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

Nemo: Heart of Ice by Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill (Illustrator), read by Courtney, on 05/07/2013

In the grim cold of February surfaces a thrilling new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book - Nemo: Heart of Ice, a full-color 48-page adventure in the classic pulp tradition by the inestimable Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. It’s 1925, fifteen long years since Janni Dakkar first tried to escape the legacy of her dying science-pirate father, only to accept her destiny as the new Nemo, captain of the legendary Nautilus. Now, tired of her unending spree of plunder and destruction, Janni launches a grand expedition to surpass her father’s greatest failure: the exploration of Antarctica. Hot on her frozen trail are a trio of genius inventors, hired by the megalomaniacal Charles Foster Kane to retrieve the plundered valuables of an African queen. It’s a deadly race to the bottom of the world – an uncharted land of wonder and horror where time is broken and the mountains bring madness.

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

DMZ, Vol. 7: War Powers by Brian Wood, read by Courtney, on 05/24/2013

The story of Matty Roth, the ultimate embedded war journalist trapped in a most unlikely war zone: the street of New York City, or as the world nowknowsit,the DMZ.

In this seventh volume in the graphic novel series, the status quo of the series is tossed out the window as Matty, back from his misadventure in Staten Island, finds Parco Delgado in office as provisional governor of the City of New York and details his first 100 days at breakneck speed redraws what you know about DMZ. Matty’s first task under the Delgado regime involves tracking down the source of one of the DMZ’s greatest urban legends.

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

DMZ, Vol. 8: Hearts and Minds by Brian Wood, read by Courtney, on 05/24/2013

The world and characters of the DMZ — a futuristic, war-torn Manhattan — are expanded and enriched in this eighth volume of the acclaimed series. Journalist Matty Roth redefines his role in the DMZ following the tumultuous events of the past year No longer content to be merely a citizen journalist or a mouthpiece for Parco Delgado’s struggling city government, he now rolls with his own private security force and self-defined mandate to heal the city. Is this the start of a brand-new day via the barrel of an gun – or will this “Rise of Matty” end with the fall of just another petty warlord? Plus, you’ll discover the truth behind the mysterious death cult that is housed in the city’s tallest building. These violent killers hide behind masks and heavy clothing are always the vanguard of death and destruction. Now you’ll find out just who they are and where they come from.

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

DMZ, Vol. 9: M.I.A. by Brian Wood, read by Courtney, on 05/24/2013

The ninth volume in the critically acclaimed series that looks at life during wartime – America’s 21st century Civil War.

After the shattering events of DMZ VOL. 8: HEARTS AND MINDS, M.I.A. takes Matty to a remote and desolate section of the city. Self-exile forces him to take a good, hard look at himself and his conduct since he entered the DMZ, and he doesn’t like what he’s seeing. His discovery presents him with an opportunity that he’s tempted to take, but is the price too high?

This volume also includes a pin-up gallery with art by Jim Lee, Dave Gibbons, Eduardo Risso and others.

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

DMZ, Vol. 10: Collective Punishment by Brian Wood, read by Courtney, on 05/25/2013

In this collection of five single-issue stories, citizens and soldiers – new characters and old – weather the storm of a brutal “shock and awe” bombing campaign on the DMZ.Includes a story concerning the enigmatic Wilson, the self-professed protector of Chinatown and confidant to series star Matty Roth who has always said he’d own the DMZ in the end. Now, with the U.S. poised to steamroll its way into the city, it’s do-or-die time for the old man. In another, Matty lends his Liberty News secure phone line to DMZ citizens to reach out to loved ones outside the city – a direct violation of his contract. Is this the beginning of a new, compassionate Matty looking to atone? Or are more cynical motives at play? Find out in this newest collection of the acclaimed series.

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

DMZ, Vol. 11: Free States Rising by Brian Wood, read by Courtney, on 05/27/2013

With all his allegiances wiped away by the mistakes he’s made, embedded journalist Matty Roth watches as the Free States of America and the US wage civil war on the island of Manhattan – also known as the DMZ. As Matty covers the battles on the ground, old allies and enemies resurface and Matty must prove that after all he’s been through that he is a changed man. Will the choices he makes reflect this?

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

DMZ Vol. 12: The Five Nations of New York by Brian Wood, read by Courtney, on 05/27/2013

As New York City starts the healing process, the political realities on the ground are impossible to ignore. Matty’s seen to it that everyone’s voice is being heard, but will the social order devolve into anarchy, or is there a new New York to be discovered somewhere underneath the rubble?This final volume of DMZ collects issues 67-72.

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

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga, Akemi Wegmüller (Translator), read by Courtney, on 06/02/2013

In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun’s Inner Chamber…2/7

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

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 2 by Fumi Yoshinaga, Akemi Wegmüller (Translator), read by Courtney, on 06/05/2013

In this 17th Century Japan the Shogun is a woman…and the harem is full of men. R to L (Japanese Style). Curious about why female lords must take on male names, the Shogun Yoshimune seeks out the ancient scribe Murase and his archives of the last eighty years of the Inner Chambers–called the Chronicle of the Dying Day. In it’s pages Yoshimune discovers the coming of the Redface Pox, the death of the last male Shogun, and the birth of the new Japan; In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen to a quarter of the total female population. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun’s Inner Chamber.

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

House of Mystery, Vol. 4: The Beauty of Decay by Matthew Sturges, read by Courtney, on 07/10/2013

A new storyline, “The Beauty of Decay,” begins with this volume!

The House of Mystery has been temporarily relocated to the Space Between, where death rules and the body count continues to rise. Meanwhile, Fig, Peter and Jordan venture out into the city of ghosts to visit the long-abandoned Pathfinder’s Academy where the most desperate specters wail and gnash. But the Pathfinder’s Academy holds more than ghosts – it also contains ancient dark secrets that will change Fig’s life forever.

