Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daring Holocaust Story

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti is a work of historical fiction inspired by her research and writing of the acclaimed non-fiction work Hitler Youth. It tells the story of one German teenage boy, Hugo, who becomes disillusionsed with the Nazi propoganda. The loss of so many civil freedoms leaves him wondering about the true nature of the party in power. It is when he obtains a radio from his older brother and secretly tunes into a BBC broadcast in German, however, that he learns the truth: Nazis are lying to their own people about the war. This leads him to take dangerous risks that land him in prison awaiting trial. The story is told intermittently through flashbacks as he ponders his fate in prison- a technique used effectively by the author. What really hit home here is the boy's perspective. He was not one persecuted by the Nazis, but one who could have, and was encouraged, to contribute to the good of the Fatherland. His questioning of the ideals and the Nazis in addition to their techniques, allows the reader to question along with him. This book is a powerful read that has much in it to stimulate discussion or introspective reflection. Pair this with Orwell's 1984 for a really thought-provoking analysis of current government regimes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Whew!


I took my time recovering from that one! But we now have a list of 54 graphic novels for middle and high school students!
What are my favorites? Well, the ones I nominated of course! Which would be Maximum Ride, Stuff of Life, Outlaw, Emiko Superstar, Salt Water Taffy, Coraline, Amulet, and Rapunzel's Revenge. Seriously, though, I was delighted to enjoy some new nonfiction like Photographer, What It Is and The United States Constitution. New manga is always fun- check out Jyu-oh-sei and Pluto for some pretty good characterization and detailed sci-fi settings. For traditional comics, Blue Beetle: Reach for the Stars and Wolverine: Prodigal Son are both great but impart some important life lessons. Since I love re-made classics, I'll advise you to check out Fahrenheit 451, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Hound of the Baskervilles . Those were the ones we included, but by no means the full range of what's available these days in graphic novel format. Let me just add a couple not-to-be-missed titles: Good Neighbors: the Kin and Flight Vol. 5. But that's not everything- I don't know how much I missed, so check out the full list!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

43 Books in 38 Days


This is it1 The last push! Oringinally, it was going to be 45 books in 45 days, but.... I've got less than 6 weeks to go on my tour of duty with the Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List committee! But this is the hard part. I may not post much cause I should be reading. Nonetheless, I thought maybe I'd try to periodically post a good GN for you readers out there.
Last night I finished Nightschool by Svetlana Chmakova. Now with a name like that, and a manga-like novel NOT reading backwards, I wondered what the deal was. She's Russian, and I believe is now living in Canada. So this is an Original English Language manga. What we have with Nightschool is the first of what will be a series about Alex, who is weirn. What? you ask? According to the author's website, 'weirns' are a special type of witch who are born with demon guardian spirits bound to them. And they have a special school, hence Nightschool. But, they are aren't the only creatures you'll encounter in this "urban fantasy"; it's also full of vampires, vampire hunters, witches, seers, and other horrific monsters of the night. Gripping, fast-paced, and full of fantastic artwork, this graphic novel is sure to entertain you for the 30 minutes or so it'll take you to read it ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Already caught fire

Long weekend, read Catching Fire. Could NOT believe the ending. Guess I'm gonna have to read the THIRD ONE now. Don't want to say too much else right now.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Impossible" to resist


Feeling a little hole in your reading life now that you've finished the Twilight saga? Well, maybe you should try Nancy Werlin's Impossible. This is the story of cursed Lucy and her female ancestors. Imagine knowing that once you turn 18, you'll be pregnant and go insane right after giving birth to your baby girl! What would you do? What if there were three impossible tasks that might break the curse and save you? Even if you didn't believe in the supernatural being controlling the curse, would you attempt three impossible things: to make a seamless shirt without using needles, to find an acre of land between the sea and the seashore, and to sow it with only one grain of corn? Lucy is lucky though- she's always had her wonderful foster parents, and now she has her good friend and neighbor Zach whe are willing to help her. Her mother didn't have this support and didn't ask for help with the tasks, but with all four of them working on it, surely there's a way to do it all- before Lucy goes into labor!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hunger Games

Did I know they were going to make this into a movie? Did you know the second one is coming out Sept. 1?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Explosion of scifi


