Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bandette Volume One: Presto! by Paul Tobin art by Colleen Coover YP FIC TOBIN

Bandette is the world's greatest thief!  She steals from the dastardly and gives to well, herself, but also to claims adjusters and museums (if the pay is right).  And she does so with panache,  style, flair, elan, dash, verve, zest, spirit, brio, ├ęclat, vivacity, and gusto!  She outwits the long suffering Police Inspector Belgique, matches wits with the other world's greatest thief (the title is currently contested), Monsieur, and draws the ire of the Arch Criminal Absinthe.  Can Bandette and her crew of urchin helpers defy the world's deadliest criminal empire?  Presto!

This book is flat-out fun. It is (sadly) so very rare to say that about any comics these days.  Every one thinks that being moody, violent, and depressing is super mature and deep. This results in a LOT of overly and unnecessarily violent books that all feel sophomoric instead of smart.  I mean, even Superman is brooding and dark these days!  SUPERMAN! So this retro-cool throwback to heist movies and books of the 60s is a glorious breath of fresh air.  Bandette, the carefree thief, who can outsmart everyone and have fun doing it is an antidote to the antihero!  The art is as vibrant, colorful, and fun as Bandette herself. It has a simple, painted look of old French posters, that evoke the spirit of energy and motion perfectly.  the characters aren't incredibly deep, nor do they need to be.  They are fun archetypes that move the clever and absurd plot forward. Also, it is very nice to see a female lead that isn't a pin-up girl wearing as little skin tight clothing as possible. This is a great read for fans of fun, happiness, and comics that are actually comic.

You can find Bandette (but you'll never catch her!) in our catalog here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergast YP FIC PRENDERG

Raphaelle (call her Ella. Do it.) is starting a new school with a new name and a new attitude. No more rivalries, no more 'pranks', no more glowing in the dark, and certainly no remembering the horrible night. She'll fit in, get through it, and start her 'real' life after high school. But when her muse calls, she has to answer and her art gets labeled a crime.  

I love a good verse novel and this is a very strong addition to the form.  It has snark to spare, confronts Serious Issues with a deft hand, a crackling pace, and a memorable narrator.  Of course, verse novels live or die by the narrator.  A good narrator makes the poetic language feel natural and confessional. A bad narrator painfully reminds you of your own terrible teenage poetry that should most definitely be burned with fire. Ella's dark as midnight on a moonless night humor made me want to be her partner-in-crime BFF from page one. She can be cutting and is already very removed and aloof when the novel starts, but her interest in The Starbucks boy later to be known as Sam, humanizes her and adds some much appreciated warmth in the early pages. Sam's issue with his Muslim faith conflicting with his growing interest in Ella are handled well without ever seeming to mock or bash the idea o religion itself.

The book is wonderfully interesting to read even before the plot gets into serious motion, which is always a sign of a good novel.  However, the story sometimes does seem to have a lot going on all at once.  There's a love forbidden by Religion, art vs. censorship, Mom's eating disorder, general high schoolery, and Ella's painful past all thrown in the mix.  Overall, I think the novel balances them pretty well and, of course, often life does hit you with everything at once, but there are places where it feels like more could have been done with less.  If you like verse novels like those by Ellen Hopkins or Carol Lynch Williams, you should greatly enjoy Audacious.

You find Audacious in our catalog here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (Book 1 in the Finishing School Series) 

Sophronia Temminnick (age 14) is incorrigible, or at least her mother and most of her family think so. She likes to climb things, such as people, trees, and dumb waiters. She is also very forward in her ways (doing things that are "not done" by "proper young ladies") So when her mother learns about Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, she decides to send Sophronia there. Unfortunately for her mother (and very fortunately for Sophronia), this is not exactly the kind of finishing school that her mother thinks it is. An attack on the group on the way to school is the first clue. The mention of a "prototype" carried by the woman who came to get her is the second. The werewolf that gets them on board the giant derrigible, which is the school, is the third. What Sophronia does not expect is to fit in so well to her new school so well, or to make some good friends along the way. Will her new skills, new friends, and incorrigible nature help get her through her first year in finishing school, get her hands on the "prototype," and foil the schemes of resident mean-girl Monique?

