Saturday, June 30, 2012

YALSA Coffee Klatch

You might remember that we went to the YALSA Klatch last year, and met some really great authors. This year we have to admit that we were highly disappointed with the fact that there was no food nor tea served, it really started the entire klatch off on the wrong foot. Sad. Now to the fun stuff, this year we met:

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Exhibits: The Final Day

By this point, I already had way too many books and was worried that my bag was going to be over the 50 pound limit for checked baggage (it turned out to only be 37 pounds, I could have gotten more!).  Also, I don't really like being at the exhibits the last day they're open, because things can get vicious!  As the day goes on, vendors start selling off everything they have for pretty low prices that get lower and lower.  I understand that this can be a great opportunity for librarians to get books for their libraries, especially if you don't have a lot of funding.  It's can be a little scary.  So Anna and I only went for a bit, and then we got the hell out of there before anyone got hurt.

We saw Thanhha Lai, who wrote Inside Out & Back Again, a Newbery honor book.

Eugene Yelchin, author of Breaking Stalin's Nose, also a Newbery honor book.

I also went to the Penguin Book Buzz.  There were book buzzes from different publishers all throughout the conference, where you can hear about what will be coming out in the fall.  Unfortunately there was so much crossover, this was the only one I was able to get too.  I was excited to hear the there's a new Patricia Polacco book coming out called Bully.  I love Patricia Polacco books.  She's really quite wonderful.

Other books I thought sounded worth looking in to were Almost Home by Joan Bauer, out in September; Darkwater, the new book from Catherine Fisher, author of Incarceron, also out in September; Burning Blue by Paul Griffin, out in October.

Day Three: The Exhibits

Oh man.  I was doing pretty well the first few days with not overdoing it, but now it's all ruined, and it's all the fault of the lady at MacMillan.  Today I went around to the publishers saying how I worked in an all girls' school and to tell me about what was coming out soon that was new and exciting that would appeal to them.  I would hear about various books and they'd usually give me two-four ARCs, which was perfect.  But then!  I went to MacMillan and the woman was so enthusiastic and excited about all the stuff that was coming out she loaded me down wih TWELEVE books.  Oy.  And so, with one fell swoop, my brilliant plan of not heading home with three million books was ruined.  It's very hard to discard them once you have them, you see.  I will do my best.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the day for both me and Anna was getting to meet Sharon Creech, author of Walk Two Moons and Chasing Red Bird and many others.  She was my favorite author in middle school.  I read Walk Two Moons over and over again.  To my delight, Sharon was incredibly nice and sweet and insisted we get in the pictures with her.  Her new book is The Great Unexpected, which I got an ARC of.

We also saw Abby McDonald, who wrote Getting Over Garrett Delaney.

And Daniel Handler.  I think here he might be signing as a representative as Lemony Snicket.  Lemony Snicket, of course, is a recluse and never comes to his own signings.  He does, however, have a new book out, 13 Words.  Daniel also signed as himself for Why We Broke Up

Thursday, June 28, 2012

PLA President's Program: Sherman Alexie

 The PLA President's Program begins with the bestowing of various awards and grants to librarians and library programs.  Then we heard from keynote speaker Sherman Alexie, which I was quite looking forward to as I'd heard he is a very good speaker.

Sherman Alexie began with his impressions of a library conference.  "There's an idea that it's boring and sedate, which it kind of is. But they get a little crazy by the time night falls."  He also compared him going to a library conference with some guys going to the Playboy mansion.  It was amusing.

Sherman Alexie talked about the oral tradition of storytelling, which is traditional in his culture.  In some ways, making the oral tradition official (writing it down) killed the tradition.  Then he seemingly randomly stared talking about Mike the Headless Chicken, and asked if anyone knew about it, which no one did.  The short version: Mike's owner tried to behead him for dinner, but did a poor job of it, missing most of the brain stem.  Mike lived on for 18 months, and he had his owner became Vaudeville performers during this time.  Sherman's question was, "how could we have forgotten something like that?"  How could we forget the amazing things that happen?  Why don't they get passed on?  His answer was that we're flawed, we can't possibly remember everything, not even the amazing things that happen in our own lifetime.

