In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves–the Library Forces!
It’s Valentine’s Day, and Iku’s hopes are dashed when Dojo, the guy she’s been crushing on–and who’s her Library Force superior!–receives an elegant box of chocolates from another woman. Romantic intrigue strikes the whole team as Shibazaki meets a would-be suitor and confides in Iku about her tortured love life. And it seems that Hikaru is being followed by someone from his past.
A new vision based on Astroboy – “The greatest robot on earth”. Final Volume!
AMERICAN VAMPIRE flashes back to two very distinct points in American history. The first tale comes from the early 1800′s with the “The Beast in the Cave” featuring art by the legendary Jordi Bernet (Torpedo, JONAH HEX). Learn about the original American Vampire, Skinner Sweet, and his involvement in the brutal Indian Wars, and an ancient evil hidden in the heart of the Old West. Plus, more about the man Skinner used to call his best friend – James Book!
The second tale comes straight from 1950s America, where AMERICAN VAMPIRE is terrorizing the suburbs with hot rods, teenyboppers and fangs! “Death Race” focuses on ferocious new vampire hunter Travis Kidd – but what is his connection to Skinner Sweet? As the story comes to a violent end, a sworn enemy’s identity is finally revealed, and lots of blood is spilled!
Writer Scott Snyder (BATMAN, SWAMP THING) and artist Rafael Albuquerque bring together even more threads to the complex tapestry that is the world of AMERICAN VAMPIRE.
Translated from the Japanese bestseller, this story centers on Oto-san, a man who finds himself abandoned by his family and friends with nothing in his life happening the way he had planned. He embarks on a road trip to escape it all, and he soon discovers the only one he can count on completely is his faithful, recently adopted dog, who helps him see the light at the end of the tunnel. Illustrating the valuable lessons of friendship and loyalty, this is a heartwarming tale of two endearing characters and their shared adventure into the unknown.
Who Killed Astro Boy? No Robots; Human vs. humanoid!
Pluto has destroyed six out of the seven great robots of the world, and the pacifist robot Epsilon is the only one that remains. Will Epsilon, who refused to participate in the 39th Central Asian War, leave behind his war-orphaned charges to step onto the battlefield? It just might be that kindly Epsilon, who wields the power of photon energy, will be Pluto’s greatest opponent of all!
Things aren’t going so well for the gods of old. Athena has been growing feathers on the inside of her body while Hermes has been wasting away. In an attempt to find the source of their mortality, they begin traversing the country in search of answers. It appears that the other gods aren’t doing well either; each is dying in their own way. Their power is fading. Demeter points them in the direction of someone who might be able to help, provided they can find her and make her remember who she is before Hera and Aphrodite do. War is brewing and they’ll need all the help they can get. The person they need now is the prophetess Cassandra, the same girl who was cursed by Apollo to see the future but to not be believed by anyone. The original Cassandra died centuries ago, but her reincarnation lives a normal high school existence and is completely unaware of her potential role in the brewing war.
Fans of Greek mythology won’t want to miss this one. The gods are doing all the things the gods are known for: drama, trickery, intimidation and deception. Cassandra is a pretty cool girl with a doting brother and loyal bff, both of whom will come in rather handy as the story progresses. Athena is not someone to mess with, even in her weakened state. Old alliances are tested as desperate goddesses seek to save themselves at the expense of everything else. Some knowledge of Greek myth and classical literature will definitely help readers to appreciate the motivations of the various characters, but plenty of background information is presented as well. I really enjoyed this dark take on the gods-in-the-real-world theme.
OK, here’s the deal. I loved the premise of this book: 3 teens, from very different walks of life, appear in an abandoned hospital shortly after they seem to die in their real lives. Sophie, from California, is dying of terminal cancer. Declan, from Ireland, is about to get shot in the head. Anat, from Israel, is in the process of navigating a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt. All three of them, plus a few more from other points around the globe, wake up with no clue as to how or why they got to the abandoned hospital. Eventually, they collectively realize that they need to get out, since, apart from their small group, there are no signs of life anywhere. When one of the kids disappears, everyone begins to suspect the worst and the story takes a turn from creepy mystery to horror/thriller.
