15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Courtney, NonFiction, Teen Books

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, read by Courtney, on 07/19/2013

When it comes to serial killers, few are as well-known as Jeffrey Dahmer. To the author, “Jeff”, was much more than a face on the news. Backderf grew up in the same town and went to the same school as Dahmer. Long before the name “Dahmer” entered public consciousness, he was an awkward and troubled kid. Through the eyes of a friendly acquaintance (Backderf never genuinely appears to consider Dahmer a true “friend”, but more of kid on the periphery of his social circle), we meet a boy who was certainly unusual and somewhat anti-social. Readers will follow Dahmer from childhood to his teen years and, while it paints a slightly more sympathetic version of Dahmer, it never explains or excuses the actions he eventually takes. In hindsight, the signs were there, but it was clear that, at the time, Dahmer was simply regarded as the resident odd-ball and few thought little else about him.
What makes this graphic novel particularly interesting is the inclusion of both photos and documents from Backderf and Dahmer’s school years, as well as the detailed, page-by-page annotations provided by Backderf. This graphic novel is morbidly fascinating. Readers with any interest whatsoever on the topic will find themselves sucked in with no chance of escape until the end of the book. I was intrigued, horrified and even occasionally amused by Backderf’s story.

15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Crap Kingdom by D.C. Pierson, read by Courtney, on 07/19/2013

Tom Parking is an average guy who’s always dreamed of being the next Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. His life is pretty mundane until he is approached by a curious looking fellow named Gark who tells Tom that he is the Chosen One. Against his better judgement, Tom follows Gark into a dumpster which actually does turn out to be a portal to another kingdom. Believing his wildest dreams have come true, Tom gets pretty excited at the prospect of saving a kingdom. Until he actually gets a good luck at it. The whole civilization is more or less constructed out of trash. The denizens all don mismatched thrift-store clothes and the drink of choice tends to occasionally set its consumers on fire. Tom quickly discovers that this kingdom is kind of, well, crappy. The King is exceedingly cynical, to say the least. He also hates Tom. As it turns out, Gark, though tasked with tracking down the chosen one, is also about the least popular citizen of the kingdom, mainly because he has hope for the future. The rest could care less and have no inclination to change. In fact, the kingdom doesn’t even bear a name; when circumstances require, one can simply “mumble unintelligibly for the length of the average kingdom name”. Tom is less than impressed. In fact, he turns them down as his life proves easier without the nameless kingdom in his life (he was told he could be in charge of the Rat-Snottery, but it wasn’t enough to clinch the deal). So they find someone else: Kyle, Tom’s best friend. Kyle is everything Tom isn’t; athletic, focused, good with girls, etc. Kyle excels where Tom failed to impress and Tom finds himself actually starting to regret his initial choice to turn his back on the crappy kingdom.
While the setup is definitely amusing and unexpected, the rest of the book isn’t as funny as I had hoped. The moral of the story becomes a bit heavy-handed and the pace lags substantially in the middle of the book. Tom can be an irritating character at times, while Kyle is kind of bland. Nevertheless, readers will still be able to relate to Tom’s sense of opportunity lost. After all, haven’t we all regretted turning down an opportunity at some point in our lives? Overall, however, an entertaining read for teens, particularly any teen who has ever dreamed of becoming a “chosen one”.

15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Poetry, Teen Books

To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story by Sonya Sones, read by Courtney, on 07/15/2013

Colette is the daughter of a major Hollywood actress and has developed a knack for lying to escape from her mother’s shadow. She’s known for lying about anything and everything. Colette and her little brother even make a game of pretending its their birthday at restaurants to score free desert. When Colette’s summer plans are abruptly cancelled due to her mother’s filming schedule, Colette is convinced it’s going to be the worst summer ever. On the way to the middle-of-nowhere town that the filming is taking place in, Colette spots a gorgeous guy on a motorcycle and decides that maybe summer won’t be so terrible after all. She is even more pleased when biker-guy begins to pay attention to her. Colette worries, however, that her mother’s fame will ruin this relationship just as it has so many others, so she lies about her age and background. What Colette doesn’t count on is that her new boyfriend may be hiding a few secrets of his own.
This is the quintessential fun summer read. Since it’s written in verse, the story moves extremely quickly. Colette is fun and sarcastic, if a bit naive. Her little brother is charming, though his lisping quickly starts to feel like a cutesy convention. Readers may see the twist coming, but will likely be entertained enough by the humor and pacing to forgive the somewhat cliched ending.

