Tuesday, August 31, 2010


So, I have news. Good news.

I'm pregnant.


I am very excited. I am about ten weeks along, and we had our first ultrasound today. It was very cool. The little tyke was wiggling around and we got to see its heart beat. Everything was normal and the baby looked healthy.

We are thrilled.

I'm due April 1st and I have been feeling great.
I really can't ask for more.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Signed Books: Brandon Sanderson

I have to admit, that having the entire Mistborn Trilogy signed by Sanderson in my possession makes me feel pretty cool. Of all collection of signed books this little set it the one I prize the most. These all got signed during my Provo days when Sanderson was just getting his start in the writing world. Well, by the time Mistborn three came out he was a pretty big name. The first one I gave to a friend to get signed, as they took his writing class, and I just handed them the book and asked them to get them signed for me. The third one I stood in line for a couple hours to get signed after a 10 hour work day. Yeah, I'm nerd or a geek or a psycho fan. Noticed that it is numbered. I got Alcatraz signed at the Provo Children's Book Festival. I think it is funny that it is upside down.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


So, there has been a hoopla about Ellen Hopkin's being disinvited from coming to the Teen Lit Fest hosted by Humble School District. As I actually teach in this district and have worked with librarians in this district. I'm getting kind of annoyed about some of the things that people are saying about us.

First off, we have excellent librarians! Excellent! On my campus my librarian is brillant and helpful to students. I have mentioned her in passing on this blog. She is the one that lets my borrow all the awesome ARCs, and gets books into the hands of our teenagers. She reads and reccomends challenging literature to the students. As in I've seen her encourage students to read books that deal with the topic of gay teens, poloygamy, and even specifically Ellen Hopkin's books.

I am totally all about clean reads on this blog. I believe strongly that our kids need to read clean books as well as nasty ones. They should be able to choose and my blog is about making it easier to find and to read clean books. I really do think that some topics are totally inappropriate to read about because I think they are spiritually and emotionally damaging. This opinion is strongly tied to my religious beliefs.

I think too often that people get so gung ho about non-censorship that the idea gets across that anything and everything is appropriate for everyone. I strongly believe that this is not true. Children, espeically elementry children, should be protected by the adults in their lives from inappropriate information. Studies have show that exposure to information that is not developmentally appropriate for kids can leave permanant detremental effects on how they develop heathly relationships later in life.

I also strongly believe that pornography in all of it's forms is never ever appropriate in any setting for anyone of any age. It sickens me that is form of filth has become so prevasive in our society, and access to it is so easy. It is an addictive behavior that destorys marriages, and as a result the use of pornography directly impacts the lives of innocent children who have to suffer through the pain of divorce.

It angers me that we will expend our efforts, time, and money to perserve the environment, but that the evil institution of slavery still exists. And it's largest form is that of sexual slavery and prostitution. Yet, we support these forms of entertainment that objectify and denigrate the human mind, body and spirit. When are we going to stand up for these victims and say enough is enough? It is time to stop this plague of fiflth and banish it from our society.

That being said. I do believe very strongly in the freedom of choice, especially for teens. I often do not approve of the things my students choose to read, but there must be a choice. There has to be a choice or the students would no longer have the power to choose what type of people they want to become, and if they do not get to make those choices then our existence is worthless. Our society of formless. We are no better than tools, or keyboards, or shovels moving dirt around.

So, I accept that there will be books I disagree with. That there needs to be books that I disagree with. I admit I've read some, and by doing so I've formed an opinion of what I think is right and wrong. Each person has to make the journey on their own. But all form of entertainment, experience, and substances that cause addiction take away our freedom to make these choices and they are harmful and dangerous: to family, to friends, to teachers, to students, to schools, to government, to nations, to humanity as a whole.

Some censored and challenged books could fall into this catagory. I think most YA books do not.

