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31

Aug

2012

Don’t Be So Quick to Judge.

By Switcheroo. Posted in Switcheroo | 1 Comment »

I just got done reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. And I can’t stop thinking about it.

Have you ever read of those stories where you think about the characters all the time? Or talk about the story you’ve read all the time, convincing other people to read it?

This is one of those stories for me.

I like to blog about books that have a personal connection for me on here. I think it’s more interesting to write about the story and tying it in an experience than just blabbing on on about the book and ruining it for you. Before I even finished this book I wanted to write about it on here, because it’s that good! I have do have a small life experience to stick in here, but I mostly just want to make any readers aware of the story and how amazing it is.

August (Auggie) Pullman is pretty much a normal 10 year old boy. He is obsessed with Star Wars, has a best friend named Chris, and loves his dog. As normal as he feels on the inside, he is quite different on the outside. Auggie was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive. He has been home schooled his whole life. Then his parents ask him if he would like to go to a main stream school. At first Auggie is against the idea, but eventually agrees with his parents idea of main stream schooling. The story continues with Auggie’s struggles in convincing his classmates he doesn’t have the plague and he is like any normal fifth grade boy. The best part of this story is that it is told by different characters in the story. The reader gets the 360 degree experience of Auggie’s story. The ignorance of the kids and even some of the parents is outrageous and frustrating at some points. One of the most memorable parts for me in the story is Auggie explaining the other students and how they shun him. He compares himself to Chewbacca, a character in Star Wars. He says that he doesn’t mind the whispering or the pointing of the other children, he even understands it. If  Chewbacca came into the school that day, he would point and whisper too. He just wants his peers to give him a chance, and not assume that he has the cheese touch like they had in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

So this sounds sad, I know. But it has an amazing storyline and of course a happy ending. I don’t want to give anything away though, so you’ll have to read it to find out what happens to Auggie in his first year at school.

When I was younger we lived on a dead end street. I met my best friend when my family moved into our home when I was 3 years old.  My BF was two and we instantly hit off. My BF, like Auggie, was also born with a facial deformity. She was born with an overabundance of blood vessels in the lower half of her face. Every summer since the age of 3 my BF had to have a surgery to help reconstruct her face. After every summer surgery, I remember going over her house to help keep her company recuperate.  Here’s the deal, I didn’t even think or notice anything was wrong or different with her until I went to school and seen people pointing and whispering. Like Auggie’s story, people’s ignorance is frustrating. I wanted to fight anyone who made fun of my friend. I’m sad that children loose their innocence so fast and that some adults encourage children to point out the differences in others. I am sure there are many people who missed out on my BF’s friendship. But there is a happy ending to this story.  My old friend has an awesome job and is engaged to be married soon.

This story will have you thinking of the characters all the time. This story (and maybe mine) will make you re-evaluate how you treat others, deformed or not. It will make you thankful for awesome and strong people like my BF and Auggie!

Wonder By: R.J. Palacio.
Also available on Audiobook & Downloadable eBook

 

13

Jul

2012

I run because I can!

By Switcheroo. Posted in Switcheroo | No Comments »

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Jessica is a runner. She is a good runner. Jessica is so awesome; she breaks the 400 meter league record at an away track meet. She is thrilled and after the meet climbs onto the bus with rest of her team mates to head home to celebrate. But she doesn’t make it home that night. She wakes up in a hospital room. Her school bus gets hit by an uninsured junk truck on the way home. Most of the team suffers cuts and bruises, but Jessica has greater injuries. She has to have her right leg amputated just below her knee. Not only does she have to cope with loss of her leg, and her running identity, she learns she also lost a friend and team mate. Lucy Sanders dies from the terrible accident.

Jessica fights her way through recovery and like most uplifting/find oneself YA novels, she also works through her relationships with family, friends and herself. On her first day back to school she is greeted with looks and uneasiness in her wheelchair. Most teachers she finds are sympathetic and supportive, but the last hour of the day, Jessica is asked to sit the back of math class with Rosa, the freshman with cerebral palsy. Rosa is in a motorized wheelchair and can barely be understood. But Jessica soon sees Rosa as a friend, and a math genius. She sees Rosa as Rosa and looks past her condition.