Man, did everyone get tired of the vampire bandwagon and jump on the science fiction wagon at the same time? It's just CRAZY how many good scifi reads are out there right now! Take the Lone Star List for this year. I THINK 7 of those titles would classify as science fiction.
I just finished a book I picked up at TLA LAST YEAR (in 08 I think) that I really liked. It's called The Sky Inside and the author is unknown to me. The society where the main character, a teenage boy, lives is a suburb inside a dome. They know nothing of the outside world. Their babies are delivered by "the stork". Most are "reproductions" of a certain person- possibly using their DNA. I can't remember the exact details, but this young generation gets referred to as freaks. They are too intellectual and curious for their "parents". Things get complicated when they are recalled, and a man comes to take them away on the train that runs through the suburb underground. The main character realizes how wrong and inhumane this is and runs away to save his sister, among the group taken away. His experiences outside the suburb, as I'm sure you can imagine, are full of wonder, shock, danger, and adventure. If you enjoyed Uglies, then this is another science fiction adventure that I'm sure you'll devour.
Check it out here:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm a slow reader

Never let that stop you. Anyway, so I finally finished a book I wanted to blog about. It's called The Ghosts of Kerfol and it's by Deborah Noyes. Technically, it's a collection of short stories, although each one is about a castle in France that's been haunted since the 1600's. The first story tells why it's haunted- the lord of the manor was a domineering man who had good reason to be insanely jealous as his young wife was in love with another. Bizarrely, he forbade her to own dogs as pets, or even care for them and strangled them whenever she dared touch one. Yeah, it's pretty dark. But these dogs, as well as other characters involved in the couple's story, continue to haunt the manor up until the last story set just a few years ago. I was really enthralled by these stories.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Black Book of Secrets

What could be more interesting to read than a book full of people's deepest, darkest secrests? That's exactly what this Black Book is- transcribed confessions for which the pawnbroker has paid. A cast of characters is paraded through as the pawnbroker and his assistant make a home in a remote mountain village: the butcher, the bookseller, the gravedigger, the priest, and the rich man who blackmails them all. As the town's secrets are slowly collected, unrest and questions begin to arise. What can the pawnbroker do to stop the blackmail? Will he use everyone's secrets agains them? Can the assistant resist reading the secrets in the book from before? This dark book will compel you to join their journey and make you examine the nature of man.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book trailer to view

If you enjoyed my review below, then watch the book trailer I made for Academy 7!

video

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One to watch

At the librarian's conference, I picked up a couple copies of Advance Reader Copies of books. Last week I finished one that was a CPID (can't put it down)! It is a science fiction story by Anne Osterlund titled Academy 7. I don't know about you, but I have noticed an alarming trend for all the great new books to be science fiction. For example, check out next year's Lone Star list. Anyway, on to the book.
The main characters are Aerin and Dane, freshmen at Academy 7 on planet Academia. The story is told alternating between the two of them as narrators. Aerin has been raised by her father on his ship, never formally educated. His death, however, landed her in a world of terrifying unknowns that are slowly revealed as the story progresses, but end in stability with her acceptance at the most prestigious school. This is where she meets Dane, her academic and combative rival. He is the unfavored son of an infamous general, who forces his son into submission using whatever means necessary. Dane's rebellious ways culminated in his acceptance at the school his father attended but since abandoned. The two are inexplicably tied to one another, in the present, the past and possibly even the future. I thinik it's gonna be a series! Lots of action to supplement the "scientific" part and the romance- this book has it all!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eternal

I have been eagerly anticipating the book I knew would follow Tantalize without being its sequel. I was so thrilled on Thursday the 12th when I learned it’d just come out finally! I ran out and got it and it was my Spring Break reading. I loved it! I thought it was better than Tantalize. I was more attached to these characters- and in love with Zachary, the fallen guardian angel of Miranda, a girl just turned into a vampire. He's trying to save her soul but he loves her and at times that conflicts him. Don't be misled though, it's a dark story that highlights the battle between good and evil. Vampirism isn't romanticized here. Think of how centuries of rich selfish bestial beings have developed a society where they are in control of vast resources. Zachary's been given the task of trying to make a dent in their cruelty.
When I read Tantalize, it seemed as if I missed things. Especially at the end- it really took me by surprise. And what a cliffhanger! I did notice that at times with Eternal, it was like things were happening in between chapters that didn't get put in the book. But much less than in Tantalize and it was more understandable considering the alternating narrators. I did wonder if maybe the publisher made the author cut out some of the writing. The ending is satisfactory in my opinion, as opposed to that of Tantalize. Some readers may not agree with me! I will be avidly awaiting the third book in the universe!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Graphic Novels

