The Book Bag (#6): Suck It Up


Hello and welcome to The Book Bag! Today, we’re reaching all the way to the bottom! Hey, kids, do you like vampires? You do? Great! Do you like clever authors? You do? Great! Do you like funny stories that have suspense and action? You do? Great! This book has all of that!

 

Suck It Up is a YA book created by Brian Meehl. You may recognize his name from Between The Lions, The Magic School Bus, and several Jim Henson productions. I am not afraid to admit that while reading this book, I was so happy, that I checked to see who wrote it and squealed in delight upon seeing what he worked on.

 

Anyway, the book stars Morning McCobb. Our alliterative protagonist has just graduated from a school for vampires. He gets picked by the headmaster for a very special purpose. You see, the school trains vampires to fit in with human society. The only stereotypically evil vampire are called The Others. The headmaster wants Morning to be the first vampire to actually come out as a vampire instead of masquerading as a human.

 

The cast of characters includes Morning, a vegan who wants to be a firefighter/superhero, Penny, who is his publicist, Portia, Penny’s daughter who wants to film something great enough to earn her a scholarship to a film college, Birnam, who is the headmaster and leader of the project, and DeThanatos, our aptly-named villain of the story. He sees Morning revealing his powers and wants to kill him for violating the “old ways.”

 

Suck It Up is hilarious. I love the writing style, I love the characters, I love the humor- I just love this book! It made me feel happy to read it. I can’t think of an accurate way to describe it. I really wish that it had a sequel, and it does! During my research for this review, I found out that he made one. Yes! I can’t say it enough times: I love this book. Please, please, please check it out from your local library or buy it. It’s worth buying. I can’t think of anything that I disliked about it.

 

I’m Zachary Krishef, and I hope that you have an excellent day. I have a book to put on hold.

 

Suck It Up by Brian Meehl

Reviewed by Zachary Krishef

Ask me questions on TV Tropes, my blog, or here! My troper handle is MiscellaneousSoup.

Next Time: I’m going to go over the Lorien Legacies series and deliver my thoughts. NO spoilers will be revealed!

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The Book Bag (#5): Hank The Cowdog


Hello and welcome to The Book Bag! Today, we’re reaching all the way to the bottom! During my research for this review, I found out that Hank The Cowdog is more popular than I thought. The author, John R. Erickson actually lives on a ranch and presumably draws from his own experiences for the stories. He wanted the stories to be read aloud to children. Additionally, some Hank The Cowdog books are specifically made just for an audiobook. Also, some of Hank’s adventures have been turned into stage plays! The series officially started in the nineteen-eighties. Some of the books were animated for CBS. Did this newfound knowledge make me biased in reading three of the books? No, because I did my research after reading the books!

 

To begin, even if you don’t count the exclusive audio books, musical CDs, or plays, there’s still sixty-nine books in the series. Normally, I would read every book in the series in order to do a proper retrospective, but that may be challenging in this case. Despite that, this isn’t necessarily a retrospective. I consider it to be similar to my first review, Ungifted, where I go over a series that I liked as a child to see if it still holds up now. That being said, I went to my local library, found the books, and selected three of them: The Case Of The Missing Bird Dog, The Case Of The Mysterious Voice, and The Case Of The Perfect Dog.

 

The series follows the adventure of Hank, a cowdog. He believes that he is the Head of Ranch Security. Oftentimes, his missions and adventures can translate to accidentally ruining a flower bed or eating a cake left out for a guest. He’s goofy but means well. Pete the Cat is one of his many enemies. Recurring character Beulah is his love interest…sort of. She always rejects him.

 

I loved them. The series is just as imaginative and clever now as it was in my elementary school years. Every character has unique actions and voices. Drover is the cowardly sidekick, Hank believes that he’s some kind of spy/cowboy (cowdog?), Pete the Cat is a jerk, Sally May yells at Hank for messing things up, and Slim and Loper are mildly incompetent.

 

The humor is superb. In almost every book, Hank comes up with some kind of song or poem based on a recent event. Typically, they’re bad. Also, he tends to fall asleep in random situations, almost like he snork pork chop gravy wink snx zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Yeah, basically like that.

