Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Ramblings on Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs

Go Big or Go Home
By: Will Hobbs
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Publisher: Harper Collins
Author Website
A meteorite is hurtling toward the Black Hills of South Dakota...

During a wild week of extreme bicycling, fishing, and caving, Brady and Quinn battle their rivals, the notorious Carver boys, for possession of the meteorite. With each new day, Brady is discovering he's able to do strange and wonderful feats that shouldn't be possible. At the same time, he's developing some frightening symptoms. Could he be infected with long-dormant microbes from space? Is Fred a prize or a menace?
Brady Steele watches in awe as a fireball comes crashing through the roof of his house. Brady immediately calls up his cousin, Quinn. They both love all things extreme, and this is the most extreme thing ever!

Fred, as Brady names his space rock, turns out to be one of the rarest meteorites ever found. Professor Rip Ripley from the museum in Hill City wants to study a sliver of it in search of extraterrestrial bacteria. He's hoping to discover the first proof of life beyond Earth, a momentous breakthrough for the new science of astrobiology. (from

 My Ramblings:

Last week I hosted my first ever Book Fair at my school's library. Anyone who knows me will understand that spending 5 days with carts and carts of books is way too hard for me to resist, so right before I closed up shop I went on a little shopping spree. And by little I mean that I picked up 8 books... which really isn't that many! (right?)

At any rate, this book jumped out at me right away. First of all the cover is awesome, if you are an adrenaline junkie it definitely pulls you right in. Once I read the jacket and saw that it was set in the Black Hills I knew I was reading this one ASAP. In news that should surprise no one, I love the west. More specifically I love the area between the Black Hills and the Teton's and Yellowstone. I used to want to live out there, but I was afraid that if I lived there all the time it would lose it's magic. That the hills wouldn't seem so ancient, the mountains so exciting and the wildlife so wild if I was seeing them everyday, so I just visit. But my heart picks up a beat when I even think about being there, so anytime I can grab a book set in that area and live in it's pages for a bit, I'm all over it. So that's where this book found me, itching for a trip to my favorite spots, and it didn't disappoint! 

The book centers on Brady and his cousin Quinn as they embark on a pretty epic adventure. At the start Brady witnesses a meteor shower and what he finds in the his room afterwards is life changing. An actual meteor, named Fred has crashed  landed in his bed. From there on Brady and Quinn have to figure out what the deal is with this meteorite, how to deal with the side effects of having it (and possibly being infected by it!!) and how to get rid of it. I really enjoyed how Hobbs tied together the regular lives of these boys, riding bikes, fishing, dealing with the neighborhood bullies and the science end of it. You get a great feel for how meteorite's work and also the possibilities that come with coming in contact with a meteorite. 

I really liked how it all ended, and more excitingly for me, I've found a new author that I want to read more titles from. Hobbs is not a new author, and this book isn't even a new one, but I really love discovering books and authors that were off my radar. I can't wait to pick up more Hobbs titles for myself and to order some for the library!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Interview with Aurora Zahni, author of Ellie Stanton

Today I'm excited to be following up yesterday's review with an author interview with Aurora Zahni! The questions below come from both myself and a student at my middle school. This interview will be cross posted to our library blog. 

What inspired you to become a writer?
Ive always loved language and characters and writing is such a wonderful way to express yourself. When a person reads a story it becomes a shared human experience where they get to walk into someone elses world for a while. I wanted to be a part of that.

How do you choose a topic to write about?
I always pick a character and a journey first. Whatever themes I try to get across need to be told through their story. Ellies story is about awareness and acceptance, so the plot followed suit.

Do you have a favorite book and/or author?
Too many to name, but the biggest influences while writing Ellie were The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Are You There God Its Me, Margaret? By Judy Blume. And some people may notice a lot of similarities with the Wizard of Oz and Pee Wees Big Adventure as well.

Ellie seems like a little bit of a lost soul at points, do you see yourself at all in her?
Ha! Ellie is me. All of the unfounded confidence and confusion of my adolescence manifested into a better, braver version of me.

Did you have to do any research while writing Ellie Stanton?
Other than checking bus schedules and fares all I did is watch tons of TV shows and movies Ellie would love. Thats how I discovered that Kim Possible is the greatest cartoon ever.

