April 7, 2011
Amelia is looking forward to a summer in the city of Baltimore, far from her tiny home of Broken Tooth, Maine. Staying with relatives, it is the goal of Amelia’s summer to come away engaged to a young man (or such is her brother’s goal in sending her there). In 1889, Amelia knows there are few options open to her besides marriage, and so goes with the excitement of a trip before her, and summer away from her father and sister-in-law (her parents being dead).
Amelia finds a great friend in her cousin Zora, who has a bit of a mind for trouble as well. The two finish school and then the real joy of the summer begins; two young women, free from classes, looking forward to their futures.
Zora is excessively fond of Thomas Rea, the doctor’s son, and knows that she and Thomas cannot marry until he is finished with school, for he must have a way to support a wife. Amelia is immediately taken with a Fourteenth (a young man hired to make a dinner table sit 14 instead of an unlucky 13), Nathaniel Witherspoon, starving artist. It is not the match Amelia is expected to make. Stolen moments throughout the summer, however, bring the two closer together.
Sounds like just another period young adult romance, no? It’s definitely more.
The book opens with Amelia being locked in the attic of her brother’s house in Maine in the fall of 1889, after her trip to Baltimore. She reveals dark details of why she has been locked up, why she was sent away from Baltimore, and the agony Amelia is living in, trapped.
Mitchell then flashes back to the summer of 1889 and Amelia’s arrival and introduction to the family she will be living with. Witty remarks endear Amelia to Zora immediately, and not long after Amelia arrives, she has the strangest vision as she stares into the sunset from the parlor, a vision of Zora & Thomas dancing together. When this comes true, Amelia confesses to Zora and the two begin sharing Amelia’s abilities with their friends. Once the word spreads, a number of young women are clamoring for Amelia to tell their futures.
It’s fun, at first, but then Amelia begins to see darker futures, mundane futures, and when she starts writing down what she sees, she dreads the visions. Once, she thinks she is able to avert tragedy, but it can never be so easy as that, as Amelia reminds us when she cuts back in from the present.
Nathaniel is not quite what he seems either, able to seemingly suddenly appear when Amelia thinks of him, calls to him. He is mysterious and entirely inappropriate for her, but the two appeal to each other more than either can explain.
When the first tragedy strikes, Amelia is shocked, as it’s a future she thought she had prevented. The trouble is, Amelia could not see how this one future plays into the rest of the futures surrounding her and her world begins to tumble down. The sad events happen quickly and discover why Amelia is sent home.
The story, beginning with Amelia in Maine after the events have taken place, leave the reader constantly wondering just what happened to have her returned home, and ruined. It is an easy story to read, one that keeps the reader intrigued and involved, and the sad Gothic nature of it make the reader wish for a happy ending. A different than expected ending occurs, one that works well with my reading tastes. All in all, The Vespertine is a book I would recommend to young adult readers who like historical fiction and a bit of supernatural. It reminded me a little of Libba Bray’s A Great & Terrible Beauty, but The Vespertine does not delve as much into the supernatural world as Bray’s trilogy. A worthwhile story that leaves the reader with chills.
March 24, 2011
NASA sponsors the Imagine the Universe! Dictionary which has not only terms but brief biographies of scientist. The sit will also link you to other entries in the dictionary as well as more in-depth articles on certain topics. For those with an interest in science, it will definitely give you somewhere to start your research or if you’re just messing about. It’s pretty neat. The only thing I don’t like is how most of NASA’s sites that I’ve seen look kind of juvenile. I understand NASA is focusing more on, you know, exploring space and everything, but it would be nice if they spiffed up more than just the main pages.
March 21, 2011
Looking for something light and fun to read on spring break? Not ready to start tackling the Abe Lincoln nominees (or can’t get your hands on them)?
Try this one:
The Queen Geek Social Club by Laura Preble
Fifteen-year-old Shelby doesn’t have a ton of friends. Enough people she knows but not really good friends. She’s a bit of a serially dater, but can’t find a guy that’s up to her intellectual standards. Her dad is a scientist/inventor who has created Euphoria, a robot who takes care of Shelby & her dad, and one that’s got quite a personality to boot.
