Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If you liked Twilight, or even if you didn't....

Before reading Blood and Chocolate, I thought Twilight was pretty cool. After, I wondered how I even read through the whole thing! Blood and Chocolate has far more edge-of-your-seat action as well as a stronger edginess to it.

One of my favorite things about the book is, instead of the classic/ cliched, average-helpless-girl-falls-for-dangerous-mysterious-boy, it is the human boy, Aiden, that falls for a vicious werewolf girl, Vivian. Some may not appreciate her arrogance. I think it was an important way of displaying her strength and dominance. At least she has a personality, unlike a certain “perfect” vampire. I also found Aiden to be a much more believable character, than Bella.

The whole story was much more realistic, while a bit frustrating at times. You will probably either love or hate the twisty conclusion, I personally loved it. In my opinion this book is only missing one thing-- a sequel!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Story.... What can happen when books are banned

There once was a boy named Johnny Lee. Johnny Lee was your average ninth grader, trying to find himself, though still very impressionable, and lacking in the area of worldly wisdom. Johnny Lee liked high school alright so far and it helped that his 18-year-old brother Clay was there, if needed.

During one seemingly normal English class, his teacher announced that the next book they would read had some adult material, but she thought it was important that they read it. The book was called Crank. Johnny Lee's teacher further explained that it was about a girl that got hooked on, you guessed it, crank. This got Johnny Lee thinking. Just like all the other kids, he had attended the assemblies and seen the videos that pleaded the students “just say no to drugs”. Sure he saw some gruesome footage of the addicts but there had to be a missing link. Why would anyone start if they would only go crazy and live in pain? Either they left out some major details or it was simply acting and that stuff didn't really happen.

Over the next week, Johnny Lee could not get his mind off the subject and it certainly didn't help that his teacher informed his class that they would no longer be reading Crank on account of it currently being challenged and would likely be banned because of the controversial material. Johnny Lee overheard a few of the token smart kids discussing how they were going to order the book online to cure their curiosity. Johnny Lee was curious all right, though not necessarily about the the book itself. What he really wanted was someone he confide in about his confusion towards drugs.

Later that afternoon when Johnny Lee came home, he was happy to see that Clay's friend Buster was over. Buster had been Clay's friend since middle school and was Clay's only close friend that really payed talked to Johnny Lee, and his attention made him feel special. This made Buster very cool in Johnny Lee's eyes, so naturally he had always looked up to Buster and truly believed that he knew everything. Johnny Lee decided to share his confusion about drugs with the older boy. A sly smile came over Buster's face when Johny Lee brought up the topic of drugs. Buster told him that they were “freaking incredible” and “Just look at me, I'm happy as calm and healthy as a horse.” Johnny Lee felt relieved that he finally got the “truth” on drugs and was glad he didn't need a book to do so.

Six weeks later, Johny Lee gets high whenever he gets the chance. He has all failing grades and gave up his dream of starting on the football team. It makes you wonder what could have happened if he was able to be educated on this “too scandalous for the classroom” material....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mad interview with Suzanne Young

Suzanne Young is the author of The Naughty List, coming out in February 2010. You can learn more about Suzanne at http://www.suzanne-young.blogspot.com

(1) Can you relate to any of the characters or situations in The Naughty list?

I definitely relate to Tessa. I had to really get inside her head when I was writing the book and I’ll tell you, she is a fun girl. And her boyfriend, he’s not half bad.

2) Do you have a favorite book that you have written?

I’ve written about a dozen novels. I love The Naughty List and other than that, I have a few that I’m fond of. One of my older books is Delinquents—totally different than TNL. I tend to write serious books when I’m not working on The Naughty List series.

3) Who is someone that inspires you? And why?

My grandmother always inspired me. She believed I could do seemingly impossible things and never let me give up. My books are all dedicated to her memory.

4) What is your favorite book that you have read? Why?

Gosh, it’s hard to decide a favorite book. Some of my favorites include: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Bluest Eye and Looking for Alaska. A book usually has to really grab me if I’m going to finish it. I just have so many to get through. My to-be-read pile is a mountain right now.

5) Are there any certain experiences that give you ideas for your novels? Such as your daughters “soap opera's”?

