Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang YP FIC YANG

Boxers- Little Bao was happy with his simple life in his small village, but when foreign missionaries smash the harvest idol it leads to a path of destruction for his family.  A strange man come to town that teaches the ways of kung fu, he becomes his disciple and later the student of the man's master.  He learns the skills to drawn in spirits and gods to become invincible warriors.  They realize they must drive out the foreign influence that is killing their nation and kill any, including women and children, that stand in their way. 

Saints- Four-Girl.  She doesn't even get a name. Born fourth means born unlucky. Four means death, so when she meets a strange doctor that gives free cookies and tells her that a Christian church will giver her a new name, she jumps at the chance.  She is reborn as Vibiana, but that rebirth marks her for death. Her visions of Joan of Arc make her want her own calling, but what will it be and will it call for her to suffer the same fate as Joan? The Boxers are slaying Christians wherever they find them and she has put herself right in their path.

This is a brilliant look at cost of war, violence, and oppression.  It makes no excuses for the atrocities on either side, while populating the book with all too human characters.  Little Bao is driven by heartbreak, desperation, patriotism, and hope.  Unfortunately, he is driven to commit atrocities against innocent people.  Vibiana is driven to find some sort of destiny after being born cursed.  Her early attempts to be a devil are one of my favorite parts of the whole story, as are the young Little Bao's love of Chinese opera.  It was very hard to follow Little Bao down a path of darkness and watch him continually betray his own principles. It was hard to watch Vibiana blindly head straight to her own destruction, but in crossing paths they find a way for the death to actually have some meaning, if only for one person. This story of childhood to adulthood makes the death and murder that comes later all the more tragic.  Yang has taken a very tricky historical period and looked at it on a human level.  He populates the book with various characters of Chinese culture and Christian culture, never questioning their 'reality'.  This makes the book a work of not just warring people, nations, and ideas, but of the power and dangers of stories themselves.  The book offers no clear heroes and few clear villains, it also offers no easy answers.  It does ask very good questions.  I think it will lead most readers to seek out more information on the Boxer rebellion and Chinese history, which is always a great thing.  Even if it doesn't, it stands by itself as a powerful example of what comics can do.

You can find Boxer in our catalog here and Saints in our catalog here.

Monday, December 23, 2013

RASL by Jeff Smith SF SMITH

Rasl is a thief.  He can break into almost anywhere, steal priceless works of art, and disappear without a trace.  It's easy. He just has to jump between parallel worlds!  He used to be Robert Johnson, the military physicist that found the lost journals of Nikola Tesla and used them to develop the technology to jump between worlds, but after horrible betrayal and irrevocable loss he is a thief on the run with little left to live for. Then he finds that he isn't the only one jumping between worlds.  The government has found him and will do anything and kill anyone to get Tesla's secret diaries.  If Rasl can't stop them then they'll rip a whole big enough to destroy all parallel worlds.

This is the best work Jeff Smith has done since his masterpiece Bone.  It uses the unique language of visual storytelling to be much more than just an  amazing noir science-fiction adventure. It is a dark and sad look at fate, love, loss, and the drive to know what makes the very universe run.  Smith doesn't do very much to make Rasl very likeable.  He's fairly down and almost all the way out when we meet him, and its only revenge that drives him through a lot of the story.  Its through revealing his past piece by piece and having Rasl face it piece by piece that he becomes the story's hero. It also helps that eh gives us a truly repellant and malevolent villain to root against in the lizard faced Agent Crow. Crow is gleefully willing to murder again and again, because he sees parallel worlds as a sick perversion of reality that he has to exterminate.  it makes for a more driven and interesting foil than a simple 'company man'.  I called it noir science fiction, because it is clearly inspired by two-fisted hardboiled crime fiction and a good dose of classic sci-fi.  It is not the first to mix the two by a long shot, but it is definitely the best graphic novel to do so.  My only gripe is that the idea of Tesla as the genius that discovered secret science powers and lost them to history becoming a pretty tired cliche.  Fortunately, the use if Tesla is very thoughtful and has deep thematic resonance to the story in RASL. This is not just a must read for older serious comic fans, but a must obsess over.  it has all the propulsive drive that Bone had that makes you rush through your first reading, and like Bone it has so much texture and detail to make it worth revisiting again and again.  Now that Smith has the best all ages fantasy comic epic ever and the best dark and gritty science fiction comic, there's no telling what is next.  

You can find RASLin our catalog here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More Than This by Patrick Ness YP FIC NESS

"Here is the boy, drowning.
In these last moments, it's not the water that's finally done for him; it's the cold.
It is too late for him.
He will die.
And he will die alone.

He dies."

He wakes up.  He's covered in weird bandages. Well, partially covered.  He's in a strange, desolate, dried up town that seems totally empty and totally dead.  Then he finds something that cannot be. His childhood home.  The one in England. The one an ocean away from where he died. The one he left years ago after the tragedy that no one in his family will talk about.  The tragedy that is all. his. fault.  It is a dusty dead, burnt out world. A world in which he doesn't dream, so much as relive his past life in painful, frustrating detail. Since he can't really be alive and he can't really be in England. He realizes that he must be in his own personal, private Hell.  But even in Hell, there has to be more than this!  Doesn't there?