 

If I could name anything negatives, it would be that some parts can feel slightly repetitive. Additionally, this might be because I want to read more, but the books are too short. Oh, well, I can’t wait to go back to the library and find more of the books. Better yet, I could dig up my old copies of them! To the bookshelves!

 

I’m Zachary Krishef and I hope that you have an excellent day.

 

Hank The Cowdog by John R. Erickson

Reviewed by Zachary Krishef

 

Ask me questions on TV Tropes, my blog, or here! My troper handle is MiscellaneousSoup.


Next Time: I’m going to review a story about vampires. Hooray!

The Book Bag (#4): “Something Real” and “Reality Boy”


Hello and welcome to The Book Bag, where we’re reaching all the way to the bottom! Last time, I reported that I found two oddly similar books at the library. Here’s the backstory. I was searching through the section for new teen books and I found a fictional book about a teen who was scarred by being on a reality show as a child. Some time later, I found a different book about a teen who was scarred by being on a reality show as a child. The authors were different, the main characters were different, the plots just happened to be similar. Instantly, I knew that I had to compare these books in a review. It’s time for “Book Vs. Book!” I’m focusing on Reality Boy and Something Real.

 

Firstly, Reality Boy. This book was incredibly hard to read. I can’t empathize that enough. Our protagonist’s home life is horrible. His parents are neglectful, his sister is a sociopath, and he has anger issues. I am not sure how realistic the portrayal was, never having had anger issues. I can say that he feels angry for most of the book, he has fantasies about killing people who anger him, and certain other things that might spoil the ending.

 

This book is incredibly hard to read. The fragile state of the main character’s mind, the disturbing family, and the way that the universe’s show was created horrified me. I needed to go to Gersday several times during the reading of this book. You’ll get the reference when you read the book.

 

Secondly, we have Something Real. Our protagonist, Chloe (formerly Bonnie™) Baker has had four years of relaxation. No cameras in her face, no manufactured drama, and no manipulating directors. She’s going by Chloe to avoid getting recognized and Baker’s Dozen is off the air. Freedom for all? NOPE! She goes home to see that the cameras are back. Baker’s Dozen: A Fresh Batch has come for her. Chloe goes on a mission to either avoid being seen by the cameras for as long as possible or to finally be free of the reality show, all while trying to maintain a normal life. This includes keeping her friends and her new crush.

 

Both of these novels are outstanding. However, does the fact that Reality Boy is more dramatic than the more comedy-focused Something Real make it a better book? Absolutely not! They are both entertaining, heartfelt, and sad. I highly recommend that you turn off your computer, go to the library, and get these books. If you can’t get them, put them on hold. These books have actually managed to sway my opinions. I never really liked reality television in the first place but now I hate it. I want to see if the tactics mentioned in both books really are used in actual reality tv.

 

To wrap things up, a small warning guide, just in case. Reality Boy has graphic violence, disturbing thoughts, sexual content (in the case of one character), and, to be frank, abuse. Something Real has suicide references and possible abuse.

 

I’m Zachary Krishef, and I hope that you have an excellent day.

 

Reality Boy by A.S. King

 

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

 

Reviewed by Zachary Krishef

 

Ask me questions on TV Tropes, my blog, or here! My troper handle is MiscellaneousSoup.


Next Time: Once again, I’m going over one of my favorite childhood book series. Get some rope, a few cattle, and watch out for Hank The Cowdog!

The Book Bag (#3): Eat, Brains, Love


Hello and welcome to The Book Bag! Today, we’re reaching all the way to the bottom! A zombie love story is preposterous, you say? My sister scoffed at the idea. I wasn’t shocked because I like unconventional ideas. It’s time to enter the world of Eat, Brains, Love! Here’s the backstory. It will clear some items up.

 

Firstly, there’s a secret government organization dedicated to hunting down zombies, eliminating them, and using various methods to make people think that something else happened. For instance, let’s say that a zombie attacks your Chihuahua at a dog park. You see that it’s a zombie. After the agents arrive, they might use a telepath to make you see the memory as a large dog or erase it as a whole. Cass, one of our protagonists, is one of the only teenage recruits. She is one of the said telepaths.

