Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Jack Gantos, author of the Rotten Ralph series and now winner of the Newbery award for Dead End in Norvelt stops by Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! to play What's My Job.  We learn that Jack Gantos is the only Newbery winner to ever serve 18 months in federal jail on drug smuggling charges.

In other Children's Youth Award news, none of the morning shows would interview the winners.  From PW.

Since we're not going to hear it on TV,  let's find out where the award winners were when they found out they'd won.  From PW

Daniel Handler, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events and Why We Broke Up gives relationship advice on Twitter.  Hilarity ensues.  From The Huffington Post.

Authors in the UK protests changes in copyright laws.  From The Guardian.

YALSA's great graphic novels of 2012 list is out as well as the 2012 best fiction for young adults.

Things got a bit nasty at ALA midwinter.  I totally agree that this is an issue.  Things can get a bit scary some times.  Remember how I was almost crushed to death against a book table at the annual conference last summer?  Messed up.  People need to calm down.  From Biblio File.

How Dr. Seuss got his start "on Mulberry Street."  From NPR.

This map of Panem is AWESOME!  I would be living in District 13.  It was made by aimmyarrowshigh and badguys.   
Read how they did it. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dotter of Her Father's Eye by Mary M. Talbot, art by Bryan Talbot

Mary Talbot remembers growing up with her father, a renowned James Joyce scholar.  Talbot draws parallels between her own life and the life of Joyce's daughter, Lucia.

An interesting story.  The main parallel between Mary and Lucia was that they both had fathers who were praised and admired, but when it came to their own families, they were sadly lacking.

Mary's father had moments of kindness and fun, but most of the time he seemed emotionally abusive.  He was focused on his work and writing about Joyce, which did not bring in much money for most of Mary's childhood, leaving Mary's mother to not only provide for her family, but also care for all the children.

I thought Lucia's story was fascinating, and I felt absolutely awful for her.  I didn't know anything about Lucia Joyce before reading this.  She was an incredibly talented dancer, but both her mother and her father discouraged her.  It was so sad to see her so excited after a performance, being praised by critics and other dancers and to have her parents say, "Yes, very nice dear, but when are you going to stop this?"  Her father's moving around and insisting she come with her ruined her career.  When she lashed out in anger after giving up dance at the request of her father, her brother had her put in an asylum.  The poor woman.  If she was actually crazy, it was completely the fault of her parents, but she probably wasn't.  She was finally expressing what she felt and she got shut up for the rest of her life.  Yikes.

Mary got pregnant young and she and her then boyfriend, Bryan, got married.  And they're still married to this day.  That made me happy.  They have two children and are making books together.  Lucia's story did not have a happy ending, but I think Mary got one.

Dotter of Her Father's Eye come out February 8, 2012.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel has terminal cancer kept at bay by her miracle drug.  Augustus' cancer is in remission, but not before he lost a leg.  Hazel and Augustus meet in support group (which Hazel thinks is ridiculous) and their friendship begins.  After Hazel shares her favorite book An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten with Augustus, the two end up on a Last Wish trip to Amsterdam to meet the author, who is nothing like they expected.

Your good, John Green.  I do so love your books.  And yes, there was some crying at the end, which is saying something, because I do not usually cry over books, even ones I really like.  The only other book, besides The Fault in Our Stars that I was actually full out crying was Monsters of Men

I've been having a little trouble writing about this book, which is why this review didn't come out before.  If I say it's not a cancer book, would that make sense?  Yes, it's about kids with cancer, but it's not about kids with cancer.  It's really about how you live your life, whether lightly, or heroically, or just regularly.  There were no dying children speaking like prophets, and there were really realistic portrayals of what cancer can be like at the end (it sucks).

And it was funny.  One of the things I look forward to reading John Green's books is laughing out loud.  It happened many time whiles reading this one.

I think the point that a lot of John Green's characters sound the same is a fair point.  His characters tend to be very smart and snarky.  They're quick with a comeback and do a lot of deadpanning and sarcasm.  I don't care, because that is my favorite character.  I love that voice and don't get tired of reading books that are written in that voice.  What can I say?  It's my favorite.  I disagree that it's an unrealistic teenage voice.  There are plenty of super smart teenagers out there that totally have conversations like this.  I have met some of those kids.  I think a lot of those kids were at the book tour.  It's not like they're talking like college English professors (Dawson's Creek, anyone?), they're talking like smart teenagers.  Which exist.  Yes, a bit more polished than you might hear in the classroom, but it's a book.  Moving on.