This story was uplifting and promising. It is broken up into parts and by the last part, part 5, I wanted to cry! I’ve always said a good story is one that draws an emotional or physical reaction from a reader. I was anxious and excited at some parts, sad and touched in others. I think some of the emotions and connections I felt were from being a runner myself. In the book Rosa asks Jessica why she loves running. Jessica has to really think, no one has really asked her this question. She has learned in years of running that you either love running or hate it. The people, who do hate it, never ask questions about your passion. When I “read” (in quotes because I listened to it :D) this I felt the same way. I had to really think about her question. I’ve never been asked or even asked myself that question.

I started running in 6th grade. I really only started because I had to do a sport, and I made a fool out of myself in cheer leading tryouts, and gave the coach a concussion in softball try outs. Cross Country didn’t have tryouts, and didn’t involve any hand-eye coordination skills. It was a perfect fit for me. I really enjoyed it! I loved running! At the time I think I enjoyed the social aspect of it, but I did start to LOVE it. By high school I was pretty devoted. I even practiced in the SUMMER! It was fun for me! I ran all four years, my 10th and 11th grade years my best and without injuries. Our team made it to states and I made the league team! After I graduated I kind of fell out of love with it. I seemed to busy, when I did run it was only a couple miles. I never really challenged myself. About two years ago, I found my passion again with the help of my sister-in-law Anne.

Anne was my idol in high school. She ran for Jefferson High (I ran for Airport High) and qualified for states in high school at least 3 times if not more, she was all league, and she was always one of the top three runners in meets. When she graduated she went to Sienna Heights and ran for them. I wasn’t there to worship the ground she walked on like I did high school, but I heard she was as awesome there as she was at Jefferson. Long story short, she was my hero. I looked up to her as a runner. Who knew one day I would be her sister and friend!?! I was lucky because she me helped my find love for running again. Anne pushed me to run again and she challenged me into a half marathon, my first one EVER! We trained together when we could, and I have to say it was the best time of my life. I was fit and healthy and we became so close! We ran the race in Ludington, MI the second weekend in June 2010. I hoped to run the half in 2 hours. I ran it in 1 hour 50 minutes!! It was awesome!

Since then I’ve had a baby, and am starting to slowly run again. I thought about doing another half this summer, but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me. I hate to say it but things do change when you have a baby and it’s a little harder to find time to run for 2 hours at a time. I do still enjoy long distance runs and challenging myself. I try for better splits instead of longer miles. I’m up to 5 miles these days.

So I feel like I need to answer Rosa’s question: “What do you like about running?” Here is what I have to say; I love the peacefulness of running. I love getting lost in my thoughts. I love the burn of pushing myself just a little bit harder. I love the wind and breeze that comes with the running motion. But most of all, I love the feeling of achievement, accomplishment and pride.

If you don’t run or think you hate running, don’t count yourself out. Try it, you may be surprised at you find about yourself! Good Luck!

 

21

Nov

2011

Questions Answered, Wounds Healed

By Switcheroo. Posted in Switcheroo | 1 Comment »

So its been three years since Adam and Mia have seen each other. Shocking for anyone who read “If I Stay”. I ended the book thinking they would be together forever. Maybe I’m too positive… Anyways, it’s been three years and they’ve gone separate ways. Adam has become the front man for a hit rock band. He has the life, the money, the girls, the popularity…but he’s miserable. Anyone guess why? He misses Mia! While Adam’s band in the New York for a show it just so happens that Mia is there as well for a Cellist concert. She is a renowned cellist playing Carnegie Hall. Adam goes on whim to see her perform, he plans to just slip in and slip out. But Mia sees him and calls him back to her room and they reconnect. They spend an entire night together catching up on the past three years, Mia’s time in intensive care and her departure to Julliard and mending the wounds left open from when they split.

