Monday, December 27, 2010

Brain Jack

Falkner, Brian. Brain Jack.
Ha, ha! I checked this book out of the public library, so the warnings at the front of the book about how hackers can find out everything about me in ten minutes from my purchase of the book and get into my computer are groundless. Well, until now, since I've posted this. And since I spent Christmas morning removing a "Security Sheild" virus from my computer, I'm willing to take this chilling tale to heart!
Sam spends a little too much time on computers, and draws the attention of the Homeland Security Cyber Defense Division after some spectacular hacking. At first, he thinks he is being thrown into jail, but when he manages to break out, he is recruited for the division. Neuro-headset technology is the newest thing, but the effects are omninous-- now hackers can get into people's brains, and the headsets work to create a huge network that starts attacking the defense division-- and pretty much everything else. With pulse-pounding urgency, Sam and the defense division try to stop the network, nicknamed Ursula, but are thwarted by people who are wired into the neuro-headsets and brainwashed into attacking those who are against the headsets. Will Sam and his friends manage to save the world?
Strengths: Really, very edge-of-the-seat stuff, and the cover is distractingly shiny as well! I had to put this book down several times because it was just so intense. I didn't understand half of the computer references, but it didn't really matter. I wanted to put together a whole list of books about computers, but I can't think of any I have-- what a great subject for boys! It was a good choice for older students without being inappropriate for younger ones. Awesome book, but definitely explains a little about why I think Facebook is just creepy.

Weaknesses: The detailed computer descriptions make this a difficult choice for struggling readers.

Garretson, Dee. Wildfire Run.
Yet another tale that I had to put down because of its intensity! The president's son, Luke and his friends Theo and Callie are caught at Camp David after an earthquake sets off wildfires around them. They try to escape but run into one obstacle after another. Security guards are injured and they try to rescue them, the gates short circuit and won't let them out of the compound, and the trio's ingenuity is the only thing that saves the day. The Camp David setting is an unusual one, and the historic notes at the end are appreciated. Definitely good use of golf carts and very imaginative electrical skills are out to use. For students who like books packed with action and adventure, this is a great choice! Good length, good cover, good print size for reluctant readers.

Prelutsky, Jack. My Dog May be a Genius.
Ah, Prelutsky. It's like methadone for children who were introduced to Shel Silverstein in the third grade and won't read anything else. Follett lists this as for grade K-3 or 2-5, but that's ridiculous. Unlike most collections listed for students in this range, this is a significant collection filled with amusing poems, many of which are over 40 words long, so perfect for that memorization assignment. I especially appreciated the poem "I'm Going to the Library". Don't worry, Mr. Prelutsky; if a student was bringing back a book that was four years overdue, I would just be glad! This will be very popular with my students.
Birnbach, Lisa and Kidd, Chip. True Prep.
I buy very few books for myself, something which was a problem when it came to Cybils reading-- I should have been much quicker to purchase a couple of titles! But somehow, back in 1981, I got myself to a bookstore and spent $3.95 of my hard earned babysitting money on The Official Preppy Handbook. No idea where I even heard of it, but I was fascinated by it for years and still own my copy. Wow. On, copies start at about $40! Oh, well. I colored in one of the pages with pink and green, so mine is worth less. It's not Christmas at my house without at least one book for me to read, and this was the one I got. Still oddly fascinating, True Prep is actually more informative than its predecessor, filled with all sorts of quirky facts about prepdom. I still like the clothes in the 1981 version better, however.

Gross, Kim Johnson. What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style.
This was another book under the tree, and quite fascinating, if not entirely useful. I find it very difficult to dress myself, especially since I am always so cold that I live in a turtleneck from October to May. Have even been thinking about adding a silk underwear layer, which makes it really difficult to dress in an age-appropriate but sexy manner. And really, how much cleavage do middle schoolers really want to see on their librarian?! This book did make me feel better in some ways; my closet is uber-organized, and everything in it fits and is comfortable. I frequently weed, repair and reorganize. I have interesting accessories-- my daughter firmly believes that I was behind the new trend of dangly owl necklaces, since I've been collecting and wearing them for ten years! Not everything fits quite properly-- being on the short side and shopping exclusively at the thrift store means that a lot of my clothes are a little large, but since I am breaking multiple style rules by wearing skirts a lot longer than knee length and swathing myself in boxy layers of wool, I don't think it's really going to matter!
Hope everyone is warm and curled up with some good books!


  1. I've been checking daily for new blog posts - glad you posted. I knew you were reading... ;-)

    Will have to look into the creepy computer book.

    And I, too, have a dangly owl necklace, inherited from my grandmother years ago! :-)

  2. Thanks for the positive talk about BRAIN JACK. I brought it home to read over break but keep shoving it to the bottom of the stack. I will make sure to move it back to the top.

    A computer book that comes to mind is LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow. My guys are enjoying it. He has another new one out as well, but I don't have any student feedback on that one yet.