I loved that Hazel's parents were actual characters you could care about.  There aren't very many real parents in YA books.  Most of the time they're just off stage.  Hazel's parents were very involved in her life.  I loved that there were scenes of them eating dinner together, and we weren't just learning more about Hazel during those times, but about her mother and father too.  They didn't fall into the "all adults are stupid" stereotype.  Sometimes they were right when Hazel was wrong, and sometimes even though it might have been best, Hazel needed to do something else.

There are lots of spoilers coming up.  If you haven't read the book yet, don't ruin it for yourself.  Also, I'm going to say "fuck" a lot.  You've been warned.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst

Lily has one goal in life, go to Princeton just like her father and grandfather did. She can't help but think that going to Princeton will lead to better things, better than her grandpa's flower shop, better than her crazy mother, better than her deceased father who no one talks about. When her grandpa invites Lily and her mother to go with him to his reunion it turns out that Lily is being given the Legacy Test that could lead to her automatic admission into Princeton. Of course Lily is terrified and determined to find the key that will get her into her dream school, which grows exponentially as she learns that Princeton is not what she thought it was, i.e. magic. As she starts her quest she makes the acquaintance of a dreamy were-tiger, a gorgeous knight, and more gargoyles than she had anticipated; she watches as a seemingly simple 'old boys' test turns into a quest to save the magical compact between two worlds and her family's lives.

Let's be honest this was not a deep life-altering tale. It was fluff, unadulterated magically romantic fluff. And I enjoyed it, really enjoyed the hell out of it! It helped that the dialogue was pretty snappy, characters were engaging, the plot line adequately built, and it didn't pretend to be anything that it wasn't. It didn't go for deep and meaningful, it didn't go for gut wrenching, it was satisfied with being entertaining and that's how it should be. I'm not going to go into greater detail, because I think it is really unnecessary. This book was delightful and I actually don't feel super strongly about it, but I'm mostly posting this in the hopes that my friend Laura will read my review, then skim through the book, and then take me on a tour of Princeton and show me all the buildings and gargoyles. Dorky? Absolutely but necessary to appease my literary geekhood.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Two children, Dodola and Zam, escaped from slavery and live alone for years in the desert.  As they grow older, their relationship becomes strain as Dodola sees Zam as her child and Zam begins to experience sexual attraction.  Dodola is captured and becomes a slave in the sultan's harem.  Zam goes in search for her.  Years pass, but the two never stop looking for each other.

Well.  So.  I heard lots of mixed things about this one.  Some were saying it was the most amazing thing ever.  Others disagreed and had major problems with it.

I also had problems with it.  But first things first.  It was beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.  All of Craig Thompson's work is beautiful and I love his style of drawing and how gorgeous it can be in just black and white.  So Habibi was no exception.  Beautiful as always.

Maurice Sendak and Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert decided he wants to cash in on the the trend of celebrities writing children's books. Thus, he went to talk to Maurice Sendak. You must watch them if you haven't already. It's amazing.

Part I

Part II

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Next Day by John Porcellino, Paul Peterson and Jason Gilmore

This graphic novel starts with a warning.  "This graphic novella is built from intimate interviews with four people who have attempted suicide.  It includes descriptions of actual attempts and traumatic events that may be upsetting to some readers."  It is the story of four young people, Tina, Ryan, Chantel and Jenn, who all attempt suicide.  Each individual's story is told, leading up to their suicide attempt and what happened after.

I think it was a very brave thing to do.  Suicide, depression, and other mental illnesses are still taboo subjects.  It's something to be ashamed of and people don't like to talk about.  It was brave for these four individual's to share their stories and the struggles they face to this day, and it was brave for the authors to put it together and publish it.

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness.

Shortly after Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont timewalk to London, 1590, they discover that the past may not provide a safe haven after all. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy Matthew Roydon, the vampire falls back in step with a group of radicals known as the School of Night who share dangerous ideas about God, science, and man. Many of his friends are unruly daemons - the creative minds of the age who walk the fine line between genius and madness - including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Matthew, himself, is expected to continue to spy for Queen Elizabeth, which puts him in close contact with London's cutthroat underworld.

Together, Matthew and Diana scour the bookstalls and alchemical laboratories of London where they follow the elusive trail of Ashmole 782 - and search for the witch who will teach Diana to control her powers.
(Summary from Goodreads)

You might remember that I  reviewed Discovery of Witches back in April, and loved the book. I've been waiting impatiently for the sequel and am delighted that I have only six short months for it to come out. If you haven't read Discovery of Witches, do it. Soon. But make sure you clear out a couple days because it's massive.