OMG! I Loved Loved Loved this book! It was told from Mia’s boyfriend Adam’s point of view. Which was amazing! There were so many questions and wanting after I read the first book. Like I said I just assumed they would be together forever. But what really happened was more realistic. There were flashbacks to Mia’s accident, what happened during her recovering and what Adam went through. The reader gets a glimpse of their relationship before the accident and after the accident and what really happens. I loved Adam’s voice. Like the first book, it was written so well. The author has a amazing way of capturing the emotions of the characters and pulling the reader in. I was upset with Mia and her choices. I felt Adam’s anger through out the story, but forgave and came to understand Mia’s choices at the end. Because of the connection I made with the characters, I was along for the journey. This is an amazing experience for readers I think. Has anyone else felt that way? You get so wrapped up in the story and the emotions, you know the character and can feel their emotions. Isn’t it the best feeling??

It was a good old fashioned love story with a happy ending. Something I haven’t read in a really long time. Not only was it a happy ending with lots of fuzzy feelings, the story in between had my attention the entire time and answered all my pending questions from the first book. I was very much emotionally tied to the characters already from the first book, what with my hospital experiences with my husband. But I felt even more connected with the sequel. If you’ve read the first book “If I Stay” this companion is a must!

After I read the book, I went on amazon.com and found a interview with the author about the sequel. I am always surprised and fascinated with the stories behind the story. It always adds to the experience. Check it out here.

 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Mia is a very talented Cellist. One day she and her family pile in the car for a visit to her grandparents. Something happens, and all Mia can remember is being in the car with her family, but now she is standing outside of her body watching what seems like a horror movie. Her family’s Buick is totaled, and her mom, dad, and brother are dead. She on the other hand is breathing and is barely holding on. Her unconscious  body is taken to the hospital, and her soul must decide whether to stay or go beyond and join her family.

This was really good. You all know I love me a good depressing book but this was a little close to home for me. Well not really close, just the hospital scenes with family and friends and boyfriend. I read this book shortly after my Fiance at the time, husband now, had had a terrible accident. He was cutting wood, when the tree branch snapped under the pressure of the cold January air. He had to have a 10 hour facial reconstructive surgery. His mouth was wired shut for 4 weeks and he has 20 titanium plates in his face. He’s fine now, actually you probably wouldn’t even know the amount of damage and work he had endured from the accident if you see him in public. It was the scariest, most emotional thing I have even have to deal with. We got through it though and it worked out. Reading this book though, made me feel lucky, and I cried a lot at the end, like sobbed.

I thought this book was so beautifully written. The author did an amazing job capturing the emotions that run so high during unfortunate losses and accidents. Which is why I think I connected to it. I do have to say that the storyline was a tad bit unbelievable at times. Especially having the totally cool parents that she got along with ALL the time. What teenager gets along with their parents ALL the time? Perhaps though it was the whole “you don’t know what you have until its gone” kind of thing. I loved the parents, but their relationship with their kids, was a bit far fetched. I did want more at the end, like most books, what happens next? I like to think Mia and Adam lived happily ever after cherishing life and each other.  Right!?!

Well imagine my excitement when the sequel came out and it was written from Adam’s point of view. I couldn’t get the disc in my player fast enough!

 

9

Sep

2011

A Fat Cat is a happy cat? Perhaps not….

By Switcheroo. Posted in Switcheroo | 1 Comment »

Fat Cat
By Robin Brande

I thought this book was a bit annoying at first. I was annoyed with Cat and her whining about what her ex-best friend, Matt had done to her, (which you don’t find out until the end of the book also very annoying)…

I guess I should start at the beginning. Cat is overweight, a brain in Science and Math, and hooked on Diet Coke. She loves snickers, anything with cheese and is okay being the third wheel with her best friend Amanda and Amanda’s boyfriend Jordan for the rest of her life. Right away, Cat talks about her hate for Matt Mckinney. She wants to seek revenge on him for the thing he did to her in seventh grade. Her big day comes when in their AP Science class, the students pick a picture and have to create a science project around that picture. Cat is sure she will beat Matt when she sees her picture and the best idea ever forms. Her picture is a group of hominids fighting over an animal. Cat decides to make herself her project’s guinea pig and change her lifestyle. Cat goes from eating snickers, Cheetos and downing Diet Cokes to a prehistoric diet of natural grains and fruit. Not only is she changing her eating habits but she must also cut out technology, including transportation! Before long Cat’s body and mind transform and she is on the path of sticking it to Matt, which is what she has always wanted…or is it?

