Vengeful

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab is the sequel to Vicious Schwab’s first adult novel.

EO’s or Extra Ordinary’s exist. They are people who have died or have had near death experiences but wake up different–powerful. EO’s like Sydney can raise the dead, like Eli can heal, like June can shapeshift, they can ruin, shield, destroy and save. And all of them are being hunted.

When Sydney raised Victor from the dead, he didn’t come back entirely himself. His powers are running hot and he is running out of time. Now Victor, Sydney, Mitch and Dol are looking for a cure while on the run from a secret sect of the government that wants to capture all EO’s.

What is to become of Victor? Will all the EO’s have to run forever? And what will happen when faces from the past, surface?

I have to admit, this story probably deserves more than 3.5 stars but I just couldn’t get as sucked in as I feel like I should have because I could barely remember what happened in Vicious. This is totally my fault, I should have re-read the first book or at the very least searched for a good synopsis but I didn’t and so I didn’t have all the fun details that were probably in the first book and would have made this one that much more enjoyable. But I did enjoy the book, I just kept having those “oh yeaaa” moments, that sort of slowed my progress. This was also really, really hard to summarize, which again, tells you something.

I did really like the story behind this world. The idea that people who almost die might come back as something more then they were, isn’t a new concept but Schwab really writes it in a new way. And Victor is such an interesting character. He’s not a good guy but he’s not all bad either. I remember really liking him in the first book.

That’s really all I have for this one. A good read, but definitely read the two back to back–you won’t be sorry. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner is a juvenile fiction book for 4-6th graders.

In the near future, massive storms systems devastate the world. People no longer ride bikes, go for long walks or play outside. Every home has a storm shelter and a devastating tornado could hit at any second.

In this world of fear is a tiny community called Placid Meadows, built right in the heart of the tornado belt and yet no storms ever touch it. Jaden has been sent to spend the summer at Placid Meadows in order to attend the prestigious Eye of Tomorrow summer camp and to get reacquainted with her MIA father, the creator of the community and all Storm Safe technology.

Here, Jaden makes friends and learns more about her father’s work. But something isn’t right. Observant and quick-witted, Jaden can tell that things don’t add up. Why don’t tornadoes hit this sleepy community? She knows her father is hiding something but will Jaden be brave enough to uncover the secrets that might break her family forever?

This is actually the second book I picked for my STEM Book Club, which started in September. We will be discussing this one in October.  I will admit, perhaps this one is a little tough for fourth grades but I really enjoyed it and I can definitely see the kids getting into it.

The pace of the book was great. It was slower as we were gaining background and it picks up speed as the plot does. By the time our characters are running from storms you start to feel the excitement too. Messner does a great job of getting you to feel like the characters do, through her writing.

For this STEM club we have 10 discussion questions and then we are going to do a few experiments. We’ll see how it goes!

Discussion Questions:

1. What is this book about? What are the main themes?

2. What is Meteorology? A major part of the book was this idea of weather manipulation. What do you think about this?

3. This book takes place in 2050. What makes this book “futuristic?” Can you see us getting any of this technology in the next 30+ years?

4. Page 18 – Jaden’s dad would always say that, “pretty words never protected anybody from a storm.” What do you think about this? Let’s think of other situations where words might be stronger than actions…

5. What did you think about The Eye of Tomorrow? If you were put in charge of a science camp where kids try to solve the world’s biggest problems, what would you choose to work on?

6. On page 33 we learn that storms literally never hit Placid Meadows. Why did you think this was? When did you realize what was really going on?

7. Page 147 – “If you don’t look, it won’t hurt.” When Jaden and Risha get stuck in the storm, Jaden shuts her eyes tight. Is it easier to face something scary or hide? Why?

8. One of Jaden’s biggest internal conflicts in this book is deciding between family and doing the right thing. Why do you think this is so hard?

9. Page 219 – How did you feel when Alex and Jaden looked up and realized that the three storms were merging into one? Did the narrative get you excited, scared, etc.?