Shadow of Night comes out July 10.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ashes Ashes by Jo Treggiari

A tenth of the world's population is dead in the first epidemic, more die in the second wave. Natural disasters keep people fending for their lives, and sixteen year old Lucy is trying to survive in the Wilds just outside of New York City. Her family is dead and Lucy lives in constant fear that she will not survive the next day. When she is chased down by a pack of dogs, a young man saves her and she joins his commune when a tsunami destroys her hut. She must learn to trust and rely on others, overcome her prejudices against the S'ans (the infected that survived and now carry horrible scars), and deal with her attraction to Aiden, even as the Sweepers raid the little tent city more frequently on the search for something or someone. As Lucy discovers that there is more to her own back-story than she first realized, she must decide whether to stay and fight for the people she's become close to or run north.

This had a super strong start. Extremely atmospheric and a great history of how this world developed. I liked Lucy's voice, she was strong, spunky, moody without being obnoxious, and realistic responses to what life threw her way. Unfortunately I did not love the plot after the first four chapters. It slowed way down. Like a snail's pace. All of a sudden we're trying to deal with Lucy gardening, like all the time and a flirtation with a random guy. I liked the secondary characters, but there was some random focus on them. I didn't really understand why we didn't spend more time with Aiden and Del and really build up the love triangle there. Or why we didn't see or hear more of Leo so his death meant more. Why didn't we get to know more of Sammy or Del? Why was there a rather lame ending, that seemed overly action-y in the whole scope of the book.

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 ALA Youth Media Awards

The results of the Youth Media Awards are in, and per usual, they go to books I've never heard of!  Huzzah!

  The Printz Award Winner: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Honor Books:
Why We Broke Up, written by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman (Look!  One I've actually read!)
The Returning, written by Christine Hinwood
Jasper Jones, written by Craig Silvey
The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater

Newbery Medal Winner: Dead End in Norvelt written by Jack Gantos

Honor Books: 
Inside Out & Back Again written by Thanhha Lai
Breaking Stalin’s Nose written and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

 Caldecott Medal Winner: A Ball for Daisy illustrated and written by Chris Raschka

Honor Books:
Blackout illustrated and written by John Rocco
Grandpa Green illustrated and written by Lane Smith (Yay Lane Smith!)
Me … Jane illustrated and written by Patrick McDonnell

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award: Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson

Honor Books:
The Great Migration: Journey to the North by Eloise Greenfield
Never Forgotten by Patricia C. McKissack

Get full results for all awards here.

So there you have it.  What do you think?  I'm starting to get super annoyed with the Printz committee.  Where's Chime?  Where's Daughter of Smoke and Bones?  They're not even honor books? What is this Where Things Come Back that no one has ever heard of?  It better be pretty flipping fabulous.

Friday, January 20, 2012


The most famous man in the literary world, if you are under three feet tall, is Mo Willems.  From The Washington Post.

The 100 best-selling books of 2011.  Look at all the books on the list that are considered children's or YA!  From the USA Today.

Listen to Walter Dean Myers on NPR.

Happy 50th birthday, A Wrinkle in Time!  From big think.

Same day digital release of comics is becoming the norm.  From PW.

British comic book artist Philip Bond has drawn a very cool series of real-life female astronauts.  Check it out. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dystopian Domination

This month long celebration of all things of the dystopian genre is hosted by Amaterasu Reads and Fragments of Life. I can't believe that I didn't pick up on this earlier ( you all know I love the dystopian) and pimp it out for all it's worth. It started January 9th, and they have author interviews and giveaways almost every day of January. Here's a description from the blog.

"It's just this month long celebration for books in the wonderful and all too awesome dystopia genre. And for those who participated last year, it was a month filled with awesome interviews, reviews, insights from various authors and fabulous giveaways."

So check it out and glory in the wonder of dystopia.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Babysitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M. Martin adapted by Raina Telgemeier

The saga begins as Kristy convinces Mary Anne, Claudia, and new comer Stacey to start a club to babysit for the neighborhood. While the foursome tries to deal with new clients and new kids, they also have to deal with their own lives and the pressures and changes that abound. Will their friendship survive?

Obviously not a long in-depth summary, but I kind of feel like everyone knows the Baby-Sitters Club series. Raina Telgemeier does a commendable job of encompassing who each character is. Nothing is outrageous or mind-blowing, but perfectly acceptable at introducing the
BSC to a new generation. Mostly this is just an excuse for me to promote the "Where are They Now" by Emily Weiss, which makes me giggle every time that I read it.

