Author Archives: Carly M.

January 28, 2010

Book Review: Flipped

Posted by at 7:53 am in Reads | Permalink

Flipped I know this is going to sound completely dorky, but I had a flippin’ good time reading Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen. Bryce and Julianna (aka Juli), the main characters in the book, brought me back to the days of junior high and elementary school, when boys were scared of girls, popularity was everything, and everyone started becoming totally embarrassed by their families.

What I loved most about Van Draanen’s book was the accuracy of her depictions and voices of girls and boys from age 6 up to age 14. While reading, I could picture both Juli and Bryce interacting with each other, as well as how they felt and what they were thinking about each other. In addition, since I have a brother, I could almost picture him reacting the same way as Bryce — which also made my experience reading this book very enjoyable.

Flipped is also a movie! Here’s a look at the actors playing Juli and Bryce:FD-06388r

I give this book 4.8 out of 5 stars:


— Carly M., STACKS Staffer

Move photo: MADELINE CARROLL as Juli and CALLAN McAULIFFE as Bryce. Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Ben Glass

January 26, 2010

Trivia Answers: Pictogram Part Deux!

Posted by at 7:26 am in Trivia | Permalink

Trivia_tuesdayWell . . . so much for trying to stump all of you. My attempt to trick you failed due to all of your book knowledge. I thought for sure that it would take at least 20 comments until someone got all of the correct answers. However, I tip my hat, bow down, and give a round of applause to Abby, who posted the 15th comment — and defeated my effort to make these pictograms as challenging as possible.

Thanks to all of you for participating in Pictogram Part Deux!

Here are the correct answers (though many of you already solved them):

1.) The Book of Time
2.) Breaking Dawn (for ages 12 and up)
3.) Candy Apple
4.) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
5.) Lady Friday

— Carly M., STACKS Staffer

January 12, 2010

Trivia Tuesday: Pictogram Part Deux!

Posted by at 2:32 pm in Trivia | Permalink

Trivia_tuesdayDue to the overwhelming response that the previous pictogram trivia received and the amazing number of correct answers there were, I’ve decided to throw another pictogram challenge your way. So put your thinking caps on and start deciphering!
Good Luck!






Stay tuned for the answers!

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

December 24, 2009

Book Review: Al Capone Shines My Shoes

Posted by at 7:24 am in Reads | Permalink

Al_capone_shines_my_shoes_130 After the first book Al Capone Does My Shirts won a Newbery Honor, I figured I'd check out Gennifer Choldenko's sequel, Al Capone Shines My Shoes and see what all the rave reviews were about. Fortunately, all the hype surrounding the second book did not disappoint.

I haven't read the first book, so when I first heard the title Al Capone Shines My Shoes, I assumed it was a metaphor of some sort. Then as I started reading, I soon found out that the book does take place in the 1930s during the time of the gangster crime organization, known as the Chicago Outfit. Choldenko sets the book on Alcatraz, an infamous island prison facility which housed some of the most dangerous criminals of all time. Not only do criminals live on the island, but also prison guards and their families as well. This book is about a boy named Moose whose father is a prison guard, so the whole family lives on Alcatraz. Just the idea of living on an island full of America's most violent and aggressive criminals makes for an interesting story.

Choldenko goes beyond just telling about the criminals on the island. She also presents a depiction of the kids' inner feelings towards their friends, family, and own self reflection.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a quick and fun read. Though the dialogue mimics the fast-paced speak of a 1930s film, Choldenko describes the characters in such a precise and detailed way that it is easy to relate to the specific characters.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

December 17, 2009

Book Review: Loser

Posted by at 9:04 am in Reads, Writing Prompt | Permalink

Loser_130 After reading Loser by Jerry Spinelli, I realized two things:

  1. Kids can be so cruel.
  2. I admire Donald Zinkoff.

Newbery Medal-winning author Jerry Spinelli brings readers a thought-provoking and inspiring story of Donald Zinkoff as he travels from first through sixth grade.
However, Zinkoff is not a normal child. He's slower at learning than the other kids, he's disheveled, and his lack of athletic skills prevents him from ever being picked to participate in activities. In every way, he's different from the other kids.

