Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Sin Eater's Confession: A review

Author: Ilsa J. Bick
http://www.ilsajbick.com/
Info: Carolrhoda Books, copyright 2013, 320 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A heartbreaking flashback of bigotry and fear.  A heartbreaking future of making amends and moving on.

People in Merit, Wisconsin, always said Jimmy was . . . you know. But people said all sorts of stupid stuff. Nobody really knew anything. Nobody really knew Jimmy.

I guess you could say I knew Jimmy as well as anyone (which was not very well). I knew what scared him. And I knew he had dreams—even if I didn't understand them. Even if he nearly ruined my life to pursue them.

Jimmy's dead now, and I definitely know that better than anyone. I know about blood and bone and how bodies decompose. I know about shadows and stones and hatchets. I know what a last cry for help sounds like. I know what blood looks like on my own hands.

What I don't know is if I can trust my own eyes. I don't know who threw the stone. Who swung the hatchet? Who are the shadows? What do the living owe the dead?


~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Ben is getting used to seeing dead bodies.  War will do that to you.  Make you numb.  But war can't take away the guilt that follows Ben around even surrounded by gunfire and chaos.  How do you forgive yourself for doing nothing?  For watching someone get hurt, over and over?  For letting rumors and prejudice keep you from doing what is right?  How do you forgive yourself for feeling?

The Awesome
Black forces the reader to take a good long look in the mirror?  What would you do if you were Ben?  What would you do if you saw a crime being committed?  A crime against a friend?  It seems so easy, but it's not.  And it wasn't for Ben.  His emotions were always right on the surface, and his internal struggle was very realistic.  As much as you would like to not like Ben; as much as you would like to condemn him for his decision making and shake him into reality, you can't.

The Not So Awesome
Merit, Wisconsin and a fundamentalist (rather cult-like) church seemed a bit of a stereotype.  I know that prejudice is alive and well across the country, but a small town and faith organization it seemed an easy out.

Overall, a well-written, thoughtful book.  It was assigned reading of sorts, and I'm not sure I would have picked it up on my own, but definitely worth the time.  For teen readers, it's a great discussion on the power of choice, the difficulty of morality, and the importance of communication.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Level Up: a graphic novel review

Author: Gene Luen Yang, art by Thien Pham
Info: First Second, copyright 2011, 160 pages

A review in 10 word (or thereabouts): A gamer tries to reconcile his passion with family expectations.

Dennis Ouyang has always struggled in the shadow of his parents' expectations. His path is laid out for him: stay focused in high school, become a gastroenterologist. It may be hard work, but it isn't complicated...Until suddenly it is.

Between his father's death, his academic burnout, and his deep (and distracting) love of video games, Dennis is nowhere near where his family wanted him to be. In fact, he's just been kicked out of college.

And that's when things get...weird.

Four adorable--and bossy--angels, straight out of a sappy greeting card, appear and take charge of Dennis's life. And so Dennis finds himself herded back onto the straight and narrow: the path to gastroenterology. But nothing is ever what it seems when life, magic and video games collide.


~Goodreads Description~

Not quite what I was expecting.  In my defense (which isn't really a defense) I was judging the book by the cover and thought hey! a Gene Luen Yang graphic novel about video games.  Not so much.  In typical fashion from the author, however, it was another touching, emotional book that struck a cord and left me thinking.  Dennis is trying to reconcile his passion for video games, denied him as a child, and family expectations after the loss of his father.  It's a story of forgiveness and acceptance.  Of following your passions and being open to the unexpected opportunities that life delivers.  It's also a warning to stay away from little angels who want to help you meet your destiny.

If you've got a free hour, enjoy this little gem of a graphic novel, and then go visit Gene Luen Yang's other titles.  It's worth it!



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top 10 Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

For a person who doesn't like talking animals...there are two on my list.  Interesting.  For some reason, I had a bit of trouble with choosing my memorable secondary characters.  I kept blanking.  Yes, I have read a book before.  So after much deliberation (and review of my Goodreads account) here are ten of my favorite secondary characters.

1) Luna Lovegood
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
 She's sweet and sincere, but kind of bonkers.  Love her.

 2) Death
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
 He's observant, patient, and surprisingly endearing.

3) Pickwick the Dodo
Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde
She might not talk, but she's wicked awesome, especially without feathers.
 
4) Cheshire Cat
Alice in Wonderland  by Lewis Carroll
 Totally creeps me out in an awesome way.

5) Isaac
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I very much want to play video games with Isaac.