"Janine's superior intellect and demanding career left little room in her life for anything else. She has many, many parakeets as a result."

Hilarious. Of course all this Baby-Sitters Club chatter brings one thing to the forefront of my mind:

It's been stuck in my head all day.
Babysitters Club... Say hello to your friends.... Babysitters Club.....

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Illuminate by Aimee Agresti.
Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything changes when she is awarded a prestigious internship at a posh Chicago hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous strangers: the powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit. As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel? Illuminate comes out March 6.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Morning Glories Vol. 1 by Nick Spencer, Joe Eisma, and Rodin Esquejo

Morning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. Only the intellectual elite are allowed into the hallowed halls. For the new students, this could be the start of an incredible future.

Casey is an outrageously smart girl, with a drive to outdo her peers and do what's right. Morning Glory is Ike's last chance after being kicked out of seven other schools, he is a privileged psychopath with no real desire to care for anyone else. Zoe always gets what she wants, especially if it's coming from a boy. Hunter is the boy next door, with a strong moral compass and a fatherly benevolence. Jade is a rather stereotypical emo, with a rather unhealthy crush on her teacher. Jun has an agenda and the abilities to carry them out, but no one else knows what they are. They think they're all special in some way, until they meet one another at Morning Glory Academy. As they try and survive orientation, they must question not only why they've been chosen for the school but also what the true agenda of the sadistic Miss Daramount is, and what else is inhabiting the school

I would like to state that I wasn't gung ho about this series when I picked it up. It sounded too violent and a bit cliche to hold anyone's attention. That's when I read the first ten pages and got bitch-slapped in the face and sucker-punched in the gut. This graphic novel is a fast-paced psychological thriller. Yes it's violent, and yes there's some romance, but it's also got more twists than the first season of Lost. I kept reading it and thinking, "What the what?" Well that's not really what I was thinking, but my parents read this so we'll keep it PG-13. Morning Glories never really lets you stop to ponder why something is, it is so crazy fast. It just leaves you with the absolute need to continue reading in the hope that something, anything, will be explained or some crumb of information will be handed to you. Instead Nick Spencer makes you work for it. You can't say once you've finished that you get anything in this literary universe, but you know that you crave a bit more. Fan-fricking-tastic.

To Dance: a Ballerina's Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel

When she was six, Siena was told that it was impossible to fix her flat feet but as a last effort she and her mother enrolled her into ballet. Siena soon became entranced with dancing and it soon completely shaped her personal and family's life. It was through dance that Siena was introduced to an outside world, and became the impetus for the family move to New York from San Juan. Every waking moment was given to dance, which brought her continuous new experiences and introduced her to new people. 

Though eventually Siena has to give up dance because of severe injuries, the influence of dance on her life and life's perspective continues.

I quite enjoyed this book. It's a quick read, and though a rather romanticized view of Siena's life, I like the fact that she didn't play down how difficult the actual life of a dancer is. It was a sweet and somewhat thought-provoking memoir. That's all I have to say about it. Done.

Monday, January 16, 2012

John Green Tour: Don't Forget To Be Awesome

Tuesday, January 7, was a very exciting day for John Green fans.  Not only was it the much anticipated release of his new book The Fault in Our Stars, but also the kick-off of his book tour.  This first stop was in Massachusetts, and was GOING to be held at my school, but very sadly for us, due to John Green's rock starness, we lost him because our auditorium wasn't big enough.  It was very sad.  However, because they were very sorry that they had to move it means that we got preferential parking, seating and were the first to get books personalized, which made us all feel very special indeed.

This was like no book signing or author talk I have ever experienced before.  It was crazy.  It was like going to a concert.  It was a show, really.  When I arrived with a van full of VERY excited teenager girls (SO excited.  Like, seeing a celebrity excited), we parked directly behind The Fault in Our Stars van and beheld a line of teenagers stretching out the doors down the sidewalk.  It really quite warmed my heart to see all the young people so incredibly excited to see John and Hank Green.

Above World by Jenn Reese

Aluna is a Kampii (don't call her a mermaid) who lives in the City of the Shifting Tides.  The Kampii have lived under the sea for generations, having no contact with the above world of humans.  But now, the breathing devices that allow the Kampii to live under water have begun to break, and no one knows how to fix them.  The Kampii elders chose to ignore the problem and Aluna decides to take the problem into her own hands.  With her friend Hoku, Aluna journeys to the above world in search of HydroTek.

The first scene in this book seemed right out of the Little Mermaid.  We have the headstrong girl and her scared male friend going somewhere forbidden.  People are called guppies as a fill in for scaredy cats, and then they are chased by a big shark.  So sorry Aluna, you already have me in Little Mermaid mode.

There was some interesting world creation going on (you know I like good world creation) but the story itself was unimpressive. As things began to go to crap in the world and there's overcrowding and disease, technology allowed people to flee to other, less crappy places on Earth.  Some went under water, some went to the skies, some went to the deserts and some became Upgraders, combinations of humans and machines.  So I was interested in this idea of humans deciding to live in places that don't naturally support human life and that they drew on ancient myths to do so.  Mermaids, harpies and centaurs, essentially.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Something for you to enjoy on a long weekend.

Sean and Lisa Ohlenkamp took over Type Books in Toronto to create this charming short. That's right it's damn charming. With a crew of over 20 people, the "Joy of Books" was born. Music composed by Grayson Matthews.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Bobby is 16 and a father.  He is the soul guardian of his brand new daughter, Feather.  Bobby loves Feather so much it scares him.  But his love for her doesn't change the fact that he still  a kid that wants to be cared for himself and is completely overwhelmed by Feather's care.

The First Part Last is a very short book.  It's a novella, almost, a little over 100 pages.  I read it about an hour.  It's written on a middle school level.  The language is simple and straight forward, but beautiful in its simplicity.  Angela Johnson said a lot more in 131 pages than a lot of other authors say in 400.  It makes me think some other author's are in desperate need of an editor.  I think this has a lot of high school appeal as well.  It's easy to read, but high interest. 

The First Part Last is unique in several ways.  First, there aren't a whole lot teenage pregnancy books that focus on the father, and that focus on the father actually caring for the child after it's born.  Bobby and his girlfriend Nia are from middle class families, also not seen as much in teenage pregnancy stories.  Bobby and Nia, even after they know about the pregnancy, continue their relationship and clearly care about each other very much.  That in particular I was struck by.  Bobby and Nia had a very gentle, caring relationship.  Most of the books about teenage pregnancy I've read the relationship is bad, or falls apart.  In this book, Bobby and Nia love each other, do something super stupid they know was super stupid, and then they deal with it and continue to love each other, and getting married never comes up.  Amazing.

Bobby's reaction to being a single father who's still in high school was realistically torn.  He loves his baby.  He's actually afraid of how much he loves her, and of how much Feather needs him and depends on him.  He wants to do what's best for her, care for her and make her happy.  But that doesn't change the fact that he's 16, and wants to play basketball with his friends, and hang out, and sleep through the night, and go to school without having to worry.  The portrayal of Bobby's emotions was heartfelt and painful.

There were still some flaws in the story.  Spoilers ahead.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Mystic Phyles: Beasts by Stephanie Brockway and Ralph Masiello

Abigail Thaddeus is overprotected anti-social and boring until, on her thirteenth birthday, she is given a quest to research mythical beasts by someone known as the "Devoted Friend." This is not an easy task considering she doesn't have a lot of support from the people around her: she's not let out of the house by her tyrannical grandfather, her sweet grandmother is rather crazy, her only friend Charley is constantly sick, and she's constantly picked on by evil Kane and the empty-headed Britney-s.

Abigail perseveres and creates a journal of everything she discovers, but as she learns more she starts noticing strange things happening - strange noises at night, bats flying around the house, a threatening note from the Board of Mystical Management, and her grandfather becomes more neurotic in his need to keep Abigail safe. On top of all of this, Abigail must deal with Charley's social goal of climbing the popularity ladder from brainiac to band geek, Kane stealing the journal, Britney bailing as a science partner and leaving Abigail to do all the homework, and actually becoming a part of the school as she seems to have made a connection to the artistic Deke. How is she supposed to deal with all of this, especially when Abigail is discovering what she thought was fantasy is actually quite real.

It's been a while but I briefly blogged about this book back in 2010, when I heard Stephanie and Ralph discuss the production of The Mystic Phyles at the MSLA Conference. I remember being extremely impressed with the amount of detail that they had put in to just the creation of the pages, and now I've seen the real deal. Yeesh! Each page has a painted background, the text looks like the paper been cut to size by hand, there are beautifully hand-drawn sketches, bits of yarn are all over the place, random haiku add to the Abigail's journal entries, and the 'official' artwork is beautiful.

This doesn't even cover the characters or storyline, which are super fun and original. Abigail is fantastically funny, and so wonderfully downtrodden you can't help but love her. She doesn't fall into any one category of your stereotypical young teen heroine - she's funny, honest, quirky, and I think more importantly aware of her shortcomings. She isn't laden with angst or overbearing with Pollyanna positivity, she's something kind of new and interesting. She has a sensibility and grounded self-awareness that I think is so refreshing, actually all of the characters are quite charming (though I'm hoping that the secondary characters will be fleshed out a bit more in the following books). The plot kind of reminds me of the Spiderwick Chronicles, which I haven't read, but with more mystery and less action. A lot less action. Most of the book is spent with Abigail creating beautiful fact pages about mythical beasts or discussing her school life, nothing really action-y happens until about the last five to eight pages of the book. I didn't mind though, because each page is so visually stimulating and interesting. Whether discovering weirdo facts about a barghest or reading about Abigail's freak out during her oral presentation, I was completely engaged the entire time.

Get the book it's wonderful.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Lucy longs to meet Shadow, a graffiti artist whose art Lucy loves.  She's sure someone who can create the pictures Shadow does is sure to be her soul mate.  On the last day of year 12, Lucy and her friends meet up with Ed and his friends.  Lucy doesn't like Ed very much, but the boys say they know Shadow, and they'll try to help Lucy find him.

Graffiti Moon was released in Australia in 2010, and it's now being released in the U.S.  I do so like reading books that aren't based in America or England.  It's good to shake thing up a bit.  I enjoyed reading about how school was over and it's October and it super hot out and people talk about going to uni.

The book itself was very sweet.  There were no surprises, but it was a nice romantic story of two people really getting to know each other over the course of one long evening, letting go of preconceived notions and realizing they care about each other.

Waiting on Wednesday: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks.

A coming-of-age tale with a spooky twist!

Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers.

Funny, surprising, and tender,
Friends with Boys is a pitch perfect YA graphic novel full of spooky supernatural fun.

Friends with Boys comes out February 28, 2012,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Steady Beat by Rivkah

Leah is frustrated with being compared to her perfect older sister Sarai and under appreciated by her overworked mother. But when Leah finds a passionate love letter for Sarai signed "Love, Jessica" she is thrown in a mental whirlwind and feels the need to discover who Jessica is and what this means for her sister.

The mystery thickens when Leah is contacted by an anonymous caller saying that he can explain the love letters. Leah misses her chance to meet with him when she is a car accident, but meets a family that is very different from her own with a handsome young man that tries to help her. It seems that Leah's life is about to get even more interesting as she tries to come to terms with her sister's sexuality and her own.

This series was the winner of the Manga Academy's Create Your Own Manga competition back in 2005 and it's a YALSA recommended title. Eh. The themes are excellent, I like the idea of Leah trying to understand her sister's love life while she figures out her own but the whole side-plots of soccer, mystery caller, and Elijah's family seems unnecessary. It was all rather trite, I don't really understand why the whole mysterious caller thing is necessary to the plot line. I also didn't like the artwork. Let's be honest, I could not do better and I am not a professional art critic, but I thought that the artwork was a bit amateur and cliche.

I guess my response could be summed up as being: The themes should make it an awesome high YA manga, but the plot and artwork dumb it down.

I feel kind of bad for saying it, but there it is.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow by Daniel Nayeri

Four novellas of different genres make up this collection.  The first is a western taking place on a ranch made up of toys that are grown from the ground.  The second is science fiction, taking place in a world that's on the verge of going completely virtual.  The third is a fantasy tale about the wish police stopping the dangerous wishes people make, and the last story is a romance narrated by Death.

Loved.  Totally, totally loved.  Nayeri is incredibly skilled at creating a whole world and well-rounded characters in just a hundred pages.  No easy trick.

The title, obviously, comes from The Three Little Pigs, but the connection in each story is not always obvious.  There are no actual wolves or pigs in any of these stories.  It's more about what the houses representStraw House deals with vulnerability.  Wood House the idea that one might not be quite as safe as you think.  Brick House actually makes mention of a brick House, which was the most literal interpretation, and Blow was the one I had the hardest time seeing the connection.


Q and A with Judy Blume, who continues to be awesome and totally adorable.  From Simthsonian.com.

Apparently, kids shouldn't read books that they see themselves in.  They should read Homer.  And Walter Dean Myers is bad for the children.  Sigh.  From NY Daily News.

Kid literary characters and their grown-up counterparts.  From Flavorwire.

2011 in children's books.  From The Guardian.

If famous writers had written Twilight.  From Lizzie Stark.

