Harris_boysI’ll be the first to admit that because of this cover and because of this title, I assumed this book was going to be about a girl who likes “dating” bad boys. I was excited to see a YA book, where a teenage girl isn’t always perfect, smart and/or shy. I was ready for a girl who plays the field, and who couldn’t care any less what other people thought of her–who was smart, but also willing to have fun and just live life. I thought this book was going to be it.

…but I assumed all of this without ever reading the synopsis.

After finally cracking it open and giving it a read, I realized just how wrong I was. This book is about ZOMBIES!! How crazy?! From now on, I will always read the synopsis and will never just assume something from the title and the cover.

Bad Taste in Boys is about a kind of nerdy girl named Kate, who was invisible before she the football team’s assistant. She’s interested in medical sciences, so she enjoys working with the injured football players, and diagnosing their pains. The popularity aspect just came along with the job.

After a long losing streak, the football team has lost all of its hopes, and team member are losing their confidence in their skills. So the coach asks Kate to give each of the players an injection of an unlabelled drug. Kate knows better than to give anyone any unlabelled drugs, so she explains to the coach that she won’t do it. Why is the coach giving the team these drugs? What are they? Are they steroids?

Kate knows she has to do something about this. But who would believe her without any sort of evidence?

Doing more research, and snooping around, Kate soon discovers that the players are starting to act really strange. The colour of their skin is changing, some of them are getting aggressive, and some aren’t even speaking English any more, but are just groaning instead. …Kate thought steroids were bad…but zombies are much worse…

Obviously this story isn’t what I expected it to be. The characters weren’t memorable, the story was a little bit hard to believe (yes, I know it was about zombies…but still). Maybe it’s because I expected the book to be something completely different, or maybe because I’m too old. But I just didn’t enjoy this one as much as I hoped.

After reading the entire story, I still don’t understand how the cover or the title tie in with the story, or has anything to do with zombies.

 



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnIt’s almost Easter, and I have to confess this recipe was one of the trickier ones I’ve put together for Cook Club! After being inspired by an extremely delish photo I found online, I set about making my own version (of what looked like a really simple recipe) to share with you guys. Alas, I need to remember things on the internet can be deceiving! But never fear, Cook Clubbers, after three trials, we now have a simple, pretty much fail-safe Easter Loaf so full of chocolatey goodness it might just send us all into a diabetic coma.

 

choc loaf 1WHAT YOU NEED:

Mixed chocolate bars. I used Cherry Ripe, Peppermint Crisp, Crunchie, Kit Kats, Wonka’s Cookie and Cream and mixed mini Easter eggs (but nothing too creamy – I made that mistake in attempts one and two). Look for bars that have colourful insides.

400g dark chocolate, chopped

50g butter, cubed

1 tin of condensed milk

A loaf tin

Grease proof paper (or similar, to line your tin)

 

choc loaf 3HOW IT’S DONE:

Prepare your chocolates by unwrapping them all, maybe cutting some in half. You’ll need to work fast so have everything handy. Line your loaf tin with cooking paper.

In a medium saucepan set to a low heat, melt butter and condensed milk together, stirring constantly. Once they’re combined, add the chopped chocolate all at once and stir like crazy. It will come together thick and fast, so use your muscles.

Once your fudge base is combined, layer it in the tin with your prepared bars and Easter eggs, giving the tin a light tap between layers to get rid of any air bubbles. Continue layering bars, fudge, bars until you fill the tin to the top. Refrigerate for 24 hours, or at least overnight. When set, turn out of tin – you might need to give it a good tap on the bottom – and slice.

**Confession – my loaf tin is quite deep, so I ended up doubling the fudge mixture. Next time, I think I’ll add more bars and less fudge.

** Don’t be afraid to experiment! I think using milk chocolate in the fudge mix would work well – dark choc made this recipe very, very rich…though my family aren’t complaining! I’d love to see what variations you guys come up with.

 

choc loaf 4

Easter Chocolate Loaf

 



lampson_juliaJoe’s twin brother, Alvin, disappeared. And with him went Joe’s tenuous grip on real life. The rest of it: the road trip, the maybe-murder, the burned-down house–all of that came later.

At eighteen, Joe is stuck in limbo. Directionless and simple, he blows through his inheritance playing poker and eats only cheeseburgers, pizza, and guacamole. Then his twin brother, Alvin, disappears–and Julia, Alvin’s tempestuous girlfriend, takes Joe on a whirlwind road trip from L.A. to Tennessee. There, he’s thrust into the dysfunctional dynamic of her wealthy family. For the first time, Joe has a job. He has a suit he wears every day. And he’s in love with a crazy, beautiful girl who only talks honestly in her sleep. Joe’s so blinded by his seductive new life that he almost misses the truth about what happened to his twin…

Maybe Joe can’t grow up–but he can love.