Who is your favorite character in Ellie Stanton?
I love Ellies point of view and the way she processes things, but Hilary Palmer is my hero. She was so captivating to me that I had to run off and write her a novel of her own.

And one last one since this interview will be cross posted to my schools library website:
Do you have advice for students who want to be writers?
Read as much as possible. You can learn so much from stories that inspire passion in you. With practice and work you will become a better technical writer, but reading amazing books will teach you how to build a world and tell a story.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Ramblings on Ellie Stanton by Aurora Zhani

Ellie Stanton 
By: Aurora Zahni
Release Date: February 20th, 2014

An imperfect, unremarkable girl makes a hero's journey. Ellie Stanton needed to have a good day. The universe had something else in store. Getting caught shoplifting. Check. Dumping her lame boyfriend. Check. Expulsion from school. Check. Getting kicked out of her house and then stealing her mother's car while she's in a New Jersey turnpike rest stop Cinnabon? Check. The only sensible option is to run as fast as she can and never look back. Now Ellie is running going cross country to raise a little hell and maybe along the way learn everything she needs to know about life.

"Why, oh why do you have to turn everyu confrontation with an authority figure into World War Four?
"Wait, you want to know, essentially, why I can't deal?" Hillary nodded emphatically, and Ellie continued. "Oh, that's easy peezy. We can all thankMrs. Richards."
"Who the hell is Mrs. Richards? Hilary asked.
"My Kindergarden teacher, I will never forgive or forget that bitch."
"Why? What did she do?"
"I'm glad you asked. See, the first day of school, Mrs. Richard gave us a note to give to our parents, letting them know that they were responsible for their own kids snacks and drinks." A security guard and two Chickentown employees joined the audience. " So, Tammy, that's my mom's name for those of you who are new to the show here, she reads the first part of the notebut not the second. That would be the part which gives examples of what appropriate healthy snacks and drinks are recommended. The word 'healthy' was underlined and in bold print. You can see where this is going, right? She motioned toward Hilary, who smiled and nodded. "So, Mommy dearest stops off at the Quick Chek on the way to school and grabs me a Mountain Dew and Twinkies." There was a collective groan from the peanut gallery. Hilary used the pause in the story to take some orders before allowing Elli to go on. "Anyway, snakc time rolls around, I open my Lion King Lunch box and start digging in. Bitch Richards sees my Twinkies and comes flying at me like a hawk. She screams at me, throws away my twinkies and then walks me around the room pointing out examples of healthy snacks."
"You're kidding me" Hilary laughed, picturing little Ellie being tortured by this teacher.
"I would not kid you about snacks. It was like five fill minutes of 'See, Ellie, that's a banana. Banana's are an example of a healthy snack' Finally I snapped."
"What did you do?"
"I cried and smashed my lunch box against the chalk board. When Mrs. Richard said she was calling my mom, I called her a big green bitch." the entire congregation in the restaurant giggled at once. 
"Why is that so funny? What the hell does that even mean?"
"I dunno. She was standing next to a Statue of Liberty poster. It didn't make sense, but it was a very effective insult. That was the first class I was ever kicked out of, and I've been an pain in the collective ass of the world ever since." 

My Ramblings:
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a bit slow at the beginning and I struggled to figure out who was who and what all the relationships were, but after a few chapters it really started to flow and I got into the adventure of what Ellie was doing. 

I think Ellie is incredibly easy to relate to, in that at some point everyone hates their parents and thinks about just getting in the car and making a run for it. Most of us just fume and think about doing it. Ellie grabs the keys and actually does it. That was kind of the moment in the book where I realized that this was going to get really good.   There are a lot of curse words in this book (as evidenced in the excerpt above) and that would give me pause in terms of who I would recommend this book to, however, I thought it was very realistic. I work in a middle school and the things I hear kids say fall right in line with Ellie and her vocabulary. Is it ideally the way we want kids to talk? No. Is it how they do talk? Yes. Heck, it's pretty much how I talked too when I was in school! 

Since this is a newer release I'm going to refrain from posting anything spoilery, but suffice it to say that this is a really good story about one girl who is taking her life in her own hands and having a huge adventure along the way. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for an interview with author Aurora Zahni!