Will Fig and Peter find a way out? And to make matters even worse, the House of Mystery’s previous owner has returned to reclaim what’s his.

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

Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison, Sean Murphy (Illustrator), read by Courtney, on 07/28/2013

Joe’s mother has gone out to attempt to prevent the bank from foreclosing on the family home that the two have been living in alone since the death of Joe’s father. Joe heads up to his room in the attic, forgetting his backpack on the stairs. This wouldn’t be a problem for most people, but Joe is extremely hypoglycemic and the nearest sugar is in his bag. After hanging out in his room for awhile, he begins to either hallucinate from the hypoglycemic shock or his toys have all come to life. Either way, he begins an epic quest to save the “kingdom” from evil forces. Accompanied by his pet rat and various other “heroes” he picks up along the way, Joe is armed only with his wits as he begins the long and arduous journey downstairs to the kitchen where salvation awaits in the form of carbonated high-fructose corn syrup.
The artwork in this is amazing. Joe’s bedroom is filled with all the toys one might expect a teenaged boy to have accumulated over the course of his short life. All of these details inform the auxiliary characters that Joe encounters throughout his journey. On occasion, the panel will show Joe in his own house, looking increasingly worse for the wear. Joe himself is unsure what is real and what isn’t, but he knows he’s on a mission and he’s determined to follow it all the way through. I love that this is a self-contained comic (it was originally printed as a mini-series); it’s a refreshing change to read the whole thing in one sitting rather than having to wait for each subsequent installment to come out. The story feels fresh and original all while paying homage to the classic adventure stories we all grew up with.

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

Who Is AC? by Hope Larson, Tintin Pantoja (Illustrator), read by Courtney, on 07/27/2013

In this breakthrough graphic novel from the award-winning author of Mercury, there’s a new superhero in town—and she’s got kick-butt cyberpowers.

Meet Lin, a formerly average teenage girl whose cell phone zaps her with magical powers. But just as superpowers can travel through the ether, so can evil. As Lin starts to get a handle on her new abilities (while still observing her curfew!), she realizes she has to go head-to-head with a nefarious villain who spreads his influence through binary code. And as if that weren’t enough, a teen blogger has dubbed her an “anonymous coward!” Can Lin detect the cyber-criminal’s vulnerability, save the day, and restore her reputation?

With ingenious scripting from graphic novel phenom Hope Larson and striking art from manga illustrator Tintin Pantoja, this action-packed story brims with magical realism and girl-power goodness.

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

Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel, read by Courtney, on 07/27/2013

In volume two of the American Fairy series, we catch up to Callie LaRoux in Hollywood, the seat of power for the Unseelie Court. Callie and Jack obtain jobs with MGM studios, which seems to be the best way of going about finding Callie’s parents and settling this whole prophecy business. Things start to go awry when Jack and Callie witness a young starlet, Ivy Bright (think Shirley Temple), about to be kidnapped by fairies. They rescue her with the aid of a well-known singer, Paul Robeson, who, in spite of being human, seems to know an awful lot about fairies. In the meantime, Shake is back, but not nearly as powerful as he was. Callie and Jack know they must be getting close to Callie’s parents, but there’s so much going on with Callie’s arrival in Unseelie territory that they get stalled just trying to keep themselves alive.
I was really excited about this sequel since I loved the first book in the series. This one just fell kind of flat for me. The plot has a lot of action, which will surely keep many fans entertained, but it seemed to lose some of the historical detail in exchange for action sequences. I’m still more than a little confused by the Paul Robeson and his role in the whole thing. He appears near the beginning of the book and then disappears from the plot for nearly half of the book. The Ivy Bright storyline is predictable at best, annoying at worst. Overall, the heavy reliance on action makes the book feel convoluted and considerably less magical than its predecessor. Here’s hoping the third book can manage to pull everything back together; I would really like to see the series redeem itself, especially since the concept is so good.

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

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins, read by Courtney, on 07/24/2013

In spite of the fact that “Burned” was not my favorite of Hopkins’ books (a statement which will likely get me in trouble with many of my teens, for whom this is a much-beloved favorite), I was still anxious to read “Smoke”, its sequel. It had never occurred to me that there might even be a sequel to “Burned”, which so clearly stood on its own, but then, well, Ellen went and wrote a sequel.
This picks up more or less where “Burned” left off. Pattyn Von Stratten is now on the run after the death of her father. She has nowhere to go and no one left to turn to. She meets a girl her age who agrees to put her up for the night. There, Pattyn meets the rest of the girl’s family- all immigrants. In spite of the cultural differences, Pattyn begins to feel more at home with this new family than her real one.
In the meantime, Pattyn’s sister, Jackie, is still at home with the rest of the family and dealing with the aftermath of what happened in the family garage that fateful night. With Pattyn gone, Jackie has no one left to turn to. She’s not even remotely upset about what happened to her father, but she cannot accept her mother’s failure to acknowledge the trauma that Jackie has endured. The family’s continued adherence to the LDS church means that the family secrets are not to be discussed. Gradually, Jackie’s pain turns to anger as she begins to heal with the help of a new boyfriend.
This is a relatively tame book for those who are familiar with Hopkins’ oeuvre. The main themes center around the aftermath of abuse. This is, ultimately, a survivor’s tale. Pattyn and Jackie each have very different approaches to healing their psychological wounds, but each does so in a way that feels true to their character. There are times when the narrative drags, but readers who loved Burned will undoubtedly love meeting back up with the Von Stratten sisters and will rejoice in their triumphs over their troubling family situation.

I received this ARC from the publisher at the ALA Annual Conference. Smoke officially publishes in September 2013.

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.