The premise is intriguing, but the execution isn’t really all that satisfying. The first half of the book is certainly enough to get readers hooked and the twists will keep them going. The ending however, is unmemorable and has the potential to disappoint. The three main characters are relatively well-developed, although the rest of the characters are a bit flat and come across as potentially expendable. It becomes readily apparent that one of the other kids knows more than the main characters do, but it takes the main characters a frustratingly long time to figure it all out. Still, even with its flaws, this is a fun and eerie read.
This epistolary-style novel follows teenaged runaway, Punkzilla, as he travels across the country to see his dying brother. Most of the letters are from Punkzilla to his brother, describing his own reasons for leaving home and his life in Portland. His brother has been keeping his distance from the family ever since coming out to his homophobic parents. Punkzilla’s life has been challenging too. His relationship with his family is strained as well; he has already been exiled to military school prior to running away. When he does receive the letter from his brother announcing that there is little time left, Punkzilla feels an urgent need to reconnect with his older brother. Here and there, letters from both parents to Punkzilla illustrate the circumstances that both brothers have had to contend with and the frustration they share is palpable.
In classic Adam Rapp fashion, this story is swift-moving and heart wrenching. Punkzilla does and says a lot of things that are clearly misguided, but remains sympathetic nonetheless. The real achievement is the growth that the reader sees throughout Punkzilla’s journey and how he interacts with the people he meets. This is a tough and gritty coming-of-age story and a decent choice for reluctant readers.
Matt Kindt, the most original voice in genre comics, outdoes himself in this bold new espionage series! Reporting on a commercial flight where everyone aboard lost their memories, a young journalist stumbles onto a much bigger story – the top-secret Mind Management program. Her ensuing journey involves weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising, talking dolphins, and seemingly immortal pursuers, as she attempts to find the flight’s missing passenger, the man who was MIND MGMT’s greatest success – and its most devastating failure. But in a world where people can rewrite reality itself, can she trust anything she sees?
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Reporting on a commercial flight where everyone aboard lost their memories, a young journalist stumbles onto a much bigger story, the top-secret Mind Management program. Her ensuing journey involves weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising, talking dolphins, and seemingly immortal pursuers, as she attempts to find the flight’s missing passenger, the man who was MIND MGMT’s greatest success—and its most devastating failure. But in a world where people can rewrite reality itself, can she trust anything she sees? Collects MIND MGMT #1-#6.
Up until recently, Hayley and her father have been living on the road. Hayley’s father, a veteran with PTSD, has been trucking and picking up odd jobs to earn a living. They never stayed in one place very long, so Hayley hasn’t much in the way of traditional schooling. At long last, Hayley’s father decides to settle down in his hometown so that Hayley can go to school and graduate like a normal teenager. While not exactly enthused, Hayley settles into a life than is indeed more or less normal. She makes friends, even starts falling for a boy. The only problem is that she’s not exactly sure that being here is helping her father. He’s not always getting out of bed in the mornings, he gets drunk and angry at unpredictable times, he still wakes up screaming in the middle of the night…Even if Hayley does find a way to live a normal life, who will take care of her father?
The Impossible Knife of Memory takes on the tough subject of a parent home from war and still bearing the scars, physically and emotionally. Hayley has never had a stable life, but it is the only one she knows and she would rather be at her father’s side than anywhere else. The downside to her life with her father is that she is ill-equipped to deal with her own life. She too seems to suffer from a form of PTSD. Hayley’s internal struggles add a sense of immediacy to even the everyday hurdles she encounters. The relationship between father and daughter is nuanced; there’s a lot of love and a lot of anger. Hayley also must try to understand the drama of her friends and their situations, something she is unaccustomed to. It takes some time for her to realize that life-altering struggles are a part of everyone’s life, not just hers and her father’s. Hayley will definitely say and do things that will make readers want to yell at her, but in the end, Hayley’s growth as a person satisfies.