But . . . Zinkoff is unaware of all of this. He is too busy thinking about himself to notice what others are thinking. He is busy growing up. He is busy growing out. (p.111)

Zinkoff is really nice, and he's totally happy just being who he is, whether other people like him or not. While many of us strive so hard to fit in, I really admire Zinkoff's ability to keep on being himself even though the other kids are mean to him.

I think Spinelli does amazing job at narrating the story, truly getting at the heart of Zinkoff's innocence and naiveté so that readers can relate to what Zinkoff is going through. In a way, Zinkoff reminds me of Forrest Gump from the film, Forrest Gump (rated PG-13), who is man with low IQ, but who has good intentions and accomplishes great things in life.

I give Loser by Jerry Spinelli 4.1 out of 5 stars.

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

BONUS WRITING PROMPT: In the Middle School Survival series, the popular kids are called “pops.” What would your group of friends be called? Leave your answer in the Comments.

December 13, 2009

E-reader vs. Books

Posted by at 8:04 am in Reads | Permalink

Book_vs_ebook I have been hearing a lot about electronic reading devices (or “e-readers”) lately, and I’m wondering if I should put one on my holiday wish list. Is reading a book electronically better than reading the old-fashioned way? I decided to list the pros and cons of an e-reader vs. print books just to see if it’s really worth putting an e-reader on my holiday wish list or if I’m better off asking for something else.

Reasons why I want an e-reader

1) Is that a weight I am carrying around in my bag?
After reading such books as Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga (for ages 12 and up), J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and other rather large books, I would love to have an e-reader just to avoid carrying around a 5-10 pound book. I couldn’t wait to finish these big books not only because I wanted to find out how the story ended, but also because I just didn’t want to carry around the book anymore.

2) Right here. . . right now!
My biggest qualm about ordering clothes, books, and other items online is that I not only have to pay for shipping and handling, but I also have to wait for them to arrive. It’s often the case that I’ll purchase a book online and then have to wait 3-4 days before I can start reading it. Meanwhile I have nothing to read. With an e-reader, I can download a digital book and start reading immediately. No waiting required!

3) Space Saver
One of the main issues with living in Manhattan, or just being a girl anywhere for that matter, is having enough space for all of your stuff. Currently my books are spread across all areas of my apartment. The majority of my books are on my bookshelf, but the ones that don’t fit are located under my bed, on my windowsill, in my closet, and there might even be a couple mixed in with my clothes in the dresser. This is where an e-reader would come in handy! Plus I’d have more room for new clothes.

Reasons why I prefer books

1) Money, Money, Money. . . Money!
E-readers currently range anywhere from $200 to $400 and on top of that you still have to buy the e-books! With regular books you can borrow from the library or friends, buy used, and/or resell. Plus, think about how many books you can get for the cost of one e-reader.

2) Browsing bookstores
One of my favorite things to do during my free time is to wander around a bookstore and check out the books. Then, I’ll either buy the book(s) there or I’ll go home and purchase the book used online to save money. Unfortunately, an e-reader takes away the fun element of browsing the store and buying the book then and there. Plus, even if you find the book you’re looking for, it might not be available in the electronic format yet.

3) Checkin’ it out
If I’m not browsing bookstores, buying books online, or borrowing books from a friend, I am checking them out for free at the local public library. Unfortunately many public libraries do not have the funds to offer digital e-books online for users. So in the end, the e-reader is put to waste if you’re checking out books from the library.

4) Smell, sight, touch
Maybe it’s just me, but I love being able take a look at all the books I’ve read on my bookshelf at home. I don’t know what it is; seeing them all lined up on the shelves just makes me feel so accomplished. Not only does looking at my collection of books brighten up my mood, but you know when you’re reading that 500 page book and you’re on page 490? Seeing all those pages I’ve read just makes me feel so rewarded that I’m almost finished. Plus, don’t you just love the smell of a new book?

5) Don’t let the book um. . .drop?
I am one of the clumsiest people I know. Whether I’m tripping over my own two feet, spilling coffee on myself, or accidentally dropping my cell phone on the ground, I have learned I do not do well around super-expensive electronics. This is why an e-reader is completely out of the question for me. I mean, if I had a dollar for every time my cell phone has flown out of my hands, I’d probably have enough money to buy an e-reader.