I sometimes will hear a word or a sentence and then it starts my brain going. The other day someone was telling me a story and a phrase really stuck out to me. Immediately my brain twisted that sentence into a YA story that had nothing really to do with her story. Ha ha. But my ideas almost always comes from something random I hear.

6) If you were animal what kind would you be?

I want to say something cool, but really, I think I’d want to live in the forest or somewhere isolated. Maybe I’d be a bear because I’d get to sleep through winter and I REALLY don’t like being cold.

7) Can you see your daughter one day starting an undercover cheer squad? What do you see your son being like in high school?

My daughter is something to fear. I’m pretty sure no one will be cheating on her. Lol. My son is going to be great. He’s really into reading and writing. Sort of like me—but hopefully he’ll end up a little cooler.

8) Do you have any pets?

Oh, God, yes. I have a sweet older dog named Murdock. He’s sort of dumb, but we like him like that. Then I have a devil spawn named Basil. She’s a Basset Hound and the most troublesome dog ever. She spends her days torturing me. It’s her mission.

9) How long does it usually take you to write a book?

It depends. Usually I write a rough draft in 6-8 weeks and then spend a few more revising. It really just depends on the project.

10) Is there any thing else that smoothes along your writing process? I.e hot cocoa, nearby dog available to pet periodically?

Snacks. I love Reese’s Pieces. And my friends help keep me sane too. Other than that, I just need a little peace and quiet (which doesn’t happen that often) but when it does, I plow through the books.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

5 0ut 5 Musical Notes ♥

     Her whole life, Remy has been very realistic when it comes to relationships.  Whether it came from a father she never met, but was constantly, painfully reminded of by way of the hit song he wrote for her the day she was born; or maybe it’s her mom’s five failed marriages. Whatever the cause, Remy is always careful to keep her many boyfriends at arm’s length.  Her best friends even rely on her to be strong in these situations when they can’t.  Then along comes Dexter.  Dexter is almost the epitome of the type of guy she doesn’t date.  He’s messy, spontaneous and most importantly a musician.  Remy has long since held a rule strictly prohibiting musicians.  Although of course it’s fate that they fall for each other, but will Remy be strong or weak enough (depending how you look at it), to finally hold him close in every sense?  

    Dessen has been know for her strong, dynamic characters and those in This Lullaby were no exception!  Although they all had their various flaws, they were extremely well-developed and believable; you're sure to find at least one you can relate on some level.  There were a fair amount of people who even felt that Remy was too flawed, but I believe that it was absolutely necessary to the story and her character. The characters were so well done I couldn't help but to feel for them and the man-caused pain they were experiencing.  There were also times when I dearly wished I could yell at ole Remy; of course I couldn't.  In the end she did indeed make me proud and I put the book down feeling pleased and do I dare say even inspired?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Exclusive Interview With Hannah Moskowitz

Hannah Moskowitz is an 18- year-old young adult author. Her novel Break comes out on August 25. It has been compared to Fight Club by Booklist.

What do you make your readers to get out of BREAK?
I LOVE the idea of novels with classic YA problems--self-injury, in this case--that aren't problem novels. BREAK isn't a self-injury novel. It's a book with self-injury done in a new way. I want to take things we're all familiar with and switch them up. If I want a reader to think one thing after reading BREAK, it's that social issues are not one-dimensional. There is no definition for what it means to be sick, or hurt, or broken. Jonah isn't your stereotypical self-injurer.

Do you have a favorite work that you’ve written?
Yes, and it looks like no one will ever see it. ;) Maybe in a few years.

What are you looking forward to most about going to Brown?
I went to a very small school from second to twelfth grade, so I'm excited to be around people who don't know me. It's been a long time since I had the opportunity to make a first impression. I've changed a lot in the past few years, and I think a fresh start will give me the chance to embrace that.

Is there anything you are going to miss about high school? If so, what?
I'll miss a few friends, and living with my parents, but...I can't think of anything about high school specifically I'm going to miss. Writing about high school just reminds me how much I hated it! And I went to a great school, with great teachers, but...ugh, I just couldn't stand it.