 
6) Mrs. Whatsit
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Underneath all of those scarves is a wise, wacky lady.

7) Grimalkin
Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
So snarky, so mischievous yet so helpful.

 
8) Footnote narrator
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Brilliant.

9) Meriadoc Brandybuck
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
A little bit goofy, but in the end a lot brave.

10)  Elvis
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
He's the "king," even if he is a little bit dead.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Comic #1: Saga of the Swamp Thing Book 1

Created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben
Info: Vertigo: DC Comics, copyright 1983
Book 1: First seven issues #21-27

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A creature that's not human, but with more humanity than every human in the book.

A very pleasant surprise.  Alan Moore's writing style is almost poetic, "It's raining in Washington tonight.  Plump, warm summer rain that covers the sidewalks with leopard spots."  Kind of beautiful.  He's also a master storyteller.  While I was a little surprised how little the Swamp Thing was actually in The Swamp Thing, he has created a creature of humanity despite not being human.  It took me a bit to get used to the artwork.  I've read too many shiny-paged, highly stylized graphic novels, that it took some time to get used to the muted, well, everything, but I liked it. 

I can definitely understand why comic book lovers would rush to the store on new release days.  Luckily I didn't have to wait for each installment! It doesn't take long to really care about the characters and become absorbed in the storyline.

And I'm going to show my complete ignorance here, but I didn't quite understand the DC Universe thing.  I thought Swamp Thing was it's own story.  Sandman (review coming soon) was its own story.  The Justice League was its own story.  It took me a bit by surprise when characters started popping up in each.  Pretty cool.  So...yeah.  I'll most likely keep reading.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Emily's Comic Book Adventure


While partaking in the gloriousness that was Geek Week on YouTube, I discovered Amy Dallen on the Geek and Sundry channel.  She's the quirky girl who is obsessed with comic books, and by golly, if it isn't contagious.  So on Amy's suggestion, I've decided to embark on a comic book adventure, see what all of the fuss is about.  I read manga and graphic novels, but I tend to grab the ones the teens are interested in at my library.  But now I'm going to let the true enthusiasts guide me along my path.


So here's what's on my book shelf:
  1. Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben
  2. The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
  3. Jack of Fables: The Nearly Great  Escape by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins, and Andrew Pepoy
  4. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd with Steve Whitaker and Siobhan Dodds
  5. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley
  6. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
  7. Bone: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith
  8. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
What else do you think is a must-read for my list?

And if you haven't checked out the Geek and Sundry channel, it's a must.  You can watch Will Wheaton challenge celebrities to a variety of board games.  You can watch Felicia Day play video games with her brother.  And you can watch Amy Dallen totally geek out and share her love for comic books.

See you Monday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shadowfell: a review

Author: Juliet Marillier
http://www.julietmarillier.com/
Info: Knopf Books for Young Readers, copyright 2012, 410 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A young girl seeking safety finds she might just be the key to saving the kingdom.

Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill--a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk--Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec. 

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death--but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban's release from Keldec's rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.


~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Neryn sees people that others can't (not dead people...it's not that kind of a story).  These abilities have put her in danger and on the radar of the evil King Keldec who is seeking out anyone with magical talents.  Her only hope at survival rests on finding a hidden community of rebels, known as Shadowfell, to the north, before the king's men find her.  But what Neryn doesn't realize is that her abilities go far beyond seeing fairy-like creatures known as the Good Folk, and her destiny is more important than she ever could have imagined.

The Awesome
Think Lord of the Rings...without a ring...but all the awesomeness of a great journey.  Companions (some small) travel great distances to combat an evil force that is threatening the kingdom, and there is more to each character than first believed.  And now add in a mysterious, tall-dark-and-handsome (also sword wielding) gentleman who is torn between what he should do, and what he must do.  Just about the definition of awesome.

The Not So Awesome
I can't dive into book two until October.

How is this my first Juliet Marillier novel?  Really?  How?  Her almost lyrical prose is an absolutely pleasure to read, and her characters are full of heart and indecision.  This isn't a quick journey.  It's one to be savored.

Similar Titles The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Sabriel by Garth Nix

Favorite Quote “She went on because there was no going back.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday

Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)
By Alethea Kontis
Release date October 1, 2013 

Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?" As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.
 