Paperback, 232 pages

Published February 2nd 2012 by Razorbill

 

Now here is a story that threw me for a loop. It’s a contemporary tale with a light mystery atmosphere, and it is a curious read – the main character we follow is in a limbo state, and ‘simple’ is a kind way to describe him (as the summary does). He is introduced to us about six months after his twin brother has run off with a girl. They have never been separated before, and Joe has taken to ‘speaking’ to his brother through hallucinations. He now lives with his older brother Marcus, and their personalities clash.

Joe spends his time playing poker, gambling away his $100 a day inheritance, eating at McDonalds, and wandering. Those are the only things on his mind and, when he is out of money, he wanders home. His brother, Marcus, had to raise the twins after their parents died, and is strict and always thinking about the future. His life is planned out and the fact that Joe doesn’t seem to care about anything but Alvin, frustrates Marcus no end. Alvin appears out of the blue one day and takes Joe to dinner, also inviting him to sail around the world with him. But by morning he is gone, and Julia appears. They decide that Joe will return with Julia to her home in Tennessee and work Alvin’s old pool boy job.

It seems that all of the characters are attracted to Joe because of his simplicity; he is always ready to go along with whatever is happening and only speaks up regarding his ‘special diet’ from which he will not stray. Julia likes the quiet, unassuming Joe who doesn’t judge her or ask too many questions. They fall into a romance of lazy days and comfortable, relaxing nights, which is a good way to describe the atmosphere of this story: very laid back, breezy, and uncomplicated. The story peaks towards the end as the real mystery comes to a head: where did Alvin go?

Each character introduced into the story plays a pretty major role in the plot. There are few minor characters as Joe’s world is pretty small. We get to know each of the characters well and they all come full circle as the story-lines unravel. The pacing is steady throughout and I felt like I was a part of the story, easily losing myself in the events, and sometimes feeling like I was in a dream-like state while reading.

What I liked about the story was that it was unusual. I never thought that a character who has no character could make for an interesting novel. The author pulls us in by introducing a complicated circle of ‘other’ personalities who make up for it. That is the reason I’d recommend it; I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, but this was not your usual…



lowry_the-giverJonas lives in a world without war, poverty, hunger or violence. Safety is all that he has ever known; but it is also a world without choice. All decisions are made by the Elders. From the names that the children are given, to the clothes that they wear and the careers they take on as adults, every aspect of Jonas’ life is in the hands of more qualified individuals.

When Jonas is skipped at the Ceremony of Twelve – the ceremony where he and his classmates all receive notification of their future careers – he fears the worst. What he gets is beyond anything he could have imagined. He has been chosen to be the next Receiver of Memory – an occupation that means taking all of the experiences off the current Receiver. It means being able to see in colour, being allowed to lie, and being able to experience emotions far deeper than that of anyone else in the community. What it also means is pain, loneliness, and the ability to analyse a community that might not be so perfect after all.

First published in 1993, The Giver is one of the earlier dystopian novels aimed at a younger audience. With a twelve-year-old protagonist and point of view, this is aimed at more of a middle-school age group. The themes, however, will resonate with people of any age.

The world in The Giver is a darkly fascinating and terribly believable one. A world so intent on achieving utopia that it destroys anything or anyone that deviates from the ideals set. Like any truly good dystopia, we see echoes of these sentiments in the real world. The one great lesson in The Giver is to question everything. It’s not a preachy novel, but it shows that utopia has a price – just not necessarily one paid for by the people privileged enough to live there. The importance of empathy and the dangers of being emotionally stunted to the horrors in the world is another thing that is touched on.

There are times when the world’s logistics don’t work. Mathematically, a huge proportion of women would have to be birth mothers if each couple got two children and birth mothers had three children each. It doesn’t seem as though the majority of women are birth mothers though. Aside from this, the ideals of the novel are sound.

The Giver is one of those remarkable books that leave a reader wanting more. It’s not that the book itself is not enough, but that the ideas are complex and need more room to unravel.

 

The Giver – Lois Lowry

Harper Collins (1993)

ISBN: 9780007263516



Meet another one of our wonderful staff members, Krista McKeeth. Krista is a book worm who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah and has her own website over at Cubicleblindness


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