Katerine Paterson reflects on her terms as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.  From the Huffington Post.

A new show on AMC from Kevin Smith will be called Comic Book Men, and looks like it will portray all the usual comic book world stereotypes.  People are disappointed.  From The Beat.

Also from The Beat, Axe is creating an interactive graphic novel, Axe Anarchy.  As typical from Axe, it's gross.  It totally serves them right they are now the preferred brand for awkward high school boys.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman

June and Wes do not fall in love at first sight.  They do not think it's destiny they met.  They hardly even noticed each other at first, and then Jen starts dating one of Wes' friends.  June and Wes do finally find each other, but it's right before June learns that she's moving. Again.  And that's a problem, because June has been taught to sever all connections every time she moves.

This was a thoughtful book and one I enjoyed reading.  I certainly appreciated there was no eye contact from across and room and then they knew they were destined to be 2gether 4eva 4L.  June and Wes came together slowly.  They became aware of each other.  They become interested in what the other person is doing.  They talk, a little.  But then June starts dating Jerry, Wes' friend.  And Wes realizes he feels kind of funny about that.

The book is divided into four section: Fall, winter, spring and summer.  The emotion that each sesction expresses is pretty well illustrated on the cover of the book.  This is one of the few times that I feel like the cover of the book was actually made for this particular story, rather than just picking a stock image that sort of fits.  In the fall, June thinks Wes is weird and Wes thinks June looks like a fish.  In winter, for a brief moment, they get to be together.  Then June leaves, and it's spring.  Finally it's summer, and they see each other again.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances

The title pretty much says it all.  Another steampunk anthology, this one focusing on steampunk romances.  The title is fairly silly.  I mean, it might as well be Corsets & Clockwork & Top Hats & Goggles & Airships.  However, I thought these writers did a much better job at creating steampunk worlds than the authors that were part of Steampunk!  Perhaps because these authors were given some kind of direction as to what constitutes steampunk?

I read about half of it.  As ever with an anthology, some stories were good and some were not, but by the time I'd read six stories I was bored and wanted to read something else.

Of the ones I read, I most enjoyed Wild Magic, by Ann Aguirre, who wrote Enclave, and Deadwood by Michael Scott who wrote the The Secrets of Immortal Nicholas Flamel series.

Wild Magic was a fairly straight forward love story, with a high class girl falling in love with a boy beneath her station, but it had a bit a twist, and I thought Aguirre did an excellent job with the world creation.  I really got an understanding of how the world Pearl lived in work, and the fear of magic, even though the ruling houses are the ones who have magic in their backgrounds.  Pick is one of the Wilds, and convinces Pearl to help him let magic loose into the world.  Pearl falls in love with him, and it seems like Pick loves her too, but there's something he isn't telling her.  This story was really more fantasy based than steampunk, but there were some automatons that attacked them.

Deadwood was lots of fun.  It took place in the American west (Deadwood is in South Dakota) and was very exciting and adventury.  Martha and JW meet on and airship on their way to California, and find themselves in the middle of a terrible plot!  Luckily for the rest of the passengers on board the airship, both Martha and JW don't let much get in their way, and they're not about to leave anyone behind.  There's a funny little reveal at the end.

So it's not that I didn't enjoy the stories I read, it's just that after reading a handful I was all set and ready to move on to something else.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore.

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past. Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart. (Summary from Goodreads)

Exceptional right? It's a little early to be posting this, but I love Graceling and Fire and Kristin Cashore. I can't contain myself! Bitterblue comes out May 1st.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ozma of OZ by L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower, and Skottie Young

While crossing the ocean with her uncle, Dorothy is once again thrown into a mystical land that needs her help. She must help save the royal family of Ev from the devious Nome King. Fortunately she has the help of new friends Billina the sassy talking chicken and Tik-Tok the ever useful clockwork man and many old friends.

Before I give you my review of the book I have a caveat. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of the Oz series. I don't like the Judy Garland's Wizard of Oz and have never been intrigued enough to read the actual books. It just all seemed so schmaltzy. Then came along my friend Liz, we were bonded by a love of classic children's movies and though doubtful watched Return to Oz with her. Am I every glad I did!

