Thursday, June 25, 2009

Geektastic: Stories From the Nerd Herd

geek : 1. a person often of intellectual bent who is disapproved of 2. a person who is so passionate about a given subject or subjects as to occasionally cause annoyance among others

geektastic : marked by fantastic geek qualities; a compliment of the highest regard

Acclaimed authors Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci have united in geekdom to bring together short stories from some of the best-selling and most promising players in young adult literature, including stories from the following geeks: M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, John Green, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Tracy Lynn, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfeld, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr.

Geektastic covers all things geeky, from Klingons and Jedi Knights to fan fiction, theater geeks, and cosplayers. Whether you're a former, current, or future geek, or if you just want to get in touch with your inner geek, Geektastic will help you get your geek on!

I was in love with this book as soon as I pulled it out of the mailbox. Everything I saw at first glance was perfect, the title, the subtitle, and the cover art. I find it difficult to review a collection, because I want to talk about each story individually, but that would take seven million light years. So here are some of my favorites:

One of Us by Tracy Lynn
This was about a popular cheerleader desperately trying to connect with her jock-football-and-Star-Wars-obsessed boyfriend. So she turned to the expert geeks, and paid them to teach her how to be a geek. I found this absolutely hysterical. The whole plot was wonderful, and the individual geeks in it who each had different areas of expertise was genius.

The Stars at the Finish Line by Wendy Mass
I actually related well to this story. Two geniuses vied for the grades, the colleges, and ultimately, who got to be an astronaut. Mass portrayed the sense of competition among teens well, and how much pressure is on kids to do everything perfectly. I loved the constant rivalry between the two characters, and felt close to them even though I only had twenty or so pages to get to know them.

Freak the Geek by John Green
I'll admit it. I'm a HUGE John Green fan. I've read everything he's written, and I was astounded once again. Freak the Geek was a phrase used by popular kids to let geeks know they were about to get freaked. If you think about it, it's the dumbest thing ever, but so dumb, that it's hysterical. I actually laughed out loud when the two geeks pondered that question themselves. No wonder Green is amazing.

All in all, I wasn't disappointed, and loved it just as much as I thought I would. Hands down a 5!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rubber Houses

Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans
Publication Date: January 3, 2007
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 152
Format Read: library book

A typical teenager, Kit lives a happy, normal life involving friends, boys, and a loving family. She and her younger brother, Buddy, are incredibly close despite their age difference, connected by a shared love of baseball and math. But then tragedy strikes, and the family struggles to survive.

I was surprised that this much of a summary went with this book. It is written in verse, and though that is no problem with me, I thought the story could have been told better if it weren't. In fact, there wasn't much story. I really learned nothing about her normal life, as seen in the blurb from the back, it immediately dives into her brother's struggle with cancer.

It's no secret, seeing as there is no real plot to spoil. The poems made no sense and were not chronologically ordered in any way. The book was only 152 pages long and the font was huge, so that's about it. It's a 1.0, don't even bother.

In the mean time, I got my hands on an ARC of Geektastic today! I'm really excited, and breezed through the first story. It's wonderful so far.

Also, has anyone heard anything about that new television show Impact? It is about how a meteor knocks the moon closer to earth. It mirrors Susan Beth Pfeiffer's novels Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone. I'm not really sure what's up with that, but thought it was interesting, because it didn't say anything about her. The show looks identical. ?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Spring Awakening and Shoutouts

I just saw Spring Awakening a few nights ago. I am at a loss for words (which NEVER happens). For those of you who live under a rock and don't know (acutally this isn't that popular), Spring Awakening is an eight-time Tony-Award Winning Broadway musical, full of controversy and scandal, and wasn't produced until nearly one hundred years later. (Started out as a play, now it's a musical)

It's Germany 1891. A world where grown-ups hold all the cards. The beautiful young Wendla explores the mysteries of her body, and wonders aloud where babies come from, until Mama tells her to shut it, and put on a proper dress.

Elsewhere, the brilliant and fearless young Melchior interrupts a mind-numbing Latin drill to defend his friend Moritz- a boy so traumatized by sex he can't concentrate on anything else. Not that the Headmaster cares. He strikes them both and tells them to turn in their lesson.

One afternoon- in a private place in the woods- Melchior and Wendla meet by accident, and soon find within themselves a desire unlike anything they've ever felt.