~Goodreads Description~
 
Loved the whimsey of book one.  Kontis did an amazing job of integrating several different fairytales into one cohesive story.  With so many sisters int he Woodcutter family, hopefully Hero won't be the last!  And it has another pretty cover :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top 10 Things That Make Your Life As A Reader/Book Blogger Easier

Top Ten Things That Make Your Life As
A Reader/Book Blogger Easier
(Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)
 

1) Greenwood Public Library - Yeah...the library.  I know I work there so I'm a bit biased, but there's nothing better than a shelf full of new, shiny books to get you in the reading mood.  Unfortunately I can not take them all home.  :(

2) Goodreads - So, my "to-read" shelf has hundreds of books listed, but I can't remember the last time I actually referred to the list for my next read (why?  See above.)  But it's an absolutely wonderful tool to keep track of what I have already read.

3) Netgalley - Occasionally I have the joy of getting my hands on an Advanced Readers Copy of a book I'm dying to read.

4) YA Book Central - This fabulous site has a list of upcoming teen titles.  Awesome.

5) Novelist - Chances are your library has this database too.  It gives you readalikes, reviews, and additional details.

6) Pinterest - Memes, quotes, and fun book crafts; definitely inspiring when I don't have a review planned.

7) VOYA - Oh VOYA, how I love you.  A professional magazine for librarians with a plethora of reviews and book related topics.

8) Geek & Sundry: Amy Dallen Vlog - I'm about to embark on a comic book reading adventure, and this darling lady has tons of suggestions and tips.  Thank you Geek Week on YouTube!

9) Foreveryoungadult.com - These ladies are just plain awesome.

10)  The million and a half other blogs I follow...such a wonderful community!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Croak: a review

Author: Gina Damico
Info: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, copyright 2012, 311 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A town of exceptional puns and a job, that literally, kills.

Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex's parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape.

But Uncle Mort's true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure. He's a Grim Reaper. And he's going to teach Lex the family business.

She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can't stop her desire for justice - or is it vengeance? - whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again.

Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with her reaper skills?


~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Goodreads sums this one up pretty nicely.  Lex is expecting a torturous summer milking cows on her Uncle Mort's farm, but surprising, finds that there are no cows to be seen in the VERY small town of Croak.  She's a reaper, just like her uncle, and has been given the task of retrieving the souls of the recently deceased so that they may live peacefully in the afterlife.  It just so happens she's a natural, but when she is sent to retrieve the soul of  a young girl who has recently been murdered, she discovers that with power comes great responsibility.  Unfortunately for Lex, someone else has provenance in mind as well.

The Awesome
I mentioned the puns, didn't I?  The town is called "Croak."  The gym is called "Dead Weight;" They eat at "The Morgue;" and there are establishments called "Big Sleep," "Bucket Kickers," and "Pushing Daisies."  Kills me.  Beside the genius wordplay, Lex is a spitfire.  She's sassy, speaks her mind, quick with comebacks, fiercely determined, and tough as nails.  Sure, you want to throttle her occasionally, but that's normal.  She's a teenage girl.  And even though she's terribly stubborn, she undergoes a genuine transformation throughout the book, one I'm very eager to see continue throughout the series.

The Not So Awesome
The book would be traveling along at a steady pace, and then, all of a sudden, characters would make certain assumptions that would send the story propelling forward.  One scene in-particular caught me off guard, leading me to read it a couple of times to determine if I'd skipped over a few pages accidentally.

Overall, an extremely entertaining read.  I was pleasantly surprised when the book didn't take the turn I thought it was destined to take.  Damico spins the story in a new, refreshing direction (if you can call it that...there are, alas, lots of dead people about) and really builds a conundrum for Lex and the friends she makes in Croak.  The dialogue is spectacular, the conversation witty yet realistic, and the town so very interesting that I would love to visit, alive of course.

So very different than the paranormal romances flooding the market.  Here's a supernatural story that's both clever and thrilling, stock full of characters that you'll absolutely adore.





OH!  And super cool...props to the VOYA blurb on the back!  A fellow blogger (Superlibrarianblog.com) and former coworker wrote that review!  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Austenland: a review

Author: Shannon Hale
http://www.squeetus.com/stage/main.html
Info: Bloomsbury USA, copyright 2007, 208 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): An amusement park for the hopelessly romantic and a little bit insane.

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?


~Goodreads Description~ 

The Breakdown
Jane Hayes really doesn't want to become a lost cause.  When life is crummy and romances turn sour, Jane turns to the one man who can do no wrong, Mr. Darcy.  Terrified that she'll become a spinster because  no man can measure to her precious Darcy, Jane decides to kick her habit.  When an aunt leaves an all-expenses paid trip to a Regency era "amusement park" in her will for Jane, the Austen-junkie decides to go full immersion as a final goodbye.

