bake sales. But suddenly, the printing company where Eggplant works is going out of business, so it looks like Eggplant won’t be able to go to Turkey. And Cupcake only saved up enough money for one ticket.

Of course, Cupcake decides to be a good friend and give Eggplant the money for the ticket. 🙂

When Eggplant comes back, he brings lots of spices for Cupcake’s shop. And they see an ad for a baking contest in a magazine, where the winner gets two plane tickets to anywhere in the world! They start baking right away!

I really liked this story. I loved the characters of Cupcake, Eggplant, Carrot (a waiter in a restaurant), and Sugar (one of Cupcake’s best customers). The pictures are cute and a little bit silly and fun, and there are some recipes at the end of the book that sound delicious.

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15
Apr
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 16: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Unknown-2So many other Cannonballers have read this one, there isn’t much left for me to say. So I’ll keep it brief.

Bee’s mom, Bernadette, disappears under mysterious circumstances. She’s suffered for years in a city that she doesn’t love, surrounded by people that she thought she hated. She left a failed career behind her in Los Angeles and now lets her husband — a big player at Microsoft — be the star of the family.

The story is told through letters, emails, transcribed TED talks, magazine articles, interviews, and other correspondence — some directly from Bernadette, and some just about her. And young genius Bee uses this paper trail to try and find out what happened to her mother and where she could be now.

While I didn’t love the ending (really, the whole Antarctica storyline was a bit much for me), I did love pretty much every other thing about this book. I loved the hilariously nasty emails that went back and forth between the other moms at Bee’s school (this is why I don’t get too involved with the PTA at our local elementary school!), and also enjoyed the increasingly crazed emails sent from Bernadette to her “virtual assistant” in India.

Completely original and entertaining. Glad I finally got around to it. Thanks Cannonball friends!!

15
Apr
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 15: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Unknown-1Recently, I’ve hit a bad patch of YA trilogy installments. I couldn’t stand Reached and was quite disappointed by Requiem (side note: I think my days of giving the benefit of the doubt to Lauren Oliver are officially over. Lauren, you and I are through. Sorry.) And then I read — and liked — Scarlet, the second book in the Lunar Chronicles trilogy (remember the first one came out last year, Cinder.  I liked it a lot).

I’m wondering if Scarlet is really that much better than those other books, or if I’m just glad it wasn’t terrible. Its been two weeks, and I still don’t know which side I’m on with this.

Scarlet picks up right where Cinder left off, but instead of being a story all about Linh Cinder, lunar princess/cyborg mechanic and her attempt to save handsome emperor Kai from the clutches of the evil lunar queen, we are introduced to a second plot somewhat based on Little Red Riding Hood. Scarlet is a young girl living on a farm in rural France with her grandmother. Scarlet always wears a red hoodie. When her grandmother goes missing, she teams up with a strange, handsome, new guy in town named Wolf.

Scarlet and Wolf race to Paris to attempt to save her grandmother, who is in trouble for hiding some big secret.

And just maybe, that secret has something to do with the young lunar princess who was secretly adopted in France before moving to Beijing years ago.

While it took me a while to warm up to the new characters (really, at first I was annoyed when the chapter POV was about Scarlet, when all I wanted was to find out more about Cinder), after a few chapters I was into the new story. I liked some of the new characters better than others (verdict is still out on Wolf, but I enjoyed the comic relief of Carswell Thorne), and I’m looking forward to seeing how Meyer integrates all of these characters into the next books (one I think will be based on Rapunzel, and one on Snow White).

10
Apr
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 14: In the Pleasure Groove by John Taylor

UnknownI am old enough to remember when MTV used to play music videos — all day long. I loved MTV. I learned about a ton of bands I didn’t know much about before — The Jam, The Cure, The Clash, and especially, Duran Duran. Rio is the only album that I’ve purchased on LP, cassette, CD, and digitally. I’ve seen Duran Duran in concert about a bazillion times, and after over 30 years of playing music, I think they are as good now as they ever were. (Seriously, their most recent album is really good. Mark Ronson produced it.**)

So, really, I couldn’t help myself when I saw John Taylor’s face staring out at me on the new release section of the library yesterday. I had to read this book.

John tells his entire life story, starting with his childhood and his Catholic upbringing in working-class Birmingham. And then, one day, he hears Roxy Music, and his life is changed forever. John and his friends (at this point, John still goes by Nigel, his given name), including young Nick Rhodes, start up a series of terrible bands. He drops out of school, buys records and clothes, experiments with make up and hair, and starts to make a name for himself as a local musician.

And then, somehow, he and Nick find themselves in a band called Duran Duran. John spends pages and pages describing how the band came to be, what they sounded like, and what their influences were. Girls loved them and they quickly shot to the top of the charts.

