Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ink by Amanda Sun YP FIC SUN

This is the first book in the Paper Gods series by Amanda Sun. Katie Greene is still reeling from the loss of her mother and moving thousands of miles away to live with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan. Her aunt thinks it best for Katie to just dive in to feel more comfortable in her new surroundings, by attending  public school, eating local foods, and visiting local places. Katie knows that she is struggling, though, with everything, but she has managed to make a couple of good friends at school, Yuki and Tanaka.

Then one day Katie witnesses an argument between Yuu Tomohiro, one of the princes of the high school, and his girlfriend (one of the kind that ends in a breakup). Katie isn't that interested in the fight, but when Yuu (his last name, by the way) drops his notebook, she sees the sketches he made in it move. Katie tries to ask Yuu about it, but he gives her the cold shoulder, even though weird things seem to happen whenever they are around each other. So she decides to follow him around to see what he is up to. Katie finds out that Yuu is a "kami," which in the Shinto belief are "gods" or "spirits" that live among the humans, and in Yuu's case, he can make things happen when he draws sketches in his sketchbook (or sketches out kanji). His drawings can move on the paper and come to life, and ink seems to come from nowhere whenever he is around. No one seems to understand why, but Katie seems tied to the kami, too.

Then another issues comes up between them, the yakuza. Yuu's best friend, Ishikawa, is trying to move up ranks in his yakuza group, and Katie fears that he will bring Yuu (and even herself) into an even more dangerous situation than just dealing with the drawings. The yakuza know about the kami and the kinds of things they can do, and they believe that the power might aid them in their cause. There might also be another group that has their eyes on the two teens, that has even more sinister plans.

I will admit that the idea of the kami is confusing. I have read the Kamisama Kiss manga series, but I still don't have a good grasp on what it means to be a kami. I did a little research, and it seems to me that the kami are similar to what the "nymphs" and "dryads" were in the Greek mythology, but I am not sure if that is what Amanda Sun is thinking when it comes to her characters. I really enjoyed the book, though, and I like the way that Sun paints a picture of the culture, language, and interactions of the Japanese people, especially with an outsider's viewpoint. I am really excited to ready the next book in the series (there is a little preview at the end of this book).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury YP FIC BRADBURY

Agnes Wilkins is seventeen years old and not ready for her debut into society (even though her mother is). She is well educated and well read, which makes her feel like she does not really fit into the mold that her mother wants her to fill (making a good match for marriage and running a household), and she dreams of taking trips over to Europe and Egypt, in order to give all of the languages she has learned a try.

The story begins when Agnes is invited, along with the rest of the families in her neighborhood, to an "Unwrapping Party" in Lord Showalter's garden. The guests are there to "unwrap" a mummy from Egypt. At this party, Agnes spots a strange man following her, who is later found murdered. She also keeps an artifact from the mummy. This artifact, which she takes to the British Museum, is far more important than she could ever imagine.

When asking about the artifact, Agnes meets Caedmon Stowe, a young man really interested in Egyptian artifacts and hieroglyphics. The two figure out that the artifact is not Egyptian, but that it is a secret message intended for a French spy with loyalties to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. It turns out that Napoleon is looking for an Egyptian artifact that will mean a lot to his efforts of taking over Europe. The two decide that they need to find the artifact first, to keep it out of Napoleon's (and the French spies' hands). All throughout the excitement of French spies and powerful artifacts, Agnes knows that she enjoys the company of Caedmon much more than that of Lord Showalter, although Lord Showalter is the best match she could ever hope to make. Agnes does understand the futility of prefering Caedmon to Lord Showalter, though. Caedmon is the son of a soldier, and Agnes is the daughter of a lord, who holds a place in the House of Lords. You'll have to read it yourself to see if Agnes and Caedmon end up foiling the Emperor's scheme and facing the issues of their stations to make a relationship work.

Unfortunately, the description of the book is very vague. It hints at mummies and murder. At the heart of the book, though, the main theme is how one fits into their world (even if it is 1815 and England). You do get to learn about Egypt, the Rosetta Stone, and how the British looked at Egypt and mummies, too. You also get to see how people received Jane Austen's books (or should we say, A Lady, as she went by when they were first published). The author does a great job of describing these things without taking anything away from the storyline. I really enjoyed this story all the way through, although I wish the book jacket had had a better desciption of what was in the story. This story was recommended by a friend, or I might never have picked it up. That would have been a huge mistake. Jennifer Bradbury does a great job setting up the story, and she really makes you like Agnes, although with my interest in British history, I also knew what tough issues Agnes was going to face being the way she was. Bradbury does not cover up the difficulties that the characters would face to make the story happier, though, which I really admired. A smashingly good success!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mojo by Tim Tharp YP FIC THARP

Dylan Jones wants 'it'.  Charisma, the x factor, that undefinable something: mojo. With mojo, you have power, respect, without mojo you have Dylan, a practical non entity with just enough friends to count on two fingers.  After he (literally) stumbles upon a dead body in a dumpster, and the richest girl in town go missing, Dylan figures his knack of being in the wrong place at the right time might just lead him to solve the case and maybe finding some mojo along the way.