The Awesome
I get Jane.  Not the obsession, but the feeling of being a little lost.  She's neurotic, but likeable.  She's a bit dense, but a great conversationalist.  Despite not really knowing what she wants out of life, she keeps hoping, keeps moving forward.

The Not So Awesome
Not the most well-written book I've ever come across, but that doesn't make it not awesome.  While I know it's Jane's story, I would have really liked to have gotten to know some of the supporting characters a little better.  Perhaps this is the fault of seeing the preview for the upcoming movie before reading the book.

But it was fun, and that's all that matters.  Do these places really exist?  Oh, I hope so, and if not, they totally should.  I'll admit it, I'd kind of like to go.  Not for some weird period hookup, but just the fun of living in a different time period for a week or two, taking long, roaming walks in the countryside totally unplugged, playing weird games by firelight have dinner.  There's no way I could stay in character, but trying would be hilarious. 

Have you watched teh trailer yet?  Had me in stitches...and it has J.J. Feild in it, yay!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Pitfalls of Pinterest

Pinterest should come with a warning label.  "Dear foolhardy viewer of many boards, if you're not domestically inclined, tread with caution."

Just about everyone in my library cooks, bakes, or crafts.  These very talented ladies could host their own NPR show.  For outsiders, like myself, pitch-ins are a nightmare.  There is inevitably one dish that sits untouched, and that one dish would be mine.  I don't blame them.  My side times rarely look edible.  I do my best to hide them in the back, and there have been moments when I even skipped over them, but it would be nice, just once, to cook something that was both beautiful and delicious.


So I saw this picture on Pinterest and thought, "hey, I can do that."  Glancing through the ingredients, I realized I had recognized all of them (which rarely happens) and there were no directions that left me puzzled (which often happens).  I could do this; it was basically just fancy spaghetti.  I bought the few items I needed and prepared for a delicious dish of "Healthy Chipotle Sweet Corn Fettuccine."  Oh Emily, you dreamer. 

Twenty minutes later I had a HUGE dish of something that in no way resembled  "Healthy Chipotle Sweet Corn Fettuccine."  Did you know that when the directions say "greek yogurt," they mean plain and not vanilla?  That you should not, in fact, put vanilla anywhere near fettuccini?  Awful.  I mean, really awful.  The confidence I felt just an hour before was gone.  Stupid Pinterest.  So my not so tasty fettuccini get put on the list of yet another Pinterest fail along with candle making, canvas wall art, and corn chowder.

But it's fun.  It's fun trying new things, trying to put your own flare on a space in your home.  You don't have to be Martha Stewart; you just have to love the process.  Sure, the process often includes a spurt of choice words, but there are always a few laughs in there as well.

So I solute you, all you lads and ladies who aren't afraid to try new things.  And for those of you that come to domesticity naturally...take a bite of that dish that is a little less than perfect at your next pitch-in.  You might just make someone's day!

What's on your list of Pinterest fails?


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Certain Scientific Railgun: a manga review

Author: Kazuma Kamachi, art by Motoi Fuyukawa
Info: Seven Seas, copyright 2011, 192 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Little kids with psychic powers and overly friendly friendships.

Welcome to a world where mysticism and science collide, and supernatural powers are derived from either science or religion. At the heart of this world is Academy City, an advanced metropolis whose population is comprised mostly of students. The majority of students are enrolled in the city’s "Power Curriculum Program," where they must learn to master their latent psychic powers. Out of several million students, only seven are deemed powerful enough to have Level 5 status.

Meet Mikoto Misaka, the third most powerful Level 5 esper in Academy City. Together with her best friend Kuroko Shirai and the other members of Judgment, a student-run law enforcement agency, Mikoto delves deep into the dark heart of the scientific sprawl she calls home, and uncovers secrets she wishes she hadn’t!


~Goodreads Description~

Hmmm...yeah.  Not my favorite, probably because, as usual, I never really figured out what was going on.  If  I'm correct, crime is running amok in the city and a group of students known as Judgement are policing the streets trying to keep the peace.  The members of Judgement have the strongest psychic powers, and use them against criminals.  Why are the only members of Judgement children?  Really...I mean, who leaves crime control to little girls?  Where are the ADULTS?!  And why are the girls so touchy-feely with their children.  No.

So not crazy about this one, but as usual, only one volume in might be rushing a final consensus.  Perhaps I'm missing something.  Wouldn't be the first time!

Have you read this one?  Thoughts?