This is why we have books.  Writers preserve for us the amazing things that have happened, or their perception of the amazing things that have happened.  And we have librarians to give people the perfect books.  He ended by saying, "[I have the perfect book] should be tattooed on your ankle instead of some Chinese symbol.  You're magic.  You're amazing.  So why the fuck did you forget Mike the Headless Chicken?"

A librarian's job is "I have the perfect book."  A writer's job is "it happened." 

And then, the second, literally the second Sherman Alexie finished speaking and me began to applaud, the fire alarm in the convention center went off.  Interestingly, it was the exact same fire alarm we have at my school.  The one with the loud siren that pauses to tell you, "Emergency, emergency.  This is not a drill.  Please proceed to the exits."  So we did.  Well, most of us did.  I don't know if the people in the exhibit hall actually evacuated.  It turned out it was a false alarm.  To the left is a picture of a gaggle of librarians waiting under palm trees to be allowed back in.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Science Fiction and Fantasy Panel

I go to the science fiction and fantasy panel every year.  This year it was especially exciting because George R. R. Martin was there.  Each year, a bag of books with some of the books of the authors that are on the panel are giving to the people who come.  Apparently, people were lining up outside the door hours before the panel started.  I showed up ten minutes before it started, so I did not get a bag of books, but that's quite all right.

The panel was made up of George R. R. Martin, Blake Charlton, and Lois McMaster Bujold.  I haven't read anything by Blake or Lois, but I enjoyed listening to them speak.    The topic was "the influence of science fiction and fantasy on the world today."  Each writer talked about the topic in a different way.  Blake talked about how science fiction and personally effected him.  Blake is the author of Spellwright and Spellbound.  He said fantasy was the most empowering thing in his life.  As a child, he was told he would never go to college.  Blake was dyslexic, and didn't really learn to read until he was 13 or 14.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Exhibits: Day Two

Day two: things get serious.  I was very controlled my second day in the exhibits.  I only came away with 12 books, which is way better then some other people, who will remain nameless, did.

 Sherman Alexi, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Brian Selznick, author of Wonderstruck and has an essay in the new book The Letter Q: Queer Writers: Notes to their Younger Selves.

David Levithan.  Also has an essay in The Letter Q: Queer Writers: Notes to their Younger Selves. 

Day 3 Giveaway!

I'm going to admit that we're getting a bit tired. So many books, so little sleep. This is an international giveaway, just so we're clear. This is open until 7pm PST. Anyway, here's day three's giveaway:

Giveaway closed

Not Your Mom's Graphic Novels

Arianna and I presented at the ALA poster session today. It was a little over an hour and a half of us making conversation about graphic novels, girls, and collection development. We had a rather pretty poster and we had a great mix of people stop by and speak to us about our topic. There was never really a moment when there wasn't at least one person that we chatted to about graphic novels and girls.

Whether it was just title recommendations, graphic novel history, or our own interest in the topic, we had a wide range of people coming up to us from different libraries and backgrounds. Fun times. It was quite nice to hear others support our topic and validate the importance of it.

I also got asked whether or not we had been published at all, which obviously we haven't other than on this blog, and it's led Arianna and I to start talking about where we want to go next with this topic. Perhaps this poster session will lead to bigger things...

Auditorium Speaker Series: John Irving and Teens Making a Difference

 The first speaker of the day was John Irving. I was kind of surprised to find that he was quite funny. I don't know why I was surprised. I just wasn't expecting it. He was a very engaging speaker. He spoke about how for him, the plot of a book is just as important, if not more important, then the characters themselves. He never starts writing a book until he knows what the end will be, and he lets the reader know what's coming. It's the small details that keep the reader reading. The plot is the engine that drives the story, you know something is coming that's not pleasant.