Full disclosure: I picked this book up hoping it would be a memoir by Mojo JoJo.It wasn't, but dag-nab-it I ended up reading it anyways! It is one of a group of mysteries that takes the hard boiled style of the detective stories of Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett and transports them to a high school near you.  As a avid reader of those two-fisted who-dun-its I am a sucker for the gab and grit of those books thrown into a new setting.  Mojo does not disappoint.  It get's plenty hard boiled when our hapless hero happens upon some seriously out of his league criminality. Drug dealers, murder, kidnapping, private school gangsters, and class warfare all stand in the way of Dylan and his big scoop (and chance at some elusive coooool).  The book also has a serious humorous side as Dylan and his friends often crack wise (or crack stupid in his best bud's Randy's case) and find the funny side of crime and punishment.  It's like a bit darker version of the Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin (YP FIC BERK), which I loved. I will say that some of the close shaves Dylan gets out of are a bit fa fetched, but the book was so fun and fast paced I never really minded.  A great summer read for the mystery humor fans.

You can find Mojo in our catalog here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Join the Club(s)!

At Moore Memorial Public Library we have three monthly clubs for all 12-18 year-olds that are awesome or are interested in becoming awesome.

Teen Advisory Board (TAB): This group meets every month to discuss ways to improve the library for teens, work on projects for the library (displays, crafts, bookmarks, etc.), review books, discuss current events, eat snacks, and more.  This is a way for teens to earn Leadership Hours which are great for college applications and for that first job hunt.  This is a pressure free club. because you can come to as many or as few meetings as you are able to attend. To reward frequent attendance, if you come to 3 meetings within a 6 month period you get a FREE book!

We meet next Friday, July 12th at 1PM.  We'll be making a TAB's favorite books display!  So if you want to join up bring a list of 3-5 books you love and help us decorate and build our display!

Manga Club:  This is for all our otaku at the library!  We get together to discuss manga and do manga/anime related activities.  We've made manga cubbee craft, practiced 'vadering' (see left pic), done a billion fun different surveys and quizzes, made manga avatars, and loads more.  We meet again THIS FRIDAY at 1 PM!!! We'll be making origami, so be there or be sad!

Board Games You've NEVER Played: This group meets every Friday all summer!  We have TRULY KILLER games! We have enough variety to please just about anybody that doesn't hate fun in all forms. Plus you get the chance to school a librarian (me) in fun and unique strategy games and make him (me) weep the bitter tears of defeat!  Once the school year starts we have to go back to just (SOB) once a month, so enjoy the weekly gaming goodness while it lasts!  We meet from 2-5 every Friday this summer!

If you are ever unsure when we are meeting call (409) 949-3008, email, check our library events page here, OR ask Luke whenever you are next at the library!

Winger by Andrew Smith YP FIC SMITH

Meet Ryan Dean West, Ryan Dean is his first name. This is the least of his worries You can just call him Winger like everyone else that doesn't care what his name is and just knows he's a winger on the rugby team. not the least of his worries? Being in O-Hall the wing for miscreants and screw ups at prestigious Pin Mountain Boarding School. Worse, yet?  He's only 14 and a Junior. He reasons it could be worse he could be 15 and a Senior.  Either way every single person he knows is a minimum of two years older than him and considers him "a kid." Especially, and heartbreakingly Annie, the girl of Ryan Dean's heart (and other body parts we won't mention). Though the scrums, the blood, the puke, and the other body fluids of the year he'll learn more about life than he ever wanted to know and that there way more than one way to break your heart. 

Winger  is So! Darn! Great!  Stop what you are doing RIGHT NOW and read Winger. Don't even finish this review.  It's a waste of Winger reading time.  For those of you doubters out there that are still reading this and not Winger, a) ouch, where's the trust and b) I guess I'll have to convince you. For starters, this book is utterly hilarious.  Like busting guts and snorting milk funny. It will speak to the 14 year old boy inside of everyone!  Even if laughing uproariously at brilliantly stupid humor isn't your thing, it has genuine human emotion to spare!  The book is bursting with great supporting characters that are awesome enough to be the protagonists of their own book. even the total jerks are really well written total jerks and some (SPOILER ALERT) turn out not to be jerks at all! It has a great central love story!  Heck it has two!  Ryan Dean and Annie and Ryan Dean and his best friend Joey.  it is able to look at first friendship and first love in a way that is bracingly unsentimental.  You'll find yourself rooting for and against Ryan Dean throughout the book as he goes big and goes stupid in equal measure (again he's 14), but in a way that feels human and all too familiar for anyone that ever felt 'small' and hated it. The book also has a wonderful flow.  It's got Ryan Dean's cartoons, loads of weird asides from our narrator, and loads of seemingly inconsequential but clearly monumental important (when you're a teen) stuff actually happens.  It feels like Smith had such great material, dialogue, characters, and jokes that he could have easily doubled the book, but cut down to keep only the best of the best. The book feels really tight, like every scene serves a real purpose to further show character or move the story forward.  It makes for a really hard to put down book.  So for all of you out there that still aren't reading Winger and are actually reading this review, I apologize.  Clearly I am not a good enough persuasive writer to get you to read what might the best YA book of the year yet.  For everyone else enjoy reading what is DEFINITELY my favorite YA book of this year*.

You can find Winger in our catalog here

*Even if the ending was a total gut-punch/face-punch/kick-in-the-ribs of sadness!