This is a tough book to review, because so much of what I love about it would reveal plot twists that should go unspoiled!  I can say that Ness has hit it out of the park once again with his deft use of realistic reaction and emotion in fantastic and seemingly impossible situations. The boy, Seth is a scared and scarred teen trying to survive and looking for a reason to survive. His doubts and frustration in the dead world he wakes up in and in his reliving his past are so well conveyed they feel universal.  I found myself rooting for Seth whether he was gripped by loneliness and despair or searching anywhere for a glimmer of hope.  Ness is able to wring drama and action aplenty with Seth just wandering around his new wasteland home, before he ever begins to reveal any of the books mysteries. For the price of one book (free because we are a library) you get a weird sci-fi (maybe) apocalytpic adventure, a devastating and harrowing look at living (and dying) with grief, a TOTAL brain twisting look at the very nature of reality itself, a beautiful and painful contemporary romance (as told in flashback), and several other wonderful surprises I won't spoil!

Young Adult fiction definitely has a lot of books where the main character has a painful past that is revealed bit by bit every few chapters until the final cathartic reveal. What makes More Than This stand apart is that the structure isn't just used to string the plot out, it becomes a part of the plot and the deeper themes of the book itself. Also, unlike some books that use this device, you never want to yell "HURRY UP ALREADY!!!", because BOTH worlds Seth is living in are fascinating in their own way.  I highly recommend this to anyone taht wants to read something truly unique.  It is going SUPER high on my Best Of list this year, and I think it will top yours too.

Check our catalog for More Than This here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Texas Library Association announces their picks for best YA books of the year!

It's December, so it's time for everyone and their brother, sister, mother, cousin, uncle, and/or neighbor to make their Best Of lists for the year! Below are the Top Ten best YA novels of the year according to the Texas Library Association.  For the full TAYSHAS list click this link. Want to know what's the best of the bestest in graphic novels? Check out TLA's Maverick list here.

 All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry YP FIC BERRY
Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.

You can find it in our catalog here.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black YP FIC BLACK
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret.  Tana enters a race against the clock to save them by going straight to the wicked heart of Coldtown itself.

You can find it in our catalog here.

The Wicked and the Just by Jillian Anderson Coats YP FIC COATS
In medieval Wales, follows Cecily whose family is lured by cheap land and the duty of all Englishman to help keep down the "vicious" Welshmen, and Gwenhwyfar, a Welsh girl who must wait hand and foot on her new English mistress.

You can find it in our catalog here.

Ask the Passengers: A Novel by A.S. King YP FIC KING 
Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.

You can find it in our catalog here.

Reality Boy by A.S. King YP FIC KING
Gerald Faust started feeling angry even before his mother invited a reality TV crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he's still haunted by his rage-filled youth--which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle. No one cares that Gerald has tried to learn to control himself; they're all just waiting for him to snap. And he's starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that...

You can find it in our catalog here.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg YP FIC KONIGSBE
Tired of being known as "the gay kid", Rafe Goldberg decides to assume a new persona when he comes east and enters an elite Massachusetts prep school--but trying to deny his identity has both complications and unexpected consequences.

You can find it in our catalog here.

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan  YP FIC LABAN
The story of Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is "Enter here to be and find a friend." A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential "It" girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving's most popular boy. To Tim's surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out.

You can find it in our catalog here

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell YP FIC ROWELL
Set over the course of one school year in 1986;this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.


You can read my glowing review of it here. You can find it in our catalog here

 Winger by Andrew Smith YP FIC SMITH
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He's living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he's madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy. Against the odds, Ryan Dean manages to survive life's complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what's important, even when everything has falls apart. 

You can read me raving about it here. You can find it in our catalog here

Are You Experienced by Jordan Sonnenblick YP FIC SONNENBL
On the 45th anniversary of his uncle Michael's death, Rich Barber, an overprotected 15-year-old, travels back in time to Woodstock. There, he meets Michael for the first time-and gets to know his strict father as an enthusiastic teen. Rich also runs into rock star legends , inadvertently ingests psychedelic mushrooms with his father, and learns about the pressures Michael is under, including trying to protect his brother from their terrible parents.

You can find it in our catalog here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston YP FIC WESTON

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?  Unfortunately, everyone in Dust City is, which means Henry Whelp is one marked canid.  His dad is doing hard time for the double murder of Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny, and everyone assumes murder is just in his blood.  When there's a murder at the St. Remus for Wayward Youth, Henry is the first and only suspect. He hightails it away to the dark alleys of Dust City, a place where fairy dust is real and addictive.  He'll have to find the real killer, find out the truth about what happened to Little Red, and solve the mystery of the missing fairies before he gets the axe.  

Fresh off our Fractured Fairy Tales display, Dust City is a supremely clever mix of magic, gritty hard boiled mystery, and fairy tale.  Henry like most the inhabitants of dust city is an evolved animal.  Wolves, foxes, ravens, and all the animals of Dust City have evolved to walk upright, have hands,and  talk, but they're still second class citizens to hominids. everyone in Dust City uses synthesized fairy dust called Dust that can heal wounds and alter minds. So this is a story about drug addicted animals and murder!  If you've ever read the Non-Disneyfied version of fairy tales, you'd know they're filled with plenty of grisly murder, so a hardboiled fairy tale is actually a perfect fit. A big part of the fun is finding the cleverly re-imagined characters from famous fairy tales. Weston does a great job of laying down a thick level of atmosphere.  He brings the wholly improbable to life and grounds it in a grimy and corrupt city.  Like the teller of tales of old, this book has dark morals, a wicked sense of humor, and is a way to use the fantastic to look at everyday life.  It did take me a couple of chapters to get the hang of how the world worked, but I ended up being glad that Weston revealed things a bit of a time.  It made the story feel more 'real' somehow to not spell out how the animals and magic worked as one big info-dump in the first few pages.  Dust City feels like a real place filled with fascinating, dangerous, and offbeat characters.  Anyone that enjoys fairy tales or new twists on fairy tales will find a lot to love in Dust City.