John Irving's new book is called In One Person and is about a bisexual man in his 70s. He read us part of the beginning. He's an excellent reader. I'd like him to do the audio book version himself. I would totally get it. The section he read was the main character, Billy, reflecting on when he was 13 and had his first crushes on both his mother's new boyfriend and the local librarian, who is a transsexual woman. A favorite line was the librarian Ms. Frost telling Billy, "Never trust a man with a lunatic wife in the attic. Or anyone named Heathcliff." Words to live by.

Auditorium Speaker: Chris Colfer

Chris Colfer is probably best known for being an actor off of the television series Glee, and if you don't know him from that then you must live under a rock in the middle of Antarctica because even my dad would be able to recognize him. Anyway, Chris has written a middle grade book called The Land of Stories which is due out on July 17th and is the first in a series. It's the story of twins that find themselves in a land where fairy tales are real.

First off I would like to state that Chris Colfer is absurdly adorable and charismatic. He started his talk by questioning why we were all sitting in the conference center when we as a group could be storming Disneyland, because obviously Disney wouldn't want the bad publicity of arresting a thousand librarians and Chris Colfer. It'd be only one step above beating a baby seal. Hilarious and completely had us all sucked in. Chris went on to describe his relationship with the library and librarians. His stories about his love of the libraries weren't contrived, but felt very natural and adorable.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kill Shakespeare at Graphic Novel Stage

Anthony Del Col, co-creator of Kill Shakespeare, spoke at the Graphic Novel Stage about the creation of the graphic novel and how they're continuing the development of the series. He describes the series as a combination of Lord of the Rings, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Shakespeare in Love. So essentially he and Conor McCreery squished together: classic Shakespeare, high fantasy, action-y graphic novel, and a rather sweet romantic movie, to create a book that reach and excite a new generation of readers.

Anthony and Conor first brainstormed the idea for this book nine years ago as a video game and then later realized that it would be better as a graphic novel. I liked his reasoning that Shakespeare is intended to be a visual performance not as a static literary form, thus making the transition to a graphic novel quite natural. So they took some of Shakespeare's best known characters as a jumping off point to suck people into Shakespeare. They've put their own spin on the storyline but stayed very true to Shakespeare's characterization of them. Clever.

Conor and Anthony are continuing to develop the series even though it has ended for now. They are continuing to develop it into different medium: video games, enhanced graphic novel applications, and movies. And unofficially it was announced that Anthony and Conor would be continuing the Kill Shakespeare universe, incorporating more of Shakespeare's characters. This new project could be out early 2013... but no promises.

I reviewed Kill Shakespeare a while ago, and really enjoyed the twist on the characters and the plays to be incorporated into one book. I think you can tell that the graphic novels were written by someone that knows and loves Shakespeare's works. So it was quite neat to actually hear one of the creators of the book speak about the genesis of the series. It didn't hurt that he was attractive.

Day 2 Giveaway

It's the second day of the conference, and the initial frenzy has worn off (for some of us at least) and we're being a bit more picky about what books we take and ask about. The next couple of books are up, you have 24 hours. Here's what's up for grabs:
This giveaway is now closed.

The Exhibits: Day One

 The Exhibit Hall!  So exciting!  So many crazed librarians grabbing for books!  Oh the books!  I went in with a plan this time.  I had a list of specific books I wanted to find out if there were ARCS available for, many of them sequels.  I didn't do super well on that front.  Most of them weren't available yet.  I have a hunch I'll be able to get Gail Carriger's Etiquette and Espionage a bit later, and I was told that Marie Lu's next book in the Legend series and Marissa Meyer's next book in the Cinder series would be available when they do signings, so I will definitely try to get those.

I am most excited about getting a copy of the graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time, adapted by Hope Larson, and Rae Carson's second book in The Girl of Fire and Thorns series.

