Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Ramblings on The Fourth Stall Part II by Chris Rylander

The Fourth Stall, Part II
By: Chris Rylander
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Author Website


The tween-noir saga continues. The life of crime is good. Mac has taken down legendary high school crime boss Staples, business has been booming and Mac and Vince are getting ready for middle school baseball tryouts. But this can't last. Mac has always tried to keep his friends close and his enemies closer. But what happens when you can't tell the difference?

A dilemma walks into the fourth stall in the form of Trixie Von Parkway - an eighth grader with a mean look and an even meaner predicament. Seems that the new science teacher is terrorizing her, and she needs Mac to get him off her back. Sounds simple enough, but as Mac starts to dig deeper, he finds even more trouble brewing at his school, including a new administrator bent on destroying his business and indicating that Trixie isn't who she claims to be. The worst that could have happened to Mac before was that he might lose a little money, maybe catch a beating. In THE FOURTH STALL PART II, though, the stakes are even higher than that (from Goodreads)

My Ramblings:
So first I have to say that this book, and the first book in the series, are two of the funniest books I've ever read. I found myself laughing out loud several times as I read Part II (and getting some very funny looks from the people around me). 

This book picks up pretty much where the first book left off, with a girl walking into the fourth stall and sending Mac's world spinning. Who is she really? What exactly does she want? Why do middle school girls have to be so darn confusing!? I'm not going to answer any of those questions for you, you'll have to pick the book up in February to find out. I will tell you that Rylander does a brilliant job at keeping you guessing at who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. I was pretty sure I knew the score, but I was totally wrong!

What I really like about these books is that Rylander doesn't dumb down the kids or the experiences they have. He acknowledges that kids have these whole worlds that we adults may not be privy too. In this case we see Mac continuing picking up his business as usual as he helps other students fix their problems. The problems the kids have are all very realistic. The last story dealt primarily with bullies (review here) and this one deals with state tests and the pressure they put on kids and teachers alike. Everyone is coming to Mac for help with the test and then there is the additional problem of a new administrator who is cracking down of shenanigans and a new teachers who may be the coolest teacher/coach ever or he might be the devil himself. The methods Mac employs aren't always on the up and up, and I sometimes shake my head that these kids would get away with it at all, but the way Rylander writes it allows for the reader to just go along for the ride, enjoying all the twists and turns as they go. It was also great to revisit some of the characters from the first book, especially the school bullies, who are both the bad guys (because they are bullies), but also the good guys (because they work for Mac). 

I don't want to give anything away, so I will just say, take the next few months to go pick up The Fourth Stall so that come February 7th you are all ready for Part II!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars

So I'm writing about an event today and not a book, but it's a good one, so read on and I hope you participate too!

Event: Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars
Date: December 16th, 2011
Last Year, when first-grader Katie Goldman was taunted for being a girl who loved Star Wars, the Internet held a day of support for her. Please join us in the second annual Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars event on December 16, 2011.

Celebrate this day of geek pride and anti-bullying by wearing something Star Wars or science fiction related. Since it is the holiday season, we ask that you also donate a Star Wars or science fiction toy to a child in need (but please put a post-it on the new, unwrapped toy specifying that it can go to a girl or a boy; otherwise, these traditional "boy toys" will only be given to boys). You can ring the toy to a hospital, a shelter or drop it off with any organization collecting toys.

Please invite everyone you know to participate in this fun event! The more people who join, the more toys that get donated, and the fun we all have dressing up! Last year 35,000 people participated! 
(From Portrait of an Adoption's Facebook event page )

For more information you can also check out this article on the event from Chicago Now

I'm jumping the gun a bit on this event because the charity I'm giving to, The Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse, NY who has a donation area at the iSchool at SU, has a deadline of this Wednesday for dropping off toys. So I figured I'd better get on it- although I will definitely be rocking my Star Wars shirt again on the 16th! 