Why do you like cats? How many do you have? Can you tell us about the adorable cat in the ARC picture on your blog?
I have six cats! I've had them ever since I was a baby. I guess that's why I like them so much. I grew up with them, so they're like family members. Even the ones who aren't mine
The picture on my blog is of Wednesday, my friend Grace's cat. She is absolutely precious, I know. Grace bought one of my ARCs online and sent that picture to me. I actually have a picture of my Lola cat with my ARC but...I can't find it.

What makes BREAK different from other books?
I think BREAK has a balance of humor and drama that a lot of YA books don't have. I'd consider BREAK a comedy, but it's very dark--it's definitely not your typical beach read. It's also pretty graphic; I didn't notice it myself too much, but I've had a lot of people comment that it freaks them out.
One of my motivations behind writing BREAK was that, after writing a different book about the tension between two brothers, I wanted to write one where the brothers got along. Jesse and Jonah have a lot of drama in BREAK, but they're best friends and have no problem letting each other know.

Lovely... I'm not so sure.

I definitely have to love the unique perspective and the general concept of Susie Salmon’s story. That being said, there were plenty of things I didn’t love. While the first chapter where Susie is raped and murdered, along with the following 10 pages or so, were certainly fast-paced, the rest of the book didn’t contain near the amount of excitement I was expecting. Up in her personal heaven, Susie watches the lives of those who held importance to her. This is the whole story( not much of a plot). Initially I thought this sounded very interesting. However few of the characters were overly likeable and I only felt a connection to one or two of them. Susie’s dad quickly figures out who the murderer is. Sadly, due to lack of evidence the police are unable to take action. His own wife doesn’t believe him, and this may be due to her fondness of the detective assigned to the case. Susie’s dad and a wacky acquaintance of Susie’s are the only ones who openly grieve throughout the book. All of the many other people she followed, with the exception of her murderer, seemed very unimportant to me. There were many wonderful metaphors and descriptive phases; unfortunately none of which a fourteen-year-old with average intelligence would ever think to use. I kept pushing through the book, just knowing there had to be a breath-taking ending, but it was not at all what I had hoped for. Overall I put the book down feeling a great deal of dissatisfaction. I had heard so many great things about this novel, and my expectations were sky high, so this could account for some of my disappointment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Twilight Déjà vu?

At the beginning of the book I have to admit I was a bit horrified. No, not because of the supposed murderer on the loose or Camelia’s near-death experience but the striking resemblance the book had to Twilight. After Ben rescues Camelia as from an out of control car in the school parking lot that was sure to hit her, they are assigned to each other as lab partners. Camelia quickly comes infatuated with Ben, even though her friends warn her against it. Camelia instantly feels a strong connection to him, but for an unknown reason he seems like he cannot stand to be around her! Sound familiar? It was like hello, we have all just read this exact plot! Not to worry though, Stolarz quickly redeemed her individuality (sorry no vampires here). One interesting twist she threw in is that the reader sees notes written by a stalker about Camelia that first seem only a little creepy. In the first part of the book, the stalker is assumed to be Ben, although you may want revaluate when the psycho factor escalates. Ben is the only one who knows just how much danger Camelia is in. Will Camelia trust Ben and his unusual power, to save her life? I still can’t completely look past the all too familiar, ordinary girl becomes involved with dangerous, mysterious boy. I suppose it’s popular for a good reason, it does make for an interesting story; I just would like to see something a little different. At least it wasn’t entirely predictable, I loved the mystery aspect in the book, and had lots of fun trying to figure it out myself, which proved to be a challenge! Despite the unoriginal theme, it was a generally very good book and I am anxiously awaiting the next in the series.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Top 10 Challenge

This was an extremly difficult decision for me. Out of all the books I have read and loved, I could only chose 10 to put on this list! Thankfully I was not forced to put them into any particular order; if that was the case, I don't know what I would have done with myself. After much deliberation, I finally compiled this list. I sure hope you enjoy it!

Pretty Little Liars
After reading a certain number of books they can quickly become all too predictable. This one however is not—at all. Just when I start think that I know who mysterious “A” is, something else pops up in the plot and I’m wrong again— but I like it!

So I basically read this in two hours if that tells you anything. It is very fast-paced; it had me sucked in by page one and just would not allow me to put it down! McMann keeps everything right to the point, using minimal descriptions and it works beautifully.

