Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1
I have not read any super hero comic books in a looooooooong time so I am happy that I got the incentive to read this one for the Hub Challenge. I may never have learned that the original Spider-Man died!! (Sob!) In this volume we meet a young black man named Miles who accidentally picks up the same spider that bit Peter Parker and he gets bit, too. As he slowly learns that he has super powers, he shares with his Asian friend, Gunke, who gives him an old Spider-Man Halloween costume to wear. Miles follows in Peter's footsteps and uses his powers to help people in trouble and attracts the attention of Spider-Girl and Nick Fury.

Miles is a very likable new hero. He is bright and has a father who is dedicated to keeping Miles out of trouble. He enters Miles in a lottery to obtain a spot in a prestigious boarding school. Miles wins a spot and shares a room there with his friend.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel and will try and keep in touch with the series.

My rating for this book: 

Sparks: The Epic Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie by S.J. Adams

Debbie Woodlawn has kept a secret since sixth grade. She has a crush on her best friend, Lisa, and has to share this with her before Lisa makes out with a boy. She gets assistance from two kids, members of a self-formed Church of Blue. One of the things they do in this church is create a list of quests, such as seeing a person completely nude. Finding Lisa is a perfect quest.

The three of them dash around town trying to catch up with Debbie's backpack, get something to eat, find out where Lisa is going on her date, and all on $5.00. Overseeing this endeavor is the blue-painted Buddha on the dashboard.

It must be so hard to harbor a secret like this for so long. It does not help that Debbie lives in the Bible Belt and to be near her friend, joins a group called Active Christian Teens. Even a New Age mother doesn't see anything bothering her daughter. But Debbie must tell Lisa and find out if she has any chance at developing a relationship with her.

I recommend this book as a fun romp with the added bonus of a coming-of-sexuality story.
My rating for this book: 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer
This graphic novel is absolutely creepy, amazing, disturbing, scary, and is about a normal everyday high school in Ohio during the 1970s. It was the spawning ground of one of the most notorious serial killers of modern history, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Derf Backderf had the (luck? misfortune? unbelievable opportunity?) to know him.

The warning signs were all there (like collecting roadkill) and the kids all knew that there was something definitely not right with this loner. His only interaction with his classmates were when they used him in their pranks. For instance, they maneuvered him into yearbook pictures for all the different activities of the school, always lurking in the back row.

His parents had their problems and ignored him in their own selfish despair. He turned to drinking to try and forget his loneliness and growing need to mutilate living things. According to this story, not one single adult ever tried to help him.

I highly recommend this graphic novel.

My recommendation for this book:   

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett

After the Snow
This books takes place in England sometime after the buildup of CO2 has changed the chemical makeup of the oceans so much that the circulating currents have stopped or slowed and England has been in the grip of winter long enough to seriously affect society. Willo is a young man who lives with his family in the hills trapping hares and trading the pelts for other necessities. However, one day he returns home to find that his family had been taken away.

He loads up a sled with items he will need and snowshoes off in pursuit. Along his way he meets a variety of people surviving, successfully or not, in different ways. Naturally, there are many bad people and Willo relies on an inner dog voice to help him maneuver through the dangers he encounters. (Oddly the dog voice seems to be more literate than his own voice - could it be his father's voice?)

Willo eventually learns that his father was not the man he thought he was. But Willo has learned enough about himself and his strength to take his own path. The door is definitely open for a sequel but, yay!, this is a stand alone book.

My rating for this book:   

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

The Running Dream
Jessica loves to run. She is a strong competitor and a valued team member of her school's track team. However, returning from a meet, her bus is hit by an uninsured truck and one girl is killed and Jessica's leg must be amputated. She is faced with months of physical therapy learning to walk again and using a prosthetic leg. She also has to catch up with all the school work she missed. But Jessica is one of a rare breed, able to meet the challenge.

She is taken aback when faced with an ugly prosthetic leg until her friend shows her video of a runner with a state-of-the-art running leg that could return her to running competitively. 