Having read Gail Carriger's Soulless, I had high expectations for Etiquette & Espionage, and I was not disappointed. Sophronia is a lot younger than Alexia, but still has the same independent and capable nature. Carriger always impresses me with her witty dialogue, and she can write a simple phrase that just has me rolling with laughter. This a very fun read, and I highly recommend it.    

Written in the same world as her Parasol Protectorate series (set 25 years earlier), Gail Carriger takes a YA look into Victorian England and Steampunk, along with series like The Steampunk Chronicles Series by Kady Cross (The Girl in the Steel Corset, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, The Girl With the Iron Touch), The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess), The Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld (Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath), and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volumes 1 and 2 (the graphic novels) by Alan Moore.

The second book in the series, Curtsies & Conspiracies was recently released and can be found in the New YP book section.

If you are interested in more Steampunk, check out the Steampunk display next to the catalog computers.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick YP FIC SEDGWICK

A reporter in 2073 investigates a remote island said to have discovered the secret to immortality, an archeologist in 2011 tries to dig the island's secrets from the ground, a downed pilot in WW II trying to go home, further back a painter, further back a ghost, further still a vampire, and last or first a Viking king.  Throughout it all a love that lives and dies again and again.  Seven stories that all make on tale of Midwinter Blood.

I can see very easily why this won the prestigious Printz Award. It is dark, lyrical, haunting, and stays with you every time you put the book down. It is a sad, beautiful, and frightening look at lives interconnected by love, loss, and violence. This isn't a ghastly and gory look-out-it's-right-behind-you!!! kind of book, it's a much creepier slow building tension. The feeling of inevitable and inescapable doom. The very first chapters introduce you to a strange, seemingly perfect island. Since, we've all seen the movies and read the books about perfect small towns, that alone puts the reader on edge. Sedgwick ratchets up the tension quickly but vaguely. You know something is very wrong, but not what. This will be a recurring theme!  

Sedgwick jumps each story further back in time repeating images, phrases, and similar characters. This can be maddening at first, because you get so little to go on to solve the ever weirder mystery. Even when you finish the book entirely you may feel like you have more questions than answers. I'd like to go on record as calling that a good thing. It's so refreshing to read a book that respects teen readers enough to let them come up with their own answers.

What's so great about this book, is that it's deep and simple.  Sedgwick relies on as few words as necessary making it a stark and spare style that fits his story and themes perfectly. It also makes it so much easier to be swept quickly again and again on the currents of time. This is a rare and unique novel that should be read by anyone that loves a good story, especially a dark and haunting one

You can find Midwinter Blood in our catalog here.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

YALSA's announces their Printz award for 2014!!!

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association if you're not into that whole brevity thing) awards one and only one book with it's most coveted honor (and pretty much the biggest deal ibn YA fiction PERIOD), the Printz Award.  Named in honor of Michael L. Printz, a long time member of YALSA who has passed away, the Printz is given to the book that exemplifies the best of what young adult literature can do.  This year's winner is...

Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick YP FIC SEDGWICK
Seven linked vignettes unfold on a Scandinavian island inhabited--throughout various time periods--by Vikings, vampires, ghosts, and a curiously powerful plant. Stories of the future, the past, fate, and tragedy wrap in and out of each other in an ever widening tapestry.  A strange, beautiful, and intricate novel of quiet power that will stay with you far after the last page. You can find Midwinter Blood in our catalog here. Watch out for my review coming soon!

The also excellent, very prestigious, and just-an-honor-to-be-nominated honor books are:

2014 Honor Books

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.  Find it in our catalog here. Read my positively gushing review here.

Kingdom of Little Wounds
by Susann Cokal YP FIC COKAL

The wedding festivities of Scandinavian Princess Sophia are thrown into turmoil by an illness plaguing the royal family and a courtier's plot that places a seamstress and a royal nursemaid at the center of an epic power struggle. Find it in our catalog here.
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Julian Crouch J FIC GARDNER

Following a stray football to the other side of a wall where there is a secret, Standish Treadwell discovers astonishing truths about a moon landing that the overseeing Motherland, a ruthless regime, is determined to hide. Find it in our catalog here.

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool YP FIC VANDERPOOLOdyssey-like adventure of two boys' incredible quest on the Appalachian Trail where they deal with pirates, buried secrets, and extraordinary encounters. Find it in our catalog here.