P.L.A.I.N. Janes and Janes in Love
Looking for a new kind of she-ro? Meet Jane, an ex-New Yorker living in suburbia after a homemade bomb hospitalizes her. A fellow victim helps her recuperate as he lays unconscious in the bed next to hers. After the explosion, she finds his journal titled Art Saves and grabs it for him. She hangs onto that concept as a lifeline and uses it to begin anew. As she goes to a new school full of strangers, she seeks out quiet beauty and shy students to befriend. Periodically she writes her John Doe, still in the hospital, and confesses her depressing thoughts to him. Her new friends were seemingly waiting for her to come and give them purpose. They all ate lunch together, silently, and were all named Jane. MainJane brings them all together with her plan to bring art to their boring neighborhood. Thus, People Loving Art In Neighborhoods is born. Unfortunately many see their work as vandalism. The girls must work harder and more secretly to continue their work. In the 2nd volume, they make new allies and learn a lot of lessons about love.
Maximum Ride
Well, for any of you who know my opinion of the novel Maximum Ride, you'll probably be happy to know that I am much more positive about the way the graphic novel turned out. The artist (NaRae Lee) is a Korean girl who is a university student if I'm not mistaken. To be so talented at such a young age... The main criticism I have for the graphic version is that it ends at p. 197 of the novel. That's not even halfway through the book. But I must admit, it's a fairly good place to break if you ignore the fact that the subtitle is The Angel Experiment and Angel is still inexplicably in captivity. My other criticism is that Max is blonde according to this artist. Well, there's a couple of other minor things along these lines: the way their wings disappear without the aid of large jackets, Nudge's lip color, the Erasers' appearance of inhumanity (after all, they're hybrids too). Besides all that, readers will likely enjoy the graphic novel whether or not they've read the book. It sticks very closely to the plotline of the novel, but readers must beware of going from the graphic novel to the second book of the prose series!!
In Odd We Trust
This book is another adaptation of a story from its novel. This one by adult author Dean Koontz. I don't think this series will appeal as much to young adult readers because the protagonist is 20. He "sees ghosts" which makes me wonder if the author wrote it after the movie "The Sixth Sense", but I didn't research to find out. Honestly, if you want a story of a mediator for teens, I'd suggest Cabot's Mediator series, but since this one is a graphic novel, I guess there's reason it may appeal to different readers. It's a bit hard to draw ghosts possibly, because the illustrator did not distinguish them from the other characters. It actually takes a while to see that some are indeed only viewed by the main character, Odd. I must digress here a minute to discuss the art. Oddly enough, the artist, Queenie Chan, did her own graphic novel series about ghosts-the Dreaming. I wasn't particularly enthralled with it either. I just don't like her faces, for one. That story also had a tendency to drag but have cliffhanger endings. Nonetheless, I was shocked when I recognized the style of the faces and hair in Koontz's book and found out it was the same artist. I think for this title, they shouldn't have ventured into the graphic arena. But that's just me!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why I love Scott Westerfeld

One of the coolest books I've read in a while is by one of my fave authors- Texan Scott Westerfeld. He so rocks. His book So Yesterday is about how things become popular. Well, actually, it's about a girl who goes missing and what happened to her in the world of Trendsetting New York. I was enthralled. Westerfeld works in so much into his novels- history, science... To think this book was copyrighted 2004 but was so technologically spot-on. Are we that behind in Texas? Or is it just me? The things I think of particularly here the celphone capabilities and power of blogging. I've absolutely got to quote my favorite part. It's the English teacher in me. The main character, Hunter, is being sought to join a group of trendsetting kids who are frustrated with the lack of capitalization in our society. I love this idea! Read on:
“One more word about cranks: An Innovator friend of Lexa’s had this theory that uppercase was coming back in. That all the Webby kids who’d never hit the shift key in their lives (except to type an @ sign) were about to start putting capitals at the beginning of their sentences, maybe even the first letter of their names and other proper nouns. Lexa didn’t really believe this seismic shift was imminent, but she desperately wanted it to be. Typographical laziness was slowly destroying our culture, according to Lexa and her pals. Inexactitude was death.
“I wasn’t clear on the details of her theory. But the concept behind SHIFT was that if enough Trendsetters started using capital letters in their e-mails and posts, maybe the herd would follow.
“’You haven’t joined up, have you?’
“I cleared my throat. ‘I’m sort of agnostic on the whole SHIFT agenda.’
“‘Agnostic? You mean you aren’t sure if capital letters exist?’ Lexa could be literal minded at times.
“’No, I believe in them. I’ve actually seen a few. But as far as the need for a movement goes—‘”...
p. 50-51
He cracks me up. So true, so true my friend. And does Hunter get the girl in the end? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm, to tell or not to tell? The power I wield. It does go to my head. I think I'll make you read the book to find out. We need the circulation stats.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What I Read Over Christmas Break by Cindi Rockett