Jessica is luckier than most since she is surrounded by people who love and support her: the family, her friend, her team, her school, her community, and her dog. But the most surprising inspiration comes from a quiet girl in a wheelchair who is a victim of cerebral palsy. Rosa comes to Jessica's aid in her algebra class and Jessica returns the favor in a surprising and inspiring way. 

I strongly recommend this book to runners and other sports lovers to see how their talents can be used to help others less fortunate.  

My rating for this book:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

The Brides of Rollrock Island

  • "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned" - William Congreve
Misskaella lived on a small island featuring a simple village inhabited by fishermen. All of the people were sturdy in form and had curly red hair. Misskaella was the youngest girl in her family and was cruelly teased by all her sisters and the other children of the village. But as it happens she had a special affinity with the seals that inhabited the water and beaches and she could even turn the female seals into human shape. Slim, long-limbed, with sleek black hair, and beautiful, these women became the obsession of all of the men. Misskaella found that, even if she had no chance of marrying, she could make a living by accepting money to create these women. The women of the village found the men no longer desired them so they packed up any children they had and went to the mainland. 

This fascinating story is told by different participants in each chapter so, almost like an anthropological study, we watch how this insular community is transformed by her ability to fulfill the men's fantasies and provide them with these beautiful women. They are unable to have female babies and since all the original women left, Misskaella found herself the last real woman. However, not everything is perfect in paradise.

The language is very lyrical and makes one think of Ireland. "Down to the Crescent I went, to the seals, who were all the one silver under the moon, except for the bull, the king, who lay among his wives like spilled ink, and the babies, like dark droplets thrown off him throughout the herd."

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories featuring mythological creatures. 

My rating for this book:  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Juvenile in Justice

Juvenile in Justice
This photographic journal was selected by YALSA as a best adult book for teens. It shows young people in juvenile detention facilities all across the U.S. If this book doesn't convince a person to stay out of prison, I don't know what will.

The pictures are accompanied by the words of the kids shown. They are lonely, dispirited, and adrift. The facilities are, without exception, devoid of cheer and anything remotely able to be fashioned into a sharp weapon. Even the food is colorless and has nothing that requires cutting with a knife. There are few if any books, posters, or anything to relieve the bland walls.

The faces of the kids are sometimes blurred or cropped out of the pictures but the ones where they cover their faces with their hands, shirts, or sheets seem even more full of shame and despair. The facts about juvenile detention systems are horrifying. For instance, Ross says that the city of Oakland spends $4,945 per student in school compared to $224,712 per person per year in their newest facility.

Ross' goal in publishing this book is to illustrate the uselessness and horrors of incarcerating teens and young people. No alternative programs are shown to offset the wrongness of these detention systems.  It is my hope that a young person reading this book will do everything humanly possible to stay out of such a place.

My rating for this book

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Raven Boys
One of the things that makes me really enjoy a book is when I find it is like no other book I have read. New setting, new characters, and new themes generally add up to a good read for me. In The Raven Boys we have psychics, rich private school boys, ghosts, a dead Welsh king, and mysterious lines around the Earth called "ley lines" which have an unusual amount of psychic energy. 

Blue Sargent is the daughter of a psychic and even though she is not herself psychic, she helps others by somehow magnifying and focusing psychic energy with her presence. Blue and her mother live in a house with other psychics and they make a living from reading tarot cards for clients. Blue also works in a diner and she makes friends with a group of students from the prestigious Aglionby Academy after one of them leaves a journal filled with entries about a dead Welsh king and ley lines. Could these be related to the corpse lines that her mother and her friends feel in the area?

I like Blue. She is smart, brave, and independent. She has an interesting relationship with her mother which can be seen in this conversation.
Way back before you were born, Calla and Persephone and I were messing around with things we probably shouldn't have been messing around with __. Drugs?  Rituals.  Are you messing around with drugs?  No. but maybe rituals.                                                                                               Drugs might be better.   I'm not interested in them. Their effects are proven - where's the fun in that?
I highly recommend this book to teens who enjoy a little fantasy and mysticism. This is the first of a series and I really hope the originality continues into the next book.

My rating for this book: