Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BLOB by Frieda Wishinsky

After working all summer at an unpleasant job in a convenience store, Eve is about ready to start high school carrying some unwanted weight.  Fast food and junk food were plentiful in a convenience store, and Eve ate her fair share.  Now she is barely fitting into her baggiest jeans and raiding her father's closet for shirts that will cover up her bulging tummy.

On the first day of school, Eve overhears Zoe describing her as a "blob".  It's upsetting but mostly because Eve realizes she might be right. 

Using the wonderful world of the internet, Eve finds a diet that looks promising.  Day 1 - eat as much fruit as you want.  Day 2 - eat as many veggies as you want.  It doesn't look too bad until Day 4 - eat only bananas and drink milk.  Eve thinks bananas are ok, but she hates milk.  She gives the diet a try, but all she thinks about is food, food, and more food.  When she finds herself beginning to cheat, she gives up.

Can her mother's compliments and encouragement keep her on track?  Maybe joining the Mentor Club will give her the incentive to lose those unwanted pounds. 

BLOB by Frieda Wishinsky examines a very common struggle.  Everyone seems to battle the issue of weight at least once in their life.  Teens are especially vulnerable to the peer pressure associated with looking just right.  Wishinsky's character feels the frustration of dieting but learns to handle her situation in a healthy way, both physically and mentally.  She provides teens with a positive role model for dealing with a weight issue.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

COMEBACK by Vicki Grant

Ria's perfect world is crumbling around her.  It comes as a total shock when she hears her parents are divorcing.  Sure, her father was usually busy with his career as a stockbroker, but now she's living with her mother and her little brother and only seeing her father on the weekends.

Shortly after the separation, Ria's dad shows up at her school driving a vintage convertible.  He offers her and her boyfriend a ride, and after returning them to school, even offers to let the kids use the car for the weekend.  That's the last time she sees him before she learns he has disappeared in a plane crash.

Thinking he is dead is a big enough shock, but then Ria starts learning further information that indicates he may not have been the father she has grown to know and love.  News of his disappearance is included in all the news broadcasts, and people she's thought of as family friends and acquaintances are making strangely rude remarks. 

Ria's reaction to all the chaos is to pack up her little brother and run.  With only pocket money and a tank of gas, she takes off without a thought as to where they will go or how they will survive.

Author Vicki Grant takes readers on a frightening ride in COMEBACK.  She captures the disappointment and frustration Ria feels when the life she's always known takes a dramatic turn.  This fast-paced read is perfect for reluctant readers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

WICKED GIRLS by Stephanie Hemphill

If you are looking for a story about some of the original "mean girls", look no further.  WICKED GIRLS by Stephanie Hemphill is about a group of young girls in Salem, Massachusetts, who began identifying their own village neighbors as witches.  They accused many and the result was the hanging deaths of countless innocent victims.

Led by Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott, and Ann Putnam Jr., this group of girls, aged 8-18, devised a game to accuse various village members of witchcraft.  The girls became known as the Seers and were said to be afflicted and given to fits and fainting whenever a witch was present.  The girls all reported pinches causing bruises and welts, saying those they accused had used the Devil's power to inflict the injuries.

Amazingly, the men of the village church and the village council believed the girls and set about holding hearings and trials for the accused.  Upon the testimony of the girls, innocent people were found guilty, imprisoned, and later put to death.

According to Hemphill's author's note, research didn't really reveal the reason behind the girls' plan so in this fictionalize account, she speculates as to the motivations for their behavior.  Much like modern day, the story illustrates the power of the bully and the mindless followers that become part of such groups.

Readers interested in this era of our history will find the book a unique presentation of the topic.  Even if history is not a reader's area of interest, the story is still a fascinating one.   Written in verse that alternates from one girl to the next, WICKED GIRLS presents the events of a year in a small village and the amazing craziness that will forever be known as the Salem Witch Trials.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Check out the new contest.  I ran across these two books while cleaning some bookshelves.