Guess what I did over Christmas break? Read, of course! I made my way through many a book and I’ll give you a quick briefing in case you’re interested.
Blood relatives 2- A take off of the Vampire Kisses in graphic novel format. I reviewed the first one about this time last year. What I really like about this is that the graphic novel is a separate story. You needn’t have read the novels. Having only read the first novel, I can’t really tell you where in the big picture the two separate plotlines are in relation to each other. Well, Alexander and Raven are dating in the graphic novels- that part I do know! In #2, Raven is trying to help her boyfriend rid Dullsville of his half-vampire cousin. In order to do this, the two plot a fake map that will take him back to Transylvania, but the plot fails. Entertaining.
Ouran High School Host Club 2- I realized why I love this series. It’s like a sitcom. It’s not about the story. In fact, each chapter is a separate episode. It’s about the characters. And it’s definitely comedic in nature, unlike the graphic novels I’ve been reading which fall into romance or horror. So, in this installment, the twins have a (staged) fight, a young newcomer seeks their help wooing one particular girl, and the group go for an outing to an underground water park, where Hunny goes missing but proves he inherited the martial arts skills of his family. Lots of good fun. Now I left out clean but only because the FRONT MATTER in the book indicates that one of the twins is a “handsome homosexual l+ forbidden love between relatives”. Yeah, they are a little close and make comments about each other, but it could be staged for the girls just like the fight was staged. Nothing major- at least not in this volume.
Miki Falls- Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Unique story. Well, sort of. I mean the complicated journey of love isn’t unusual- at first. But Hiro’s secret is a new one- he’s a keeper of the spark of love as it dies from one couple and is held until it can be given to a new one. The main conflict is that his superior believes that being in love prevents one from doing their job. The lengths the two of them go to in an effort to escape punishment- and separation- rival the forbidden love story of Romeo and Juliet- almost. The reader is really kept on the edge throughout all four volumes and will be surprised by the ending. Unless you can guess it.
Queen B -This is a story that I am not sure our community could relate to. Every other paragraph talked about the people of the upper crust. The protagonist’s term for a member of this group is a soc. Personally, I found it obnoxious to read about a girl so obsessed with a person’s place in high school social strata. Perhaps middle school girls relate more than me. If they can get past the extravagant wealth of some of the families living in this town. It’s something you don’t see much of in Irving. Cassie keeps talking about how she does not want to be Queen B but a queen bee. Her jealousy almost costs her the love of her boyfriend. I kept getting the feeling that there’s another story before this one, but I haven’t read it…
Evil Genius - If you were a fan of the Mysterious Benedict Society, this might be a good read for you. Both deal with extremely smart young people. Cadel is so bored at school he is bounced around from one to another until he ends up at one that will graduate him at the age of 14. During this time he gets into a bit of trouble using computers and is ordered, as a minor, to see a psychologist on a regular basis. Dr. Roth, his therapist, plays a big part in his life and in getting him enrolled in an institute of higher education known as the Axis Institute. Here he learns many things: forgery, hacking, the art of disguise, the nature of evil, and the importance of accounting, as well as the identity of his father, according to Dr. Roth. He’s the son of an criminal mastermind in jail. Behind the scenes, Dr. Darkkon, his father, runs things and has set up the Institute solely for the purpose of educating his son to take over his criminal empire. But he and Dr. Roth did not count on Cadel inventing his own computer dating service (as a scam) which would put him in contact with a parapalegic who would save his life. Hard to believe? Wonder what the sequel holds!