Fabulous Terrible The Adventures of You
This young adult novel written entirely in 2nd person was surprisingly quite smooth. The plot was very imaginative and exciting. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

Gossip Girl
I’m slightly ashamed at myself for how much I enjoy these books. Not one of these characters has even decent morals but they are just so entertaining. This series makes an incredible, easy beach read.

How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls
While being fairly predictable with the Cinderella- story theme, the novel was cute, fun and enjoyed thoroughly!

The Junie B. Jones Series
I was first introduced to Junie B. when I was six years old. Barbara Park has such a great voice in these beginning chapter books; it really does seem as if they were written by a kindergartener! I laughed then and even now I still read them occasionally and laugh even more.
The Princess Diaries
This one of the few books I have reread several times. The whole series is laugh-out-loud funny and I could completely relate to Princess Mia going through everyday high school- freshmen awkwardness, but in addition I was also treated to the innovation of a real life fairy tale!

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things
I kind of felt forced to carry this book around with me everywhere I went for the whole day I reading it. I just couldn’t help but root for main character, Virginia as she faced issues with her family, friends, body image and of course—boys.

The Nature of Jade
This book definitely has more depth to it the most of the others on my list and was still a pleasure to read. When I finished it left me feeling inspired!

Chasing Harry Winston
While this novel would certainly be considered a beach read, I could honestly say I learned a few good lessons from main characters Leigh, Emmy and Adriana.

Mad Props to Audrey Niffenegger

Let me just start by saying, I loved this book! Okay, so the main character is a librarian who also happens to time travel. That sounds kind of lame, I know, but miraculously Audrey Niffenegger somehow pulls it off. Not only did she manage to put it in an order that made sense, it was just so good! The book jumps around in dates ranging from 1968 all the way to 2053. I have to admit the first few chapters I was a bit lost, although it didn’t take long for the story to click with me. When reading this novel, it is extra important to pay close attention to all the tiniest details, because there is so much foreshadowing that can be easy to miss.
It has been debated whether The Time Traveler’s Wife is a romance or science fiction book. The way Niffenegger equally divided the view points of both Clare and Henry with more focus on their love for each other than Henry’s Chromo- disease that causes him to time travel, leads me to conclude that this is a romance. Really, the main focus is Henry and Clare’s relationship that starts when she is only six, although Henry’s time traveling certainly is a huge conflict! Clare has to go through the first part of her life, waiting for Henry’s dispersed visits and, later on, having him randomly disappear from work or their home. Poor Clare never knows where he is and if he is safe. The fact that Henry can never bring anything with him when he travels (not even the underwear he is wearing!) can make things very dangerous and interesting to say the least. This makes him place less value of material things, and much more on relationships, especially his with Clare.
I very strongly recommend this book to anyone with a large imagination or someone who is just looking for a great love story. I couldn’t begin to understand anyone who would not, at the very least, appreciate the technicalities of the story, although rumor has it these people do exist.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Reading-- Maddie Style!

I am a visual reader. When I read, in my mind, I know exactly what each character and their whereabouts look like. I used to like it when the author would give lengthy descriptions, making it easier for me to visualize the characters. I now, however, have come to appreciate shorter ones that give me more room to use my imagination! I guess this explains why I have been disappointed in each and every book that was turned into a movie. I have already played out a movie of it in my head, and this new one totally contradicts it!

I don’t think there is a bad place to read a book. Okay I take that back. Reading while operating heavy machinery or something of that sort would probably not be recommended. Although, there has been more than one occasion where I really didn’t want to put a book down and was very tempted to continue my reading as I zoomed down the interstate. My very favorite place to enjoy a novel is at the beach in sand while basking in the sun. Pools can be pretty nice too, depending on just exactly how many screaming, splashing eight-year-olds are around. If there are no accessible pools and I’m not at the beach, I tend to read at night in bed to help me wind down. Well, that’s when I’m reading a mediocre book. If it’s getting pretty intense I may have to take it with me to wherever I had obligations to go, or maybe I’ll just cancel. Several friends yelling at me to “Put the book down!” can be very distracting after all.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Book Store Adventure; What Draws Me to a Book

When browsing a book store for a potential buy, we are ultimately required to judge a book by its cover. Obviously it’s only logical that we would be attracted to a book that features something we find interesting, unfortunately in my case this is generally food. After rushing to pick up a book sporting a cupcake, the blurbs do not quite grab me so I move on. Next I see a dark looking novel, although there isn’t any pink frosting involved it has my attention none the less! I love mysteriousness in a book, and have observed this is best displayed by a simple cover possibly showing a troubled looking character. I pick up the dark novel and read the back. The description is short and to the point, and it makes me want to tear right into it like it was the previously mentioned cupcake. One problem with this book—it’s hard cover, which can be a very attractive quality—that is, when my dad is paying.