Anna and I went over to the artists alley and met Faith Erin Hicks, author and illustrator of Friends With Boys and Brain Camp, among other fabulous graphic novels.  She was super nice and we had a very nice time chatting with her about what we love about her work and what she's currently working on.

Opening Session

So we arrived slightly late to the opening session, and got there in the middle of the awards. Of note: the South Carolina Library Association for the their work to overturn the governor's in only a week. Awesome.

Rebecca MacKinnon was the keynote speaker. She is a noted journalist who has worked in China and works with global internet policies through Global Voices. There is a struggle for internet freedom, or rather a struggle to maintain a freedom to access information regardless of the information source. She talked a lot about the grassroots struggle to allow political movements onto the internet and not be policed by the government. Case in point The File: A Personal History by Timothy Garton Ash, where a reporter went back to Berlin and was able to read his Stasi file and see who had reported on him during the Cold War or the Egypt state security files that were discovered to have information collected from the internet containing very personal information: Skype calls, emails, tweets, etc. Rebecca continued to give examples of internet platforms and applications that police the information on their servers. She then talked about the "Werner von Braun" by Tom Lehrer, and how the ethics of information is getting muddled. We see this coming into play more, as the relationship between citizens and the government is becoming more mediated by the internet. Rebecca wants to know how we can keep the internet neutral so that we may continue to gather information from all sources. Regardless of whether or not that source might be considered offensive or extremist. There is a slow movement ensure that our 'sovereigns of cyberspace,' i.e. Facebook, Google, Apple, are maintaining transparency when dealing with governments and reporting. Rebecca highlighted two movements and that she thinks are moving in the right direction.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day One Giveaway

Whoops! A little late, but you know how these things are. Here's what we'll be giving away in the next 24 hours. Enter, and I'll try and ship them out Monday, priority.

This giveaway is now closed. Check back for more giveaways this weekend

Because I'm doing this a bit late I'm also doing a second giveaway for the next 24 hours.
This giveaway is now closed

Lovely Day in California

 Well.  Southern California is lovely.  Quite lovely.  The weather is delightful.  70s during the day and gets nice and cool at night.  Our hotel is completely adequate.  Anaheim itself seems to be comprised completely of Disneyland, hotels, and every single chain restaurant you can possibly think of.

Also, everyone in California is really nice.  Like, really, really nice.  We're not sure if this is because people in California are just that nice, of if it's that Disney owns everything and people are contractually obligated to be perky and happy at all times.  Let me give a few examples.

We went to breakfast.  Before we'd even sat down, we'd been enthusiastically greeted by three different people.  On our way out, three different people enthusiastically bid us goodbye and wished us a nice day.  After breakfast we rented a car and drove to the lovely Huntington Beach since the actual conference doesn't start until this evening.  As we paid for the parking, the guy asked us where we were from (apparently we clearly stand out as not from around here.  Are we radiating aggressive East Costness?) and when we said we were from Boston, he chatted a bit about his trip to Boston.  There were two cars waiting behind us.  No one honked.

While at the beach, we saw dolphins.  Seriously, two dolphins, frolicking in the water.  WHAT IS THIS PLACE?  Is it  the constant sunshine?  The close proximity to the happiest place on earth?  We're sort of disconcerted, while also being in awe.

The only thing that could make this day any better is free books.  Man, are we ever in luck!  And maybe some ice, for Anna's sunburn.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ALA Anaheim!

It's that time of year again. We're headed off to the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Anaheim. It should be awesome. Of course Jamie, Arianna, and I are all looking forward to the sessions, speakers, banquets, and ADVANCE READER COPIES!

We'll be blogging what's going on and what we're doing. You can also follow us on twitter.