He describes their ascent to fame, and how it changed their lives so suddenly. And then John describes the drugs and the women.

So many drugs. So many women (or girls, I guess I should say). So much cocaine.

More interesting to me than the fame of Duran Duran was their failure and then their rebirth in the 90s. The band broke up, other groups were created and disbanded, but they always found their way back to each other, and kept making music together.

John finds sobriety after the birth of his daughter (with ex-wife, socialite extraordinaire, Amanda De Cadenet) and before the death of his parents. And now he plays music sober for the first time, but finds that the music is all that he needs.

I’m still a fan of Duran Duran, but not so much of this book. The writing was repetitive and weak (so weak, that I’m assuming he actually wrote this book on his own). And he doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of himself. He comes off as smug and snobbish. But at least Simon Le Bon comes off well. I’ve always been a Simon girl.

**Attached below is a video from their recent cd. Not bad for a bunch of old guys.

08
Apr
13

Bunnybean’s #CBR5 Review 4: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Gregor_one-210-exp-2My teacher just finished reading this book to the whole class. Its about a boy named Gregor and his baby sister Boots. They get magically transported to the “underland”, which is sort of an underground world. They get sent on a quest to save their father, who is also missing in the underland. The people and creatures who live in the underland tell Gregor that they knew he would come, there was a prophecy about him coming to fight for them.

They meet a lot of different characters along the way: Luxa, who will someday be queen of the underland; Ripred, a rat who fights along with people; Ares, who is really strong; Henry, Luxa’s cousin; Vikus, Luxa’s grandfather; Temp and Tic, who are talking cockroaches; and Gregor’s Dad who has been kidnapped by rats.

I got kind of confused and jumbled up by all of the different characters, because every time I thought I figured out who was who, then more new characters would come.

Gregor and Boots fight against the rats and finally get their dad back.

I liked Tick, Aurora, and Boots. And my favorite part was when they got attacked by spiders.

There are more books about Gregor, and my teacher is soon going to read the second one to us. But if I could choose myself, I don’t think I’d keep reading this series.

07
Apr
13

Peter Drunklage

I haven’t really watch Saturday Night Live in ages. But I couldn’t resist Peter Dinklage as the friend of Drunk Uncle. His bit about Tumblr just about killed me.

drunklage-regret

regret-drunklage

 

 

 

 

07
Apr
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 13: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

Unknown-3Right before I started reading and reviewing for CBR3 (seriously, like a day before), I read One Day by David Nicholls. I was completely taken in by its he said/she said narrative style, and even though I thought Dex was a jerk, and honestly wasn’t all that enthralled by Emma, there was something about the style and the language that just swept me up and carried me along for the ride. I almost — but not quite — felt the same way about The Tragedy Paper, the debut novel by Elizabeth Laban.

The Tragedy Paper is the story of Duncan, a senior at a boarding school in New York. On the first day of school, the seniors find out their dorm room assignments, and also find out what kind of gift has been left for them from the student who lived there last year. Duncan gets the exact room that he didn’t want, and isn’t too thrilled about his gift either — a stack of cds with an audio story from last year’s senior, Tim Macbeth. Each senior at the school is expected to write a term paper for their english class titled “The Tragedy Paper,” which should be about tragedy in literature and life. Tim’s cds tell Duncan that his story will more or less serve Duncan his tragedy paper on a silver platter, a tragic story if there ever was one.

The story is told with alternating voices: Duncan tells the story in the present, and Tim takes the bulk of the narrative, telling the story of the prior semester and unraveling the mystery of what happened to him and the girl that he loved, the beautiful Vanessa.

Oh, and did I mention that Tim is an albino and isn’t exactly Mr. Popularity?

At first, Duncan can’t stop listening to Tim. He’s obsessed with the secret story of the relationship between Tim and Vanessa. Tim’s words and actions inspire Duncan to be a better man — and get him to finally tell his crush Daisy how he feels. But after a while, he can’t listen anymore. He knows the story has a terrible ending, and can’t forgive himself for the part that he played in it.

Laban has a way with words, for sure. As the details of the mystery come out, I became more and more involved in what was happening to Tim and Vanessa. I was dreading the last few chapters, as I really didn’t want anything bad to happen to these lovely characters, who talked and acted like real, living people.

But.

There’s something about the ending — something that I can’t quite put my finger on — that was a bit off-putting. Its almost as if Laban took some of the more well-known boarding school stories (A Separate Peace, The Secret History, etc.), and followed their lead that the ending had to be over-the-top tragic. I’m not sure that the book might have impressed me more if the ending of the book had been a bit more realistic — teenagers don’t need an actual tragic incident in their lives in order to define tragedy, living the life of a teen is tragic enough for most.




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