I believe this is officially the 4th or 5th Hamlet retelling I’ve read and it’s one of the better ones. Summarizing the plot here is kind of pointless, because it’s Hamlet told from Ophelia’s point of view. What might be more helpful is to highlight some of the choices made in this adaptation. First off: the setting. Elsinore has gone from castle to elite boarding school with Hamlet Sr. as the headmaster. Overall, it works. It’s insular enough to evoke the same claustrophobic feel of Elsinore castle. Then there are the characters: Ophelia, everyone’s favorite girl-gone-crazy, evidently nearly drowned as a child and has since been seeing ghosts, bean sidhe and the morgens (of which her late mother is one). It does add another dimension to poor Ophelia, but ultimately doesn’t do her any favors. The timing of the plotline is more or less the same, though this one starts a bit earlier – right after the death of Hamlet Sr.
The narrative is very stylized and tends to incorporate actual phrasing from the original text where it fits. Overall, it works pretty well. The pace is rather slow, so patience will be required on the reader’s behalf. The writing is lyrical, though occasionally repetitive, which might turn some readers off. I personally was on the fence with this one. At times, I really loved it and then at others, I found myself getting sick of the whole thing. No real surprises here, but still an interesting take on a classic.
In spite of the cute cover, this is not a book for the faint-of-heart. It opens on Taylor acting as a witness to her sister’s autopsy after her sister dies in a horrible domestic abuse accident. Since Taylor and her nephew had been living with her sister, they must now move to their grandmother’s house and attempt to move on with their lives. Taylor leaves behind an abusive boyfriend and finds that life is actually bearable when she doesn’t have to fear the safety of her nephew or herself. She meets Lily, another “girl with Baggage”. Lily lives with her mother, who was brain-damaged in an accident years ago. It’s left Lily’s mother jobless and largely dependent on Lily for the day-to-day running of the house. The first time Taylor invites Lily over to her grandparent’s house for dinner, her abusive boyfriend Devon turns up and demands that Taylor come with him. Lily, recognizing that something is off, hops into the car with them. Devon has brought a driver, a guy named Conor, who clearly owes Devon a favor. The foursome drive off to a cabin deep in the woods, far out of cellphone range and even farther from civilization. Things go from bad to worse as the girls wait to see if they’ll survive this unexpected trip.
Domestic abuse is not exactly uncommon in YA lit, but rarely is it presented in such a frank way. It’s clear that Taylor has been around abuse her entire life and sees submission as a survival mechanism. She rarely, if ever, thinks about herself. She has devoted her life to others, whether they treat her well or not. She also sees in herself the potential for the same type of anger and violence, which disturbs her. Lily is less prone to letting a guy call the shots for her; she’s been witness to her mother’s failed relationships and recognizes the signs of a person about to become violent. She still has trouble speaking up for herself, however.
This is a heart-breaking little book. It took me days to read it simply because it was hard to face the circumstances of the young women in the book. Still, Lily and Taylor are women of potential. The reader can sense that there’s more to them than the abuse and neglect they’ve endured. The reader will cheer these girls on as much as they’ll want to shake them for not fighting back. There are no easy answers in situations like these and this book does not pretend to have answers. Strings are left untied at the end, but there’s a note of hope that this fragile friendship may bloom into salvation for both young women.
The last anyone saw of Shannon was as she ran panicking from house to house in a small suburban neighborhood near New York. The police were called, but the girl was gone. So was the SUV seen in the neighborhood. As it turned out, Shannon was an escort and the SUV was her driver. She had placed an ad on Craigslist and met up with a resident of the neighborhood. At some point in the night, she freaked out and called the police (something escorts don’t do very often). She ran from the house she had been working at and ran from her driver. She knocked on door after door, hoping to be let in and helped. The last anyone saw of her was her slight form darting off into the shadows.
Shannon’s family pushed for the investigation, in spite of the police’s clear reluctance due to her profession. The search turned up a body, but it wasn’t Shannons. More searching revealed four complete skeletons, all wrapped in burlap, as well as a number of body parts and unidentified remains. Still no Shannon. Police soon pieced together the identities of the burlap-wrapped girls. Each of them was an escort, just like Shannon. They could only conclude that this was indeed the work of a serial killer.