To learn a little more, and see what toy I picked up to donate, check out my Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars video. Now go get your geek on and donate some toys!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Ramblings on My First 5 Books from NCTE

A few weekends ago I was in Chicago for NCTE and in addition to going to some great sessions I also walked away with 83 books to read, many of them ARCs. Now I hate reviewing ARC's super early,I always feel like I'm going to spoil it for someone, so a lot of times I think to myself "I'll hang onto this and review it when it comes out" and then I never do because I get busy and then suddenly the release date has passed me by. This happened last year- I got so many books at NCTE and then didn't review hardly any of them. So here is my solution... ARC mini-reviews of the first 5 books I read. These are the books I was most looking forward to getting my hands on and couldn't wait to read!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 3, 2012

My Ramblings: We saw this book sitting on the ARCs shelf at the publishers booth and were struck by the amazing cover. Then we saw that it was a dystopian retelling of Cinderella. Two of my favorite genre's mashed into one book. And it's going to be a series (sort of) with retellings of other fairy tales coming out over the next few years. It was pretty awesome! There were a few little spots that I felt were just added in to parallel the traditional story, but by and large it was done in a way that referenced the original without copying it, which I imagine is a really hard task. I especially loved the familial relationships in this story, the wicked stepmother, and the sort of ugly (on the inside) stepsisters. I also love the prince, Kai, and his story of stepping into his father's shoes and leading a nation. In short I absolutely loved the main characters and really can not wait to see what happens next!

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Release Date: Marc 6, 2012

My Ramblings: This is the book I was most looking forward to AND most dreading. Delirium was one of my top books of last year, it was brilliant and I was terrified that Pandemonium would fall into the middle book trap and end up sucking. I really, really didn't want that. Luckily Pandemonium was every bit as wonderful as Delirium. In fact, both books could absolutely stand alone. Obviously this is a sequel, but the story is 100% complete in and of itself. I love that. I love Lena and it was heartbreaking to see her move forward in the Wilds and try to find herself. The story was also so full of hope, as she finds a new purpose and a new family. It truly is a brilliant book!

Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Release Date: April 1, 2012

My Ramblings: I sometimes forget how amazing a writer Elizabeth Eulberg is. I'm not sure why this is, maybe because her books don't get nearly as much credit as they deserve. When I look back at her past 2 books (Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice) they are both on my top 10 books for the year. They are so well written and absolutely capture what High School and being a teen is like. This book, set in a performing arts school hit particularly close to home for me. I was a theater brat, a dancer who really wanted to sing and act. A dancer who was never going to make it big (what with being a good 3-4 inches taller then all the boys- makes it hard to partner), but who loved being part of it all anyways. This book got it so right. All the drama, the competitiveness, the using people to get ahead, to get the best part, to be the star. The idea that you get pigeonholed into one role and you can't get out of it. Most importantly it get the idea that amid all the craziness that comes with being an artist, you can find some of the best friends in the world. I love this book. I can pretty much guarantee that it will be on the top 10 list again!

Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Release Date: January 24, 2012

My Ramblings: First of all the cover of this book is gorgeous (despite the whole decapitation thing) and it was all it took for me to read this book asap despite not knowing anything about it really. It is an awesome read! Amid all the vampires and dystopians I've been reading it was really fun to pick up something that still dealt with fantastical issues, but was totally fresh and new. The story was really intriguing, essentially looking at what you would do if you ad 6 months to undo all the pain you've caused other people, to make your apologize, set things right again and then ultimately say goodbye. How do you mend those wounds when you know you will have to rip them open again? Do you even want to? Like I said, so good. I loved the main girl, Nikki and I really liked both of the boys in this story, Jack and Cole, although I never really did get the feel of a love triangle. Which is totally fine with me, but I've seen some other posts/comments that talk about the choice Nikki has to make between the two boys. For me it seemed more like a choice between two fates, each one contains one of the boys, but I didn't not getting the feeling that there was much choice there at all, and that the boys were a minor influence instead of a major one. In any case, I LOVED that it didn't play as a true love triangle and I can't wait to see where it goes next and who Nikki will ave to turn to in order to really get things set right again!

Release Date: January 2, 2012

My Ramblings: This is a really fun book and the title pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Is it possible to fall in love even as the relationships of those around you seem to be falling apart? Hadley is on her way to her fathers wedding where he will marry a woman Hadley has never met. She bitter and angry and doesn't want to go. When she misses her flight she ends up crossing paths with Oliver, who is headed back to London for an event of his own. From there they embark on a mini adventure together, each finding something they need in the other. But can one flight be enough to base a whole relationship on? What I really liked about this book is that it doesn't paint love and marriage as a one size fits all prospect- we see all types of partnerships here. Ones that work, one's that don't and second chances that make it all worthwhile.