Happy reading!
 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top 10 Books With a Roadtrip Setting

Top 10 Favorite Books With Road Trip Settings
(Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

For today's Top Ten, the topic is favorite books with "x setting."  I mulled this one over awhile.  Some suggestions were "futuristic societies" (love those), "set mostly in schools" (love those too), during World War II, books set in California, etc. etc. etc. (channeling my inner King and I!)  What to do...what to do.  At first I thought maybe books set in Prague.  It seems like every great chase scene is set on the streets of Prague.  Then I thought, why not books set in England?  I love England.  But I just wasn't feeling that either.

So I decided to settle on books set on the road.  The ever popular road trip novel.  Wind in your hair, radio blasting fun.  Road trip books tend to be my favorite.  I really appreciate the idea of a journey, that the character you meet at the beginning isn't the same character by the last page.  Through travel, we experience, we observe, and we grow.  And while the destination can be the best part, it's the conversations we have along the way that make for a great trip.

 1) Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
So beautiful and heart-wrenching...with some killer tunes.

 2) 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
My fantasy (without the dead aunt of course). Just a backpack and Europe.  Sigh.

 3) Paper Towns by John Green
Definitely about the journey, and I loved Green's discussion on making people who we want them to be instead of accepting them for who they really are.

 4) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Perhaps I'm cheating on this one...but they are traveling, and they do start in one location and end in another.
Best plane ride ever.

5) Going Bovine by Libba Bray
A great roadtrip, albeit a tripy one (and a gnome!)

 6) Just One Day by Gayle Forman
A day that will stay with Allyson forever, and another roadtrip just around the corner!

 7) Crispin: Cross of Lead by Avi
A long journey, a longing for family, and a desire for the truth, all wrapped up in a fun medieval package.

 8) An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Any roadtrip with Hassan is the best roadtrip ever. 

 9) The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The ultimate journey books.  Nothing quite like good friends going a stroll to the depths of Mordor!
 
10) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
So not technically on a road...but a journey through unexpected lands none the less.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Freaks Like Us: a review

Author: Susan Vaught
http://www.susanvaught.com/ 
Info:  Bloomsbury USA Childrens, copyright 2012, 240 pages

When Jason Milwaukee's best friend Sunshine vanishes, Jason knows that something is terribly wrong, but solving her disappearance will require pushing through all the voices in his head and then getting the world to listen to him. His schizophrenia is stopping him from remembering the events leading up to her disappearance, and often he discounts his own memories, and his own impressions. But his deep knowledge that he would never hurt his friend, plus the faith of his parents and a few others in the town bring him to the point of solving the mystery. In the end, it's Sunshine's own love for Jason (Freak) that persuades him of his own strength and goodness.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Jason is an “alphabet,” a term his friends created to describe their disabilities and define their place in school.  He can usually keep the voices in his head in control, but when he gets stressed, he struggles to define reality and trust the people keeping him safe.  When Sunshine mysteriously disappears after school one day, the fear and confusion sets Jason into a spiral, and he desperately attempts to hold on himself and focus past the voices long enough to find that she is safe.

The Awesome
Jason is a pretty awesome dude despite the fear of a mental breakdown, mistrust, and loneliness.  He has created a family of pure understanding in Drip and Sunshine.  Their loyalty is admirable and their respect and appreciation for who they are as individuals puts so many other characters to shame.

The Not So Awesome
The lack of a backstory hurt the plot a bit.  Jason is an interesting, but often times frustrating, narrator.  Yes.  Probably the point.  But a few plot blips left me wanting a little more, questioning decisions made.  Did Jason do something in the past that might have made his father suspicious?  Why would his mother immediately think to bring a lawyer?  I just couldn't figure out, through the scatter, why and FBI agent would jump down the throat of a young boy who had previously shown no signs of aggression.

Freaks Like Us is narrated solely by Jason, and in a sense, the voices in his head.  Vaught pushes her young
character to the extreme and takes the reader on an emotional ride through the first twenty-four hours and beyond of Sunshine’s disappearance.  The chapters are broken up by the hour of the search which allows for a fast reading pace. 

This is not the first story I’ve read from the unique perspective of a person with a mental disability, and honestly, not the best, but Vaught’s novel is definitely worth the read.  If you are a fan of realistic fiction from unique perspectives that give a voice to people with disabilities, check out Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Geeking Out During Geek Week

So...big news last Sunday...the announcement of the 12th Doctor.  My first thought: thank goodness it's not a woman!