Okay let’s surf some other options. While I’m browsing I come across several books with titles that seem as though they could practically be their own short story. When I see books with super long titles or over done cover designs, I feel like it is a failed attempted to make up for a lacking plot line or a mediocre writing ability. I think there is so much power behind a one word title; I cannot recall a single book titled with one word that I have ever been disappointed by.

Ah yes, here is a nice simple looking book I open it up to the first page and read several positive reviews. I always like to go through and read any reviews before I buy the book. I figure if all these people enjoyed it so, I certainly might as well! Time to read the first sentence... it is a decent description but not too unique. I have no choice but to hit the shelves once again! I see a cover displaying a butterfly and I shudder. Cats and butterflies have certainly never been anything I hold near and dear to my heart to say the least, so that book would never be considered. After some deep thought I decide the dark hard cover is my best bet. I give a slight shudder as the cashier rings me up, but I feel it will be well worth it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Qualifications for my book soulmate ;]

Although I have read and enjoyed many types of books varying in writing styles and genre, there are a few qualities I particularly admire. I believe that an exceptional writer has the ability to take something such as a documentation of their breakfast cereal and turn it into an interesting read, I like an action-packed read that will suck me right in! No matter how strong the plot, if you can’t connect to the characters the story is worthless. I don’t think I’m alone in that I want to be able to relate to the characters, so I feel their pain, joy or fear that is being expressed in the story. It is important to have a nice description of the setting, characters etc. but I don’t need a whole page explaining a pair of socks or something equally ridiculous. I think it’s best to keep the extra words, especially the adjectives, fairly minimal. Last but not least, I strongly appreciate comical breaks. I mean who doesn’t like to laugh? Especially in a dark or morbid book it’s great to giggle if for just a moment.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Mad Rundown: Pretty Little Liars

Never trust a pretty girl with an ugly secret…. “Pretty Little Liars,” written by Sara Shepard is about high school juniors Emily, Hanna, Aria and Spencer who have lost contact since the disappearance of their friend Ali--but a dark secret still ties them together. Unbeknownst to each other, they all have a secret of their own as well. That is until all of them start receiving anonymous notes signed by “A.” This mysterious “A” seems to see everything these friends do and is holding every secret against them. I loved this book and couldn’t get enough of it! Luckily, there are five more books out in the series.

Vampire Comeback

Twilight is a captivating novel about a complicated and unlikely friendship between main characters Bella and Edward. Narrated by Bella, who has just moved to lives in a small town in Washington state to live with her father. Once she begins school she is immediately infatuated with a mysterious boy from her biology class who for reasons unknown is quite obviously disgusted by her. As fate would have it Bella finds herself in strange circumstances brought on by her accident-prone nature that involve Edward’s help. The more Bella is around him, the stronger her curiosity and attraction towards him become. After several encounters, he lets on to his secret– he is a vampire! This novel is a twist of horror & dark romance, which is not usually the type of book I usually go for at all! I was practically forced by a friend to read this book! However, once I was in a few pages I was hooked– I could not put it down!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

About The Mad Rundown

Hi! I’m Maddie Wickham. I’m seventeen years old and an upcoming senior at The Learning Lab. You may wonder my reason for starting The Mad Rundown – well, that’s because it was required. Don’t get the wrong impression, I’m still totally excited to be introduced to the wonderful world of blogging! Not to mention the fact that I have pretty much the coolest “Awesome Novels” teacher ever! I absolutely love to read, although I am aware this may qualify me as nerd. I have read countless young adult books, and am currently trying to break into the adult, adult selection. I am a firm believer that books are even better when enjoyed at the beach with your toes in the sand.