You can find Dust City in our catalog here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Batman VS Superman: We have a Winner...

And it is na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BATMAAAN! BATMAAAAAAN! BATMAAAAAAAAAN!

With an absolute squeaker of 47 to 46 this was proof that your vote really does count.  We also had a write in vote of Miley Cyrus, so that could be the spoiler of the election.  Maybe now people will finally lay off Ralph Nader!  

When contacted Batman had this to say:
"I want you to remember, Clark…in all the years to come…in your most private moments…I want you to remember…my hand…at your throat…I want…you to remember…the one man who beat you." 

Well, he said it in Frank Miller's the Dark Knight Returns anyways. (YP FIC MILLER)

Superman on losing had this to say:

" I don't know what I believe anymore. Everything used to be so clear. Truth. Justice. The American Way. But now? Now, I'm not sure about anything." 

Okay, he said that in J. Michael Straczynski's Superman:Grounded (YP FIC STRACZY).In my defense, these guys are very hard to get locked down for an interview.

We'd like to thank all out voters and give our congratulations to Batman and all his bat-fans!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

Pirate Flag
Image by Scott Vandehey available through a Creative Commons license

Ahoy, mateys! Get ready to sail the seven seas with the plucky Jacky Faber! He has all the characteristics you'd want in a ship's boy serving in His Majesty's Royal Navy in 1797. Jacky's brave, resourceful and plays a mean pennywhistle.

Only problem? Jacky is really a Mary.

How did this come to be? Find out in L.A. Meyer's Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (YP FIC MEYER and YP AD FIC MEYER). When she is left abruptly without a family, Mary seeks out alternate means of survival. In doing so, she discovers that taking on the guise of a boy simplifies the already harrowing demands of an orphan left to the mercies of the street.
It's easier bein' a boy, 'cause when someone needs somethin' done like holdin' a horse, they'll always pick a boy 'cause they think the dumbest boy will be better at it than the brightest girl, which is stupid, but there they are.
Mary ends up on the docks, where the Navy ship the H.M.S. Dolphin is assembling its crew. She relies on her inherent charm to earn her passage on board as a ship's boy. Soon enough, though, she learns that passing as a boy — let along a ship's boy — is only the first of many challenges she'll face in such tight quarters. She doesn't know the first thing about ships, and not all her shipmates are friendly. There'll be secret handshakes to learn, pirates to battle and adolescent love to navigate.

Bloody Jack is a rollicking beginning to the adventure series, which thus far encompasses 10 books:
  1. Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy
  2. Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady
  3. Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber
  4. In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber
  5. Mississippi Jack: Being an Account of the Further Waterborne Adventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman, Fine Lady, And Lily of the West
  6. My Bonny Light Horseman: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, in Love and War
  7. Rapture of the Deep: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy
  8. The Wake of the Lorelei Lee: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, On Her Way to Botany Bay
  9. The Mark of the Golden Dragon: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, and Pearl of the South China Sea
  10. Viva Jaquelina: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away
  11. Boston Jacky: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Taking Care of Business
Perhaps what I like most about Bloody Jack is how it puts a girl at the front and center of the action. Jacky comes across as a young woman realistically relying on her wits to get her through tough, scary situations. She's funny and fearless, a combination that manages to both get her into trouble and out of it. No fainting flower, is our Jacky.

The audiobook, narrated by Katherine Kellgren, is dynamite. Kellgren voices Jacky's rough, streetwise elocution perfectly, with its outrageous grammar and colorful patois. She portrays Jacky with jaunty confidence while not neglecting honest depictions of the fear and distress Jacky feels in battle or at the thought of discovery. The narration is a wonderful way to experience the story.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Batman VS Superman: Batman: Year One by Frank Miller art by David Mazzuchelli YP FIC MILLER

In celebration of our Batman VS Superman election, I'll be reviewing MY favorite Superman and Batman books Of All Time! I'll try not to reveal any Bat-Bias or Super-Subjectiveness that could unduly influence this election. 

One night changed Bruce Wayne's life forever. A random act of violence took away his parents and gave him something new: a mission.  Now, after year of training his body and mind he is ready to com home.  He is ready to take back Gotham.  A city of crime, sin, and corruption at the highest levels.  Can one man save a city? No, but maybe a bat can.

This one book, even more than Miller's also excellent the Dark Knight Returns, changed the course of Batman forever.  It is as if Miller completely rewrote his DNA and brought Batman in all his dark glory into the real world. This is a young and inexperienced Bruce Wayne, that barely survives his first disastrous outings. It allows the reader to see the Batman form over time and have a real understanding and investment in what makes Bruce into Batman. In starting Batman over from scratch, Miler gets to the core of what makes Batman so fascinating: an obsessive drive to make sure that no one else has to watch their loved ones die by crime and a fanatical devotion to a code of honor.  

Miller also greatly enlarges the importance of characters that were underutilized at the time, like Catwoman and Jim Gordon. Placing a young and principled Jim Gordon on the incredibly corrupt Gotham police force made Gordon into a whole new character as vital to the Batman story as any character.  

Mazzuchelli's art is perfect for the book.  He has Batman as a menacing figure using shadows and his cape to look larger than life, but gives Bruce the realistic body of a superb athlete.  This isn't the highly muscled Batman that is seen in most comics and this makes the Batman even more impressive, because he seems so much more human.  The reality makes the idea of a man taking on crime single handed all the more impressive.

