Author Archives: Carly M.

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

October 4, 2009

Author SPLOTlight: Kevin Emerson

Posted by at 9:18 am in Authors, Reads | Permalink

Olivernocturn_130 While it may seem like most of the vampire books out there are by female authors such as Stephenie Meyer, Heather Brewer, and L.J. Smith, there is one man who has stepped up to the plate to join the collection of vampire writers. That man is Kevin Emerson.

Emerson is the author of the popular vampire series for ages 9 and up, Oliver Nocturne, about a boy vampire who is a bit more human than the rest of the other vampires around him. What make Emerson's series different from the other vampire romance books is that Emerson looks at Oliver, a normal vampire boy living with his vampire parents, and how life differs for him as opposed to a human American boy.

Emerson shows that, like other human boys developing into teenagers, Oliver is not that much different— besides the drinking blood aspect. Oliver, like many other teenage boys, is discovering himself and trying to figure out what makes him different. From girls to friends to family, Emerson takes us on a journey through Oliver's life and the obstacles that he endures.

While the Oliver Nocturne series may not be getting as much hype as the other vampire series such as the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer and The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith (both for an older, YA audience), Oliver's adventures, discoveries and life-changing events should not be overlooked.

If you've read the Oliver Nocturne series, you should also check out Kevin Emerson's other book, Carlos Is Gonna Get It.

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

September 28, 2009

Book Review: The Devil’s Arithmetic

Posted by at 9:10 am in Reads | Permalink


I think The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen ranks not only as one of the best Holocaust fiction books for children, but as a general all-around well written book. In addition to other Holocaust survivor stories such as Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Journey to America by Sonia Levitin, and Daniel's Story by Carol Matas, Yolen's story was so emotionally capturing that I couldn't stop reading. Readers of any age will become captivated with Hannah Stern's story as she is transported from modern day to the time of the Jewish Holocaust – a time of hardships, struggles and ultimately death for the Jewish people of Europe.

What I found so fascinating and different about this story is that Hannah also holds the memories of her life in modern times. All of these memories become a sort of facade as she spends more and more time in the Nazi concentration camp. This depiction of draining memories of those who survived in the concentration camps is an accurate telling of how the Nazis wanted the Jews to live; to drain them of their past and happy lives and only follow the rules.

One of my favorite quotes in this sad and heartfelt story is when Hannah says to Gitl, "How can you laugh?" to which Gitl replies, "Without laughter, there is no hope. Without hope, there is no life." This particular quote especially struck home for me. Thinking about all of the sad events that have happened, there has always been one family member who has tried to make our family laugh.

Lastly, after reading this book you'll also take away the following message: "Don't take what you have for granted because you never know when it will be stripped away." This message is certainly one worth keeping.

I give this book 4.8 out of 5 stars.

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

September 19, 2009

Fall 2009 Trend Report

Posted by at 10:36 am in Reads | Permalink

Trendreport Dreading the beginning of the school year is only natural. You have your classes, homework, schedules, friends and of course, trends to worry about. Fortunately you can now scratch one of those worrisome items off of your list because we're giving you a head start on all the trends for fall 2009. From books to clothes to movies, you'll rule the halls with your up-to-date trend-setting knowledge and appearance.

Book Trends for Fall '09
Catching Fire:
The second installment in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series for ages 12 and up, Catching Fire, has already sparked tons of buzz in the literary world and will certainly be a conversation starter among fans.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: This awesomely funny series by Jeff Kinney continues on October 12, 2009 with the fourth book, Dog Days. Just when you thought summer vacation was over, you'll get to see how Greg Heffley spent his summer. Whether you’re an outdoor or indoor person, you’ll love reading this book.

The Magician's Elephant: The new book by Newbery Medalist author Kate DiCamillo has been gaining notoriety from kids, parents and reviewers. It's even already in talks to becoming a feature film! I suppose it's time to jump on the bandwagon and read this book.

Fall Fashion Trends for Girls AND Boys
Distressed denim jackets and jeans:
Be hip and cool with this rock n' roll style look. Plus, if don’t want to go out and spend money on this look, it's easy enough to do at home on your old jeans. Just have your mom or dad create this look by using a utility knife.

Plaid is the new preppy: The recent popularity of the Disney Channel show, Jonas, has inspired the new plaid and preppy attire. You can add your own flare by adding funky accessories.

The "It" colors: With fall just around the corner, it's time to put away the pastels and neon colors and pull out anything that has black, deep reds and purples. Metallics, such as gold, silver and bronze, are also in style for those who really like to stand out.