So Shelby’s just trying to figure out how to survive high school when new girl Becca moves into town. Becca is tall, gangly, tattooed and out there. She and Shelby hit it off immediately, both being intelligent geeks. So Becca decides they should start a club with the intention of finding more people like them. The Queen Geek Social Club is born. While Shelby just wants to make friends, energetic, determined Becca wants … world domination? And she wants to start by feeding models Twinkies?
It’s a great read about being a teenage girl, trying to fit in, and allowing (or not) your friends to talk you into stuff you may or may not be totally comfortable with, some of which has them pushing you to grow as a person (not that’d you’d ever see it that way). There are two more books in the series, Queen Geeks in Love and Prom Queen Geeks.
March 17, 2011
Math and Science are not always the easiest subjects and Khan Academy has developed 1600 videos that range from 10-20 minutes to help you understand a certain aspect of those topics. The videos aren’t meant to teach you everything about a subject in 20 minutes, but instead focus on a very specific aspect of the topic to help you learn or to reinforce what you’ve learned in class. For example, there are six videos on the Quadratic Equation alone to help you through solving it. If you have a Facebook or Google account, you even have the option to do exercises to improve the skills you just learned.
March 7, 2011
The parent website of Filmsite.org is AMCtv.com so there are a number of videos and links to AMCtv.com. Filmsite is a great site that gives you one man’s top movies (300!). Tim Dirks has written reviews for all the films and even reviewed sequels. He gives Tips on Film Viewing as well as listing best quotations (for other movie quote geeks), most controversial films, best kisses, cult films, and horror, among many others. A good site to surf for film fans.
March 3, 2011
Micah fully admits she’s a liar. She does it a lot. Sometimes it’s small lies, sometimes it’s big lies, sometimes there’s a little truth mixed in, but does she ever tell the whole truth? She promises the readers she’s going to try.
A classmate, Zach, has been missing and then found dead. Micah breaks her story into before this happened, after it happened, and various histories (history of me, history of the school, family history, etc). Each bit reveals more and more of Micah, her classmates, her family, and her history with Zach, which is more than anyone ever expected.
She becomes sort-of friends with Zach’s girlfriend Sarah and his best friend Tayshawn, and ordinarily Micah is in the background of her school life, but with Zach’s death (and a large portion of the school thinking it was Micah who did it) and her relationship with Zach, Micah is suddenly under the microscope, not where she would like to be. These three very different students are grieving for someone who meant a great deal to each one of them, and that’s a great dynamic to see, how they are drawn together.
Periodically Micah will reveal a lie–a tiny one usually, but a lie nonetheless. It makes you rethink her entire story. When one of the biggest reveals come, it left me thinking it was just an excuse Micah had used, another lie, and that left me on uneven footing for the rest of the book, as a great deal of the story required the reader to believe Michah’s reveal.
It’s not made clear in the book why Micah is writing this: is it just for her sake (which is what she claims) or is there a darker reasoning behind it? The book is broken into three parts, all of which have Micah claiming to tell the truth.
I was definitely interested in this book, having read many reviews of it and hearing a lot about it, and really, it’s an unusual idea, and then the werewolf part came in. I’m not against supernatural characters, I just wasn’t expecting one. So perhaps it was my fault, but it threw me for a loop.
One thing I did love about the story is that I still don’t know if Micah was being entirely truthful. I think that was pretty awesome to have this great story, and the reader still is not sure what is laid out before the reader is actually what happened. A well written, engaging story (if you can suspend your disbelief), Liar is recommended for readers interested in mysteries and stories with open endings.
February 24, 2011
If you’ve gotten burned in the past on research papers because the websites you’ve found aren’t accurate and vetted, try beginning your search on ipl2. Created and maintained by library students, librarians, education institutions, and subject experts, ipl2 provides a great starting place for a number of different subjects to help you with your research.
Just to get a feel for the site, I clicked on “Resources by Subject”, selected “Science & Technology”, then “Life Sciences” to narrow my search, and finally ended with “Genetics”. There are 15 resources on genetics. This is a fantastic way to make sure you get accurate information for your papers. The links bring you directly to the website, so it’s not like you’re reading someone’s interpretation of the information but reading the information directly. It’s pretty cool. But then I’m a librarian and I like finding correct information. 🙂