Miller is able to make Batman's war with the mob that owns the city as compelling as any Two-Face or Joker story ever written.  If you are a fan of the Christopher Nolan Batman films, then you owe a debt of thanks to Year One.  This is a perfect book for both those that are already batty for Batman or total Bat-beginners.

You can find Batman: Year One in our catalog here.

Batman VS Superman: All Star Superman by Grant Morrison Art by Frank Quitely YP FIC MORRISON

In celebration of our Batman VS Superman election, I'll be reviewing MY favorite Superman and Batman books Of All Time! I'll try not to reveal any Bat-Bias or Super-Subjectiveness that could unduly influence this election. A coin flip decided that this time Superman goes first (but YOU will decide who laughs last!)

Superman is dying.  A fiendish plot by the archest of fiends, Lex Luthor has overdosed Superman on solar radiation.  Superman has to decide how to best spend his last days while also uncovering Lex's final plan to Take over the World!  Will Superman be able to save the day one last time? Or will the Last Son of Krypton fizzle out too soon?

This is my all time favorite Superman story by miles and miles.  It is a two volume masterwork that pays homage to over 70 years of Superman comics.  Morrison is a huge fan of the entire run of Superman, including the often wacky and bizarre storylines of the 1940s and 50s that saw Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen getting weird powers as well as all sorts of other zaniness.  Morrison melds these wacky plots with a serious and at times sad and uplifting story of a dying Superman.  By taking silliness seriously he is able to look at Superman as a man and a myth at the same time.  There is an overabundance of big ideas that Morrison explores and the plot careens between one odd adventure to the next leaving the reader reeling.  There is a mix of science fiction, comedy, two-fisted combat, horror, philosophy, and loads of other influences. Fortunately, the books many plots all end up making sense together and pay off incredibly well.  

The art by Frank Quitely is quite breathtaking in places.  It has a fine level of detail, but remains unrealistic enough to have the garish costumes of superheroes not look silly. The beautiful art and daring design work make reading and rereading a consummate pleasure even when the plot threatens to go (way) over the reader's head.  

This is a treasure trove for long time Superfans with an almost uncountable in-continuity references to the entire Superhistory and a wonderful place for new fans to jump in and learn everything that makes Superman so super.

You can find All Star Superman in our catalog here

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2013 Teens Top ten

The votes are in and we have our 2013 picks for Teens Top Ten.  Below are the picks from teens across the country for the best fiction for teens this year.  Check them out to see what you've missed.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein YP FIC WEIN
In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can. 

Find it in our catalog here

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen J FIC NIELSEN          In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition to be selected to impersonate the king's long-missing son in an effort to avoid a civil war.
 Find it in our catalog here.

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole YP FIC COLE   
In the aftermath of a cataclysmic event, sixteen-year-old Evie, from a well-to-do Louisiana family, learns that her terrible visions are actually prophecies and that there are others like herself--embodiments of Tarot cards destined to engage in an epic battle.                                                                       
 Find it in our catalog here.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth YP FIC ROTH   

As war surges in the dystopian society around her, sixteen-year-old Divergent Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love
 Find it in our catalog here.

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross YP FIC CROSS
When sixteen-year-old Mira runs away to discover her secret past, she finds a place where Grimm's fairy tales come to life, and she cannot avoid her accursed fate.
 Find it in our catalog here.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry YP FIC MCGARRY
Rendered a subject of gossip after a traumatic night that left her with terrible scars on her arms, Echo is dumped by her boyfriend and bonds with bad-boy Noah, whose tough attitude hides an understanding nature and difficult secrets. 
Find it in our catalog here.
Butter by Erin Jade Lange YP FIC LANGE 
Unable to control his binge eating, a morbidly obese teenager nicknamed Butter decides to make a live webcast of his last meal as he attempts to eat himself to death. 

Find it in our catalog here.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater YP FIC STIEFVAT  
Though she is from a family of clairvoyants, Blue Sargent's only gift seems to be that she makes other people's talents stronger, and when she meets Gansey, one of the Raven Boys from the expensive Aglionby Academy, she discovers that he has talents of his own--and that together their talents are a dangerous mix.

Find it in our catalog here.

 Crewel by Gennifer Albin YP FIC ALBIN
Gifted with the unusual ability to embroider the very fabric of life, sixteen-year-old Adelice is summoned by Manipulation Services to become a Spinster, a move that will separate her from her beloved family and home forever.

Find it in our catalog here.
 Every Day by David Levithan YP FIC LEVITHAN
Every morning A wakes in a different person's body, in a different person's life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until he wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon.

Find it in our catalog here.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Get your Vote On! Batman VS Superman

This upcoming Tuesday is a Not-So-Super-Tuesday.  Without any large national or state level elections many people are desperate for the fun of voting with nothing to really vote on!  Not to mention our poor suffering teenagers that don't even get to Rock the Voting!  Well fret not voters! We have something of SUPREME consequence that requires your vote!  Batman VS Superman!  Who is better? Who is cooler? Who do you personally prefer? Which would when in a fight or a game of tic-tac-toe?  Answer all these any any other possible permutations when you vote for the cape of your choice!  

Simply turn in a bat-ballot or super-ballot between now and November 15th to make your voice heard.  While you're there pick up one of many bat books or super books to help you make up your mind!