But here's the fun part: we'll be running short term giveaways each day that we're at the conference. They'll last 24 hours and we'll be post what we'll be giving away at 7pm PST starting Friday. So spread the word, it should be fun.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

In the near future, on a day like any other day, Julia, her family and the rest of the world learn that the Earth is slowing down.  It's turning more slowly every day, and the days start to lengthen.  As humanity struggles to adapt, Julia begins to see sides of people she's never seen before.

A slow, quite story, which might seem a little odd for a science/fiction dystopia book.  Julia lives very much in her own head.  She is a thinker, and is looking back at this thing that happened when she was 11, which we learn at the end of the book was ten years ago.   Julia is a philosopher.  She does a lot of wondering, and lot of watching people and thinking about why they do what they do. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

"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 o

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Tiger Lily comes out July 3, 2012.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Weird Fishes by Jamaica Dyer

Dee and Sam aka Bunny Boy are two middle schoolers who live in the social outskirts. Dee has bizarre visions and Bunny Boy hasn't taken off his Halloween costume since he first wore it. They've been the other's only friend, until they have a disagreement. Suddenly Bunny Boy is going for hipster chic and trying to get the attention of Goth Girl and Dee's visions are becoming all too real.

This was super weird. As in I'm still not sure of the point of the book, or to be honest if there is a point. It's got some interesting plot lines, and things get somewhat resolved by the end... but I finished with a very strong sense of "Huh." Fortunately I didn't feel like I had wasted my time, but I was just completely thrown off by what had just happened. Discombobulated as it were. I didn't find it obnoxious that it ended abruptly, because the book was so bizarre I just figure that they'll go off into the sunset and do whatever. Kind of like they have throughout the book

Let me side-note here: I should probably point out that most of the main characters are middle schoolers, but I kept forgetting because of the attitude, drug-use, and how they looked. They are all so much cooler than I ever came close to being at 14. But then they are also a lot more messed up, so I guess it's a trade-off.

Last thing, I thought the artwork was phenomenal. Super beautiful. Jamaica Dyer has a really lovely way of creating her pictures with sketches and (I'm assuming) watercolors. They serve as a really lovely juxtaposition to each other and tell just as much of the story, if not more, than the words. I wish every page could have been in full color because I think it would have blown my mind. Jamaica Dyer is a talented lady.

So is the book for just anyone? Definitely not. I'm not going to label it as a "Great Graphic Novel for Girls" because I'm not 100% sure that it is. I thought it was lovely and engaging, but I also think I was in the perfect mood to read it. A minute earlier or later and I would not be having this review for it. So I guess I'm going to say read at your own risk.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Boyfriend is a Monster: My Boyfriend Bites by Dan Jolley and Alitha E. Martinez

Vanessa Shingle just likes to make people the best that they can be, kind of like the army except without the training or the ability to better people's lives. So what if her last three boyfriends/projects all ended up worse off than before? If they'd listened to her they wouldn't have ended up in jail/military school/unemployed. Which brings us to her latest fixer-upper: Jean-Paul. He's gorgeous, a literal life-saver, and turns into a bat. As things get more freaky, Vanessa learns that she has a destiny to fulfill and that the scariest things in life are not a bad first date.

This is the third book in the My Boyfriend is a Monster series. Each is a standalone book that depicts a different monster: Frankenstein, zombie, ghosts, etc. Ari read the first one I Love Him to Pieces and enjoyed it. I found this to be really intolerable.

I'm going to guess that Vanessa is supposed to have somewhat of a victim mentality at the beginning of the book and then grows into this warrior woman. I thought that she was just lame. As in needs to work on herself before she works on anyone else because she has MAJOR issues, I mean who really goes out of their way to date losers? What happens if the loser boys had improved themselves? Does she then continue to date them or then dump them so that she can go 'help' someone else? Also Jean-Paul really needs to work on keeping his were-bat-hood secret a secret. And his pseudo-relationship with Vanessa completely weirded me out. It developed strangely fast and yet they didn't really spend all that much time together.

