Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Schwa effect

Welcome, welcome, all! I hope you are having a great day. I've been loving the weather here in South Jersey over the last few days. I'm looking forward to the weekend, even though it means I have to work! *WARNING* Some semi-minor spoilers in this review. This Week's book is called "The Schwa was here." By Neal Shusterman. (Yes, Neal with an 'A') It's an "Antsy Bonano" (the main character of our story) Novel. It's the first one that I've ever read, but knowing there are more, is really exciting, and I'll have to go look for them. I was given this book to read by my aunt. It was on her school kids' Summer reading list, and as she travels a lot, she likes having a book to take along and fill the time. She and I often talk about books that we've read, and exchange or suggest them. She gave me this one, insisting I'd like it, on her last visit. I'm SO glad she did! I enjoyed it 100%. The basic genra is Young Adult, but it's not one of those dark, moppy, "ehhh life is so hard when you're 14, wahhh" kinda books. On the contrary. While it delt with some grown up, more interpersonal issues, it maintained a light hearted feel through most of the book that was very refreshing. It's set in Brooklyn, I'm not sure exactly when, but recently enough that they talk about cell phones. Anthoney, (or as those near and dear call him, Antsy) Bonano is a smart, sarcastic kid, with a kind heart, and THE BEST sence of humor. He is the midle of three kids, with one older brother, and a younger sister. His dad works for a plastic company, and his mom takes care of the home front. His best friends are Howard Bogerton and Ira Goldfarb, a basic genius and a future film director, respectively. They are the kind of kids you would know from school, or from your neighboorhood. Just average kids, making it in a big city. They spend time playing video games, and on occasion testing plastic wears for Antsy's dad. During one such test, involving a manikin name Mr. Bullpucky, Antsy and his pals have first contact with "THE SCHWA." Calvin Schwa is a kid from their school who has the incredible power of being (not becoming) practically invisible. He scares Antsy and the boys at first, but eventually they are overcome with curiosity about just how deep this invisibility power goes that they start testing it out. They have the Schwa do crazy things like go into a class room with a bunch of other people, then have someone else go in and count heads. Almost every time, the counter skip over him. Eventually they do bigger, things like have him go sit in the teachers lounge for a couple hours, or stand in the hallway with a bright orange sombrero, singing at the top of his lungs! And the results are almost all the same- barely anyone notices, and those who do, only have a vague memory of him. (if it even was a him.) The Schwa has power! Then, another boy from their class puts down a bet for Antsy and the Schwa (by this time, Antsy has appointed himself the Schwa's manager). He bets that the Schwa can't sneak up to old man Crawly's apartment, get into the house a steal a bowl from one of his 14 Afghan dogs, without getting caught. Old man Crawly owns the restaurant that is downstairs of his apartment. He is not to be trifled with. Once, when he was upset about an incident involving tomatoes, he had all tomato shipment stopped to Brooklyn for two weeks! The stakes are high, but so is the glory if the Schwa can pull it off. So they go for it! And fail. When they are caught by old man Crawly they have a choice of having the police called and get hauled away (according to Crawly) or they can do "community service" assigned by the man him self. They chose the latter, and set them-selves for some hard trials ahead. Through this time, Antsy learns that there is much more to this man that has terrified the neighborhood kids for so long. He also gets to know more about Calvin Schwa, and his dim past. Alright, so that was kind of a long summery, but It's really such a small part of the story! I REALLY REALLY loved this book! The characters were fun, and smart, and sarcastic as all get out! Antsy is such a great kid. He loves his family, though he has no problem letting you know about their quirks. He stands up for what he thinks is right. He doesn't take crap from anyone, but likes keeping peace where he can.He's very insiteful and really thinks about how his actions effect those around him...most of the time. He is a well written, well developed character. All the characters are developed well. I enjoy a book where you can see change in the characters (good or bad) and you absolutely can here. When there are minor characters, you know they won't be around long, but in the short span you meet them, you see exactly who they are, and the part they are going to play. Even with the silliness of the schwa experiments, the book is very realistic, and has some great consequences, and morals. I can't say that there was anything I really found fault with, except maybe that there were a couple, well developed, characters that I would have liked to spent more time with (there I go making friends with fictional people again!) I would give one warning about the way it's written. It will give any English major a headache. Since it's told from a 14 year old brooklynite's perspective, the tenses, and really just about all the grammar are rather askew...or better yet...non existent. But I (the daughter of an English teacher) thought it was quite charming, and effective to the character of Antsy. I VERY HIGHLY recommend it. It is a quick read, and will get you laughing from the first page! It gets a genuine 5 on my rating! Well, Thanks once again for stopping by! Enjoy your weekend, and I'll see you next week with some more words of love! Manda

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This book left me "Hungry" for more!

