Friday, June 29, 2012
Sometimes, the boy known as Teen Boat! - because that is his name - wishes he could be a regular kid, but sometimes, having the power to turn into a boat (or just float like one) comes in handy. Smitten with a foreign exchange student, a girl named Niña Pinta Santa Maria, Teen Boat! experiences plenty of teenage trauma just walking down the halls of his school, not to mention on the docks. Faced with all of this excitement and angst, will Teen Boat! capsize or stay afloat? Tune in - er, grab the book - and find out!
With the launch of Teen Boat!, Dave Roman and John Green are sure to delight readers - and perhaps attract boating enthusiasts while they're are it. Accurately described as "half teenage drama, half nautical adventure," this graphic novel will especially appeal to twenty- and thirty-somethings with a wry sense of humor, perhaps even more than the target teen demographic.
- Teen Boat! began as a mini-comic and was honored with the Ignatz Award. - Dave Roman proposed to Raina Telgemeier through a comic based on their relationship - and she extended the comic to show her reply. You have to see this.
- John Green the comic book fellow is not to be confused with John Green the novelist. They both rock. If you're looking for John Green's art, visit johngreenart.com If you're looking for the Nerdfighter who wrote the novel Looking for Alaska, visit johngreenbooks.com You can find Dave Roman at yaytime.com
- Check out my exclusive interview with Dave Roman at Bildungsroman as part of the 2012 Summer Blog Blast Tour.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Crazy by Han Nolan
Jason's mother is dead and his father is crazy. His mother died after a suffering from a stroke and his father, who has had delusional episodes his entire adult life, is now off his meds and Jason is trying to keep it together, keep his dad fed and get him back on his meds while coping with general high school issues, and he's not handling things particularly well. One of his coping mechanisms is his audience of imaginary friends. Jason watches his life like a movie, and his inner monologue is the studio audience watching along with him.
But his coping mechanisms aren't working as his father's condition deteriorates, and Jason is assigned to a support group that meets with the school counselor and three other students. The story follows a pretty predictable arc from here (Jason learns to trust his friends, social services gets involved, etc). Crazy is a fairly typical problem novel, but that's okay. Typically, I don't enjoy these types of books. They tend to be preachy or cheesy like a Lifetime movie or overly gritty and shocking, but Nolan strikes a good balance in this story. She pulls just enough punches so the readers get a good, emotional ride through the story but aren't left completely wrecked by the end. Looking through the descriptions of her other books, it seems like they follow a similar pattern.
I read this book in two sittings. Nolan's prose is very easy to get into, and I really liked Jason's voice and the descriptions of his father's mental illness were interesting (the path his delusions followed), so while this sort of novel isn't really my cup of tea, I would definitely recommend her books to the kids at my library who like Ellen Hopkins-esque stories (although this book isn't nearly as gritty as a Hopkins book). Crazy is also one of the nominees for the 2013 Young Readers Choice Awards, so if you live in the Pacific Northwest and your school or public library participates in the YRCA program, consider checking this book out.
This is cross posted at my blog (Library Lass) Adventures in Reading.
Monday, June 25, 2012
I didn't listen to audiobooks when I was a teen, back when they were only available on cassette tapes or CDs. Technology has changed since then, and now there is also much more variety in terms of titles available to listeners.
Basically, it's a great time to be an audiobook fan.
Audiobooks extend the reading experience. A good narrator can draw you in to a story that you struggled with in print, or highlight nuances that you may have missed while reading the book. A great narration (and production) can make a good book even better, a funny book even funnier.
But maybe you haven't tried an audiobook before. Maybe you don't think it really counts as reading. Maybe some free audiobooks will change your mind?
Sync is a FREE promotion, giving away two audiobook downloads (a recent YA book and a classic) each week. This summer's first set of downloads has already expired, but a full schedule of upcoming titles is available. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud is coming up later this week, then Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood the following week, and Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant near the end of the summer, to name just three of the books that will be available.
For more audiobook suggestions, try the Audies and the Odyssey Award lists, or the monthly AudioSynced roundups at Stacked and Abby (the) Librarian. And don't forget to check out your public library's audiobook collection!
As for what I've been listening to, Susan Duerden's narration of Daniel O'Malley's The Rook is excellent (I blogged about the print book earlier this year). Also, with the last(!) Artemis Fowl book coming out next month, I've been revisiting the audiobooks, read by Nathaniel Parker. Except for his pronuncation of the name Nguyen in the first chapter of book one, I love Parker's narration. He gives each character a distinctive voice, using a variety of accents, and he really captures both the humor and adventure of Eoin Colfer's books.
If you already like audiobooks, what have you been listening to?