After getting past the first couple chapters, I got really into it. First, let me say I am addicted to reality shows that can better people’s lives and one’s where you can see a physical change. Intervention, Biggest Loser, and What Not to Wear, can all be found in my DVR library. So this book was so right for me. I also had a journey for myself recently and last year lost 40 pounds. So some of things I could really relate to with Cat. Buying new clothes, handling reactions, and the hardest part, a new way of thinking about yourself. Cat slims down to impress and get revenge on Matt, but ultimately discovers it was for herself along and she discovers other talents besides being smart and awesome in math science during her endeavors.

I listened to the audio version of this book and loved the narrator. At the end of the production, Robin Brande explains the evolution of Fat Cat. I thought it was so cool that she too was overweight and like Cat was addicted to processed sugars. Robin took the same challenge that Cat took, and a lot of the experiences Cat faces are ones that Robin faced in her journey. At the end of Robin’ journey, she becomes vegetarian and talks about her reasons for doing so. It was very inspirational and it had a happy ending which is a big plus in my reading critique.

I finished this book right before I left for the ALAN conference in Orlando last year. If you’re interested in reading about our amazing time, check out Alaska’s post! Anyways, it was amazing, but the best part was I got to meet ROBIN BRANDE! It was totally awesome that I got to talk to her about her writing and lifestyle changing experience so close to finishing the book. She even signed a copy of Fat Cat for me! It’s probably a good thing they really only give you like 2 minutes to talk to the authors, or I would have A). scared her more than I already did or B). talked her ear off and asked a million questions. Anyhow, it was an amazing experience and so motivating! Here’s a picture of us connecting! I like to pretend we became besties that day! :)

 

Hello friends! I just got back from the most amazing trip! I was lucky enough to go to the ALAN conference again this year. To refresh your memory, this is a conference with the best librarians and teachers from all over the country. If that wasn’t good enough, there are also some of the best young adult authors! It’s like my dream! You may have read my blog from last year, if not check it out here.

Anyways, the conference was at the most magical place on Earth. Well, it wasn’t actually at Disney World, but it was in Orlando. The people of Disney were amazing, but I’ve got to say, something about hearing “Have a magical day” repeatedly made me want to kick something, or someone. I’m not proud, just honest. Anyways, the hotel where the conference was held was amazing, but large, and hard to navigate (at least for me, I’m directionally challenged). I stayed with fellow blogger Kelli, Switcheroo, and one of the most amazing teachers ever, Daria Plumb who teaches at Riverside Academy in Dundee. She has an amazing blog and website, so check them out.

There are so many amazing parts to this conference, I can’t even begin to pick favorites, oh, I guess I can. It’s the reception. It’s the opening night of the conference, and we get to mix and mingle with rock stars. I don’t mean Bono, although that would be cool. My version of rock stars are Matt de la Pena, Ally Carter, Jack Gantos, Ellen Hopkins, Lauren Myracle, David Levithan and Rachel Cohn and many, many more. It’s so amazing. I walk around in shock taking pictures like a paparazzo. You don’t believe me, I was too afraid to approach David Levithan (author of amazing books like Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, so I just had Switcheroo take his picture like a stalker. It didn’t come out great, but here it is:

I realized that you guys may want to see photographic proof that I was rubbing shoulders with these genius minds, so got a little braver, and started speaking to people! Here are Switcheroo and I with Ellen Hopkins, that’s right The Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank, Burned, Impulse and many more!