So after writing my list weighing out the pros and cons for e-reader vs. books, I think I’ll scratch off the e-reader from my holiday shopping list and save up my money for more books. What do you think? Do you have any pros or cons that I didn’t think of?

— Carly M., STACKS Staffer

November 25, 2009

Book Review: Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

Posted by at 9:01 am in Reads | Permalink

Jeremyfink Hmm. . . before I turned thirteen, what were my main thoughts and concerns? I'm pretty sure I was worrying about starting junior high, making new friends, being able to get good grades, and not fighting with my brother. I certainly know for a fact that I wasn't having some existential crisis and pondering the meaning of life! That didn’t happen until I turned sixteen. ;-)

In the book, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass, the idea of wanting to know the meaning of life plagues Jeremy Fink at the young age of twelve. This life-long question comes up when Jeremy receives a special box, as gift from father who passed away five years before, which apparently holds the answer to the meaning of life. Unfortunately the keys to open this one-of-a-kind box have been lost by the box's caretaker. So, in efforts to unlock and uncover the answer, Jeremy and Lizzy find themselves in some unique and life-changing experiences as their mission to unlock the box unravels.

I must say that I thought this book was excellent! A must-read for everyone, even adults. Mass expresses and reveals the important aspects of life which her characters learn throughout the book. Here are just a few quotes that I really could relate to in the quest for the so-called answer to the meaning of life.

  • Mr. Rudolph: “If you go along with the flow of life, without trying to changes others, or change situations that are beyond you, life is much more peaceful.” (p. 151)
  • Mr. Rudolph: “We all bring our own perceptions, needs, and experiences to everything we do. We will all interpret an event, or a sunset, different.” (p. 155)
  • Jeremy Fink: “Each choice I made, or Lizzy made, was based on who we were or what we wanted. That's all I ever have to keep doing, and not be so worried about choosing right or wrong, there's only what IS. And if I don't like the outcome, I just make another choice.” (p. 286)

I want to thank harryobsessed (Allison) for recommending this wonderful book. If you haven't read it yet, I highly suggest you do. You won't regret it.


—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Writing Prompt: I’m Thankful For . . .

Posted by at 9:16 am in Writing Prompt | Permalink

Writingprompt_thanksgiving Thanksgiving time! A time for friends, friends, football (Go Vikings!), and tons and tons of food. However, in addition to getting together with all of your family and the oh-so-painful food coma you endure after the meal, it’s also a time to reflect on what you’re most thankful for.

Here’s my list of what I’m thankful for:

  1. Awesome parents who care for me and whom I can talk to when ever I need to.
  2. A fun-loving brother and his wonderful wife who has turned out to be the best sister-in-law a girl could have.
  3. Great friends whom I wish I could see more.
  4. The public library. Without it, I wouldn’t have read most of the terrific books that I have read.

And the list could go on and on. (For more, you can see the STACKS Thanksgiving word cloud here.) Now I want to know what you’re most thankful for.

— Carly M., STACKS Staffer

October 21, 2009

Book Review Breathe: A Ghost Story

Posted by at 7:19 am in Reads | Permalink

Breathe_130 If your home had a ghost, what would you do? I know I would certainly get the heck out of there and convince my parent to move faster than you could say “Trick or Treat” five times. Well, I suppose that's where Cliff McNish's character, Jack, and I differ.

In the book Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish, the reader is taken into many different worlds through just one boy, Jack, as he is a medium between the world of the living, the world of lost souls, the world of the other side, and the world which exists between the living and the non-living.

When Jack's father dies, and Jack and his mother move into a new home out in the country, Jack hopes to contact him through some supernatural occurrence, but instead Jack finds himself in direct contact with another non-living soul in the home. At first Jack presumes his connection with the ghost – aka the Ghost Mother – will lead him to contact his dad, but he soon discovers the evils that lie within this home and the dangers that await.

You will want to read Breathe with the lights on for fear that a ghost may be lurking in your own home. Even more frightening than the ghosts were the parts of the story describing the world of the lost souls. McNish's description of this terrifying and unsettling world will have your hairs standing up on your arms, and you'll reach for a blanket due to the chills you'll be feeling!

I want to thank lucca4 for recommending this book in the entry Get ready, get set and RECOMMEND!

I give Breathe: A Ghost Story 4.5 out of 5 stars.

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer