Thursday, December 18, 2014

War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay and Daniel LaFrance

War Brothers: The Graphic NovelWar Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While this graphic novel reads like a memoir, it is based off interviews that the author completed for her book by the same title.

The child solider problem is real and Americans need to realize what's going on. So for that, I'm glad I read this book. It's graphic, but tweens and teens need to understand how child soldiers happen and that there are grey lines between and good and bad in the world. We all have a breaking point.

I could help but think of the Alex Award winning title A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier--the two books could be paired in a World History class very easily.

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Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi, a Girl in PiecesGabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks, Morris Award peeps, for putting this debut novel as a finalist. Because it rocks! And, honestly, the cover kinda scares me so I wouldn't have picked it up without it being on a list.

Gabi is a senior and her life is complicated. Just like real life. Her gay best friend comes out, her other best friend gets pregnant, her meth head dad is swirling down the deep end. And she's never been kissed. And she's fat. And she's becoming a poet.

This has Printz Honor potential. A lot of unique voice here in Gabi--she's a girl I want to know. Her poetry is moving and her ups and downs are so realistic. Her struggles with Catholicism, race, self esteem, morals, etc. are so spot on. Love how the author tackles sex in this book, too. I giggled through the live birth scene.

It's rare that an author can combine poetry and pretty words with realistic, contemporary characters. Conservatives won't like this book. But, whoa, teens will eat this up.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon. Written by Matt Fraction. Illustrated by David Aja, Javier Pulido and Alan Davis.

Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a WeaponHawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And I don't usually read comic books, but this was actually darn good! I like Hawkeye from the Avengers SO MUCH MORE after reading this. He's cool. And hot.

If you haven't read comics in awhile, take a look at this one.

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Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks

Nothing Can Possibly Go WrongNothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Charlie and Nate are great friends, even though one is captain of the basketball team and one is president of the robotics club. When it's decided that the class president will be able to direct class funds to buy new cheer uniforms or fund a trip to the National Robotics competition, both end up running for class president. The election gets dirty as cheerleaders bully nerds and embarrassing pictures are unearthed and posted at school. Eventually, the two groups must work together to win a prize at a robot wars meet since the prize money could fund both groups.

Nothing heavy here, just a light high school read, although one of the characters is dealing with his parents' divorce.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks. Colors by Cris Peter.

The Adventures of Superhero GirlThe Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Superhero + new adult + reality = awesomeness.

I giggled at several parts, smiled at some, and related to many.

A graphic novel for all ages--Superhero Girl is a college-aged girl just trying to find her arch-nemesis. And trying to come out from under her superhero brother's shadow. And trying to find a boyfriend. And trying to afford the rent. The author of Friends with Boys and Zombies Calling has another winner here.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Strobe Edge, Volume 1 by Io Sakisaka

Strobe Edge, Vol. 1 (Strobe Edge, #1)Strobe Edge, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was listed on the 2014 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens list by YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association.

So I'll say it's okay. It's popular. But I have issues with it. Ninako is ignorant when it comes to love. At first, she thinks she may be in love with her friend Daiki because "he's a nice guy, and it's fun being around him." But then the hot guy of the school, Ren, talks to her after he bumps into her on the train after school. And, from then, on, it's all about her catching his eye and realizing that she's in looo---ve.

So evidently I'm not a fan of manga chick lit, but I know there is a HUGE fanbase of this stuff all over the world. But at least I'm trying to read things out of my comfort zone!

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, this is the perfect book for middle-aged female book clubs, but it's not the type of book I like to read. I felt like I was reading a Hallmark movie.

First, the obligatory goth teenager who befriends the orphan because they have so much in common made me sigh. And, of course, she ends up un-gothing herself once she has someone to love. Sigh.

Now the chapters about Vivian and the orphan train were great--I love historical fiction. Take out the modern day parallelism and I would have enjoyed this novel more.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Popular: a Memoir Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya van Wagenen

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern GeekPopular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow...this author has talent. Fifteen years old and she writes like this? She is one to watch!

Maya Van Wagenen was in junior high when she decided that she wanted to popular. On a whim, she settled down with an old copy of Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide from the 1950's and maps out her school year--hair in October, good grooming in February, clothes in January. Every month got a chapter and Maya settled in to improve herself. She started walking taller, wearing powder on her face, and pearls around her neck. She wore more skirts, flats, and brushed her hair a hundred times a night. And what did she learn? She learned that being popular is all about taking risks and saying hi to strangers. It's about getting the nerve to sit with other people at lunch. It's about realizing that junior high students admire kids like Maya who have the nerve to do things they don't.

Love this story--it's readable, funny, and her family is wonderful, normal, and supportive. It's also up for the Morris award this year--I think it's a strong contender. Love that Dutton/Penguin snatched this author up.

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Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)Just One Day by Gayle Forman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THIS is the book I needed as a teenager. Because it sure is the book I need as a thirty-something woman!

Some of you may know that I travel by myself quite a bit. This year I went to Scotland. Last year I went to Germany and Slovenia. These trips were big for me--it's a huge decision to travel as a single woman. And I really connected with Allyson as she steps off the train in Paris. I've taken so many wrong directions, followed the wrong steps (even with wifi and Google Maps on my iPod Touch), and taken trains and buses in wrong directions. But there is an empowerment to traveling alone and being independent. Honestly, I can do almost anything because I can travel by myself. And survive. And have fun.

But I have to admit that I was looking for my Willem, too. I've seen too many books and too many movies where the woman meets someone on the plane or at the bar or at the cafe and falls in love. Unfortunately, that didn't happen on the two trips I went on. But I looked. And I tried. And I did meet a cute German who looked just like Jon Bon Jovi. And another man who was so nervous about talking to an American librarian that he had to introduce me to all his friends so he knew I was real. That was fun.

Go to Europe, girls. Travel by yourself. Get some balls, as someone says to Allyson in this book. No regrets.

Allyson has a boring tour-guided trip to Europe, but things pick up when she decides to travel to Paris for one day with a man she just met. They fall in love (for one day) and it's magical. But she wakes up and he isn't there. She makes it back to London on her own and lives a year haunted--why did he leave? Was she just a one night stand? Finally she decides to take the bull by the horns--learn French, work and save money to travel to Paris on her own, and change from her pre-med major that she hates. She travels and hunts him down. But sometimes things don't work out perfectly. But, oh, love is good.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava LavenderThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't write prettily enough to give this book justice. First, the magical realism is beautiful--heart wrenching and the world in this novel is better than in any fantasy novel. Magic lives in that house at the end of the lane in Seattle. Magic. And I want to live near it.

I didn't cry, but I really felt like putting my head on my desk and weeping when the principal does. There are moments of pure horribleness and goodness and everything in between.

Teen appeal? I know a few I could give this to. The ones who aren't afraid of being called weird. This book is for them.

I hope it will see some Printz love in January 2015. At least I'd be pushing for it if I were on the committee this year! Voice, structure, atmosphere, poetry in prose....

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