Would you like to win them both?  If so, just follow the simple directions below and they could be yours!
+2 if you are already a follower
+1 for becoming a new follower
+3 what's the best book you've read so far this spring

*Don't forget to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win.
**Only U.S. entries please.
***DEADLINE - May 5

Saturday, April 24, 2010

WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan

Seeing the name of either of these authors on a book cover would have me heading to the nearest bookstore, but to see them both - Wow! I simply couldn't wait to read this one.

Will Grayson would love a girlfriend.  His best friend since elementary school is a guy named Tiny and he's anything but - tiny that is.  Together they have a friend named Jane.  Tiny has thought for a long time that Will and Jane would be good together, but being gay and have pretty awful luck in his own love life doesn't exactly qualify him to know what's best.

Will Grayson would love a boyfriend.  He is friends with Maura, but is about to find out she is guilty of a huge lie that is going to result in his humiliation.  His life is complicated - no father figure, an over-protective mother who doesn't know her son is gay, and a tendency toward chronic depression which so far fairly manageable with medication. 

Yes, there are two Will Graysons.  Hard to believe, but within driving distance of Chicago, there are two teens named Will Grayson, both struggling with issues of love and friendship.  Only Green and Levithan could come up with something so unique.

WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON starts out as a novel about frustrated love, but it turns into something much bigger.  Both Graysons learn the importance of good solid, dependable friendships when it comes to surviving everything life sends your way.  Told in alternating personalities, the story unfolds in bits and pieces and when it connects, becomes absolutely amazing.  In my humble opinion, this is the best for both authors and how cool that it all happens in one book.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LAWN BOY RETURNS by Gary Paulsen

LAWN BOY RETURNS is the sequel to Paulsen's hilariously funny LAWN BOY.  The same cast of wonderful characters returns to continue Lawn Boy's unique business venture.  There's his wacky Grandmother, Arnold his stockbroker, Joey Pow the prize fighter, Pasqual his business partner, and many more.

The whole thing started with an old riding lawn mower that belonged to his grandfather, and what started as an attempt to earn money for a new inner tube for his bike tire, became an amazing business that has made him rich beyond his wildest dreams.

In this new adventure the lawn mowing continues, but new situations develop at every turn.  More people are hired to help run the growing enterprise and keep track of the money and off-shoots of the company.  Lawn Boy's parents seem to have taken off on a well-deserved vacation, but while they are gone he is faced with the threat of law suits and possible tax problems.  It's almost more than he can handle.

Author Gary Paulsen writes part two of this crazy adventure with one eye on humor and another on presenting some interesting business information.  Readers will be entertained, but at the same time, benefit from witnessing the ambition and entrepreneurial skills of Lawn Boy and his business associates.  It was great fun reading the first book, and this one didn't disappoint.

Monday, April 19, 2010

HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE by Dana Reinhardt

HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE by Dana Reinhardt is a fun book.  It has a little bit of everything - romance, generous community service-type work, and plenty of family issues.  I borrowed it from the public library but quickly decided I needed to purchase a copy for my classroom.

Harper has found a way to escape the problems she doesn't want to face at home.  Her mother died when she was two, and she freely admits she doesn't remember much about her.  Her family problems involve her father remarrying, bringing a terrific step-mother and several siblings into Harper's life, and then messing things up enough to cause a divorce that took all those things away.  Dealing with the new form her family relationships are taking is more than Harper can handle at the moment.

Summer is just beginning and so is a unique opportunity for Harper.  She is headed from her home in California to Tennessee where she will be helping a family rebuild their home after a devastating tornado.  It's hard to believe she would be swinging a hammer and using power tools to create a house from the ground up.

Harper's experience is one she will never forget.  She not only learned about what it takes to build a house, but she also made terrific new friends, met a great guy, and came to better understand the events that so recently changed her life.

Author Dana Reinhardt creatively combines the Tennessee building project with the troubles Harper is facing at home by alternating scenes from both locations.  She fills out her cast of characters with a variety of easy to relate to teens who have also given their summer to help those in need.  Readers will find the novel entertaining and at the same time informative as it showcases the benefits of community service.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


After reading MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD for the Cybils, I was really interested when given the chance to review THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS.  As much as I liked MARCELO, I absolutely loved DEATH WARRIORS.