 

After that, you get Jake and Amanda. Amanda appears to be the stereotypical popular girl at school while Jake is, essentially, a stoner. I’m not entirely clear as to the definition of the term, but from what I’ve heard, it seems to be accurate. They suddenly turn into zombies and eat their classmates in the school cafeteria. My copy of the book had a version of the cover with the title created out of a scattered lunch plate. I like to think that during that gruesome attack, someone randomly threw their food into the air and it magically turned into the image on the cover. They must go on the run to avoid being caught and killed, while slowly falling in love.  Who’s tracking them? Cass!

 

Eat, Brains, Love is a surprisingly good book. Not having read many zombie-themed books, I was expecting a typical plot with some unusual elements. I received an atypical plot with, well, some unusual elements. The zombies in this are very different from the standard zombies that you can find in the media. Of course, seeing as my only knowledge of zombies comes from a different teen book series and Scooby-Doo, you most likely know more than me. I highly recommend this book. The characters are appealing, especially the antagonist, and the plot is astoundingly good. On the negative side, it does end on a slightly abrupt note, but it should be noted that I did not know that a sequel was being made. Perhaps the ending is still a mite sudden even with that, but that’s a matter of opinion. Lastly, the book is very gory. If you, like myself, do not have a high tolerance for gore, then be careful when reading this book. Surprisingly, I was hardly grossed out. Additionally, there’s some foul language and mature references. Definitely a book for adults, teens, or little kids! (Well, maybe not little kids.) In my mind, Eat, Brains, Love gets nine zombie attacks out of ten! I am eagerly anticipating the sequel, Undead With Benefits. Jeff Hart is an excellent author.

 

I’m Zachary Krishef. Have an excellent day and don’t get bitten by any zombies.

 

Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart

Reviewed by Zachary Krishef

Visit me at http://www.miscellaneoussoup.wordpress.com! My reviews are also posted there!

Ask me questions on TV Tropes, my blog, or here! My troper handle is MiscellaneousSoup.

Follow Jeff Hart on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hart_jeff! He’s a really nice person!

Next Time: I went to the library and picked up a host of new reading material. As I was browsing, I found two books that I knew I had to review. Next time, a new segment will be introduced! “Book Vs. Book”, wherein I compare two books with similar premises. The other reviewing options will have to wait! Also, I am going to post my reviews once a week, instead of every day. Posting them almost every day was a trial run.

The Book Bag (#2): The Fault In Our Stars


Welcome to The Book Bag, and, today, we’re reaching all the way to the bottom! See the title? It’s shameless click bait! Well, not really. I couldn’t decide what to do for my second review. There’s so many books that I love to read! Still, the movie came out recently, so this seems appropriate.

I have a story. When I first read The Fault In Our Stars, I had no idea who John Green was. I randomly picked it up during the summer or early fall, if I’m remembering it correctly. Now, I had been watching the Vlogbrothers’ videos for some time. I didn’t connect the John Green in the videos with the author until I saw one where he explicitly mentioned being an author. I frantically scrambled to find all of his books. A couple of weeks ago, my sister graciously lent me her friend’s copy of the book and I finally reread it.

 

For those of you who don’t know, The Fault In Our Stars is, essentially, a teen romance novel. The twist comes from the two main characters having cancer. I highly enjoyed the book. It is very sad, and very well-written. I could see the main characters being real people. None of the events seemed contrived or unrealistic, as far as I could tell. Well, besides the artistic license with the medicine, that is.

 

It is an amusing book, like a lot of John Green books. It made me laugh at some jokes that, in any other show or book, might have made me cringe. I can’t think of a lot of things to say about The Fault In Our Stars. I would give it an eight out of ten, perhaps. It’s not my favorite book but it’s pretty darn good. I am planning on seeing the film. I’m Zachary Krishef, and I hope that you have an excellent day!

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Visit me at http://www.miscellaneoussoup.wordpress.com! My reviews are also posted there!

