Monday, March 29, 2010

Audrey, Wait!

Audrey, Wait!
by Robin Benway

Audrey is a music enthusiast.  She sits in her car and cranks the stereo up until the speakers literally disintegrate.  Her room is a giant homage to music and musicians with her wall-to-wall collage of all things music cut from magazines over the years.

It should be no surprise that Audrey's first real boyfriend was Evan, lead singer of the Do-Gooders.  Granted, the band was just ok and the music wasn't all that great, but he was a musician and she was his muse.

Unfortunately, her breaking up with him becomes his biggest inspiration because he writes "Audrey, Wait!", the newest hit to rock the Billboard charts.

Now she's not just recognized on the street, she's famous.  When she goes to concerts, she's brought to the VIP lounge and given complete backstage access.  She's being offered tons of free swag by companies wanting free advertisement from her as she's hounded by paparazzi and stalked by fans.

Her life is drastically different.  Luckily she's got very understanding parents, an amazing best friend, and a guy who seems to be getting more important every day.

But can she keep them all as she juggles them, fame, and school?

Final thoughts: This is another one of those cotton-candy books.  It's fun to read and doesn't make your brain work hard.  You can just relax and enjoy the ride.  If you're a music fan, you'll love all the references and discussions about what's good and what's bad, though you may want to argue a few of Audrey's preferences.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, March 25, 2010


by Rachel Ward

Jem has always been special.  Not that "Awww!  Isn't she CUTE!" special.  (She'd just as soon bite your hand if you tried to pinch her cheek.)  But rather in that she-can-see-your-date-of-death-special.


One look in your eyes and Jem knows when you're going to die.

It's a burden she's had as long as she can remember.  The first time she understood what all the numbers meant was when she was six and her mother OD'd on 10102001.

Her foster mother, Karen, will go on 07142013.  Her teacher, Mr. McNulty will be torturing students for a good long time, dying 12252023.  But her new friend, Spider, is running out of time.  December 15, 2010 and he's gone for good.

Seeing all the numbers and knowing what they mean, makes Jem hard.  She doesn't like to get close to people.  Getting close means knowing too much and being unable to tell.  Because people don't want to know.  They may say they want to know, but they really don't.

All this is bad enough.  But when she and Spider skip school one day with some extra cash he got from a "job", things really get awful.  They travel around London, looking for something to do, when they stop by the London Eye.  And there, Jem notices that everyone around her has the same date of death.  12082010.  Today.

She and Spider escape just before the explosion that kills all those people and now they are "wanted for questioning".

Time is running out for her, and especially for Spider.  With just one week left for him, the cops chasing them, and no place that's safe, can Jem ever figure out how to stop the numbers from coming true?

Final thoughts:  It's set in England, so there's a little getting used to the language that needs to be done, but overall it's a solid book.  There are a few sections that drag along and the book description provided on the jacket is a little off.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, March 19, 2010

Say the Word

Say the Word
by Jeannine Garsee

Shawna Gallagher has always tried to be the perfect daughter, even when her life hasn't been so perfect.  She gets perfect grades, has perfect attendance, and obeys her father's rules perfectly.  She's also going to the right college (her father's), going into pre-med (to be a doctor, like her father), and dating the right boys (the ones her father approves).

But Shawna's entire world turns upside-down when the mother who left her for her lesbian partner when she was seven, dies of a sudden stroke.  Her mother, a free-spirited photographer who hated rules and forms, left no new will for her partner and her partner's two boys, so Shawna's dad gets everything after her death.

As Shawna tries to understand the consequences of these new circumstances, she also comes to understand her father's hold on her life.

Can she face the secrets she's been keeping?  Can she face the secrets that everyone else has been hiding from her?

Final thoughts: It feels like the author started with one idea and then ended with another.  While this is a decent read, the ending feels almost like the collage that Shawna's working on throughout the book; it's a lot of ideas pasted together, but not in a cohesive fashion.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Twilight : The Graphic Novel Volume 1

Twilight : The Graphic Novel Volume 1
by Stephenie Meyer
Adapted and illustrated by Young Kim

By now, everyone knows the story of Twilight.  Girl meets boy.  Boy wants to kill girl.  Girl nearly gets run over by a van.  Boy wants to kiss girl and kill her at the same time.  Girl finds out boy's secret.  There's a scene in a meadow.  Boy only wants to kiss girl, but now afraid of killing her.

There's more, but this is as far as Volume 1 gets.

I'm going to break away from my normal synopsis format and give some straight talk.

On, there is much praise and love for this graphic novel.  People are praising the art and loving the fact that the illustrations are closer to the original descriptions of the characters in the book than the movie versions.
Rabid fans with enjoy this without a question.

However, there really is much to be desired.
Young Kim has beautiful illustrations, but I found the book as a whole to be sorely lacking.  At some points, actual photographs are used and then colored over, instead of drawn from scratch.  There seems to be no rhyme nor reason for this.  It almost feels like laziness.  Like "I don't feel like drawing the mountains in by hand.  I'll just take this picture and scribble some lines over it.  That'll work!"

I understand the shifts from black and white (or, sometimes, sepia tones) to color.  It is meant to emphasize things.  But what could be the most beautiful image of the entire book, the one that's only half shown on the cover, isn't even in the book.

I am also less than impressed by the illustrations of the characters.  Facial expressions rarely change.  When Bella's face does emote, it's usually anger, though often in places that she wasn't angry in the novel.

Important scenes (IMHO) were deleted completely.  Some things seemed to be randomly added. 

Of course, my biggest pet peeve (as a former English teacher) is the onomatopoeia (words that are their sounds like buzz, ring, bap).  For some reason, Young Kim has decided to completely make up works like squlck, tok, puh, and crk (my spell check is going insane).