The winner will reign as THE favorite Superhero of Moore Memorial Public Library for whatever superhero terms limits are (We aren't really sure.  We are on pretty shaky constitutional grounds here.).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SHOCKTOBER Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell YP FIC BLACKWELL

Callum Harris has no idea how or why he went down Crystal Falls. All he remembers is the sensation of being puled down, down, down into total blackness.  When he wakes up he can't see, move, or talk, which is a big problem while his best friend tries to kill him. Aster, he finally is able to communicate he notices everyone is treating him different, hostilely.  He tries to blow it off, but there are other changes.  The town has shut up building which used to be stores only Callum remembers.  Everyone is treating him like he's a completely different person.  His home, his family, even his own dog are all different, all wrong.  either everything in town has changed or he's losing his mind.  Either way he needs to figure out which fast, because it isn't just his former best friend that wants him dead and reality itself seems to be pulling him under.

This book is so creeeeeepy! It's like a really awesome episode of the Twilight Zone. It will keep you spinning and wondering which way is up.  It starts with a very tense and harrowing description of slowly coming out of a coma and not being able to communicate.  These opening chapters totally hooked me.  Blackwell perfectly conveys the panic and powerlessness of the situation and will have you feeling as trapped as poor Callum.  Then the next chapters have him awake, but deeply paranoid as to why people suspect him in the disappearance of someone he never met and who is trying to kill him. It really draws out the eeriness of hospitals late at night.  After that you feel like you can finally get a breather, but you're hit left and right with impossible changes to Callum's reality. He's constantly bouncing from situations that are both familiar and horribly foreign while trying to act 'normal' to people that see him as an almost totally different Cal. It will keep you totally off balance and as unsure as Callum if he's losing his mind or reality itself has shifted.  Either way it makes for a unsettling experience. I especially liked how Callum reacts to the changes.  He behaves totally realistically and is in a near panic that he has to do his best to hide. This is a lot more interesting than if he accepted his situation straight away or immediately went to theorizing and trying to 'fix' his problem. Undercurrent is the rare example of a great idea for a unique plot paired with great execution.  If you want your mind bended, definitely check it out.

You can find Undercurrent in our catalog here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

SHOCKTOBER Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green YP FIC GREEN

Truth or Dare?  It's just a stupid game, right?  Not for Tenley, Caitlin, or Sydney it isn't.  Sure it started as a game, but when they start receiving messages that if they want their most painful  'truths' hidden they'll have to complete more and more dangerous dares, they realize it's deadly serious.

This is a very twisty and exciting thriller from a debut author.  The novel starts off fairly quickly with the basic set up, but takes its time revealing the dark secrets of our three protagonists. Splitting between their viewpoints is a good way to keep the reader more in the loop than the heroines and build tension.  Green really populates her novel with plenty of characters that are more than just set dressing.  It makes the book more than just a Pretty Little Liars knock off, and something special of its own.  It has a great 'just one more chapter' quality that kept me flying through its close to 400 pages! I think there are enough reversals and false clues to keep most readers guessing, but even if you DO figure out the culprit...YOU DON'T!  The book ends with a twist cliffhanger that means you'll have to wait for a sequel to unlock more secrets...if you dare!  

You can find Truth or Dare in our catalog here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

SHOCKTOBER You Know What You Have to Do by Bonnie Shimko YP FIC SHIMKO

Mary-Magdalene (Maggie to her friends) Feigenbaum seems like your average 15 year old.  Sure she has a weird name and her step-dad is the local mortician. Sure her mom dresses like a trashy teenager from the 80s (coincidentally when she had Maggie) and acts more like her sister, but relatively normal. Except for the voice.  The one that tells her she has to kill and how to get away with it.  The one that's already had her kill once and wants her to kill again. 

This is an engrossing thriller that will garb ahold of you and keep you reading as fast as you can to the very end.  It's a sick sort of thrill to be in the mind of a teenage serial killer.    Since we get the entire story from her perspective, we share in her fear of getting caught instead of rooting for it.  It's also really creepy that she spends so much time worrying about her relatively mundane boy problems and issues with her once-dorky friend joining the Cool Kids Table. The focus of this, distracts from the fact that we're being told the story from a cold blooded killer until the voice comes back and brings us back to sobering reality. Maggie's drive for murder is just one aspect of her life.  It's normality to her is genuinely unnerving and way more unsettling then if she was more conflicted outwardly. Maggie is also genuinely funny, with a dry sense of humor she shares with the reader and hides form the rest of the world.  This makes her both weirdly likable and made me feel complicit, like I was keeping her secrets. 

Unfortunately, the book has some notable flaws that keep it from being as good as it could have been.  Most the characters seem sort of thinly fleshed out, without much deep personality.  However, we are getting the viewpoint of a cold blooded murderer, so that could be partially why we don't get to know them very well.  Also, there's some occasional clunky dialogue and the book sometimes feels sanitized for your protection.  This is clearly a deliberate choice to make the book less graphic and bleak, but it will seem unrealistic to some readers.  however, it really worked for me.  Maggie is a bit shy and her best friend is woefully naive, so that fit their characters relatively well.  Also, keeping a lot of cursing and gory details made the book more medium dark than out and out bleak.  It reminded em of Lois Duncan, R L Stine, and Christopher Pike.  Always creepy and dark but usually not very explicit, but I think Shimko has the potential to out-write them all.  However, I think many readers will dislike the ending.  Without spoiling anything the book ends pretty abruptly and some people you expect to get the bloody justice they deserve don't.  Personally, I found the ending sort of ambiguous.  It definitely did end a bit too quickly and neatly for my tastes, but Maggie isn't the most reliable of narrators, so I'm not convinced as she is that her troubles are really over. Instead of feeling cheated by an anticlimax, I found it clever.  It made me realize that I was looking for more violence!  I was getting as bad as Maggie! I will admit that not getting more real answers about Maggie's condition was galling, but the faults are never enough to keep the book from being seriously gripping.  I highly recommend it to thriller fans. 

You can find You Know What You Have to Do in our catalog here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

SHOCKTOBER The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman YP FIC WASSERMAN

In Oleander they call it the Killing Night.  One night, five murderers, no motives.  Only one of the five lived and she's locked away. Locked away like the memories.  Until the storm.  The storm that rips the city wide open. The town is surrounded by troops, quarantined. Something dark has woken up in Oleander.  Something that can make anyone a killer. And it's inside everyone.

The story is told from the perspcetives of Ellie: a girl that thinks God is speaking to her, West: a popular jock with a secret, Daniel: son of the local crazy man, Jule: unwilling part of the town's infamous meth family, and Cass: the only killer to survive Killing Night.  The jumps in perspective help keep thing interesting and help build a sense of closeness to the book's characters.  It also helps us see lots of the town slowly unraveling from different points and builds the tension to a fever pitch.  Wasserman does a good job of developing the characters, so that even if you won't be crazy for all of them, at least one will speak to you.  Then she starts the slaughter and no one is safe, so the fear gets ratcheted up fast and furious.  I've read several reviews that compare this book to early Steven King and I think that is accurate and very intentional.  It has a secluded small town going crazy, authority figures turning into mad despots, and several other classic King touches.  It is bleak, depressing, terrifying, and totally riveting.  It is definitely a long read and after some early mayhem goes for a long slow build, but it truly pays off.  Wasserman handles the emotional moments and the building relationships with a deft hand.  This makes the first deaths all the more shocking and the later violence almost numbing, with jolts of terror.  It's quite effective as horror and also a clever look at the idea of the violence within our society.  I'd definitely only recommend it to people that can stomach dark and violent reads, but for fans of serious horror this is one of the best books in a long while. 

You can find The Waking Dark in our catalog here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

SHOCKTOBER Zom-B series by Darren Shan YP FIC SHAN

Having already reviewed the super awesome Zom-B, I waited for three more volumes to do an update. Just in time for Shocktober!

SPOILER ALERT: Do NOT read this review if you don't want Zom-B Volume 1's big secrets revealed.

B (AKA Becky, that's right twist ending B is a girl lady!!!) wakes up months after being attacked by a zombie and having her HEART RIPPED OUT OF HER CHEST!!!  Now she is a Zom-B, but unlike the shuffling masses she has her memories and her own mind.  Unfortunately, she is a prisoner/test subject of a secretive military force that is keeping her Underground. She may just find that there really are fates worse than death!

B has left the underground military installation (NO SPOILERS ON HOW!) and is roaming the ravaged remains of London.  Holding as best she can to the semblance of humanity as she tries to find other survivors and escape the horrors of the dead, the living, and the worst: The mutants and the demonic clown of death, Mr. Dowling.

B has been found by others like her. Revitalized, zombies that think.  They call themselves the angels and say they can save the world, but can she trust them? And is she willing to walk away from the only people left on Earth that are like her?

This series is getting better, creepier, gorier, and more nightmare inducing.  It's already up to four volumes with a fifth volume soon to hit our shelves, so you have some catching up to do.  however, with Halloween around the corner this is the perfect time!  Each volume is a quick read, that leaves you wanting to tear open a fresh volume like the shambling undead tear open skulls!  Sorry, that was a little gross, but NOTHING compared to the fiendish horrors and atrocities that Shan has nightmared up for us! Mr. Dowling is absolute nightmare fuel and every time he shows up something gut wrenching (often literally) is sure to happen.  It filled we with a perverse sense of dread and eagerness to see what he would do next, which is the perfect thing in a horror book.  I think Shan has really got a great protagonist with street tough B.  She's just good enough and bad enough to both root for and be believable.  Shan has also populated the world with some fascinatingly freaky survivors for her to run into and keeps thing fresh by introducing just enough new faces to feel lively without getting confusing as to who is who.  It helps that he often slaughters loads of characters to keep you on your toes.  Sometimes I think that the REAL zombie plague is how many new zombie books and movies keep coming out, but this is one of the few shining stars in the field.  Its fast paced, creepy, gross, and filled with some truly clever twists.

You can find Zom-B: Underground in our catalog here.
Zom-B: City in our catalog here.
Zom-B: Angels in our catalog here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay Illustrated by Daniel Lafrance YP FIC MCCAY

 They came in the night. They killed anyone that got in their way and they took the boys.  They march them through the jungle. They are told they fight for God now and only soldiers eat. They are the Lord's Resistance Army and they are ruthless killers that use children as soldiers. They are told that God does not protect the weak, so anyone that falls from hunger is left to die. This is the story of one group of friends that tries to escape before they become killers or killed.  

This is a harrowing book.  The immediacy in which the LRA comes and turns the kids lives completely upside down is horrifying.  The depiction of the LRA as indiscriminate murders, rapists, and enslavers of children is sadly very accurate. The horror that the book explores could actually have been far worse than it is.  Wisely, McCay shows us just enough to shock and appall us without becoming exploitative of the very real tragedies this book is based on. The dialogue is sometimes a little straightforward and stiff, but the book manages to shine in so many of the pivotal moments of carnage or heartsickness. The art works very well for the story. The panels stay very tight on the faces of our protagonists and villains intensifying the trapped sensation.  Lafrance uses shadow and color to intensify the tension and violence, without having to have gratuitous gore.  I think this is a wonderful use of the medium to explore the horrors of war, especially a war fought by children.   