It's the story of an unlikely friendship.  When Pancho's father dies, he is left to take care of himself and his sister.  Rosa works at a nearby restaurant, but her simple mind requires that someone look out for her.  Pancho does his best, but she meets a man at the diner and one night she is found murdered.  Now Pancho is out for revenge.

When the social service people discover that Pancho is alone, they hustle him off to an orphanage where he meets D.Q.  D.Q. is in a wheelchair due to weakness caused by a rare form of cancer.  For some reason D.Q. attaches himself to Pancho.  He arranges for Pancho to be his aide.  Pancho finds himself going everywhere with D.Q., seeing to his needs, and listening as the kid babbles on about something he is writing called the Death Warriors Manifesto.

Revenge for his sister death fills Pancho's thoughts, but the constant presence of D.Q. put any plans he has on hold.  Almost before he knows what's happening, Pancho is accompanying the cancer patient to the hospital for a special round of experimental chemo-therapy.  He has agreed to stay with D.Q. through the treatment and recovery and their friendship grows.

Author Francisco Stork takes readers into the lives of two young people struggling with problems bigger than most adults deal with.  Stork's crisp, clear writing transported me directly into their lives.  Seeing their bravery in the face of difficult circumstances made their story a riveting and inspiring read experience.  THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS is not afraid to deal with some major life issues such as abandonment, the different meanings of love, quality of life decisions, and facing death.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


UNWIND by Neal Schusterman
GODLESS by Pete Hautman
TWISTED by Laurie Halse Anderson
CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins
A HERO TYPE by Barry Lyga
FAB 5 by Mitch Albom
BULL RIDER by Suzanne Morgan Williams
COUNTERFEIT SON by Elaine Marie Alphin
THE BAT BOY by Mike Lupica
RAIDERS NIGHT by Robert Lipsyte
BOY TOY by Barry Lyga

Keep watching for a list of what the girls like.


Today is Operation TBD!  How did you celebrate?

The Jr. Volunteer Club at my school collected new or gently used kids books.  The total donation was about 70 books!

We donated the books to the Department of Human Services office in our area.  They have them in their lobby/waiting area, and according to the thank you note they sent, kids of all ages are already selecting books and taking them home to enjoy.  Hopefully, we can donate even more next year.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR grabbed my attention right from the start.  The main character, known for her up-beat, always optimistic view of life, jumped right off the page.

Her name is Amber Appleton, and though life is most definitely not giving her a fair shake at the moment, she is making the best of what she has.  Since leaving her mother's boyfriend's apartment, she and her mother have been living on Hello Yellow.  It took me a bit, but I soon figured out they were living on a school bus.  It's the bus her mother drives every day. 

Seventeen, homeless, and living on a school bus with her alcoholic mother seems like it would be the worst thing ever, but Amber doesn't see it that way.  She is doing well in school and hoping to attend college.  She has a support system that includes her four video game playing friends, an attorney who keeps her clean and fed, and a Korean Catholic priest who helps her keep the faith.  There is also Bobby Big Boy a tiny dog Amber rescued from certain death in a shoebox she found on the street.

Amber prides herself on giving people hope.  She does everything from volunteer at a nursing home to simply wishing everyone she passes a good day.  That is until she experiences a tragedy that threatens to ruin it all.  How can she carry on with a positive outlook and hopeful spirit when the worst thing possible has happened?

Author Matthew Quick uses a combination of humor, quirky characters, and inspiring events that will touch every reader's emotions.  I challenge anyone to read SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR and not come away with a smile and a decision to make the best of what they have just like Amber Appletooooooooon.

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for supplying the Advanced Reader Copy of this book.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR by Matthew Quick is really great, but my eyes are crossing and I don't want to miss any of it. 

I think the time has come to sleep.

There's some free time on my schedule tomorrow so I may just finish things up then.



Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?
2. How many books have you read so far?
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I'm really enjoying the one I'm reading right now.  Quirky and fun.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Well, since it's my birthday, I just informed everyone this was how I was celebrating.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
The interruptions have been of my choosing - putting in a few loads of laundry, taking out the dog, and cooking supper (but with the technical miracle of the oven timer, I could just relax and read until the "ding")
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
How much I would like to check out the hourly posts, but how much I want to keep reading because I feel like I'm cheating.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Can't imagine anything could be any better.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Next year I will definitely tell my students about it.  I'm sure a few would participate.
9. Are you getting tired yet?
The words are beginning to blur a bit so I'm taking a wee break.
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Keep the snacks coming and send your husbands out golfing for the afternoon.

BOOK #3 - CHELSEY by Chelsey Shannon

CHELSEY is the last book I'm reading in the Louder Than Words series. 

Chelsey Shannon lost her mother to cancer years ago, and since then it has just been she and her father against the world.  Their already positive relationship became even more important as they struggled to overcome tragedy.

Now Chelsey is fighting the same battle, but this time she is alone.  Just before her fourteenth birthday, her father is shot and killed by a burglar.  His senseless death changes Chelsey's life forever.  Now an orphan, she must find a place with one of her remaining relatives and try to carry on. 

Chelsey tells the story of the grief and gradual recovery process as she leaves her family home, adjusts to a new school and life with her aunt.  There are definitely difficult stretches, but Chelsey optimistically describes the new and different things she discovers about herself and her abilities as she moves on with her new life.

I would still say that I enjoyed MARNI the best of the three books in this series, but they all have strengths that make them excellent for teens.  Another reader mentioned there will soon be a 4th book available in the series.

BOOK #2 - MARNI by Marni Bates

MARNI is another book from the Louder Than Words series.  Marni's story touched me even more than the previous book.

Marni goes back to her early childhood to begin her story.  She remembers parts of it fondly, while other parts, not so much.  Her parents' divorce she explains didn't really bother her since her father was busy at work and only breezed through now and then to act as head-of-household.

Despite an excellent relationship with her mother, troubles for Marni began in middle school.  The clique mentality and cruel treatment of the early teen years did not set well with her.  She became isolated and depressed.  After a few years in a group homeschooling environment, Marni started feeling a bit more confident.

It was as she reentered public school at the local high school that Marni found a way to relieve her stress.  She began to pull out her hair.  First, it was her eyebrows, but it gradually came to include her eyelashes and her actual hair.  Afraid to confess her compulsive habit, she carried on for years before getting the help she needed.

Marni's voice comes through with passion and pain, but at the same time, humor, as she tells her story.  I found her personality captivating by the end of the first page.  This is an excellent book for teens in general, and especially for those battling their own personal issues.



My middle school humor makes me giggle about the image of flying panties and the idea of sending mine off to my favorite author.  So here goes....

I'd have to send my panties to Joan Bauer author of books like BACKWATER, HOPE WAS HERE, RULES OF THE ROAD, and BEST FOOT FORWARD. 

Her strong female characters would be all about flinging those panties hither and yon.  They wouldn't let color, size, or those embarrassing set-in stains stop them.  Go Girls!

Challenge courtesy of

BOOK #1 UPDATE - EMILY by Emily Smucker

Book #1 is finished. 

EMILY by Emily Smucker

This book is from a series called Louder Than Words.  The blurb on the back states "Because Truth Is More Fascinating Than Fiction".  I first heard about these books in a blogger review.  They looked interesting so I ordered three.  My goal today is to read all three.

EMILY is about Emily Smucker, a Mennonite girl from Oregon.  She has always been prone to mysterious illnesses.  Her friends and family often refer to these bouts of sickness as "Emily flu". 

Her most recent sickness seems to be hanging on longer than usual.  School has started and she's missing most of it.  This is her senior year at a nearby Mennonite school, and even though her father is one of the teachers, it is looking doubtful that she will graduate on time.

After endless blood tests, doctors have determined that Emily probably has the West Nile virus.  Knowing what it is seems like it would be good news, but the bad news is there is no cure.  Patients eventually recover, but there is no predictable timeline or treatment to speed the healing process.