10. Did you think Jaden’s dad’s punishment was fair? Do you think Grandma Althea is alive?

For my experiments we are going to create our own mini tornadoes and do an electricity experiment.

Create Your Own Mini Tornado

Supplies: Glass Jar; Water; Dish Soap; Glitter; Food Coloring

Instructions:

  • Fill your glass jar about 2/3 with water.
  • Add in a drop of dish soap, a drop of food coloring and some glitter.
  • Tightly put the lid on your jar.
  • “Shake” your jar in a circular motion, you should begin to see a funnel form. The glitter, soap and dye are all meant to help you see the funnel as it forms.
  • Try out different methods. What happens when you swirl the water before flipping, etc.?

Observations:

  • What do you see?
  • What is happening to create this vortex in the bottle?

The Science:

  • A vortex is a type of motion that causes liquids and gases to travel in spirals around a centerline. A vortex is created when a rotating liquid falls through an opening. Gravity is the force that pulls the liquid into the hole and a continuous vortex develops. If you swirl the water in the bottle while pouring it out, it causes a vortex to form. That vortex looks like a tornado in the bottle. The formation of the vortex makes it easier for air to come into the bottle and allows the water to pour out faster.
  • Look carefully and you’ll be able to see the hole in the middle of the vortex that allows the air to come up inside the bottle. If you don’t swirl the water and just allow it to flow out on its own, then the air and water have to essentially take turns passing through the mouth of the bottle, thus the glug-glug sound.

Create Your Own Lightning

Supplies: fluorescent light bulb; rubber balloon

Instructions:

  • Turn all of the lights off in the room. (The darker the better!)
  • Rub the balloon on your hair for several seconds.
  • Then hold the statically charged balloon near the glass end of the light bulb.
  • Without touching the bulb, swish the balloon (the end your rubbed your hair with) just over the end of the bulb. This should illuminate the bulb.
  • Repeat the demonstration as many times as desired.

Observations:

  • What is happening? What is making the bulb light up?
  • Having trouble? Maybe the room isn’t dark enough. Maybe your hair is too dirty. You can try rubbing the balloon on a wool blanket instead of your hair. Troubleshooting is part of science!

The Science:

  • When you rub the balloon on your hair, the balloon builds up an electrical charge (static electricity). Touching the charged balloon to the end of the fluorescent light bulb causes the electrical charge to jump from the balloon to the bulb. This is what illuminates the light bulb.
  • Lightning is an electrical discharge within a thunderstorm. As the storm develops, the clouds become charged with electricity. Scientists are still not sure exactly what causes this, but they do know that when the voltage becomes high enough for the electricity to leap across the air from one place to another, lightning flashes! Lightning can spark within a cloud, from one cloud to another, from a cloud to the ground, or from the ground to a cloud.

How’d it all go: This was a much more successful STEM activity then the last one. Everyone thought the lightbulb experiment was neat and we had a pretty good discussion. I think I need to do a little get-to-know you activity next time because it took awhile for the kids to warm up to each other. Other than that, a success.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Whistling Season

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig is an adult, historical fiction novel that takes place in the Midwest around the 1900’s.

“Can’t cook but doesn’t bite.” Begins the newspaper ad for an expert housekeeper, with “sound morals, exceptional disposition.” Drawing the attention of a widower and his three boys, so begins the story of a housekeeper and her brother and their journey into the lives of a family that will never be the same.

One-room school houses, dry land farming, comets, bullies, boxing and betting, along with all the ins-and-outs of western living can be found in this gem of a book.

This is probably my third time reading The Whistling Season. I am just so in love with the language and setting Doig manages to snag his readers with. The writing, although not for everyone, is almost fluid and magical in its intricacies of language. For some people this is intimidating and hard to get into, but give it a try because it really is an excellent example of how a simple plot can just blow you away with the written word.

Doig is a master of description. Most of his books, if not all, take place in the Midwest and boy can he just paint a picture for you. For a girl whose never been west of Pennsylvania, I can almost see the setting. This is also a great little book because I think it is about a subject in history that there isn’t much written on, so it was neat to step inside that one-room school house, out on the plains.