Amazing right? Like crazy banana-pants awesome! I couldn't believe that this made me a believer in L. Frank Baum, but it did. Ozma of Oz is what this fantastic movie is based on. It isn't quite as exciting, and it is again pretty touchy-feely, but the essence of it is still wonderful. Billina is so sassy and Tik-Tok is so unintentionally sweet and funny. The Hungry Tiger is ridiculous and the army of officers absolutely pretentious. This was delightful. I adored the artwork, it completely suited the off-the-wall storyline. Read this, then watch the Return to Oz movie. It's absolutely worth it.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill, Ben Dimagmaliw and Bill Oakley

In 1898, Campion Bond has put together a team of misfits to save London from an evil Doctor. He sends out the beautiful and secretive Mina Murray and mercurial Captain Nemo to gather up Allan Quatermain the legendary opiate-addicted hunter, the psychopathic invisible Hawley Griffin, and the nervous and monstrous Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde. They create the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. As they try and learn to cope with one another they must also try and understand what the true motivation of Bond and their mysterious benefactor M is.

I really enjoyed this book. An interesting premise, gathering notorious literary characters and putting their abilities together, followed up with the equally intriguing idea of putting them in famous plot lines (volume two takes place during War of the Worlds). I found the artwork to be quite beautiful and the attention to details lovely.

Enough of the accolades. While overall an awesome book there are some issues, I had a hard time with how they dealt with women. I don't have an issue with Mina Murray being the only leading woman, but she's constantly being attacked and cannot save herself. Isn't she supposed to have some special abilities? Why can't she defend herself? All other victims are either men who are violently killed or women that are sexually assaulted or killed. Doesn't seem quite right, does it?

Anyway, I liked the book, will read the rest of the series, will try and cope with the underlying misogyny.


 I am super excited about the release of Womanthology, and therefore feel the need to share my excitement with everyone.

From the Womanthology blog:

Womanthology is an anthology graphic novel created entirely by women for Charity. The purpose of the book is to showcase the works of female creators of every age and experience levels.

The Graphic Novel will majorly consist of many short stories interpreting our theme for this volume; "Heroic". We'll also have interviews and how-to's with some of the industry's top female pros, as well as talks with young girls who someday want a career in comics.

How awesome is that?  So cool!  So exciting!  The release date is set for February 21, 2012, so it isn't terribly far away.  All the money for publishing was raised through Kickstarter, and they far exceeded their goal.  I think that shows how many people out there are yearning for more women in comics, don't you think?  Unfortunately for me, I didn't hear about this until after the fundraising was over, so I can't say I back it.  I wish I could.

Womanthology is all over.  They have a blog, Tumblr, Twitter, so you can stay updated as the publishing date approaches, and at this point some of the first pages are starting to be available.  A list of contributors is available on the blog.

You can check out some interviews with editor Renae De Liz.

And since we're feeling the fabulous love of female comic creators, let's take a look at 13 fantastic female comics creators of 2011 from Jezebel.


Fashion designers envision Katniss' fire dress.  You can tell which designers actually know anything about the books and which ones don't!  From InStyle.

Joyce Valenza wins lifetime achievement award.  From SLJ.

Oops.  Barnes & Noble shipped John Green's The Fault in Our Stars too early.  From PW.

Jules Feiffer, illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth talks about his first job.  From The Wall Street Journal.

How Spielberg handles racism in The Adventures of Tintin.  Really interesting article.  From The Atlantic.

Authors on the best and worst book-to-movie adaptations.  From Salon.

Congress approves $28.6 million for school libraries.  From SLJ.

YALSA names Morris awards finalists. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone already picked up by Universal.  From EW.

Walter Dean Myers will be the new Ambassador for Young People's  Literature.  From PW.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Underwire by Jennifer Hayden

Jennifer Hayden is a member of the webcomic collective act-i-vate where she publishes her autobiographical comic Underwire.  Underwire is a collection of the webcomics. 

Jennifer is in her forties, married, with two children.  Her comics tells stories of moments with her daughter, a dream she had about her husband, laughing and saying bitchy things about other people with her girl friends, and other little moments from her life.

Each comic is about 18 to 20 square boxes, drawn simply in black and white.  While I didn't love the style the comic is drawn in, I loved seeing these small moments from Jennifer's life.   She is able to say a lot in very few words, and even without her illustrations being especially detailed.  A strong feeling comes across in every story she tells.

Jennifer is very truthful.  She is not afraid to show that she's far from perfect, that her husband sometimes pisses her off, and that her kids both drive her crazy and amaze her.  I feel kind of bad for her family, that they are exposed in this way, but maybe having a mom like Jennifer has prepared them.  In any case, I very much enjoyed reading her stories.

Jennifer is currently working on a graphic novel, The Story of My Tits, that tells the story of her breast cancer diagnose.  It will be coming out in 2012.
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