Which, I understand, sounds completely un-feminist...but I'm not going to apologize.  The Doctor is a man, and while I wish this new edition was a wee bit younger (because I like my Doctor's rather manic and full of energy), perhaps Peter Capaldi will still be spry and interesting.  And mashable makes some excellent points (12 reasons why  the 12th Doctor Could Be the Best Ever)...so, I have little doubt that I will come to love this newest installment.  I didn't think I'd ever grow to like Matt Smith after the VERY devastating loss of David Tennant, but I did (thanks to "The Lodger," one of my favorite episodes).  So there's always hope.

And in other Geek news (well, Emily news), I finally finished watching the TV series Chuck.  Now I'm heartbroken.  It's over.  A day out and I already miss Casey, and Morgan, and Lester, and Big Mike, and Captain Awesome...okay, I miss them all.  What a fantastic show!  Every episode was stuffed full of pop culture references that made me squee. (Has any other show pulled off a Warriors reference?)  The story of an everyman who finds himself in an extraordinary situation and discovers that he's far more than he ever dreamed he could be...I laughed; I cried; and I enjoyed every single minute.
If you missed it the first time around, check it out now.  You won't regret it.


Finally, in case you've missed it, it's Geek Week over at YouTube.  Check out the fabulous, hilarious, original videos they've been spotlighting.  There's even a geek IQ test.  How geeky are you?

And there's an Easter egg hunt just like in the unbelievably awesome Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  What?  You haven't read it yet?  I'm so disappointed.  The author wrote the screenplay for Fanboys.  (Windows - "You guys both got to stop perpetuating this myth that Boba Fett is some kind of bad-ass. All right? He has a jet pack. So did the Rocketeer. Really cool. When it comes time for battle, the man's Michael Bay - all style, no substance.")  No brainer.

See you next week!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Darth Vader (and children): two reviews

Do you ever pretend to use the force when you walk through automatic sliding doors?  Try to convince people "these are not the chocolate candies you are looking for"?  Claimed something smelled worse than a tauntaun?  Then maybe...just maybe, these are the books for you!

Darth Vader and Son
Author/Illustrator: Jeffrey Brown
http://www.jeffreybrowncomics.com/
Info: Chronicle Books, copyright 2012, 64 pages

What if Darth Vader took an active role in raising his son? What if "Luke, I am your father" was just a stern admonishment from an annoyed dad? In this hilarious and sweet comic reimagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith.  

~Goodreads Description~


Graphic genius.  Jeffrey Brown explores the hypothetical what-if of Star Wars parenthood, following a variety of scenes from the movie with a different spin.  Hilarity ensues...at least, if you are a part of Star Wars fandom (which you should be...duh).

This book will take you all of five minutes to read, but it's a five minutes well spent.  The artwork is fun, the dialogue awesome, and the references highly amusing.  Check out Brown in all his splendor in Darth Vader and Son.




Vader's Little Princess
Info: Chronicle Books, copyright 2013, 64 pages

In this irresistibly funny follow-up to the breakout bestseller Darth Vader and Son, Vader--Sith Lord and leader of the Galactic Empire--now faces the trials, joys, and mood swings of raising his daughter Leia as she grows from a sweet little girl into a rebellious teenager.  

~Goodreads Description~


 
Now, he couldn't leave out Leia, could he?  Even Vader seems to be having trouble raising a teenage girl.  She's a bit moody, in love with a rebel, and a terrible driver.  Another stroke of genius.  Not quite as good as it's predecessor, Vader's Little Princess still causes genuine giggles for Star Wars lovers.  Check it out!






Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Friend Dahmer: a graphic novel review

Author: Derf Backderf (awesome name!)
Info: Harry N. Abrams, copyright 2012, 224 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): High school could have been sooo much worse.

You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides.

~Goodreads Description~



Pretty creepy.  Backderf knew Dahmer in school.  He considered him a friend, a troubled friend, but still a friend.  Derf Backderf tells the story of the Dahmer he knew, the loner and oddball who made him laugh.  He attempts to humanize him which is difficult because even at a young age Dahmer was troubled, terrifying.  Was Dahmer a product of the environment he grew up in?  If an adult had stepped in, would the notorious seriel killer have just been a normal boy?  We’ll never know, but Dhamer left a lasting impression on the author.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the artwork, but the story moves well and is divided into sections to show Dhamer’s retreat into, well, darkness I suppose.  Backderf obviously is trying to tell his side of the story with compassion, remembering the boy he knew, but shedding light on the internal struggles he was facing.  Not my favorite graphic novel but definitely worth the read. 


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