This novel comes out in late August. I received this ARC from the publisher at the ALA Annual Conference.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 006 by Naoki Urasawa, read by Courtney, on 01/31/2012

A new vision based on Astro Boy – “The Greatest Robot On Earth” R to L (Japanese Style). Pluto… Sahad… Goji… Abullah… Mysterious figures somehow involved with the serial murders of the great robots of the world. Europol’s top robot detective Gesicht has been put on the case, and he’s mere steps away from discovering the horrifying truth behind the killer and his motives… Little does he realize that he’s also steps away from discovering a horrifying truth of his own… Masterfully crafted science fiction and suspense at its best! In an ideal world where man and robots coexist, someone or something has destroyed the powerful Swiss robot Mont Blanc. Elsewhere a key figure in a robot rights group is murdered. The two incidents appear to be unrelated…except for one very conspicuous clue – the bodies of both victims have been fashioned into some sort of bizarre collage complete with makeshift horns placed by the victims’ heads. Interpol assigns robot detective Gesicht to this most strange and complex case – and he eventually discovers that he too, as one of the seven great robots of the world, is one of the targets.

So, I know there are more volumes to go, but seriously, there aren’t many characters left! I’m still fascinated by this series, probably because I’m not sure where it’s headed.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 005 by Naoki Urasawa, read by Courtney, on 01/27/2012

A robot may not harm or kill a human being. Article 13 of the Robot LawsAdolph, a member of a robot hate group, is being used as a pawn and hunted down by the members of his own brotherhood. He must now turn to his worst enemy for protection–Gesicht, the robot who he believes killed his own brother.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

PLUTO: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 004 by Naoki Urasawa, read by Courtney, on 01/27/2012

A powerful, destructive force in the form of a tornado is killing the great robots of the world one by one. Who or what could be behind this whirlwind? Be it man or robot, it now has its sights set on Atom, the most advanced robot ever created–and Atom is ready to dive right into the eye of the storm.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Tegami Bachi, Vol. 7 by Hiroyuki Asada, read by Courtney, on 01/17/2012

Yay! Origin story for Niche!

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Tegami Bachi, Vol. 6: Letter Bee by Hiroyuki Asada, read by Courtney, on 01/12/2012

The Lighthouse in the Wasteland  Lag finds his long-lost hero Gauche Suede! But Gauche’s heart is so depleted that he has no memory of his former self, and now goes by Noir the Marauder. Lag’s only hope to recover the real Gauche is a special letter bullet that will convey Lag’s heart to his friend. Lag’s not sure how to go about writing the perfect letter, but his Letter Bee duties offer some good lessons in connecting hearts.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Tegami Bachi, Vol. 5 by Hiroyuki Asada, read by Courtney, on 01/12/2012

Amberground is locked in darkness. A man-made star casts only a dim light over the land. The pitch-black wilderness is infested with Gaichuu–colossal insects with metal exoskeletons. The Gaichuu make travel between the cities of Amberground extremely dangerous. But thankfully the Letter Bees, a brave corps of messengers, risk their lives in order to keep the hearts of Amberground connected.

The Man Who Could Not Become Spirit In the town of Honey Waters, Lag seeks out “the Man Who Could Not Become Spirit,” who might have information on the missing Gauche Suede. Lag’s disappointed to find out that he’s a charlatan. However, the heart of this strange man in this strange little town yields a surprising clue. Lag might be closer than he ever imagined.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Short Stories, Steam-punk, Teen Books

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link , read by Courtney, on 01/10/2012

A wee bit hit or miss as far as the quality of the stories goes, but overall a fun collection. Particular favorites of mine are the tales by Libba Bray, Cory Doctorow and Kelly Link. Extremely varied, both thematically and in setting, the steampunk element is represented in its broadest definition.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Tegami Bachi, Vol. 4 by Hiroyuki Asada, read by Courtney, on 01/12/2012

A Letter Full of Lies Lag, now a Letter Bee rookie, meets Dr. Thunderland, Jr. a peculiar man who collects and catalogs the various Amberground species. When the doctor takes a particular interest in Steak, Lag and Niche have to hustle to keep him off the doctor’s dissection table! The ensuing chaos pays off for Lag when the doctor reveals that Gauche—Lag’s missing hero—paid the doctor a visit before he disappeared.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Black Butler, Vol. 7 by Yana Toboso, read by Courtney, on 02/13/2012

I read this volume shortly after finishing viewing the Black Butler anime series. I was feeling all sad and missing the characters and then was like, “oh yeah! I’ve got another volume laying around that I haven’t read yet!” and all was good. Though I noticed that this whole circus story arc wasn’t in the anime. Too bad, ’cause it’s an intriguing little story.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror

Locke & Key, Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill, read by Courtney, on 02/19/2012

Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key unwinds into its fourth volume in Keys to the Kingdom. With more keys making themselves known, and the depths of the Locke family’s mystery ever-expanding, Dodge’s desperation to end his shadowy quest drives the inhabitants of Keyhouse ever closer to a revealing conclusion.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Ratfist by Doug TenNapel, Katherine Garner, read by Courtney, on 02/24/2012

This is one of those books where I’m entirely sure what was going on, but I enjoyed the journey. I’ve read TenNapel’s work before and it seemed relatively straightforward, so imagine my surprise when I come across Ratfist. We’ve got Ratfist and his sidekicks (an actual rat and the remains of Ratfist’s tail, both of which are sentient and rather talkative) and they’re trying to save the world from an evil corporation that Ratfist had initially supported until he came face to face with the repercussions. In the mix is the mysterious and completely bizarre Space Tiki who proves to be more than a bit of a catalyst for the strange events unfolding within the graphic novel.
I know that there’s probably some sort of religious message going on here, given that there’s a Bible verse at the very end and TenNapel is known for subtle allegories. In this particular offering, however, I have no idea what the actual message is. Either I’m really not up on my religious symbolism or…something. Like I said, I’m not entirely certain of what I just read. There were plenty of moments of genuine hilarity and everything about the story was so unexpected that I couldn’t stop reading.
Note: I read this via NetGalley and online reading is not my preferred method. I had some serious difficulties making out the text onscreen, so this *may* account for my lack of understanding.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 3 by Nagaru Tanigawa, read by Courtney, on 02/28/2012

The SOS Brigade gets browbeaten into entering a baseball tournament to help their fearless leader stave off boredom. But despite the Brigade’s clear lack of skill Haruhi has no intention of losing…and she’s ready to pitch a fit if her team doesn’t step up to the plate!

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 4 by Nagaru Tanigawa, read by Courtney, on 03/07/2012

When the SOS Brigade receives an urgent message that the Computer Research Society’s president has gone missing, Haruhi confidently promises to locate him, and the SOS Brigade is off!
Of course, they have no idea where to start…
Is the new SOS Brigade insignia that Haruhi designed to blame for all of this???

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 5 by Nagaru Tanigawa, read by Courtney, on 03/12/2012

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Manga Volume 5 Manufacturer: Yen PressIt’s summer break, but not for the SOS Brigade! With only a month of vacation left, Haruhi has devised a plan to pack as much fun as possible into their final days of freedom. But is Kyon up for the “endless summer” Haruhi has in mind?Story by Nagaru Tanigawa and Art by Gaku Tsugano.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror

Neonomicon by Alan Moore, read by Courtney, on 03/12/2012

Um…well, I can’t say that this is what I expected when I began reading. In fact, I’m not quite sure anything could have prepared me for what resides between those covers. I’ve read a fair amount of Alan Moore, so it’s not like I’m uninitiated, but this, while morbidly compelling, left a nasty taste in my mouth.
So, we’ve got a bunch of ritualized murders and a bunch of creepy people speaking in a Lovecraftian language. That much I can handle. It’s the point at which an FBI agent gets kidnapped by a Lovecraft cult to sexually service a monster where I began to feel uncomfortable. Lovecraft’s works aren’t sexual in nature; any of that stuff takes place “off screen”. Here, Moore has put those unholy unions front and center. For better or worse, I’m not sure. I think I get what he’s trying to do here, but it still doesn’t sit well with me. However, judging by the relatively high star rating here on goodreads, I’m guessing others liked it just fine.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

The Unwritten, Vol. 5: On to Genesis by Mike Carey, read by Courtney, on 04/11/2012

Before his mysterious disappearance and untimely death, the world-famous fantasy author Wilson Taylor helped bring two enduring creations into the world: Tommy Taylor, the fictional boy wizard who starred in his best selling book…and Tom Taylor, his real-life son

Armed with his father’s journals, Tom Taylor begins a journey to uncover the truth behind how he came into this world. Was he born of flesh and blood, or written into existence by sheer storytelling magic?

His quest will take him across the United States and even into the past – to the Golden Age of comic books and the birth of a new type of hero.

The critically acclaimed creative team of Mike Carey and Peter Gross present THE UNWRITTEN: ON TO GENESIS – a story of suspense, secrets and the superhuman.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

The Unwritten, Vol. 4: Leviathan by Mike Carey, read by Courtney, on 04/11/2012

This fourth volume in the acclaimed series sends Tommy Taylor into the world of Moby-Dick!

After the shocking return of Tommy’s father, best-selling fantasy author Wilson Taylor, the mysterious Cabal audition a new assassin and Tom seeks out “the source.” The source of what? He’s not really sure, but it looks like a whale, and apparently it can be found in the Nantucket farmhouse where Moby-Dick was written. What he finds is a path into a whole different ocean, with more trouble (and more whales) than he could possibly imagine.