Monday, March 28, 2011

CONTEST Books: Hopeful Monsters by Hiromi Goto

Have you entered my Book Blogging to Save Japan contest yet! Do something to help Japan in this time of crisis, let me know what you did (either in a comment or by e-mail - zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com), and be entered to win!
Below is just one of the many awesome books you have the opportunity to win!

Title: Hopeful Monsters

Author: Hiromi Goto

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

Summary:“Hopeful monsters” are genetically abnormal organisms that, nonetheless, adapt and survive in their environments. In these devastating stories, the hopeful monsters in question are those who will not be tethered by familial duty nor bound by the ghosts of their past.

Home becomes fraught, reality a nightmare as Hiromi Goto weaves her characters through tales of domestic crises and cultural dissonance. They are the walking wounded—a mother who is terrified by a newborn daughter who bears a tail; a “stinky girl” who studies the human condition in a shopping mall; a family on holiday wih a visiting grandfather who cannot abide their “foreign” nature. But wills are a force unto themselves, and Goto’s characters are imbued with the light of myth and magic-realism. With humor and keen insight, Goto makes the familiar seem strange, and deciphers those moments when the idyllic skews into the absurd and the sublime.

Doesn't that sound AWESOME?!? I know I can't wait to read it! Be sure to enter for your chance to win!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Blogging for Japan CONTEST!

Do something for Japan, let me know what it is, and WIN A BOOK!

Left is Sendai, Japan before.
Right is Sendai, Japan now.

As many of you know, I've been living in Japan for the past year, and as such, this recent tragedy has really struck close to home for me.

As such, I've decided to host a Book Blogging for Japan CONTEST!!!! Right now, there will be 9 winners! To enter, all you have to do is help Japan. You do something to help Japan and send me an e-mail (zedster.tbb(at)gmail(dot)com) or post a comment letting me know what you did, and you're entered!

You can do something as simple as donate money, or, if you're poor like me, you can be creative.

Some EXAMPLES of things you can do:
-Thursday night I went to a meditation session where we meditated for the survivors.
-A kindergarten teacher is having her class collect marbles for when they're good. For each marble the kids earn, parents are donating a dollar.
-make a paper crane - there is a myth in Japan that for every thousand paper cranes you fold, you get a wish.

What can you win?
#1 - a box of books from me! Old books I've read, whatever fits in the box!
#2 - Hopeful Monsters: Stories by Hiromi Goto - donated by Arsenal Pulp Press!
#3-5 winners will win If You Follow Me: A Novel (P.S.) by Malena Watrous - donated by Harper Collins
#4-2 winners will receive books donated by Egmont UK.
#5-a SIGNED copy of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

If you've never heard of these books, they will be being featured in the blog over the next few days, so keep a look out!

The contest will end at a date to be determined in the future. I look forward to seeing what kinds of things you guys come up with to help.

You don't have to spread the word to be entered, but the more people helping Japan the better, so I'd really appreciate it if you would!

**If you're hosting a contest for Japan, I'd love to link it up, so please let me know! Also, please let me know if you'd like to donate a book to the contest.**

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: The Atomic Weight of Secrets or the Arrival of the Mysterious Men In Black by Eden Unger Bowditch

Title: the Atomic Weight of Secrets or the Arrival of the Mysterious Men In Black

Author: Eden Unger Bowditch


Who Should Read It?
This is a great book for ages 12 or 13 and over. I think it might be a little too slow for those younger than that, but adults interested in YA (especially those that have ever been intrigued by a bit of science) will love it!

What I Have to Say:
i LOVED this book! I'm going to be honest - what attracted me to this book most in the beginning was the title. I liked how it was long and started off with "the Atomic Weight of Secrets." It sounded mathy to me, and I love math!

It starts when 5 exceptionally brilliant children are, seemingly without warning, separated from their brilliant, scientist parents, and brought to live together. When I started reading it, even though I immediately enjoyed it, it was initially hard for me to tell if it was really a book for me. It did start off a little bit slowly, and there was something about the men in black with their odd outfits and even odder hats that didn't sit right with me. It almost felt, well, pointless. And even after finishing the book, I'm still not sure I understand.

By the end, though, that didn't matter, and I actually began to enjoy the author's creativity in describing these elusive "men in black." The character's were all extremely wonderfully developed and enjoyable - you could tell, by the time the author put into giving back story and helping us to know everything there was to know about each of the five children, that she really loved these children. As such, I also grew not only to know them, but to love them.

All five of the children are brilliant scientists, just like their parents, but the fact that they are also children and, thus, childish, makes them incredibly endearing. It's impossible not to find yourself completely drawn in as these children fight and work to understand each other, the men in black, and why their parents would just allow them to be abandoned like that. As they learn to work together to try to "save" their parents, their five separate stories begin to meld together in a beautiful way.

Though the book did feel slow at times, for the most part it was just action-packed and exciting; absolutely perfect for the train on which I was reading it!

I would definitely recommend it to those interested in YA! And I know I'll definitely be reading the second book in the series, if only to find out more about what is up with these men in black and their funny goggles or black bunny ears!

Summary:In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world’s most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.

But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.

They arrived to take twelve-year-old Jasper Modest and his six-year-old sister, Lucy—he with his remarkable creations and she with her perfect memory—from their London, England home to a place across the ocean they’d never seen before.

They arrived to take nine-year-old Wallace Banneker, last in a long line of Africa-descended scientists, from his chemistry, his father, and his New York home to a life he’d never imagined.