Cross-posted at The YA YA YAs.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Ghetto Cowboy, by G. Neri, is based on a true story of horse raising that does actually occur in North Philadelphia. Cole has never met his dad and his mom isn't thrilled with bringing him back into their lives, but it's her last option.
"He's different is all, but maybe different is what you need."
The practice of caring for horses in the city emerged a couple decades back in some of Philly's neighborhoods. One way to discourage gang violence was introducing kids and teens to horse care. The documentary program This American Life visited those neighborhoods a few years ago and shot this great film.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Since then, I've discovered that the Chinese mystery tale has a long history, particularly in drama dating back to the middle ages, and that Judge Dee isn't the only historical detective. In fact, another Judge, Judge Bao, is even more legendary: having taken on corruption, greed, and villainy at the highest levels of government, he achieved a kind of Robin Hood status, and he was immortalized as both a folk hero and central figure in Chinese prose, drama, and opera.
Now Judge Bao has been brought to America through this translation of a French graphic novel which captures all the mystery, intrigue, and flavor of those ancient tales. There's so much texture here, so much life in this wonderful package of a book, I'm excited that Archaia has committed to this otherwise odd choice for a French comics import.
When you pick up this graphic novel, it is half-sized, like many online formats, and I don't know why they've published it this way, but it gives it a fast, fun-to-hold feel. Cartoonist Chongrui Nie brings a strong Chinese tradition to the art-- each panel is heavily worked over in layers of line art on top of ink-cuts on top of brushwork. I've not seen a lot of Chinese comics, but in the ones I've seen, characters' features are always beautifully rendered, and Nie holds true to that here. It does lead to some stiff layouts, but that actually, for me, contributes to the "Chinese feel" of the comic.
The plot is convoluted, involving seemingly multiple mysteries--a falsely accused young man, a corrupt city government, a murdered handmaiden--which are tied together by the end. I say this not to disparage the work, but instead to suggest it warrants multiple readings. The story involves lots of intrigue and plotting, but it's not just a comic filled with talking heads-- Judge Bao's bodyguard/warrior friend contributes several action scenes. There is a smattering of gratuitous nudity as well, but certainly not on the level of a Vaughn Bode comic or any of the comics you'd find in a random issue of Heavy Metal years ago.
Overall, this is an exciting, handsome first volume for what I hope is a regular addition to both my mystery and graphic novel shelves.
You can check out this first volume in the series at this preview.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Since 2000, Brian Michael Bendis and a variety of artists have crafted the acclaimed Ultimate Spider-Man series. Marvel's Ultimate imprint was intended to tell more realistic stories of their iconic characters, doing away with some of the goofier aspects and convoluted history that had built up over the decades. And one aspects of this new, more real reality is, when a character dies, they aren't coming back. No more clones or alternate dimension dopplegangers--dead is dead.
This finality was brought home recently when Peter Parker was killed defending his Queens neighborhood. But his legacy lives on in the Ultimate universe, especially by inspiring a new Spider-Man, Miles Morales.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Now, thanks to reading Oliver Sacks' The Mind's Eye, I have a name for my condition. It's called topographical agnosia and I share it with Dr. Sacks himself and Jane Goodall, among many others.
Monday, June 18, 2012
After failing to be placed in the Republic's ruling class, Day becomes their worst enemy. The Republic doesn't know his name, his face or his whereabouts but they know he needs to be stopped. To help save his family from the plague, Day is causing all sorts of mischief like destroying important airfields and breaking into hospitals looking for cures. He has lived his life in the slums and his only goal is to protect his family.
June has spent her whole life in the Republic and she is becoming the perfect warrior. She is smart and being groomed to serve the Republic in the highest levels of the military. When the mysterious Day is involved in the death of her brother, she is determined to avenge his death.
June goes undercover in the dangerous world of the slums, living off the streets to hopefully find Day and bring him to justice. However, as the trap tightens around Day, June realizes the Republic may not be as innocent as she thinks.
There is some really great action scenes throughout the book and both characters are very strong and easily carry the first installment in this series. Other characters are not fleshed out very well and just serve as backdrops to the evolving relationship between Day and June. There are also not many details to the world at all. The author expects the action the hook readers into her world and for the most part, it works well. I don't read many series all the way through, since I have to keep up on so many titles, but this is one I'll definitely go for the second installment.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The short story anthology Twice 22 has a number of things going for it. First, it's a collection of Bradbury's short stories from the 1950s and 60s when he was pretty much in his stride and hitting them all out of the park. Second, when summer comes around I tend to find my attentions divided and short stories are easier to take in at once (as a side benefit, I end up reading more during the summer). Finally, specifically, this collection actually comprises the two Bradbury books I owned and read when I was in sixth grade – A Medicine for Melancholy and Golden Apples of the Sun – which combined is a pretty good place to start.