You can find War Brothers in our catalog here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin YP FIC BEAUDOIN

Ritchie Sudden has 90 days.  90 days to think and write about why he's got 90 days.  Well, maybe not think.  Ritchie doesn't want to think the way he thinks you want him to think, but he's worried that that's a cliche so he doesn't care about that...I think.  He does care about his one true friend El Hella, his new very old guitar, a girl that may be just screwed up enough to like him, and his terrible band Wise Young Fool.  Maybe just one or two of those days he'll figure out why everything happened and if it means anything.  Maybe he won't. He may even end up a wise young fool. If not, two out of three ain't bad.

Ritchie has a hilarious and very genuine voice.  Beaudoin totally nails the trying-way-too-hard-to-not-try-too-hard that comes all too often with being a teenager.  Ritchie's crushingly stupid mistakes and unnecessary (but totally awesome) punk rock defiance end up making sense and seeming almost rational as he slowly lets us know more about who he is and what his last few weeks of freedom were like. Especially excellent is the very authentic understanding of music and being in a band.  Beaudoin nails this to the wall and slam dunks it and sundry other expressions for exactitude. It is a welcome change from the often idealized and false look at teen music that comes from writers that have clearly watched too many of those super-awesome movies form the 80s about teen bands Makin It! (this is NOT really the title of a movie starring Lea Thompson and a young Demi Moore, but it could be. It could be.) The music , the grime, the feeling of crushing conformity all make this a book with unique texture, attitude, and spark.  My one gripe is that it definitely suffers from Main Character Making references that are From Author's Teen Decade and Not His Own Too Often, but hey I'm old too so I actually get them! It may be one of many wayward young man write from a correctional facility in a snarky voice and eventually (maybe) learning something from the writing (symbolic of how writing and reading of novels can form a catharsis, perhaps?), but it is definitely one not to miss. 

You can find Wise Young Fool in out catalog here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Banned Books Week 2013: Don't let your fREADom be erased!

Next week is Banned Books Week, the week we highlight and celebrate books that have been banned, censored, and challenged in the past and sadly in the present.  To celebrate the Teen Advisory Board and the library
 Banned Books Week was created in 1982 by the American Library Association to highlight the growing problem of book challenges.  A book challenge is where a person or group asks for a book to be removed from a school, public, or university library.  when a book challenge is successful that book is either removed completely or access is restricted to the book.  This may seem like a small problem, but it really is a fundamental problem.  When we lose access to legal information our 1st Amendment rights to free speech and expression are being limited.  When an entire school or library community is restricted it has a chilling effect and teaches children that free thought is dangerous.  Who knows how many wonderful artists, filmmakers, writers, poets, scientists, doctors, etc. would have not been inspired or emboldened if they had been denied access to their free speech rights.  So many people have found their first spark of creativity and love of learning in a library or from a book they read in class.  

Librarians are certainly not against parents being a  guide or helping to select what their children read.  It is only a problem when someone tries to decide what all children can and can't read or what an entire community is allowed to read. You can do your part by reading banned books!  Chances are, you already have!  Below are a list of the most challenged books and authors for last year.  Grab one of these or any book from our display and celebrate fREADom!

Most Challenged Books of 2012
Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey                J FIC PILKEY
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 

by Sherman Alexie                                                  YP FIC ALEXIE
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher                          YP FIC ASHER
Fifty Shades of Grey Series, by E. L. James                FIC JAMES
And Tango Makes Three 

by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson                       E RICHARDS
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini                           FIC HOSSEINI
Looking for Alaska by John Green                              YP FIC GREEN
Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz                     J 398.25 SCHWARTZ
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls                           362.82092 WALLS
Beloved, by Toni Morrison                                         FIC MORRISON

Most Challenged Authors of 2012

Sherman Alexie The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Jay Asher 13 Reasons Why
Jimmy Santiago Baca A Place to Stand
Dagberto Glib The Magic of Blood and Woodcuts of Women
John Green Looking for Alaska
Ellen Hopkins Tricks, Crank
E.L. James Fifty Shade of Grey (series)
Dav Pilkey The Adventures of Captain Underpants (series)
Patricia Polacco In Our Mothers' House
Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories (series)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Thor, God of thunder : The God Butcher by Jason Aaron art by Esad Ribic YP FIC AARON

Thor is a brash young god (just a few 100 years old!) in the age of vikings who lives for adventure and conquest, but is not yet ready to wield Mjolnir*, on of the mightiest weapons of all gods.  Thor is the God of Thunder, possessor of Mjolnir, Avenger, protector of Earth.  Thor is king of all of Asgard and the last living God in the universe thousands of years into the future.  In all these times Thor must face an enemy like he has never conceived of: the God Butcher.  A being that is so powerful he searches the cosmos to methodically, slowly, ruthlessly torture and kill entire pantheons of gods.  If he fails in this task then all of creation is threatened.

This comic is absolutely epic.  It tells three unique stories in Thor's youth, maturity, and old age and all three work to build the tension and make the story larger than life.  The three separate arcs all meet up in very interesting ways, so it isn't just pointless flashbacks to convey character. It also harkens back to good ole' Jack Kirby Thor comics that often had back up stories of young Thor.  In this case it makes the story one beyond the limits of time itself, which makes it seem a tale fit for mythology and the gods!  Plotting, dialogue, and character are all top notch, but it's the absolutely gorgeous
painted art that makes it's something really special.  Esad Ribic is a true talent and his full and beautiful images make this seem like an instant classic.  He can convey beauty and grisly horror equally well, and really brings back the awe in reading about gods and monsters. This is easily the best new book in the Marvel Comics line and a great place for new fans to start. So if you are a long time super hero fan or just want to know who the blond dude in The Avengers was, check out Thor, God of Thunder: The God Butcher!

