Wednesday, May 25, 2016
I look forward to the release of the second in this series (December 6, 2016) to see how she continues to develop these characters and create her own "Sherlock" world.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
This is a
lever novel unlike many I have seen before and I won't be
surprised if it gets on many "must read" lists. I say that because while it mentions many of the popular YA tropes of
the past few years, the overall theme is that real life is a much
scarier proposition for teens to navigate.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
For me, the writers I think of as "Beats" included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and a few others I paid less attention to. Gary Snyder, sort of, since Kerouac did base a character in The Subterraneans on him. But I don't like labels much, and neither do most of the writers. Critics, on the other hand, love to categorize artists and writers into this slot or that literary movement.
Politically & culturally, Patchen was a rebel. Though variously identified as a communist, anarchist, Trotskyist, beat, surrealist, or dadaist, he rejected all labels... Above all, he hated war. "Any man with a gun aimed at another man is Hitler."
Many of those labels could be applied to a lot of writers. The labels may help us appreciate their work, but I'm reminded of Duke Ellington, who didn't always like the category "jazz." He composed music. Period.
Several artists drew these comix, and several people wrote the profiles, making The Beats: A Graphic History a lot of fun!
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Amanda has just been picked up at a bus station by her Dad, who she hasn't seen in six year, needing to get out of the town where her Mom lives and start her life with a clean slate. She arrives in Lambertville, GA with a black eye and the overall desire to just crawl into a ball and hide after a stint in the hospital. She approaches her new school with the usual apprehensions about being the new kid in town, afraid she'll land in the same scrapes but with the hope that something will change, because she has.
You see, back at her old school she was known by her birth name, Andrew.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Strycker is 30 years old, and is a prime example of someone living their (possibly geeky/nerdy) dream life. He happens to really love bird-watching, and learning about animal behavior. As a result, he has traveled extensively around the globe, been on all seven continents, and made a living while writing for Birding Magazine (where he's an associate editor) and publishing surprisingly engaging nonfiction accounts of bird life and behavior. Having read great reviews in the newspaper, I snagged my copy in an airport bookshop while traveling, and was happy to have it as my companion.
The Thing With Feathers is divided into three main sections: "Body", "Mind", and "Spirit", each containing 4-5 chapters. The chapters aren't cumulative, but are stand-alone ideas, although there are obvious overlaps and inter-relationships as the book moves along. The very first chapter is about pigeons - specifically, racing pigeons, which manage to navigate distances really well and can often find their way home even when great lengths are taken to drop them someplace far away (and to confuse them about how they got there). Along the way during that chapter, Strycker relates stories of mammals (dogs and cats) who also found their ways long distances to return to their homes or families.
Monday, May 9, 2016
Andrews, as he showed in his first novel, writes teenage boys well and hilariously. Well, hilariously from my viewpoint. Me and Earl was a divisive book, and I imagine The Haters will be too. Wes and Corey manspread their extended manpart jokes throughout the novel; if that sounds crass and distasteful to you, The Haters will engender your hatred. If that sounds crass and amusing, this book is for you.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Scott Simmons is an awkward high school student who hangs out with a group of social outcasts--specifically several nerds plus an enormous guy named Ted who doesn't speak except to say "Hey, man" occasionally. For the most part Scott tries to just lay low and appear invisible to his classmates, hoping in this way to survive and eventually escape from his school.
Davey Burgess -- a name Scott thinks sounds like "something the movie Juno threw up"--is Scott's arch nemesis and near polar opposite. She's cute, the captain of the cheerleader squad and seeks out as much attention as the school will give her. She is also mean, relentlessly ambitious and has her sights set on becoming homecoming queen. She hates Scott as much as he hates her.
Yet, the two keep running into one another.
It all begins, as Scott describes, with a Dr. Pepper can that is somehow incorrectly filled with Hi-C. Scott manages to spill it on Davey's 80s spirit day t-shirt. This is the first and most innocuous of a number of strange occurrences that lead the two characters to an understanding that the universe as we know it is coming apart at the seams. Initially only Davey and Scott can see what's happening. For example, Scott's friends become lizards, try to eat him and then return to being human. And Davey's biology specimen frog comes to life and pleads with her to not cut it up.
After days of denial the two come to realize something is seriously wrong with the school as they slip in and out of realities populated by lizards, monsters, robots and sexy cannibalistic teenage girls who want nothing more than to mate with Scott before they consume him.
Friday, April 29, 2016
Deb Caletti imbues all of her stories with realistic sensibility and captivating characters. Though the premise outlined above may sound grim, Essential Maps for the Lost is buoyed by hope: hope for better days, hope for positive change. The story is led by two characters who struggle to take control over their own lives while they search for reasons or answers related to recent events. Written in third person, the book flips back and forth between Billy and Mads, allowing the reader to see both perspectives - which is especially interesting when they are in the same scene, so the dual narrative allows us to be privy to both characters' thoughts. The third person style also permits a cool omniscient element, with occasional phrases directing the reader's attention to something - almost like a finger pointing, "Look there," "Remember this moment later" - that are more like gentle nudges than pushy wink-wink moments.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
I had no idea that this had happened. When people are asked to name massive ships sunk on the open sea, everyone knows about the Titanic and the Lusitania, but the Wilhelm Gustloff is not on anyone's radar. It really should be. The sheer loss of life from this single maritime disaster was and is astounding.
In this terrific piece of historical fiction, Sepety's masterfully weaves the stories of a ragtag group fleeing in front of the Soviet advance across former Prussian territory at the close of World War II, a young German naval recruit preparing the ship to sail, and a Prussian teen escaping his past. As the Soviets press the Nazis back, foreigners, the wounded, the sick, Jews and all others considered to be of lesser stock than themselves are all rounded up and either executed or shipped off to a gulag.
I would highly recommend this to those that liked Code Name Verity or The Book Thief.