I won't write more for it will ruin it, but be prepared for full-frontal nudity. Lea Michele played Wendla in the original Broadway cast (she plays Rachel in the new show Glee), and I saw Kyle Riabko as Melchior, who was on Broadway as well. He's no Jonathan Groff, but still mighty pretty. I also saw Blake Bashoff in the role of Moritz. For those who don't know, he was Karl on Lost. You know, the evil Ben's daughter's boyfriend. His hair was the best thing that's ever happened to Earth. I loved every second of it beyond anything I'd ever imagined.

Click here for the Tony performance
Click here for the Official Spring Awakening site
While I'm at the choral stuff, click here for my choir's performance of Cloudburst (this crazy Eric Whitacre song with instrumentals and lots of sound effect stuff - all played by US)

Now, I want to give a shout out to the new show Glee! It deserves so much praise, and people need to stop ransacking them about how they're not singing. They are, but obviously it's voiced-over. It's the same people, but you have to film the two separately. And the choral version of Don't Stop Believing was fantastic! Realistic or not! Once again, Lea Michele is amazing, and the guy is also really great! I don't know who he is, but I'll find out soon! I hope he continues to sing!


Peeled by Joan Bauer
Publication Date: May 1, 2008
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: 256
Format Read: library book

Summary: Hildy Biddle is a high school reporter eager to stand up for the truth. She's just waiting for a chance to prove herself as a journalist, and yearning for a big story. The trouble is, the town' biggest story stars...a ghost! Not a very easy interview! This ghost has the town in a tizzy, and the local paper is playing up people's fears with shocking headlines of eerie happenings and ghostly sightings. Hildy is determined to discover what's really going on, but her desire to uncover the truth is making some people awfully nervous.

This tale was mostly a coming-of-age-learning-to-fend-for-yourself story. I thought the blurb was highly misleading once finishing the book. It's not so much a fun light-hearted mystery as a predictable tale of standing up for what's right. I feel like there was so much that could've been done with the story and characters, I was felt left out in the blue when it was over. A longer story never hurts.

Hildy (I loved her name) was a delightful character from what I saw. I was so disappointed that Joan Bauer didn't go into any more detail than she did about her past. Her boyfriends both cheated on her, and her dad died. That's really all that is given to the reader, which is highly unsettling. I also liked the "bad guy" Pen Piedmont, enemy journalist of The Bee (the other town newspaper). He was so easy to dislike, but his villainry (new word!) wasn't played upon enough to feel as though he were an actual villain. He felt more like a distraught wanna-be actual character in the book, so he appeared every so often to make himself feel better.

The plot was gripping, but like everything else, could have used some detail. This was the first Joan Bauer book I've read since the 5th grade, and as far as I remember, she used to be better. This did not meet my expectations at all.

The cover gets several extra points though. That's what made me pick it up in the first place. Definitely a pleasing-to-the-eye photo.

Rating: 3.4
It was a happy book. [See title of blog]

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Spud by John Van De Ruit
Publication Date: March 20, 2006
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 352
Format Read: library book

Summary: It's 1990. Apartheid is crumbling. Nelson Mandela has just been released from prison. And Spud Milton- a thirteen-year-old prepubescent choir boy- is about to start his first year at an elite boys-only boarding school in Durban, South Africa.
Cursed with embarrassingly dysfunctional parents, a senile granny named Wombat, and a wild obsession with Julia Roberts, Spud has his hands full trying to adapt to his new home.
Armed with only his wits and his diary, Spud takes his first hilarious steps towards manhood- learning a little about life, first loves, and friendship along the way.

I was slightly surprised when I began reading this book. It was nothing like what I had thought it was going to be. I enjoyed reading a diary from the perspective of a tween boy (I found it amusing), and especially one as funny as this. It was a less obvious sort of funny. I especially enjoyed the characters Spud was friends with, including his bunk mate, Vern, who behaved like a cat and pulled his hair out (raving mad). I also enjoyed the development of his prefect he slaved after, Earthworm, who hid under the stairs and drove himself mad studying for finals.

What I didn't like was the fact that there was no plot. None at all, unless you count the auditions for the musical Oliver Twist and the suspense leading up to it a plot. It was merely full of funny stories and adventures that happened over the course of a year. I was searching for one until about halfway through, then gave up and wished for the book to be over.

It was interesting, though, and held my attention. It just wasn't my cup of tea (maybe it's coffee- I hate coffee). In the end, I'd score it about a 3.5, for its subtle sarcasm and wit.