Saturday, March 23, 2013

Teens Only | The Best of the Best

Looking for something great to read? I thought I'd check out Goodreads to find out the most popular teen books out there right now. Not surprising, the top of the list featured Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, followed by Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books, and then the old favorite Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.

Following those all-stars -- and in order -- were:

Divergent by Veronica Roth, which I mentioned in an earlier blog after hearing rave reviews from some of my reader friends. This is the one about the dystopian society in which 16 year olds are forced to pick the faction to which they will devote their lives. In case you haven't read it yet, it's also available as an ebook on SSJCPL's Overdrive site.

The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. This is the story of 15-year-old Clary who gets drawn into the world of the Shadowhunters when she witnesses a murder...and the body disappears into thin air. Ok, I've got to read this one. Who doesn't love a weird murder mystery?

The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is an oldie, but a goodie. It's about a society that is uniformly run by a Committee of Elders. And then there's Jonas -- 12 years old -- whose comfortable, normal existence as a member of this well-ordered community is shaken when he is assigned his life's work as the Receiver. The Giver, who passes on to Jonas the burden of being the holder for the community of all memory, teaches him the cost of living in an environment that is without color, pain, or past.
So now you've got several great reading recommendations. And by the way, Goodreads is a cool website where you create an account and then can not only get recommendations based on books you already like, but you can also see what your friends are reading!
Happy Reading....and see you next Saturday!

Books on Film | Alien

Prometheus (2012) was one of the biggest blockbusters of last summer. The movie was heavily anticipated, because it is a prequel to the much loved movie Alien (1979). 

Alien is a futuristic, science fiction, horror film. The movie follows a spaceship crew who encounter much more than they bargained for when they set off to investigate a strange alien ship.

What started off as one movie is now a huge media franchise with prequels, sequels, crossover films, video games, graphic novels, movie novelizations, and book series.

The original movie was followed by several sequels, titled Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), Alien Resurrection (1997). Those films were them followed by two crossover films with Predator, another popular science fiction franchise, in 2004 and 2007.

All of the films, including the crossover films, have been turned into novels with the exception of Prometheus. The first three, Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3, were written by science fiction author Alan Dean Foster. Foster has written for other science fiction series, like Star Trek, in addition to being the author of several original science fiction novels. Alien Resurrection and Alien vs Predator were also novelized, although by other authors.

In addition to the movie novels, there are fifteen books set in the same universe with original story lines. The first, Earth Hives, was written by Steve Perry. Like Foster, Perry has also written for several other science fiction series and published original work.

Lastly, for the comic fans there are the Alien and Alien vs Predator comic book series. The aliens from Alien also makes crossover appearances in other comic books, including Batman, Superman, and the Green Lantern.

If you like futuristic alien horror stories you might want to check out the movies, books, and graphic novels from the Alien universe.

Covers courtesy of LibraryThing
Series Information from Wikipedia

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Bucket List | A Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular HBO shows in the history of the network.  The third season of this incredibly popular show will premiere on March 31!  So at the urgings of my husband, who has recently started reading the series, I am now OFFICIALLY featuring the first book, A Game of Thrones, of George R. R. Martin's series.

What I like about the Game of Thrones television series, is how closely it follows the book compared to other book to TV adaptations.  The books feature a multitude of plot lines featuring the lives (and deaths) of the powerful families that rule the world of Westeros.  In the first in the series, follows the Stark family as Ned Stark becomes "Hand of the King" and has to move to the capitol to basically serve as the day to day decision maker for the kingdom.  However, when the Lannister family takes control of the kingdom, the political climate changes very quickly and the Starks are forced to reevaluate their loyalties.

Our system also has the graphic novel, which I have read and is very cool, the DVD of the first season, and the soundtrack of the first season.

I've read the first book in the series and have watched the show.  If you're looking for a fantasy series that is thrilling with some shocking turns, this is definitely it.  My husband says he thinks of it as the Sopranos with swords. So come March 31, we will sit down to watch the premiere of the new season. (He will probably be MUCH more excited than me...)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Learning | Robots!

I recently fell in love with an easy reader book. Cece Bell's Rabbit & Robot: the Sleepover has several points in its favor.  

First, there's a robot in it. Robots are held in high regard, in my household.  My husband loves trying to get those robot floor vacuums to clean the house. Personally, I think Rosie Jetson would do a better job, and it would be more fun listening to her.  (If I had a Rosie, would she call me "Mrs. J?")  

My youngest son has dabbled around with robotics for years. In fact, he wants to build robots for a living. He outgrew easy readers at least thirteen years ago, but even he declared this an awesome book.

Second, this book was the recipient of a 2013 Geisel Honor. The Geisel Award is named after Theodor Seuss Geisel ("Dr. Seuss,") an author whose books for early readers have permeated our culture with humor, creativity, and rhymes.  The Geisel Award recognizes outstanding books for beginning readers.  

Third, it's funny! Just think about what a rabbit might want to eat on his pizza. Then think about what a robot might want to eat on his pizza. What would happen if they tried to play cards or watch TV?  How do they get ready for bed?  This book is full of surprises, like the lists that the characters write.