One more thought... part of my problem with this graphic novel is the fact that it is a bad cross between manga and the graphic novel format.  Certain cues that are used in manga are used here, but not all the time.  And the illustrations go back and forth between extremely detailed and barely outlined.  It gets confusing.

People will buy this and librarians will stock it.  However, I just don't see it lasting long as more than a passing fad in the vampire/supernatural culture that is currently dominating the YA industry.

Rating: 1/5

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Because I Am Furniture

Because I Am Furniture
by Thalia Chaltas

Anke is nothing in her family.  She is often ignored by her father and her siblings.  She has no strength to speak out and be heard.

What Anke doesn't understand is that in this family, being ignored is actually a good thing.

Her father is an abuser.

He beats his son.  He rapes his oldest daughter.  He screams at his wife.  And they all let him do these things, because saying "No" only makes it worse.

Being ignored means that Anke is safe from him.

But now Anke has volleyball, where a player HAS to have strength and call for what is hers.  MY BALL!

And as Anke gains strength, she also gains the knowledge that may very well save her family.

But can she use that strength, that voice, when it counts the most?

Final thoughts: This is a novel in verse, which means it's basically a series of poems that tell the story.  It's powerful and thoughtful.  You feel that you truly understand Anke and the position that she's in.  An amazing book to help victims of abuse see that they are not alone and that they, too, can find their voices.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, March 15, 2010

Zeus : King of the Gods

Zeus : King of the Gods
by George O'Connor

Think you know all about Greek mythology?  Think you've seen all there is to see?

Well you ain't seen nothin' yet!

In this graphic novel version of the story of Zeus, readers get a taste of the Greek origin myth all the way through until Zeus takes over the kingdom of the Gods and sets up on Mount Olympus.

Here, readers can actually see what Greeks may have imagined when they came up with the idea of the three Hekatonchieres, which have 50 heads and 100 hands.  Words cannot adequately describe their appearance, but O'Connor makes them real.

The graphic novel is also accurate when describing the basics of the myths.  There are a few quotes and additions, but it all adds to the story.  

Like Greek mythology, but have problems with Bulfinch and Edith Hamilton?  Like graphic novels, but want something a little more epic?  This is the book for you.

It is also the first in a series of graphic novels on Greek mythology.  Athena comes out April 2010.

Final thoughts:  Amazing imagery and great story.  Doesn't go on forever and really gets you involved.

Rating:  5/5

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fat Cat

Fat Cat
by Robin Brande

Catherine has been battling the bulge for four years.  She's also been battling Matt for those four years, even if he hasn't realized it.

And this year, she's going to beat him... at the science fair.

Everyone in Fizer's Special Topics in Research Science class has to blindly pull a picture from a pile on the first day of class in September, and then develop an entire research project around it to be entered in the March science fair.  Get an A and you're guaranteed any college you want.  Win, and you go on to international competition.  Plus!  You get to beat the guy who embarrassed you and broke your heart four years before.

So when Cat picks a National Geographic illustration of early hominins from 1.8 million years ago (a.k.a. Homo erectus), she feels pretty defeated.

Until she comes up with the ultimate plan.  And the ultimate sacrifice.  She will live as close as she possibly can to the lives of those hominins.  That means no technology, no cars, no junk food, no make-up, and (gasp!) no hair products.

Over the next 207 days, she takes on a complete transformation.  All that walking and lack of junk food turns "Fat Cat" into "Hot Chick", and plenty of people are starting to notice... especially Matt.

Now that she's skinny and hot, will she also be able to confront her former-best-friend-now-worst-enemy and make him explain himself?  Or will she continue to feel like the fat girl she's trapped herself into thinking that she is?

Final thought:  Absolutely worth reading!  Perfect teen romance.  Cotton candy for the mind even with the very real messages it conveys.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, March 11, 2010


by Will Peterson

Forced to leave their New York home while their parents fight it out in divorce court, twins Adam and Rachel move to a small English village called Triskellion.

The village is so named because of the chalk circle that is a remnant of the Bronze Age, more than 3,000 years in the past.

That symbol is mysterious enough.  But things get more strange as the twins discover a strange group of "Green Men", artifacts that seem to be pushing themselves up from the ground, a knight's tomb covered in ancient runes, and secrets that no one in the village wants told.

When a boy named Gabriel begins showing up and disappearing all over town, the twins realize that they may be the key to a thousands of years old mystery.

Things are not only mystical and magical in Triskellion; they are downright deadly.  Can they solve the mystery before the townspeople stop them?

Final thoughts:  Takes a few chapters to get into, but it's well worth it.  It's like a roller coaster that starts slow but then gets faster and faster until it suddenly stops.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


by Lisa McMann

Just as Janie is finally getting past the trial and the constant hum of newscameras and reporters following her, another problem drops in her lap.

Her alcoholic mother goes on a binge after finding out that the man she loved, Janie's father, is in the hospital, dying from what can only be described as a "brain explosion".

And as Janie is coming to grips with meeting the father she never new, and his nightmares that drag her down into her dream catching state, she realizes that she has to make a choice.

Live as she has been, helping people, but causing her own body to fall apart (blindness and gnarled hands are never fun); or live a life of complete solitude, away from everyone, even Cabe.

Will she try to make her life work as she has been, or will she run away from the world to try and find relief from all of the dreams?

This is the final book of the Wake trilogy.

Final thoughts:  Not nearly as good as the first and second books.  Author says in an interview that she had to scrap the first draft and re-write the whole thing.  Maybe she should have done it again.

Rating: 2/5 (but worth a check out from the library if only to get some closure on the series)


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