You can find Thor, God of Thunder: The God Butcher in our catalog here.

*Which translates to "That which smashes".  AWESOME!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Batman: Death Mask by Yoshinori Natsume YP FIC NATSUME

Is Batman really Bruce Wayne? Or is Bruce Wayne a mask the Batman wears for the public? There's a demon from Japan in Gotham stealing faces and taunting the Dark Knight; a demon straight from Bruce Wayne's time training in Japan before he was Batman.  He'll have to find the answer to who Batman is and face his own dark shadow to stop this deadly new threat.

How can you not love BatManga? It's got Batman and Manga! That's chocolate and peanut butter levels of greater than the sum of its parts! This definitely isn't the best or most original Batman story or the best manga, BUT it is a fun and stylish Batman adventure.  I love the face stealing baddie best of all.  He's a super cool masked assasin with the same silhouette as Batman, but in a traditional Japanese style.  It works really well for the  book, because he is super creepy and a great visual counterpoint to Batman.  The visuals are by far the strongest selling point of the book, as Batman really pops in a manga style.  i also like how the book kept me guessing about whether the villain is REALLY a demon or if there is some sort of scientific explanation behind the mystery.  They have several fun twists with this and I love it when Batman stories are also mysteries.  The only real down sides are that these ideas have been looked at before in loads of other Batman comics and that the dialogue is a little wooden.  I think the language barrier probalby explains the latter, and it's never so bad that it's unreadable.  As for the story covering old ground, many readers won't have read quite as many Batstories as I have and the book will feel fresher to them.  Also, the great visuals more than carry the book to being a can't miss Batbook.  It's Batastic! Batrific! Batstanding! Okay, that's probably enough bats for...ever.  So if you like Batman or manga, definitely give this one a read.  If you like Batman and Manga then you are pretty much legally obligated to love it!  

You can find Batman: Death Mask in our catalog here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Going Vintage YP FIC LEAVITT

Mallory Bradshaw is happy with her current state in life. She is in her junior year of high school, and she has been in a steady relationship with her boyfriend, Jeremy Mui, for a little over a year. All of this changes when, while helping Jeremy with a homework assignment, Mallory discovers his secret life on the Friendspace game, Authentic Life. Jeremy even has a "cyberwife" (screen name BubbleYum), which he has been in contact with outside of the game, with no mention of Mallory or their relationship. Mallory makes a declaration about Jeremy on his FriendSpace page and then goes off the grid.

Mallory is heartbroken and wonders how she will cope with all of her heavy feelings. Then, while helping her father clean out her grandmother's house, she finds a list of accomplishments that her grandmother made when she was sixteen years old (in 1962).

1. Run for pep club secretary.
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree.
3. Sew a dress for homecoming.
4. Find a steady.
5. Do something dangerous.

Mallory really enjoys making lists (they are at the beginning of each chapter, by the way), and by also completing this list of five goals, Mallory feels that she can figure out how to accept things and move on. She also decides to give living like it's 1962 a try (no cellphones or computers, especially Friendspace, awesome time in fashion, easier time to be a teen). Mallory's sister, Ginnie, is skeptical but supportive. Ginnie is even willing to fulfill number four, since Mallory does not feel up to it.

The first item on the list requires going before the Associated Student Body with the idea of starting a pep club. The members are ready to veto her idea when Oliver Kimball, Jeremy's cousin, comes to her rescue and talks the ASB into giving Mallory her pep club. Oliver even joins the club, and Mallory makes him the president (she is the secretary, of course). Ginnie also joins that club and also decides to complete item number two, doing tons of research on what food was served at a dinner party in the sixties. They both plan to host the party before the homecoming dance. The third item is a bit tricky, since Mallory has no idea how to sew a dress (or even sew), but she talks her grandmother, Vivian, into helping her. Mallory also wants her grandmother to tell her what is was like to be sixteen, but her grandmother shuts the conversation down each time, leaving Mallory to wonder why her grandmother is not being supportive of her choices. (There is a good reason, by the way, that Mallory does not see coming). Working with Oliver on the pep club (designing and decorating a float for the homecoming parade) gets a bit stressful, though, because he understands Mallory in a way that Jeremy never bothered to, and being Jeremy's cousin, Mallory sees him as "off limits" to think of in romantic terms. As time passes, more and more things come up that threaten Mallory's resolve to continue "going vintage," and so she starts to wonder if maybe "going vintage" is going too far.    

I really, really enjoyed this book. Mallory is sarcastic but focused (and funny, too), and I was rooting for her the whole way to reach her goals, when I wasn't laughing out loud at her thoughts and comments.  I also found it interesting that Lindsey Leavitt brought up the issue of what is considered "cheating" while doing things online. I want to say that I can see where Jeremy is coming from, when he believes that he was not doing anything wrong. I don't agree with him, however, because he crossed the line with the outside emails and lack of mentioning Mallory to his "cyberwife." If it was just innocent fun, Jeremy would have told BubbleYum about Mallory. I also enjoyed Oliver, and the way that he really didn't care what others thought about him (even while dressing up like a member of Motley Crue to play basketball). Oliver was also really supportive of Mallory and her aspirations, and he was willing to call his cousin out on his behavior.

Overall, this book is a enjoyable read that won't take you long to read, will lift your spirits, and have you chuckling out loud.