In her book Emily shares more than a year of her life as she struggles to keep up with normal activities and remain positive.  Thanks to family, friends, and her faith, Emily is hopeful about her future.


I'm a few minutes late.  I was checking Facebook messages and found one from one of my students asking "what is a read-a-thon?"  Had to take a minute to answer.

Here are my answers to the Hour 1 Challenge:

Where are you reading from today?

     I'm in Michigan in a comfy chair in my livingroom.
3 facts about me …
     I'm an 8th grade teacher.
     I'm a slow reader. :-(
     My friends shake their heads about all the time I spend reading.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
     Right now five.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
   To read three books I've had for a while but haven't had time to read.  EMILY by Emily Smucker is one of the first ones.  Supposedly nonfiction experiences of a real teen. 

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?

Friday, April 9, 2010


It's time to get some sleep so I can start reading in the morning. 

I've got a small stack of books ready and waiting, but I'm also hoping to get a box of review books in the mail tomorrow.  If they get here, my choices will be unlimited!

Watch throughout the day and night for updates and some quick reviews.

Oooooo!  I'm excited!

PAPER DAUGHTER by Jeanette Ingold

Her father would be so proud; at least that's what Maggie Chen hopes.  He was a great newspaper reporter, and now Maggie has a coveted intern position at a local newspaper. 

It hasn't been a year since Maggie's father, Steven Chen, was killed by a hit and run driver.  The story is that he was lost and attempting to find his way home from a reporting assignment.  Now Maggie has a chance to move on and focus on something productive and at the same time follow in her father's reporter footsteps.

Her mother, busy teaching at the local university, thinks Maggie should relax this summer and have fun.  She doesn't seem to want to listen as Maggie tells her how much this internship means, and besides, her friends are all off having their own summer experiences and aren't available to hang out.  As she heads off for her first day, she hopes this summer will open new doors and help her feel even closer to her father.

The first day on the job doesn't go well, but Maggie is determined to prove herself.  Her hard work pays off when she is sent on assignment with another reporter.  Together they begin to unravel a mystery at city hall involving the planning commission and a contractor who may have connections to an unsolved murder.  The catch is Maggie's father seems to be connected, too.

Author of PAPER DAUGHTER, Jeanette Ingold, creates a story-within-a-story.  Maggie Chen is excited to prove herself as a future news reporter, and at the same time readers learn about her father's possible secret past.  As the current scandal in city government is uncovered, another mystery makes itself known.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

SPLIT by Stefan Petrucha


This book is going to be popular with readers into computers, future technology, secret spy missions, and music.  In other words, many readers are going to like SPLIT by Stefan Petrucha.

Wade's life has been split by the death of his mother and the gradually deteriorating relationship with his father.  Part of him wants to continue being the good student, straight arrow that his mother would be proud of, but the other part of him would like to escape into a world of music and carefree living.

SPLIT is a direct reflection of Wade's two very different worlds.  Written from two perspectives - the Wade who hangs out at The Rat and thinks about his music 24/7, and the Wade who focuses on his high-tech interests and becoming successful - gives this book a unique plot.  The catch is that both Wades become involved in the same criminal conspiracy.  These parallel stories offer plenty of action, CIA-type intrigue, and dangerous rendezvous situations that make it a fun, fast read.

This is my first exposure to author Stefan Petrucha, but I'll be looking for more of his work on my next trip to the bookstore.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

SING ME TO SLEEP by Angela Morrison

I first discovered author Angela Morrison when I was given a copy of TAKEN BY STORM as part of my reading list for the Cybils Awards.  As I read it, I remember thinking is was a perfect love story for my teenage students, and it has been just the hit I thought it would be.

When one of my students asked if we could contact Ms. Morrison for a possible interview as part of a class book project, I was glad to help out.  The reply we got was a positive one - she was not only willing to be interviewed about her first novel, but also offered to send us a copy of her latest called SING ME TO SLEEP.  It arrived just the other day and became the first book on my spring break reading list.  Thank you, Angela.