Somtimes I just feel like someone needs to stand up and say that some forms of entertainment and recreation are just as bad as censorship or worse. They take away our freedom, our humanity, our compassion, and turn the user into a slave. I'm going to be that person today. That is my stance on censorship. We have to be so careful, sometimes we are so weak as humans and we choose exactly that which is most harmful to us.

From what I've heard of Hopkins writing (and I won't read her books. Think....clean reads.) I think that she tries to show the dangers of addiction and how they can destroy lives, the dangers of viewing ourselves and others as objects. I am saddened that the teenagers will not have the chance to meet her at the festival this year, as her experiences are relavant to their lives and choices they have to make at this time. She could be a great asset to them at this time.

But I am more saddened that the festival was cancelled this year. I am saddened that students had to be the ones that lost out in this battle. I am most especially worried that this controversy will stop festivals from happening in the future, because that would lead to more voices being silenced. The Humble Teen Lit Fest has hosted challenged and banned authors before, and I would be disappointed if this situation took out the Festival in one fell swoop, and no authors were heard from in the future.

I have to say that dislike the idea of a boycott in this instance because it takes opprotunities away from the students. I would have liked much more to see something done along the lines of Aprilynne Pike's suggestions.

Friday, August 20, 2010

this world we live in by Susan Beth Pfeffer

this world we live in by Susan Beth Pfeffer

It has been a year since the world ended. It has been a year since a catastrophic asteroid hit the moon and knocked it out of its natural orbit. The seas heaved, volcanoes erupted, and the world went mad. Miranda and her family have survived a long, cold winter in Pennsylvania. The spring and summer come slowly, and Miranda’s father returns with her step-mother Lisa, and their child, Gabriel. With them comes several other people, including Alex and Julie Morales. Miranda and Alex develop feelings for each other, but Alex’s plans for the future are pulling them apart. Can their love survive in this world that is so torn apart?

I could not put down the two previous books in this series and this book was no exception. This post -apocalyptic novel will hold your attention to the very end. This World We Live In reverts back to the journal style that makes Life as We Knew It so compelling. I am amazed at how perfectly the author keeps Miranda’s voice consistent and real. In fact it was drawn so completely back into this world that it was hard for me to stay there, because the situation they are in is so dark. Yet, once again there is comfort in how Miranda’s family draws together and supports one another. The ending of this book was really dark, and I disliked it. I was mad at Miranda for days afterward. She finally gives into despair and does something so horrible that I don’t know how she could stand to live with herself. It really was painful to read. This one really makes you think about deep moral issues such as, our responsibility to help others in need, under what circumstances it is better to live or die, and what we will do for those we love.

I’m getting all sad again just writing this review. I don’t know if I can really recommend this one. All I can say is that it will not leave you untouched.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The 13th Reality:The Blade of Shattered Hope by James Dashner

The 13th Reality: The Blade of Shattered Hope by James Dashner

"Things have changed for Atticus Higginbottom. After the near catastrophe in the Fourth Reality, Tick’s being homeschooled in the fields of science, trying to master the mysterious Chi’karda. But just as he begins to make progress, Mistress Jane reappears, now hideously scarred and much more powerful. She has tapped into the universe’s darkest secret to create the Blade of Shattered Hope, and in her quest to attaia Utopian Reality for the future of mankind, she’s ready to risk billions of lives—including those of Tick’s parents and sisters—to set her plan in motion. Her vengeance knows no bounds. When rumors begin to circulate about the secret scientific experiments taking place at the Factory, Tick and his friends Sato, Sofia, and Paul are faced with their most dangerous task yet. And they must not fail; the entire universe could cease to exist." (summary from publisher's website)

This is the third book in James Dashner’s 13th Reality series, and his troop of characters have to save the world from Mistress Jane again. One thing that I didn’t really like about this book was that it was kind of a downer. It doesn’t seem like Tick has fun being a Realitant anymore. He is always scared, or stressed out, or being exposed to bad things. It seems the experience of being a Realitant is really negative and so I don’t know why the characters continue being them. I mean they get to help people and stuff, but there isn’t much to balance out the horrible parts. At least in the Pendragon series you get to see some really cool settings and places, and meet some really awesome new friends. The Blade of Shattered Hope didn’t seem to have much of that balancing magic, and so I didn’t find it as fun to read.