If you are interested in robots, I would suggest trying to go to the Robogames 2013 at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds.  It is being held the weekend of April 19-21.  

I was able to attend last year.  The main attraction is the Battlebot-like tournament of fighting robots. I didn't take any pictures of the battles, because my son was doing that. There are plenty of booths with peaceful robots and educational activities; I spent more time in those areas, taking pictures of robots playing basketball or talking.

A weary competitor
This robot plays basketball!
People come from all over the world, to share their accomplishments and products related to the world of robotics.  There are teams from schools, competing to race their robots through mazes.  

Robot playing a bass guitar

Scholars make presentations about their endeavors in the field of robotics.  Last year, I saw the founder of tell how the website was founded; it all started with the desire to teach people how to build simple robots. Another person explained how she created robot parties on the internet, for people's robots to meet virtually and talk to each other. 

It's a very noisy place, when the battles are happening; I would recommend bringing some earplugs.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

4 Kids | The Book That Won't Leave Me

Ever read one of those books that grabs you and doesn't let you go? You know...that book that even after (long after) you've read the last sentence and put it down, it's still with you.
It's been a week since I finished After Eli by Rebecca Rupp. In this heart-gripping story, we spend time with narrator Daniel who is trying to come to terms with the death of his older, hero brother Eli. Eli died at the age of 22 in Iraq. Daniel faces many obstacles on this road to coming to terms, not the least of which are parents who have their own issues and the age-old struggle of being part of the "in" group or being loyal to a true friend (who is a bit of a geek). Throughout his journey, Daniel is writing a "Book of the Dead" in which he collects facts about some of the more unusual demises in history.
And even though this book is based on a whole lot of sadness, there is still quite a bit of funny. Daniel falls for the beautiful, free-spirited Isabelle. She's just too cool. But the funny comes in the form of her younger twin siblings, Jasper and Journey. I laughed out loud at some of their antics.
Trust me: you'll laugh and you'll cry as you read this book.
But as I said at the beginning, this book just won't let me go! I've been trying to find the life lesson I'm supposed to learn from this book. And it finally hit me. It's about the importance of remembering. At least that's what I think.
So pardon me while I do a little remembering. I remember a friend who was really cool, really talented, really everything! I think our friendship started when I was about 4 or 5. Later, we found ourselves part of a pretty remarkable jazz band in high school, and then we were part of a larger group of friends as young adults. Oh, I forgot to mention: my friend was not only half of one of the best local musical duos ever, he was also a musical genius! And I know, without a doubt, he was destined for rock 'n' roll stardom. But my friend was taken from us way too young.  
Reading this book made me realize how important it is to remember those that have really impacted our lives -- those that have changed us in a positive way. It's a way of honoring them and telling the world how much that person mattered. I think that's what Daniel is doing. 
So that's what I'm doing too. I remember Marvin -- my protector in high school, my music mentor, my model of practical joker-ness, my friend. I feel so honored to have known him -- and to have had the chance to stand in his light. Thank you, Marvin.
Read the book. You won't be disappointed.

See you next Tuesday. -- Suzy

Monday, March 18, 2013

Life & Style | Being Chubby Isn't That Bad After All

Who knew that having some extra fat can be beneficial?
I always wondered if a very skinny person and I were to end up on a deserted Island with no food in sight, who is going to survive the longest?

I bet that would be me!

You don't believe me?
Let's see. I have about 40 pounds of extra blubber on my body. One pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. I need about 2500 calories to survive.

So let's do the calculations:
40 pound X 3500= 140000 calories
140000/2500=56 days of survival
That means if I have enough water, I can survive about 56 days on my blubber and hopefully by that time I would get rescued. Ok! I admit it is a very unscientific method. 
Mahatma Gandi during his hunger strike lived only on small amount of water and no food for 21 days. 

I bet I can beat that. 
So if you have spare tires or chubby legs, fear no more, you will outlive the normal weight folks. They might look better in clothing, but you will have the last laugh.

I am just talking about this brand new study that confirms being a bit chubby is not the end of world.

According to this article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in January 2013, overweight individuals have a higher survivor rate than normal weight individuals.

 Based on this study, if your BMI is between 30-35, you are going to outlive a normal weight people.

I should show this study to my dad so he can stop harassing me.

Here is a Time magazine article referring to the same study:

Being Overweight Is Linked to Lower Risk of Mortality

Here is another article by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that indicates a higher BMI increase the survival rate in patients undergoing dialysis.

Survival advantages of obesity in dialysis patients 

These are some other advantages of being a bit chubby:
  • A more youthful skin.
  • Less chances of miscarriage.

  • Less chance of getting Osteoporosis. 

  • Higher survival rate after surgery or after an infection.
" If you get pneumonia and lose 15 lbs, it helps to have 15 lbs to spare."
You see. Stop fretting about your weight and go ahead and have another slice of chocolate cake 

I am telling you, It is not going to be the end of the world 
Signing off until next Monday- Panteha