Movie Trends for Fall '09
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Rated PG):
Any movie based on the best-selling book by Judi and Ron Barrett that has action, comedy and tons of food is must see this fall.

Fame (Rated PG): You'll definitely want to check out this remake of Fame coming out on September 25, 2009. Not only does it have all new actors and music, but it also puts modern day twist on great classic film.

Where the Wild Things Are (Rated PG): This childhood classic by Maurice Sendak is finally hitting the silver screen on October 16, 2009! With a star-studded cast and amazing special effects, this is a movie even your parents will enjoy.

Other Trends for Fall '09
Being green:
Though this is an ever popular trend, being green is now more important than ever. With such efforts as Disney's "Friends For Change", and Nickelodeon's "The Big Green Help", getting involved in your community by recycling, picking up litter and reducing electricity/energy is a definite must!

Staying fit and healthy: While eating a balanced diet and being active has always been important, it's more important nowadays with our busy schedules and new advanced technology keeping us indoors. So let's make sure we keep our bodies healthy by eating enough fruits and vegetables and making sure we get at least thirty minutes of exercise everyday.

Washing your hands: Now more than ever, it's extremely important that you wash your hands! With the recent outbreak of what is known as the Swine Flu, one of the most important and preventative actions you can take, according to the American Medical Association, is to wash your hands with soap and warm water as much as possible.

That concludes my top fall trend picks of 2009. If you'd like to weigh in on my choices, feel free! Besides, the Stacks users aka YOU, are always one step ahead of the curve.

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

September 12, 2009

Book Review: Running Out of Time

Posted by at 9:53 am in Reads | Permalink

Runningoutoftime_130Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

In Running Out of TimeMargaret Peterson Haddix begins the story by taking us inside the world of an 1840s Indiana village where we meet thirteen-year-old Jessie, her family and friends. There is nothing really odd about this town except for the miraculous cure of diseases that were so prevalent in the mid-nineteenth century. But things in this tiny little community begin erupting when children start dying of diphtheria. Jessie’s mother tells her she must get help, but how? This is when the story takes a really interesting turn as Jessie learns that the year is really 1996 and she, her family, and the rest of the community have actually been living inside a tourist site, being observed by outside people and scientists.

Intrigued yet? I thought so . . .

So in order to save the dying children in the community, Jessie must escape the locked-down facility and venture into the world of the late-twentieth century. Never having seen an automobile, television or even used a telephone, Jessie has to figure out how she’s going to find help while still trying to blend in and look like a normal teenager from the 90s.

What happens next you ask? Well, I’m not going to give away everything in the story, but I will tell you that I really enjoyed reading my second book by Haddix. It was fun, interesting and made me really think about how it would feel to be Jessie. I only wish there were more in the book about Jessie’s adventures and experiences when adjusting to her new world. I felt that the book ended a little too soon, whereas I would have liked for it to keep going.

I give this book 4.2 out of 5 stars.

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

September 9, 2009

Trivia Answers: Scholastic Book Scramble

Posted by at 10:52 am in Reads, Trivia | Permalink

Questionmark_130 Great job to everyone who participated in the Scholastic Book Scramble! Congratulations to Siara and Rachel for getting all three word scrambles correct! They were a bit tricky, you guys proved that you can't be stumped!

Here are the answers:




—Carly M., STACKS Staffer

September 5, 2009

Book Review: When You Reach Me

Posted by at 8:23 am in Reads | Permalink

Whenyoureachme_130 Get ready to meet Miranda, Sal, Annemarie, and the rest of the characters from the highly acclaimed book, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. If you're asking yourself, "What makes you think I want to meet them?" I totally see where you're coming from. When Sonja, STACKS Staffer first gave me the book, I was a little hesitant thinking to myself, "This sounds a little too sci-fi and weird for me," but I was completely wrong.

The book starts with a great quote by famed physicist, Albert Einstein, which immediately gained my attention and I knew this book was going make me think. The story begins with Miranda, the narrator, describing her mom's acceptance to The $20,000 Pyramid (one of the best game shows ever). However, as Miranda is talking, you realize that is not speaking to us, the readers, but she is speaking to someone else! From there on I had to find out who that person was that she was telling the story to.

Other than the mystery surrounding the person Miranda is writing to, I enjoyed reading about New York in the 1970's and how utterly different it would be to go to school in a big city. From being able to leave school for lunch to walking home along Broadway, the experiences and events that Miranda and her friends encounter are both so very different from my elementary school experience, and yet there were also a surprising amount social similarities.

I give this book 4.1 out of 5 stars.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

—Carly M., STACKS Staffer