Ask me questions on TV Tropes, my blog, or here! My troper handle is MiscellaneousSoup.

Next Time: Grr, agh! A zombie love story is next on the metaphorical chopping block! You say it can’t be done? Maybe you’re right and maybe you’re wrong. Prepare for Jeff Hart’s Eat, Brains, Love!

The Book Bag (#1): Ungifted


Welcome to The Book Bag! Today, we’re reaching all the way to the bottom! Gordon Korman is a very distinguished author and has published over eighty books. You might recognize his work from theSwindle series, certain 39 Clues novels, Macdonald HallEverestDiveOn The RunKidnapped (Incidentally, that is a sequel to the On The Run series), Nose PickersIslands, and many more. Fun Fact: The first book in the Swindle series, Swindle, was turned into a Nickelodeon movie. My thoughts are…mixed. I will be reviewing one of his standalone books, Ungifted.

Ungifted is about a boy named Donovan who can best be described as a trickster. He is not very good at school, likes to play pranks, and appears to have poor impulse control. According to a paraphrased section, when he has an idea, he has to do it. After a very destructive accident, the superintendent mistakenly sends him to a special school for gifted students. Obviously, he isn’t gifted with the near-genius level intellects of the students who go there, hence the title, Ungifted. Once there, Donovan must hide out and not attract the attention of the superintendent. If he does get noticed, he’ll (rightfully) get in trouble for the trick.

First, the good parts. The characters are very interesting. I want to learn more about them, especially some of his new classmates. Secondly, I am engaged in the plot. Despite certain misgivings that will be described later, I really wanted to find out what was going to happen. I never wanted to stop reading the book.

Now for the bad parts. Donovan isn’t the nicest of protagonists. Some of his actions are downright mean and made me feel less sympathy for him. For example, he pretends to have A.D.D., dyslexia, and the like in order to get better grades. Speaking as someone who has A.D.D., I feel very offended by that. I know that he’s trying to stay in the school, but the reasoning behind that does not make it any better. Just take your punishment! Secondly, all of the students at the gifted school are described as being socially awkward. I don’t know if that would be true but it seems very stereotypical. As this may be either a nitpick or an error on my part, please feel free to correct me down below. Finally, the very nature of the main conflict is contrived. Many more coincidences or unrealistic actions happen constantly. Personally, it took me out of the universe. To name one, how could the teachers not realize that Dononvan isn’t actually gifted? Wouldn’t they have records of the supposed testing?

Despite my complaints, Ungifted is a fun book to read. I highly recommend it. Mr. Korman is a very popular author, so you will most likely be able to find a copy at your local library or bookstore. And remember, even if I dislike a certain book, you can still like it. I’ve disliked many books that are considered popular. I’m Zachary Krishef, and I hope that everyone has an excellent day.

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Reviewed by Zachary Krishef

Visit me at http://www.miscellaneoussoup.wordpress.com! My reviews are also posted there!

Ask me questions on TV Tropes, my blog, or here! My troper handle is MiscellaneousSoup.

Next Time: Seeing as it just came out, I think my next subject will be The Fault In Our Stars. Let’s hear it for shamelessly trying to get reviews and comments!

The Book Bag (#0): Introductions


**NOTICE: THIS IS FOR A SEPARATE BLOG. BLOG POSTS ON THAT BLOG WILL BE POSTED HERE FOR BACKUP PURPOSES.

 

 

I love to read. It is one of my favorite hobbies, along with analyzing media and writing various stories. Now, if you were to appear in my room, you would see a lot of books. A lot of books.

Piles. Stacks. Bookshelves crammed with well-loved books. Overflowing bags of library books, straps worn from being constantly carried. Any other person would say that I have too many books. Personally, I think that I have just the right amount. (In all seriousness, though, I do try to lessen my book-buying spurts. If I can get it at the library, then I don’t have to buy it.) Additionally, I consider myself a fast reader. Over Shavuot, I read ten books in one very long day.

I’m sorry if I come off as rude or pretentious. This is my first time attempting to create a TGWTG blog, so I’m trying to be as formal as possible. That was the backstory, anyway. Here’s the real point to this.