Twelve-year-old Noah Canto-Sagas, already missing his world-famous and beloved mother, was taken from Toronto, Canada, carrying only his clothes, his violin, and his remarkable mind.

And thirteen-year-old Faye Vigyanveta, the genius daughter of India’s wealthiest and most accomplished scientists, was removed by force from her life of luxury.

From all across the world, they’ve been taken to mysterious Sole Manner Farm, and a beautiful but isolated schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them love and care, but she can’t give them answers.

Things only get stranger from there. What is the book with no pages Jasper and Lucy find in their mother’s underwear drawer, and why do the men in black want it so badly?

How is it all the children have been taught the same bizarre poem—and yet no other rhymes or stories their entire lives?

And why haven’t their parents tried to contact them?

Whatever the reasons, to brash, impetuous Faye, the situation is clear: They and their parents have been kidnapped by these terrible men in black, and the only way they’re going to escape and rescue their parents is by completing the invention they didn’t even know they were all working on—an invention that will change the world forever.

But what if the men in black aren’t trying to harm the children? What if they’re trying to protect them?

And if they’re trying to protect them—from what?

An amazing story about the wonders of science and the still greater wonders of friendship, The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Mysterious Men in Black , the first book of the Young Inventors Guild trilogy, is a truly original novel. Young readers will forever treasure Eden Unger Bowditch’s funny, inventive, poignant, and wonderfully fun fiction debut.

Cover Story: I hadn't seen the cover before reading the book (or if I had, I don't remember it), but looking at it after the fact, it would certainly inspire me to read the book. It's intriguing! Unfortunately, I think it's also a little bit more adult than the book itself. Other than that, great cover, which I'm planning on taking a little more time to examine in a minute!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Japan - fleeing and feeling and donating

So, as most of you probably know, I have been living in Japna for the last year. And with all of the things going on in Japan lately, I have received SO many wonderful comments and e-mails from you guys inquiring about my safety. First of all, I just want to say thank you SO much. I really appreciate all of your thoughts and concerns, and I am sure Japan and all of the Japanese people do as well.

Second of all, yes, I am safe. The area I live in was basically unaffected. I felt the quake a little bit (I was actually teaching 2 year olds at the time, and the building we were in shook like we were in a boat for about 4 minutes - the worst we got was some crying two year olds. And me feeling motion sick), but other than that my area was unaffected.

Still, because my family was worrying so much (and let's face it, when it came to radiation, me, too), I have returned to the states. It was a little bit crazy going through everything to get my re-entry permit and a last minute flight and to get myself packed, but now I have safely arrived in Colorado with my sister.

I've been a little bit blah and a little bit depressed about the whole situation, so I've been doing my best to avoid the internet. I'm therefore super sorry about the lack of reviews lately. I know I had promised some reviews for the 15th/16th, and if you are one of those people to whom I promised a review, I am incredibly sorry. They'll be up soon! Now that I'm starting to return to life a little bit.

Now, I know you all want to help Japan (I know I can't watch the news without crying and feeling sick), and what they need more than anything right now is money. There are lots of great ways to donate, and I hope you will. For a list of donation possibilites, go check out this article. If I can manage to get back on my feet anytime soon, I might have some kind of donation giveaway.

In the meantime, please keep Japan (and Libya, of course) in your thoughts (and prayers, if you have those), and I'll try to start posting reviews again soon. I have been on a mega YA kick to try to fluff this disaster out of my mind.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: the Shape Changer's Wife by Sharon Shinn

Title: the Shape Changer's Wife

Author: Sharon Shinn


Who Should Read It? Fans of fantasy and fairy tales will, without a doubt, want to give this book a try!

What I Have to Say:
If you're a fan of cute fantasy, the Shape Changer's Wife will, without a doubt, have you hooked from page one. It's well-written and beautifully developed, with a story that will bring tears to your eyes (well, it certainly brought tears to my eyes).

Aubrey, a young magician, finds himself the apprentice of Glyrenden, a hated, shape-changing magician. Living in the house of Glyrenden brings along some awkward, strange characters in the shape-changer's wife, Lillith, the house-keeper who doesn't seem to know how to keep house, Arachne, and the oversized brute of a man, Orion. What ensues is a beautiful story of magic, love, romance, and hope.

My absolute favorite thing about this book is the character development - we don't just learn more about the characters - there becomes more about the characters to learn, as they grow and develop with the help of their surroundings. The effect that Aubrey has on Lillith still has my heart pounding at the beauty.

The Shape-Changer's Wife is a short, sweet story with a fairy-tale feel that will tear at your heart strings and possibly give you hope for the world. And, like a true story-teller, Shinn leaves the end open for interpretation. Love this booK!

Summary: From the national bestselling author of The Samaria Trilogy...this is the novel that launched Sharon Shinn's career and inspired Peter S. Beagle to call her "the most original writer of fantasy since Robin McKinley."

Aubrey was a student of the fine art of wizardry. But the more knowledge he acquired, the more he wanted to learn. He traveled in search of the greatest master of all, the gifted shape-changer Glyrenden. From him, Aubrey expected to discover the secret of long-lost spells and the mysteries of arcane magic.

But there was one discovery he never expected, a mystery he risked every thing to solve. Her name was Lilith...

Cover Story: While I don't love this cover, I do find it extraordinarily intriguing. It piques my curiosity, the way the woman's head is so beautiful yet ordinary. The way she is so hidden.

This book was sent to me as a Secret Santa present by Simcha from SFF Chat! Thanks, Simcha! This was my first Sharon Shinn, and I LOVED it!

My Contests

None for now!