I picked this one for my community book club when no one was jumping up to make a suggestion. And for a book that “wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea,” it was probably the longest we have every actually stayed on topic and discussed the book. So that in itself tells you something.

If you haven’t read Ivan Doig, give him a try. He writes, not overly serious books that are so lovingly written and perfectly described. This one will always get 5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kirsten White is a young adult retelling of the classic Frankenstein told from the perspective of Elizabeth Frankenstein, an orphan taken in by the Frankenstein’s as a young girl.

Elizabeth Lavenza was an abused orphan until she was taken in by the Frankenstein family as a companion for their strange, all-but genius, son Victor. In Victor, Elizabeth finds a safe haven and salvation from lonely hunger of her childhood and she will do anything to stay in his good graces. Soon the two are inseparable. Elizabeth teaches Victor to control his emotions and in return he keeps her safe.

That is until his studies takes him away from her. Left without news for months, Elizabeth is determined to track down her Victor. But what she finds is depravity, death and mystery. Elizabeth must use all her wits to protect Victor from societies wrath but who is she really protecting and at what cost?

I really enjoyed this one. White really knows how to spin a tale and I love it! It’s been a long, long time since I’ve read Frankenstein but this was definitely a new take on the story. One of the things I really liked was that I thought the story was heading in one direction and about two-thirds of the way through, it went a completely different way than I was thinking and it was better for it.

Elizabeth and “evil” Victor really make this story. Elizabeth’s mind, her ability to adapt to any situation, makes her such an interesting character and although there is supposed to be this sort of discovery of her true self, I felt that she was extremely self-aware. And the moment when Victor drops all of his carefully learned pretenses, he just became this dark sociopath and the story itself got darker for it.

I really enjoyed this retelling. Keep ’em coming White! This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Baby Storytime – 10/1/18

Hi Guys, time for another baby storytime!

  • Movement Rhyme – Wake Up…
    • This is a fun stretch to get our bodies moving before storytime. And it is great for babies because it helps us identify our body parts. I got the lyrics from Jbrary but I’ve seen this one around before.

Wake up feet, wake up feet
Wake up feet and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Wake up feet, wake up feet
Wake up and wiggle in the morning.

Also: hands, ears, knees, fingers, hips, etc.

  • ASL – The More We Get Together
    • We first teach the kids the signs for: More, Together, Happy & Friends. Then incorporate the signs as we sing the song. Check out Signing Savvy or Baby Sign Language to learn these signs.
  • Song/Scarves – Scarves On Your Laps by Johnette Downing
    • For this one I pass out scarves and we do our movements with the song.
  • Boardbook – So Light, SO HEAVY by Susanne Strasser51tf3KhNTEL._SX497_BO1,204,203,200_
    • Normally, I choose boardbooks that are flip-the-flap or have some touch and feel element. But this one was just so cute. And it does still teach us the difference between light and heavy, small and large, so it works.
  • Rhyme – I’m a little teapot
    • Everyone knows this classic and it is so fun for the little ones!
  • Puppet Rhyme – Alligator, Alligator
    • For this one I use a puppet but I show my little ones how to follow along with their alligator hands.

Alligator, alligator long and green.
Alligator, alligator teeth so mean!
Snapping at a fly, snapping at a bee, snapping at a frog,
But you can’t catch me!

  • Song – Clap, Tap, Bend from It’s Toddler Time
    • Just an easy, slow, movement song for use to do together.
  • Big Book – Freight Train by Donald Crews510-T7UwUrL._SY402_BO1,204,203,200_
    • This is a great one that works on counting and color and is about a train. What could be better!
  • Lift – Tick Tock, Tick Tock
    • This is a fun lapsit rhyme with a lift at the end as we “cuckoo!”

Tick tock, tick tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock.
Tick tock, tick tock, now it’s one o’clock.
Cuckoo! (Lift baby into the air)
Continue with two and three o’clock.

  • Bounce – I bounce you here, I bounce you there…
    • We love our bounces and lifts in baby storytime.

