Posts Tagged ‘explosions’

Library Advice – Ally Carter Visit

February 16th, 2008

My advice? Have her visit your library. Here is what I learned and appreciated:

  1.  She’s funny, in a The Office/Joss Whedon sort of way. You’ve got to pay attention or the wit will fly right by.
  2. She knows character development and purpose. A student asked, “Why did you make Josh like he is?” Ally: “Josh is everything that Cammie wants but can’t have. The white picket fence, the mom who bakes giant apple pies.” She went on to explain how Cammie lives in a mansion but eats microwave burritos because her mom doesn’t know how to cook. The normal life escapes her.
  3. Ally intended Bex to represent Cammie without any reservations. Bex doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a dad.
  4. Book 3 is going to rock, plain and simple. Macey, a character who originally would have left after book one, has some very exciting scenes.
  5. In book 3 there is another cool character with some hilarious dialogue.
  6. The title is just as fun as the others.
  7. If I told more about book 3 (or the rest of the series), Ally would kill me with a piece of uncooked spaghetti. I’ve seen her do it and I’ve had trouble sleeping ever since.
  8. The first Gallagher book was dedicated to someone that Ally knew who sounds like an extraordinary woman that deserves the title Gallagher Girl.
  9. Ally understands the balance between internal and external conflict. Where I am one to always require more explosions, the balance between Cammie wanting to look elegant at a ball and Cammie tracking down an infiltrator is what I love about the book series.
  10. Ally has a secret identity.
  11. That secret identity has trouble checking in to hotels.
  12. I may not look at the printed signs to tell you which hotel lobby I am in, but I can tell you based on carpet.
  13. Ally is very forgiving when you show up and wait to pick her up at the wrong hotel.
  14. Ally has great metaphors regarding the writing process. “If you turn on a hose after you haven’t used it for a while, what comes out?” Someone honestly said mice. Ally had a witty response on her feet.
  15. Her writing space involves sticky note storyboards on four separate walls, a wall for each story she’s working on. She may describe it as the mind of a serial killer, but I am going to start doing that in my library office. (Maybe that’s not good evidence that she’s not crazy.)
  16. I am going to start a letter/e-mail writing campaign to get George Clooney to play Joe Solomon in the movie.
  17. When you sign a contract with Disney, it is worded that you are giving rights to the story for it to be a Disney production anywhere in the universe. (Not just measly little Earth.)
  18. When you sign with Disney, you agree that your story can take many forms: film, straight to DVD, made for TV movie, stage, and on ice.
  19. I would love to see Gallagher Girls on Ice on the planet Neptune.
  20. Ally is great with kids (and knows some good songs to sing with a preschooler).
  21. My Little Pony Live has higher production values than The Wiggles.
  22. Ally is a very humble author who doesn’t complain about carrying a diaper bag and riding to the airport in a minivan with a crying infant.
  23. Ally inspired a teacher to follow her own “high concept idea” and start writing again.
  24. Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a good friend of hers that wrote The Squad, about covert cheerleaders. They just came out this month and I will be checking those books out.
  25. Ally Carter can do well presenting to the large groups but she excels at the question and answers, so keep that in mind when bringing her to your library.

Yes, bringing an author is a lot of work. Yes, I am exhausted (woo, President’s Day!). But it is so worth it and so much fun, especially when you get the talented Ally Carter to your library.

Uglies: The Movie

November 10th, 2007

I just found out about this by reading an interview with Scott Westerfeld.

Uglies is being turned into a movie.

Okay, so we knew it had to be coming. (I mean, How to eat fried worms?) The interesting part, though, is the production company behind it. Davis Entertainment. What have they brought us? Oh, Predator, I, Robot, and AVP-R (coming out this Christmas).

This actually makes me excited. The hoverboard scenes will actually be pretty intense, then. The Specials will be rough and violent, just like they are in my super-charged imagination (complete with explosions/slow motion and a rock soundtrack). I loved what they did with I, Robot. Yes, there are no car chases in Asimov, but instead they put a short story in-between two from the book. An I, Robot supplement. The other thing that helped me was that when Will Smith was on David Letterman he was able to recite Asimov’s three robot laws. The main actor actually is a nerd. Yeeha.

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

But the thing that makes me laugh about Davis entertainment is their 2009 project:

The Sims

Here is an excerpt from the script:

Sim 1: Jooba jooba hurba

Sim 2: Hoo hoo nee do. Ree hee hee!

with a picture of a plane in Sim 1’s thought bubble and a flower in Sim 2’s thought bubble, crossed out. And then the Sim takes a drink from the espresso machine that they had to work three days worth of Simoleans for.

If they speak English in The Sims movie I will boycott it.

By the way: Davis also made the Garfield and Daddy Day Care movies.

Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz

November 9th, 2007

Terrorism. Human smuggling. Drug running. Toymaking?

snakeheadn. – an organization controlling many different parts – including moneymaking schemes and crime

I was very excited when I received an advanced reading copy of Snakehead, but I had a couple of other books to read first (like when Frank Beddor visited my library, I probably needed to read his books). Now, with Snakehead coming out next week, I have the great opportunity to review the book.

