Thursday, March 29, 2012

Huger Games Premier Photos

Okay, it wasn't technically the premier show-- my book club is a group of (mostly) moms, and making a midnight showing is not really possible or desirable for us these days.

So, we got together, got dressed up, and went on Friday night.

Most people went as Capitolers, with a couple of Hob folks thrown in on the left side for good measure.

I think we assumed EVERYONE would be dressed up... uh... they weren't. At all. Not by a long shot.

In some cases, I thought our crew's outfits were better than those in the film. Just look at those eyelashes!

It was so fun.

I ask you, has there ever been a more serious discussion about a wig and a monacle?

A good day at the Hob.

I went as Katniss, bow in hand.

After the movie we stood outside the theater and ooo'ed and aaah'ed over things we liked and discussed things we didn't like. It was like a mini-book club meeting!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Verify this!

I am a real anti-word-verification nut.

So much so that I have posted about my dislike of verification before here.

You may have noticed (or not noticed, that's okay, too) that I have not been blogging much lately. My day job comes first, and I have been working my butt off since school began in September. When I have any spare time, and the choices are blogging or writing, I pick writing. But-- this is not the point of this post. My POINT (there is one, wait for it...) is that on spring break last week I took the time to FINALLY start reading and commenting on blogs that I've been neglecting.

And I noticed something. (I'm a researcher, I like to think I'm good at noticing things.) I noticed that many, many blogs that I was reading had word verification. Even blogs that I was pretty sure didn't have word verification just a few months or weeks ago.

I know there have been lots of changes on blogger lately and I wondered if in the re-vamping, had blogger been auto-setting people's blogs to word verification status?

So I checked my own settings and was DOWNRIGHT AMAZED to find I had been re-set for word verification!

You may want to "Check yourself before you wreck yourself".*

Here's how:

From your blog page, click Design to enter the blogger editor.

Click on Settings on the left-hand menu

Then select Posts and Comments

Then change the "Word verification?" setting from YES to NO and be sure to hit "Save Settings", the orange box in the top right corner.

Do you verify? Did you know blogger automatically searches for spam and separates it out?

Have you been unwittingly suffering from word verification?

* Please tell me I'm not the only one who remembers this 90s public service campaign --though to be honest, now I can't recall if it was pro-safe sex or anti-drugs... oh, there were too many public service campaigns in the 80s-90s to keep them all straight!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Girls and Science

One of the great things about having a blog is that sometimes people send you cool things and ask you to post them! When I was asked to check out and potentially post this information about Girls and Science, I jumped at the chance!

I fear one of the things that my books will have to overcome is the "ick" factor. I'm targeting girls with my writing, but as many girls grow up they begin to think bugs are "gross". {Don't get me started on how wrong I think this is.} It's one reason my bug girl books, which began as YA, are now MG.

Check out this amazing info-graphic about girls, science, and engineering.

What do you think is going on here?

Does society sway girls from an interest in things mathematical and scientific? Is it adults and teachers? Peers? Or is something else going on?

What do you think?

Girls in STEM

Created by: Engineering Degree

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Something Awesome and Awesome: the Review of Something Strange and Deadly

Every time I start a book by someone I know (Which, amazingly, is happening more often now. Woot!), I have a stab of fear. I feel very fortunate to have gotten a spot on the Something Strange and Deadly ARC tour, but once the book arrived I thought, "Oh, damn, now I've signed up to read/review this book in a very public forum: what if I don't like it."

Basically, I panicked when it arrived, because I know reading is subjective, and all of those things that we all know and say, and understand, but still I worried I wouldn't like it. And then what????

Well, I should not have wasted time even thinking these thoughts. The book not only met but SURPASSED my expectations. I thought it was well-written, clever, creative and the pacing was extraordinary--

But the things I REALLY adored were the sheer imagination Susan poured into this book, Eleanor herself and her personal growth, Daniel-- please God, Daniel-- and that Susan did NOT hold back, in any way. She did not coddle these characters, and you can tell. It made for an extraordinary read. There were not easy answers. There were not storybook endings. And I loved it.

First, let me say-- the cover is gorgeous. (I cannot count the number of times I caught my 6 year old SON staring deep into the eyes of Eleanor-on-the-cover. I think he's in love.) You might not be able to tell at first glance that the background is a mesh of gears and works. It's beautiful and stunning-- just as I'd hoped. But don't let the cover lead you to believe that Eleanor is anything but kicka**.

It took me a few pages to get clued into the world of the book-- the Dead, we learn, are rising in Philadelphia, but this is not some kind of "Braaaaains"-zombie-type book. Eleanor's brother is missing, and in her work to find him, she discovers the Dead are being used by a necromancer for some ill purpose we, and Eleanor, do not yet understand. With the help of the Spirit Hunters, Eleanor will work to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I love a mystery where you get some clues along the way, but it's neither super obvious, nor so thrown together at the end that it proves illogical. Susan's mystery is airtight and perfectly crafted.

And can I please talk about Daniel!!!! Is he a hero? An anti-hero? I don't care! He's a dreamboat. If his nerdy inventions didn't grab me, the SPARKS flying between he and Eleanor did! I see him as a young Tom Jane/Simon Baker/Jude Law. And I love that the relationship was honest and real-- that there were not, as I said before, easy answers to the conflicts.

I know I'm rambling, forgive me!

The take home message is: I loved the book, and I highly recommend it.

You should definitely give it a whirl in July when it's released!

Friday, March 9, 2012

February: I dig reading challenge

February was a short, busy, month, but I read some great books. 
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Depressing, sure, but beautifully written. I loved the Dutch parts, of course.

The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax by Arthur Conan Doyle. A classic Sherlock Holmes mystery.

The Cabinet of the Earths by Anne Nesbitt Check out my previous post for a review. Loved it.

What Alice Forgot by Lianne Moriarty. Oh my, what a great book. It's not the first book I've read about a woman hitting her head and losing ten years of her life, but it was amazing. A lovely, lovely book. 

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I'd not read this series before (or seen the movie), but love Kinsella. This book didn't disappoint. It's not my absolute fave by her, but I truly enjoyed it. She is the master of putting her characters in situations that you see coming but the MC does not. It's such a beautiful way to build suspense. 

My donation goes to, where you can pick projects thought up by American teachers to support learning, reading, or health in their classrooms. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Debut Author Challenge: The Cabinet of the Earths

I have been remiss in reporting on my debut author challenge readings!

My first reading was this gem by Anne Nesbitt.

 Check out this magnificent cover.

Several sentence synopsis: Spending a year in Paris with her family, Maya discovers the Society of Philosophical Chemistry. Or have they discovered her? The society's leaders have secrets, and Maya must unravel them. How does a magical bronze salamander doorknob, a fountain dedicated to missing children, beautiful people who seem not to age, the mysterious cabinet, anbar, and Maya's own mother play into the story?
Maya must find out, before she loses everything important to her.

 I began reading this with my 6 year old and it was dragging on a bit. He's a tad younger than the targeted age for this book, which was the issue (absolutely not the writing or pacing). If it had only had illustrations I think it would have engaged him just enough to get through it. [Full disclosure: the four year old was also being read to, and he is a total wiggle worm].

But my 6 year old's interest was waning a bit so I stopped reading it aloud at the halfway point. I’m glad I did, because I charged through the rest of the book breathlessly by myself. The story was so unique, so fascinating and inventive, but also logical-- I LOVED IT!

 I highly recommend this debut author.

I was pushing it, trying to read it to my 4 and 6 year old.

I think kids 8+ would really get into it. Share this book with a kid you love.

 This is a debut author whose work I will read again, no matter the subject.