We had the most amazing conversation with Ellen; we told her how her books were some of the most commonly stolen books. I think we surprised her when we told her this was a good thing. Not the stealing of books, don’t do that! But, the fact that her books are so important to people, that they feel that they need to keep them. This brings me to an exciting contest to tell you all about, a scavenger hunt of sorts. Another one of the best things about this conference is that they give us a giant box of free books! Here’s a pic of me with all the boxes of books the night before just making sure they were there.

And they are good books, amazing books! Some are even advance reading copies (ARCs), which mean we get to read them before they are even published! Switcheroo and I were talking, and decided it would be really fun to give some of these books to you guys! Well, we always do that, but in a new way. We are going to be putting little slips in some of the authors books we heard speak, and if you find one, you win a free book! One of the books we’re giving away is a signed copy of Ellen Hopkins newest book, Fallout! That’s right, no one needs to steal this, we’re giving it away!

We also had a lovely chat with Lauren Myracle about sisters and familial relationships. She has a new book coming out called Shine that sounds amazing, and just might be a giveaway at some point! Check out some of her books here and check out the photo below:

We topped the amazing evening off chatting with Ally Carter! I just loved Heist Society and all of her other books, and I’m sure you all do too! I may have creeped her out a bit by over sharing how much I know about her. I read her blog, I can’t help that I know what her kitchen cabinets look like. I mean, I know it’s weird, but that’s how it is with authors these days, and I love it!

We’ll be talking a lot more about Jack Gantos coming up in the spring, but I thought I’d post a pic of him too, how cute are his glasses? Love them! Also, he gave me his card, you know because that happens every day. And he pulled it out of somewhere like a magic trick, it was amazing! He really wants to come to Monroe next year, how cool would that be?

Wow, all of that and I haven’t even gotten to the bulk of the conference yet! I’ll tell you a little bit about it and save the rest for later. The bulk of the conference is hearing a ton of awesome YA authors speak, does it get any better? I think not. There are also amazing break out sessions where you get to connect with fellow librarians and teachers, in short, it’s amazing! We also got to attend the reception for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (Roomie Daria Plumb chaired the committee for the award this year) where Kristin Cashore won for her amazing book Fire. Read my review here. As I was getting my book signed, I felt the need to spill my guts to Kristin Cashore. I think her face says it all:

And a similar thing happened when Switcheroo was getting her book signed by the super amazing Robin Brande:

I promise you every time I ask the authors if we creep them out, they claim that we don’t and that they love it. So, hopefully they’re telling the truth and we are not on any restraining orders.

P.S. I learned two other things while in Orlando:

1. Don’t buy Goofy’s Sour Gummies, they taste like poison. Trust me, I tried every flavor, and they still taste like posion.

2. I’m no longer indifferent to tomatoes, I like them now. Well, provided they are swimming with mozzarella cheese.

 

14

Jun

2010

A difficult decision…

By Switcheroo. Posted in Switcheroo | No Comments »

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

I tend to get obsessed with sad stories or tragedies in the news, which is mainly why I don’t usually watch it.  When the news covered the story about the polygamist community in Texas a year or two ago, I couldn’t find enough information about it. So when I read this book, I couldn’t put it down. It was an excellent insight of this belief and way of living from a young girl living it. I loved it and am still obsessed with it.

 

Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce

This book was surprisingly hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud throughout the story! Because really, who doesn’t love the TMNTs and a five year old sister that is obsessed crime?

 

4

Mar

2010

39 Clues: Maze of Bones

By Switcheroo. Posted in Switcheroo | No Comments »

This is my Book Trailer for 39 Clues: Maze of Bones, By Rick Riordan.

Check out the book in our online catalog:
39 Clues: Maze of Bones By Rick Riordan
 

4

Mar

2010

Living Dead Girl

By Switcheroo. Posted in Switcheroo | 1 Comment »

This is my trailer for Living Dead Girl By: Elizabeth Scott

Book Trailers are my new thing. I find I can summarize the book more accurately with music and images then rambling on and on through a post.  Enjoy!

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Check out the book in our online catalog:
Living Dead Girl By: Elizabeth Scott