It didn't help that the artwork was not my favorite. Jean-Paul kind of reminds me of the lead singer from Metalocalypse and Vanessa's lips are distractingly puffy. They are bigger than Angelina Jolie's. Weird. But what really sank this for me was the it was a strange amalgamation of Buffy tropes and Twilight characters. Except not as well done, which is pretty sad because let's be honest Twilight is not Stoker's Dracula.

So two very different reactions to this series. I will not be reading anymore of this series, because I thought it was awful.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Goodbye Mr. Bradbury

Dear Mr. Ray Bradbury,

I hope that you knew how you affected not just a generation, not just a country, but rather your reach spread globally. You made us think, ponder, and more importantly discuss ideas what had never really occurred to us before. You words were provocative but never trite. I don't really think that there is anyone who won't be touched by what you have wrote.

Today we celebrate your life and body of work, even as we mourn your passing. Thanks for the books.


Ray Bradbury passed away this morning in Los Angeles. I really like this article about Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, and libraries.

Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds by Gail Simone, art by Ed Benes

Barbara Gordon, formerly Batgirl but now paralyzed from the waist, down continues to fight crime as Oracle, along with Black Canary.  Black Canary falls in to a trap set by Savant, a mentally unstable villain with a grudge against Batman.  Oracle finds she has to call on someone she doesn't fully trust - Huntress - if she wants Black Canary back alive.

I really liked it.  A lot.  I picked this one up because it was written by Gail Simone, and I've been curious to read her superhero stuff.  It was great.  The women are strong and capable and sassy.  They have exciting adventures.  They have each other's backs.  They take care of themselves and look out for each other.  They're smart and funny.  Awesome.  What's not to love?

The art.  Sometimes.  Sometimes it was totally fine.  Look, it's not a problem if the characters want to dress in fishnets or short-shorts, or if she has prominent breasts.  It's really not.  A character can choose to dress in a revealing way and still be a strong woman.  I don't want people to think I go in for slut shaming.  I totally don't.  It's how a character can be portrayed can be a problem sometimes.

One Soul by Ray Fawkes

The life stories of 18 individuals throughout history are told, from birth to death.

This was a fascinating read.  I didn't really know how to dread it when I started.  Every page is a double-page spread divided up into 18 boxes.  Each individual has their own box.  My first read through I looked at all the boxes on each page.  I found myself focusing on particular stories that drew my interest and ignoring others.  You can't keep all 18 in your head the whole time all the way though.

After I'd finished I started going back.  I would take a strip at a time and follow their stories all the way through.  I could keep three in my head at once.  Whenever an individual died, their box went black, and stayed black the rest of the way through, although sometimes there would be a few sentences in the boxes.

The stories span history and geography.  The first box seemed to be a man in an early civilization.  I think there was an Egyptian one.  One who fought in the Crusades.  A child who was left on the steps of a monastery.  One who fought in the Revolutionary War.  One from either WWII or Vietnam, I wasn't totally sure.  We don't just see their adult lives, but from the very moment of their birth.

So many of them seemed to have sad lives.  Life was very difficult for most of them, and people died early, because that's just how things were.  You didn't live very long when you live during a period of constant war and change.  There were moments of happiness as well, of course, but I was definitely struck by how sad it all seemed.  Out of all 18 lives, only one made it to be an old woman.

Was it supposed to be the same soul reborn throughout history?  The title would suggest that, or does it mean that people are contented throughout time?

I would highly recommend getting this one.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse

"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 o

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.
(Summary from GoodReads)

Dystopia and violence? So there. Also can we just talk about how beautiful this cover is? It's more than a little awesome. Right?

The Forsaken comes out July 10th.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Uglies: Shay's Story by Scott Westerfeld, Devin Grayson, and Steven Cummings

Shay believes that before her transformation into a Pretty, she should enjoy life on her hoverboard, she doesn't mind breaking the rules once in a while especially after she meets the Crims. This rebellious streak leads to her meeting the charismatic David and her leaving the life she's known to live in The Smoke: free and physically unchanged. She learns to love her life surviving off the land, especially as David starts to return her feelings for her. But once Shay's best friend Tally joins The Smoke, everything seems to change, David becomes distant and Tally seems to be taking her spot in the commune. Where does Shay belong now?