I bounce you here, I bounce you there
I bounce you, bounce you everywhere
I tickle you here, I tickle you there
I tickle you, tickle you everywhere
I hug you here, I hug you there
I hug you, hug you everywhere

  • Song/Shakers – Shake it to the East from Reaching for the Stars!
    • A song with shaker prompts.
  • Song/Bubbles – Bubbles by Parachute Express
    • I love the bubble maker for the babies. Bubbles help babies because the same eye muscles the use to track the bubbles as they move, are the same muscles they will later use for reading.
  • ASL – The More We Get Together
    • I like to end with the same sign language song we used in the beginning.
  • Song – Clean It Up
    • Any good clean up song will work.
  • Song – Goodbye, So Long, Farewell by Music Together
    • I will always put this one on in the background as everyone leaves because I just love it!

How’d it go: This was a great storytime with a much younger crowd then the last two–which is a good thing! Baby storytime is so fun and low key, I love it. All went well this week!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab

Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder is a middle grade read for 4th-6th graders.

Nick and Tesla are extremely smart 11-year-old twins who like inventing and find trouble fairly easily. When they are shipped off to spend the summer with their eccentric Uncle Newt–an inventor and goofball–they expect to be bored out of theirs minds but find they are anything but.

When Nick and Tesla lose their rocket and the pendant their parents gave them, the twins are determined to get it back. Little do they know they are about to embark on a mission that includes dangerous dogs, Christmas light alarm systems, kidnappings and other makeshift contraptions. As the plot thickens will Nick and Tesla be able to use their inventor smarts to save the day?

This is an older middle grade series and one I just happened to overlook. I’ve known about it but I never actually read any of them. After taking a peek, I thought this one would be perfect for my STEM Book Club as a night and easy December read.

Ultimately I enjoyed the book. It was a quick read but still had all that STEM-y goodness I was looking for. The story move quickly and the characters are entertaining. Especially Uncle Newt; you just know there is more going on there then meets the eye.

This one also made choosing a STEM activity to go with my book club really easy, as there were about 4 or 5 different “how to” projects based off of what Nick and Tesla did in the book. And I also enjoyed the mystery of the book and how the rest of the series is setting things up for Nick and Tesla not only to help other people but where they will eventually have to help themselves.

I think this one is going to be perfect for my 4th-6th graders as a light, easy, fun read before the holidays. This one get 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Wildcard

Wildcard by Marie Lu is the sequel and conclusion to Lu’s Warcross.

Emika Chen only made it out of the Warcross Championships with her mind in tact by the skin of her teeth. Now that Hideo’s algorithm has been uploaded to everyone using the NeuroLink, she has been left with only a few allies.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s flawed plan to keep evil from the world, Emika must put aside her own safety and risk everything to save… everyone. Can she stop the Blackcoats and Zero from taking over the NeuroLink? Can she destroy the algorithm and give everyone back their freewill? And finally, will she be able to bring Hideo back from the ledge that led him to this course of action?

Well, I will say off the bat that I wasn’t as impressed with Wildcard as I was with Warcross. I just couldn’t get into the story as easily as I did the first one. Warcross sucked me in and I couldn’t wait to learn more. But there was just something missing here for me.

A major part of what was missing for me was the relationships. I felt like we built up these really great characters, who had dynamic relationships, in the first book but they just weren’t as strong in the second. Emika was a lot weaker and not nearly as interesting as before. Tramaine was probably my favorite character in this one actually.

That being said, I did love this world of virtual reality. I think Lu did a fabulous job building a world where technology is literally in every part of our lives. Makes you think about where we are heading. And I just loved the quote that once technology has been created that you can’t un-make it. This is very true.

I did also like the twist. I sort of saw it coming with the various hints the author put in, but it was still a neat little surprise. I also like that things were wrapped up in a way that we suspected what would happen but weren’t actually told.

This duology kept me entertained. Warcross was stellar but Wildcard was only so-so. I hope we see more of these virtual reality type fiction books in the future–and ones as well built as this one. This book gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-