The thing about Bradbury, perhaps the most misunderstood thing about him that I suspect time will eventually correct, is that he isn't a writer of science fiction. True, he writes about space and life on mars and of a near-distant future (some of these stories take place in the early 2000s – imagine!) but the core of all these stories is the way Bradbury examines humanity. Doesn't matter whether he's writing about mail-order brides for colonists on another planet or telling of a love affair between a living dinosaur and a fog horn, in the end Bradbury's tales always leave a door open for the reader to explore their place within them.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
That actually works out well, because at least three of this collection are fantastic. The other, The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror is not one of my favorite Pinkwater books (I have many favorites.)
One of which, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death probably set me up to be disappointed by The Baconburg Horror.
His picture books are often wonderful, too. There's frequently a silliness that just makes me laugh.
Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do youWritten largely in free verse (although much of it reads like spare prose, and not actual poetry), this collection is decidedly not a hearts-and-flowers account of Happily Ever After (HEA). And it's accompanied by what appear to be cut-paper representations of many of the tales.
want to think about the world in a new way?
Come closer. Closer, please.
I want to whisper in your ear.
For instance, the first story fills you in on what happened to Cinderella's stepsisters after Cinderella moved to the castle, and it involves various forms of mutilation and wishing for death. There are other characters who don't exactly get their HEA endings either, such as the characters in Rapunzel (who knew?), the mole in Thumbelina, and the father in Hansel & Gretel (at least impliedly, based on Koertge's telling).
Some of the tales are brought forward in time to the present, such as "The Little Match Girl", which features a kid trying to sell CDs on a corner in a very bad neighborhood, Little Red Riding Hood, or "Bearskin", in which the soldier who makes a deal with the devil is a veteran from Iraq, living in the psych ward at the Veterans Administration hospital.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Author Jesse Andrews calls Me and Earl and the Dying Girl a “weird little book.” It is. But it works wonder with its weirdness.
Friday, June 8, 2012
In his play Travesties, Tom Stoppard lets his imagination run wild with a moment of 1917 in which several titanic figures of the early twentieth century found themselves in Zurich. At the intersection of Lenin just before his return to Russia, Tristan Tzara conceiving Dada, and James Joyce working on Ulysses, this is a moment just before the revolutions, political and artistic, are primed to explode.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
"When his billionaire father marries French governess Nicola Vileroy, high society is all abuzz — but Thomas, the most popular student at Marlowe, is just plain high. Ever since his girlfriend Belle dumped him, he’s been spending less time with old friends and more time getting wasted at clubs. But after someone slips him a designer drug one night — and his stepmother seems to know way too much about his private life — things really start to get scary. As Thomas’s blackouts give way to a sinister voice inside his head, and as news of a vicious hate crime has students on edge, Thomas comes to the sickening realization that Madame Vileroy has involved him in a horrifying supernatural plan. How can he muster the strength and will to stop it? The pulse-quickening climax revisits Jekyll and Hyde as a current-day cautionary tale laced with a heady dose of paranormal intrigue."- summary from Amazon
First off, let me say that while this could be read on its own, it's probably best to have read the previous two books beforehand. I read this without having read the second book because I didn't realize there was a link between the books. I just thought they were retellings of different stories focusing on different characters. While this is true, I didn't think those characters would be ones we'd seen in previous books or that characters from previous books would be involved in the current book. So that kinda threw me a little bit when I started reading since there were some spoilers from the previous books.
OK, moving on, I did still like the book though it wasn't as good as the first. I didn't feel the same connection or suspense with these characters. It was creepy and thriller-ish, sure, but that didn't necessarily morph into "I must continue to read this book!". It took me a bit of time to get through it even though it's shorter than its predecessors.
I did enjoy seeing into the history of Vileroy throughout the years, both from her own perspective and from a third person perspective, now that this is the conclusion. The climax of the book was very interesting and the ending was handled well.
Overall, while I did enjoy the book, I think it's more of a library book than one to purchase, but it is an interesting series to check out. I'll be visiting Another Pan, the second book, soon!
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Monday, June 4, 2012
Kraken, by China Mieville, is the story of a dead giant squid that's gone missing, that's disappeared entirely, tank and preserving fluid and all, from its home at the British Museum of Natural History. A police division dedicated to the investigation of religious cults (and secretly to supernatural phenomenon) interviews museum staff including Billy Harrow, the original curator of the giant squid. But the police aren't the only ones after the squid. There's also a kraken worshipping cult which believes that giant squid are kraken babies, and is furious at the animal's disappearance. And there's a powerful London crime lord who happens to be trapped in animated tattoo on another man's skin. When, against the advice of the police, Billy discusses the crime with his friends, he is drawn into a bizarre adventure that redefines his understanding of London and of reality itself.