This is a spinoff of Scott Westerfeld's wildly popular Uglies series. I have to admit that I tried to read Uglies but never got into it. I couldn't get into the culture that Mr. Westerfeld had made, and the characters were not engaging to me. But let's be honest, I'm in the minority because the series has taken off and is super well-known. Also I do like Scott Westerfeld's writing, I LOVED the Leviathan series and I think he's really gifted. This world is just not my thing.

I do like the fact that the haven't done a straight-up adaptation of Uglies to graphic novel, it's neat that they instead decided to elaborate on a secondary character. The artwork was really spot on for the storyline, and some of the double-spreads were really lovely. I just didn't like Shay. I think it goes back to the whole thing where I don't like the world that this is set in. Just a personal preference. Doesn't mean this was bad, just not my cup of tea, though it's a well-made cup. You know?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nola's Worlds: Changing Moon by Minikim, Mariolle, and Pop

Nola lives in perfect yet boring Alta Donna, she just wants a little excitement in her life. Something to take her mind off of her dismal social life, horrible educational career, and the fact that her parents are completely uninvolved in her life. This starts to change when she decides to give herself an assignment: find out who the mysterious siblings Damiano and Ines are. But as she gets to know them, especially Damiano, Nola begins to notice more strange things about them.

I enjoyed this, you can tell it's got plans for more depth and development. The entire thing was just a tease though. Nothing was really fleshed out, you just got the surface view of the aspects of the story. Yet, SO INTRIGUED! Who are Damiano and Ines? What do they do? Who is the mysterious man trying to get them and why does he have weird doll minions? Will Nola's mother get a clue and actually become involved with her daughter instead of being an extreme absentee mother? The artwork is super fun, and I'm totally reading the next couple books. Awesome.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

After being exiled from her underground commune of Reverie, Aria believes that she has a matter of days before she dies outside in the desert wasteland. But she feels that she must attempt by any means necessary to get back in, and find out what has happened to her mother. In the end, she must rely on the savage Outsider Perry for help. They make a deal in order for Aria to survive and Perry to find his kidnapped nephew. Each has their own agenda, negative stressors from home, and growing emotions. They must soon decide whether they can keep their goals separate from their emotions.

I really enjoyed this, but not how I expected to. The first thing that drew me in was the plot. It was really quite wonderful, full of twists that I never really expected and jumps that made me want to read more instead of annoying me. I loved the secondary characters. They were all super well-developed, with back-stories that I totally want to find out about. I found the world that Veronica Rossi to be pretty well-developed, she had some nicely put together cultural elements. I wouldn't say it's as fully developed like Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games, but it has a lot of potential.

Here was my niggle: I thought that Aria was going to be this deep, complex, smart character, instead I found her to be kind of whiny and oblivious. Thankfully she develops to be mostly likable by the end, but the person that really made the book for me was Perry. He was so in tune with himself, what he was, and his self-awareness really lends itself to the development of the story. Just so we're clear, the narration of the story switches between Aria and Perry every other chapter. I just really really enjoyed Perry's narrations. And I thought it was interesting to find that Veronica Rossi had an easier time writing Perry's part:

I just totally channeled Perry right from the beginning. At one point had the story all in his POV. I'm really glad I picked up Aria's voice, and she's as fun/difficult for me to write as Perry now. It just took me a little longer to find her.

But I did think it was interesting that she had more fun writing Aria's part. Which I guess I could see, considering that Aria probably has a greater emotional and personal journey to go on and she grows more. Anyways, I can't wait for the next book to come out. Supposedly it's coming out sometime in the new year... maybe there'll be an ARC at ALA! Fingers crossed!
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