Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford YP FIC MILFORD

Natalie Minks, 13, likes machines, because they make sense. All the cogs turn when they are in the right place. Her small town of Arcane never really has. And when Dr. Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show and begins selling cures to all ailments Natalie is the only one that question his motives. As the town falls more and more under his thrall she realizes she is the only one who will stand against his evil. Set in the beginning of the twentieth century this is a look at the battle between superstition and science, good and evil on the awakening of a new age.

This is definitely a slow burn read, but it is worth the effort. Milford has wonderful descriptive writing that really draws you in if you give it a chance. The story and mystery deepens really nicely and builds to a wonderful climax. Natalie loves automata, or machines that move on their own, so there is a wonderful Steampunk element to the book. It reminded me a lot of Ray Bradbury’s wonderful novel of an evil carnival that comes to a small town: Something Wicked this Way Comes. If you happened to have read that, then you are nearly guaranteed to enjoy The Boneshaker. Also, if you enjoy Boneshaker you absolutely have to check out Something Wicked this Way Comes (SF BRADBURY).

Friday, July 30, 2010

Diario de Oaxaca: A Sketchbook journal of Two Years in Mexico by Peter Kuper 972.740222

Peter Kuper, a political artist and a comedy cartoonist, decided to try a change of cultural scenery in 2006 and skip the last two years of President Bush’s term. He moved to Oaxaca, Mexico to relax with his family and found himself surrounded by a teachers’ strike that became an international story of government corruption and control. He chronicled it all with sketches, letters home, and a diary presented side by side in English and Spanish. The result is a one of a kind piece of frontline journalism, travel document, and artistic expression.

This is a truly unique book. It achieves the rare feat of truly capturing a moment in time and place. Having never been to Oaxaca, I certainly can’t claim the book captures the Real Oaxaca, but it definitely captures the artist’s Oaxaca. This is a weird mix of story, art, graphic novel, and diary that is so much more interesting and original then the usual travel fluffery. It has political intrigue, fights against injustice, the Day of the Dead, and loads of insects. The art has quick ‘slice of life” sketches with pictures and other media added later. So it has a sense of capturing reality but also comments on it. It’s a really wonderful artistic achievement and both captures and celebrates a part of Mexico that is rarely looked at by America. If you are interested in art, comics, Mexico, or just want to practice your Spanish while reading a cool story with great art, then check this one out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Orbital 1: Scars by Sylvain Runberg Illustrated by Serge Pellé YP FIC RUNBERG

In the 23rd century aliens have made contact in a big way. An intergalactic federation called the IDF has invited all of humanity to join its ranks. When seperatists blow up an integration conference they kill thousands including Caleb’s. Now years later Caleb has joined the IDF’s elite diplomatic force and been paired with a Sandjarr: an alien race the humans have just finished a war with. While all the universe is against them can too different races put aside the past to overcome the odds?

This is a really impressive start to a sci-fi series. It jumps into a new universe feet first and takes off running. The alien ships and worlds all feel unique and familiar at the same time. The design harkens to classic sci-fi but has a modern European flair. It’s too bad that this is such a thin short volume, but the art is good enough that you may want to read it through several times. I was especially impressed by the coloring. They have a soft, muted feel that give the settings a lived-in feel. I really like all the intergalactic intrigue in the first volume and hope to see how the story develops as the series goes on. If you like sci-fi this comic is for you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams YP FIC WILLIAMS

Hope and Lizzie are as close as sisters get. So when hope finds Lizzie with a shotgun in her mouth and her finger on the trigger she is left wondering why. She begins recalling their lives with their prostitute mother and realizing that Lizzie had pulled away more and more from her. When she discovers the reason why then nothing will ever be the same.

Told in verse, this novel packs the power of a sledge hammer. Hope and Lizzie are wonderful characters that you only get to know piece by piece. This leaves the reader wanting to keep going and the beautiful poetry of the novel makes it rewarding. It also works because what the book is really about is how much and little can be shown with just a glimpse. It asks the reader to look deeper to find the truth in art and in life. I’m always impressed when a book can pull that off. The reveal of Lizzie’s secret at the end is heartbreakingly sad. Know that this is a tough and gritty read, but the ending is hopeful without seeming unrealistic. If you like verse novels like this you should also check out Ellen Hopkins' books like Crank and Identical in YP HOPKINS.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ghostgirl: Lovesick by Tonya Hurley YP FIC HURLEY

Charlotte Usher is totally invisible at school. Of course, that’s because she’s a ghost, but she still hates it. In the third installment of this trilogy Charlotte has to help the guy she used to love find love with someone else or she can never make it to the afterlife. Charlotte knows there is life after death, but what about love after death? Can she let go of her old love or will she be stuck as a Ghostgirl forever?

This is the third in a trilogy, so absolutely pick up the first two books if you haven’t already. The good news is that this is a very satisfying end to the series for Ghostgirl fans. All the major characters from the previous books come together in this one and have their storylines resolved. The books are funny and quirky, and even though they are super goth in style they are never depressing. The design of the books themselves is excellent, from the die cut covers, to the artistic chapter pages. The books are fun, short reads that are actually enjoyable beyond just their goth appeal.