Along for the Rider

  1. Fans of the series will not be disappointed in the action department: homemade kayaks in whitewater, magnetic coins from Smithers that remote detonate, and muay thai pitfighting. Yeah, baby!
  2. If you need to brush up on your geography, you’ll visit Bangkok, Jakarta, Darwin, and an oil rig.
  3. The return of Scorpia! (cue dramatic spy music and dancing silhouettes)
    I have to admit, Ark Angel was kind of a let down compared to the gripping drama of Scorpia. Who better to complement MI6’s finest than an organization of merc spies bent on world domination and chaos? That’s right.
  4. We find out a lot of details about Alex’s family, especially his dad. John Rider, original super spy, coordinated/saved some pretty intense missions. We even learn of the last minutes of his parents’ lives, leading up to the plane crash/explosion.
  5. Actual issues: I get into a debate with the Language Arts chair about the depth of Alex Rider. Sure, there’s helicopters (a must in any book for me) but Alex’s search for his history is something that many of my students can relate to, even if their dad has been present the whole time/not an international assassin.

For your eyes only

  1. This is one of those books that would be tough for a new fan to jump into. I had a student who started the series with Scorpia and didn’t get all of the character development. But, if it gets a struggling reader to read, go for it.
  2. If you are annoyed when spies repeat their tricks, go easy on this book. How many different ways can you explode your jail cell? I mean, really.

Horowtiz does repeat some tricks, but so do Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum. What I really like about this book is how it shows the deep connection between “light” illegal activity and the hardcore stuff that most people know is wrong.

How do terrorists get money? Check out an article from 2002 from CBS News:

Federal authorities say they have amassed evidence for the first time that an illegal drug operation in the United States was funneling proceeds to Middle East terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

Evidence gathered by the Drug Enforcement Administration since a series of raids in January indicates that a methamphetamine drug operation in the Midwest involving men of Middle Eastern descent has been shipping money back to terrorist groups, officials said.

“There is increasing intelligence information from the investigation that for the first time alleged drug sales in the United States are going in part to support terrorist organizations in the Middle East,” DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson said.

Horowitz shows the connection between drugs and terrorists, as well as Bangkok sweat shops and cheap toys being made under inhumane conditions. Mix your kung fu with your global awareness.

Fans of the series will be very excited, as well as students who are getting into the spy scene through shows like Chuck and movies like Bourne Ultimatum. I predict that this one will do very well in my library.

What, are you brain-missing?

October 28th, 2007

I must admit that part of why I’m kicking this feed is to boost my facerank.

Extras...dreadfully mysterious!

Extras by Scott Westerfeld is the fourth book of the Uglies/Pretties/Specials trilogy (yes, very Hitchhiker’s Guide in that regard). This is one of those books, though, that I waited for the release date like it was a summer blockbuster. I can tell you that I was more satisfied with the book than Transformers/Die Hard 4, but in both cases the hot product suffers from mega-expectations.

The book takes place after the events of the first three books (makes sense) but follows a different character, Aya, on a different continent. Each book in the series tackles a key social issue that teens face. Issues like betraying your friends to be pretty, parent-child expectations, and an environmentally insatiable lifestyle are all laid out in an easy to understand format alongside hoverboard fight scenes and hot air balloon bungeeing.

In Extras, Aya’s society has money. No longer can you get your clothing for free from the wall. The governing board, however, does not want anyone to starve like in the Rusties days, so they set up a system where you can requisition the cooler items based on one of two factors: merit and facerank.

Merits are earned by doctors, teachers, (even lawyers), and anyone who serves the greater community. This takes effort. You have to do homework/babysit kids and that takes time. Facerank, on the other hand, can happen overnight. Think about some of those celebrities who fight custody battles on the E! network or hide their baby girl for months only to end up making her a BabyGAP model.

Aya is ranked 400,000+ in her society (that’s bad). Her brother Hiro is approaching 1,000 (that’s good). Hiro is an experienced kicker (blogger) and Aya wants to gain fame like her older brother. She finds the Sly Girls, a group of teens who want to avoid public scrutiny to enjoy their favorite hobby: surfing on top of 300 mph maglev trains.

Aya has other plans. She’s going to kick a feed so big that everyone will know her name. What she doesn’t realize is that by following danger some of it is going to follow her. “What would you do for fame?”-type thing.

As I’ve talked with students and staff (and after reading it myself), here’s what I’ve heard:

The Nervous-making:

  1. Tally’s not a main character. Students grow to associate with her and just like in the Shadow Children series, it’s tough to build new connections.
  2. It’s more sci-fi. Things get strange as Aya follows the Sly Girls on an Earth-changing discovery.
  3. If you don’t know Japanese culture, some of the jokes/references are lost. Some of the kids get manga-eyes surges, soccer no longer exists – only giant robot suits that fire foam darts

The Kick:

  1. There’s still lots of action, and not all of it revolves around crash bracelets (a complaint I had about Pretties and Specials).
  2. Tally does show up, and she’s not happy.
  3. If you are familiar with the annoying side of myspace and YouTube (people who vlog what their cats ate, users who spam for friends), your annoyances are vindicated.