I think this book did much better at having an interesting beginning, as the action starts out right away. There were some parts during the book that I got bored, and put the book down for a while, but I wanted to finish reading the series, and so I continued to read. I got to say that Sato has turned into a really cool character. I think he is one of my favorites. He turns into a real hero in this book, I think. Dashner also managed to slip in another riddle, keeping up with the tradition of the previous books. I was totally surprised, but then was surprised that there was only one riddle. I thought it would have been cool if there were more. It was also interesting to see that Tick’s family got more involved in this book, and it looks like they will be more involved in the next book too.

So, for me this was an okay read. It hasn’t been my favorite read of the summer, but it still had some pretty cool scenes, and some cool character moments.
The series Website
James Dashner's Blog

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Signed Book: James Dashner

Shadow Mountain gave out a huge number of copies of the 13th Reality to kick off the series, and I got a copy from Dasher when I ran into him at the LDS Storymakers conference. I wasn't attending, but by odd happenstance my family was staying the weekend at the same hotel the conference was taking place at. It was pretty funny.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pocket of Guilt by Dora Lee Thompson

Pocket of Guilt by Dora Lee Thompson

"The Schulz family, all members of the Mormon church, is trying to survive in Germany, during and after WWII. When Hitler invades Poland and the war officially begins, the family is quickly feeling its strain, as they have less and less food to eat. Anna Schulz often stands in line for hours, only to find the market shelves empty. This becomes the least of her worries though, when, one by one, the men of the Schulz family head off to defend their country. The story follows Dieter, the middle son, just 10 years old when the war begins, as he learns to cope with the war around him. Read about his stubborn streak and spontaneity, and how it gets him into trouble, how he defies Hitler's law by giving aid to a Jew and subsequently finds himself in the biggest trouble of his life, and what happens when he has to decide between loyalty and love. Will Dieter ever be able to forgive himself for all of the things he has had to do to survive the war, or will he have to live with his guilt forever?"

I enjoyed reading Pocket of Guilt for the most part, but there were more than one instance in the book where the author made it pretty obvious that this was her first book. I think she tried to tell too much story in one book, and the story would have been more enjoyable as a series. There are many story lines in the book, and many of them aren’t fleshed out very well. I would have loved to see a trilogy here. One book could have dealt with the beginning of Nazi persecution against the Jewish population and how Dieter and his father tried to help them. An entire other book could have been written on Dieter’s new addiction to stealing food and other items to avoid starvation and his path to redemption. Another volume could have dealt with how Dieter got Leo, an orphaned Jewish boy to safety in the middle of a huge war, and without catching the notice of a nasty Hitler Youth bully.

As the book stands it has all three of the above plot lines plus three romance stories, and other little side trips. The most developed character is Dieter, but we also get points of view from his family. I felt like some of these points of view were inserted randomly just so the author could get more historical information put into the book, which made a lot of scenes feel forced. There is also a scene where the author inserts a biography of Adolf Hitler that sounds like it comes from a 21st century textbook rather than a teenaged Hitler youth giving a report to his classmates.

The book is only 300 pages long, but felt much longer, because of how many story lines the book contains. With that being said I really felt like I came to know Dieter and his family, and I cared about what happened to them. It was interesting to read a book from the point of view of and LDS family in Mannheim, Germany during WWII. The advantage of the book all being one novel is that we get to find out what happens to Deiter and his family. We get to see the family at their highest and lowest points, and we get to see them slowly recovering after the war also. The timeline of the book covers from the beginning of the war to the end of the war, and a little bit after during the American recovery.

So, I felt like too much happened in this book, but that the characters were interesting, the story told from a unique angle, and most of the writing was enjoyable. So, this is not a perfect debut, but still an okay read.