SING ME TO SLEEP is another love story.  This time the focus is on Beth.  She has the misfortune of bad hair, unsightly acne, and Coke-bottle glasses that have earned her the nickname The Beast.  Her one loyal friend since pre-school is Scott.  He tries to convince her that her appearance doesn't matter, but she knows his lame lectures about its what's inside that counts just don't make up for the teasing taunts she faces daily.

To maintain her sanity, Beth puts all her energy into singing.  She has a beautiful voice with great range and perfect pitch.  She sings in the high school choir and also travels an hour and a half south through Detroit to participate in a girls' choir in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  At one fateful rehearsal she surprises her fellow choir members when she is asked to step in and replace the usual soloist.  She is fabulous!  The next thing she knows, she is going to be performing at a world choir competition in Switzerland.

Several of the choir members decide to give Beth a makeover.  After acne treatments, highlights and a new hairstyle, and laser eye surgery, Beth is a real beauty.  She can't believe what she sees in the mirror. However, for her, the beauty still remains only skin deep.  Underneath, she still feels like The Beast.

The chance to sing to a worldwide audience is not the only thing that's changing for Beth.  Her relationship with Scott seems to be taking on new meaning.  There are feelings erupting that don't seem appropriate for a long-time friendship like theirs.  There isn't much time to examine it, though, with preparations for the big competition and some amazing attention from another very attractive guy in a competing choir.  Things may be happening way too quickly for Beth.

SING ME TO SLEEP will grab readers by the end of the Prologue.  Beth is the kind of character who deserves a makeover and someone to love.  She is a great singer, but having lived in the shadows so long, she doesn't let it go to her head.  She remains likeable throughout which will have readers crossing their fingers for a "dream come true" ending.  There is just enough suspense built in to keep the pages turning as Beth goes through her transformation and her rise to choir stardom.  Just released on March 10, be sure to get your hands on SING ME TO SLEEP, and thank you again to Angela Morrison for providing my students with a copy.


If he hadn't been determined to help runaway slaves, he would still be alive.  That's why CeCe McGill hates abolitionists.  Her father devoted his life and their home to giving aid as part of the Underground Railroad, but it was also what ended his own life when he was shot.  His death left CeCe an orphan. 

When CeCe's uncle, a doctor and an artist, arrives after her father's death, she is nervous about leaving the only home she's ever known to live with him in Ohio.  It doesn't take long for her to realize he has a kind and gentle soul.  So why is it a surprise when she learns he is an abolitionist just like her late father? 

The difference is that CeCe finds herself more directly involved in the abolitionist movement.  Uncle Alex and his assistant, a young, black college student, are planning a trip to the South.  Uncle Alex wants to study rare birds, and his assistant wants to research the institution of slavery for her studies at Oberlin College.  CeCe is invited along for the adventure.

The three travelers must adhere to the behaviors and customs of the South.  Uncle Alex's assistant, Earline, will be assuming the role of slave, and CeCe and her uncle must act in character as her owner and mistress.  If they are discovered, the punishment could result in death.  CeCe is well aware that her uncle will be doing more than just searching for the scarlet ibis know as the Ever-After bird.  He will also be helping point slaves in the direction of freedom.

CeCe's adventure is filled with educational opportunities as she learns about the world of rare birds and the workings of slavery.  She sees the hope of freedom, but it is often colored with the tragedy of abusive treatment and even death.  All she hopes is that they survive and, in some small way, make the world a better place.

Ann Rinaldi is well-known for her historical fiction.  THE EVER-AFTER BIRD paints a unique picture of slavery in the South, and the fight fought by brave individuals who wanted to see its end.  Her descriptions compare the gentle refinement of the South with the startling reality of life behind the grand plantation houses and blooming magnolia bushes. 


What better way to celebrate my birthday!! I'm going to read, read, read!!!

I just signed up for the 24-Hour Read-a-Thon.  This will be a first for me.  I can't wait to get started.  Now all I have to do is start gathering some good reads.