Welcome, Welcome! So glad to be back! The last couple of weeks were silly busy, but I'm back and ready to review! So I've had a couple of people ask me to review the Hunger Games. I know a bunch of you have probably already read it, but I enjoyed it so much, that I really want to review it! The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is the story of Katniss Everdeen's survival. Her survival, first, as the family provider in a post apocalyptic world, and later as a contestant in the Hunger Games. Katniss' life is very hard. Her father died in a tragic accident leaving her mother in a paralyzingly shocked state, that renders her practically useless to her daughter's well being. Katiniss is left to pick up the pieces. She must provide for not only her mother, but her younger sister, Prim as well. Katniss has help from her very handsome friend Gale. They are both skilled at hunting and join forces to care for their families. Then Katniss' world is turned upside down. Each year the Hunger games is put on by the supreme central government referred to in the book as "The Capitol." 70 Some years before the book takes place, the Capitol had become so over bearing that the country (which is supposed to be North America, divided now into 12 districts, rather than states)revolted against them. The Capitol crushed them, taking down, as an example, a 13th district that no longer exists. Since then the Capitol put on the hunger games. This is a horrific event where children 12-18 are forced to compete to the death, till there is only one remaining. The survivor is given wealth and fame as a reward. The Games were designed to show the people that they have no hope of ever going against the Capitol again. Worse then that, the Capitol shows off it's 'supreme' power by using the country's children for sport. Katniss' sister, Prim is chosen, on her very first Hunger Games, to be a tribute. Katniss sacrifices her freedom to save Prim, and Volunteers to take her place. This is almost unheard of! Because of her selfless act, Katniss grabs the attention and hearts of the nation. Her choice also causes her to be a symbol to the people of freedom. She did not simply let the Capitol take what it wanted, but made her stand, and kinda made her own rules. So if I don't stop now, I'll tell you the whole story, and give it all away. I could talk about it forever! So let me get into some of my thoughts about this book. The first time I picked it up, I was very uninterested in it. I had heard that Stephanie Meyer (author of the twilight books) had endorsed it so I wanted to check it out. (Say what you will about Twilight,I enjoy it, and more importantly I think that Stephanie Meyer and I could be great book buddies!)The premise, just printed on the book cover did not draw me in at all. I don't enjoy books with needles violence (or TV shows that have it either)and the morbidness of children killing one another for sport was just a huge turn off. So I put the book down,and walked on to find something else. Well, about 6 Months to a year later, right before I believe the third book in the series, Mockingjay, came out, it seemed like a lot of hype was going into these books, so naturally being the curious bookworm that I am, I picked up a copy on my next trip to the library. I was there for an hour, reading, (in the teen fiction section) unable to put the book down! Suzanne Collins is such a masterful writer! I have read so many books in my life, but I have never read one that captivated me so much, so quickly as Hunger games. The characters are so deep, and so well developed that you know them instantly. The inviroment is as clear as day! You learn the layout, the temperment of the people. You feel the rigitity of the Government, and absolutely the undercurrent of rebellion and freedom in the face of all the supporting characters. So, now, more about the characters. First Katniss. What a heroin. She is strong, and tough, and loves her family with all she has. She's not a very emotional girl. She has a lot of walls up that make her rough around the edges, but all with good reason. While she is a forward person, like when she took her sister's place, it did seem to me that there were a lot of things, outside of the Games themselves, that she just let happen. I think that was the only thing I didn't enjoy about her. She was deep, and put thought into all of her actions, but there were a few time when I felt like she should have taken action, and didn't. As I mentioned earlier, there is Gale. Gale is a hardworking, big, strong, make all the girlies swoon, kinda character. He has grown to care deeply for Katniss, and promises to look after her family when she is sent away to the games. I think he is a wonderful man, and personally would have fallen for him, if I were in Katniss' shoes, but at the same time, I don't find much depth in him. He's loyal, and smart, and I think he's a good guy, but he lacks something for me. I'm not really sure if that's how Collins intended to portray him, or if she was concentrating more on Katniss, and a couple others, and just didn't take the time to develop him more. But he just wasn't quite what I wanted. The other man in Katniss' life is Peeta. When the tributes are selected from each district, they pick two, a male and a female. Peeta is the male from district 12. He and Katniss know one another, but only from a distance. They spend the next couple of weeks getting to know each other, and the worth of one another, better. I really like Peeta. To me he was the most positive character, tho he's packing plenty of common sense. He doesn't come from the greatest of home lives (few do in this story) but he's quite sure of himself, and what he intends to do with the position that he's been put in. He's very intelligent, and I think that's another reason I like him so much (brains do it for me, what can i say? Well...not in the way they do for zombies...that's totally different.)Through out the book, he finds every opportunity to protect and care for Katniss, and take a stand against the oppression of the Capitol. Overall he's a really strong character that is superbly well written. There are so many more characters that are worth noting, but I really don't want to give away anymore of the story. If you plan on reading it, just keep an eye out for Cinna, Caeser Flickerman, and Rue. I hope this has been a interesting and helpful review. As mentioned throughout I LOVE THIS BOOK! I give it a 5 on my rating scale. I highly recommend it, with the understanding that not everyone will like it, and with the cautio n, that it's not for everyone and certainly not for younger readers under, I'd say 13 or 14. Thanks for stopping by! I have another review already in the works, and I hope to get it out sometime in the next couple of days! Have a fab day! PS, I know that some of you have probably read this already, so please feel free to add anything that you think deserves mention in the comment section. But please PLEASE, no spoilers! Thanks!