Lost Girls is, as the title implies, the story of an unsolved serial murder case. Kolker begins by letting the reader get to know the victims. Each of their stories are told in detail and without judgement. Each woman’s life is different. The one thing they all have in common is that they all found their way to the Craigslist escort game. From the girls to the circumstances of their last known whereabouts to the family, community and press response, Lost Girls tells a heartbreaking story of a broken society. To blame the women for their circumstances would be only addressing a miniscule part of the equation. Lost Girls is exceedingly well-researched and humane. The lack of resolution will frustrate, but it may also serve as a catalyst for change in how crimes like this are handled.
When we last saw Elvie, she was just giving birth to a baby girl. An Almiri baby girl. Because being a teen mother isn’t hard enough without your baby turning out to be an alien race. Turns out that that the alien-baby business is far less of a concern than the fact that the baby is a girl. The whole thing about the Almiri race is that they’re all male and incapable of reproducing on their own. So they go to other words and secretly impregnate their females, who, in turn, give birth to little baby Almiri boys. Except in Elvie’s case. The Almiri panic and send Elvie, her father, her bestie Ducky and her baby-daddy, Cole off to the secure facility they keep as a sort of prison for Almiri who broken the strict reproduction codes. Elvie isn’t thrilled that she’s going to essentially be a prisoner at the hands of the Almiri. She’s even less thrilled that the facility they’re being sent to is in Antarctica. Elvie and co. don’t really have a choice though, so off to Antarctica they go. Things are tense, but palatable until some unexpected visitors show up and let Elvie in on the real reason the Almiri are so upset about a baby girl.
This book is essentially the polar opposite of the first book (see what I did there?). All the action takes place on ice, but Elvie maintains her characteristic snark to keep things light. There’s something quite entertaining about the idea of a teen attempting motherhood while surrounded by alien men (and a few human men) in the subarctic conditions. I mean, sure, it’s all a little preposterous, but it’s a fun ride. Not quite as thought-provoking as the first installment, so there’s every chance that some of the themes that made the first book so clever will be further explored later on.
Blue comes from a long line of women with psychic abilities. Unfortunately for Blue, the only ability that seemed to manifest for her is the ability to amplify the abilities of others. For this reason, her mother takes her to the church road on St. Mark’s eve so that her mother can speak to the soon-to-be-dead. They do it every year, but this is the first year where Blue actually sees one of the ghosts. It’s a boy around her age and the only thing she can find out about his is that his name is “Gansey”. Her mother and some of the other women in their house of psychics tell her it must be because she is going to fall in love with him, which is a problem since there’s been a prophecy going around that if Blue kisses her true love, he’ll die.
Meanwhile, at Aglionby Academy, Richard Gansey and his friends have devoted their time to finding the grave of a lost Welsh king. According to Gansey’s research, there’s ample evidence that this king would be buried along ley lines, lines of energy and power. Gansey is positive that that he’s close to his goal, which, if found, will grant them a favor of epic proportions. As it turns out, however, Gansey is not the first to search here and the other person searching doesn’t have intentions nearly as kind as Gansey and his pals.
In an effort to find out what the local psychics know about ley lines and sources, Gansey pays a visit to Blue’s mother. Once these two paths cross, things start to get really interesting.
I wasn’t very excited going into this one as I was not a fan of the Mercy Falls series. I had heard enough good things about this series that I decided to assign it to one of my bookgroups so that I’d have to give it a try. Fortunately, I found it to be a pleasant surprise. The premise is fascinating and very unexpected. I found some of the trajectory to be a bit predictable, but still found some surprises along the way. I did have some issues with Blue only being able to act as a tool for others. I wanted her to have more power on her own. The amplification thing starts to make Blue seem like a passive character, when I believe that she’s got more going for her. I’m still a little sketchy on some of the smaller details and I felt like it took way too long for our protagonists to meet, but this may all be rectified with further installments in the “cycle”. Overall, a nice, fresh take on the paranormal genre.
This novel-in-verse rotates through three different perspectives. First, there are the high school kids, Brendan and Vanessa. Brendan and Vanessa have been a couple for a long time. They’re both fairly popular and are athletes. Vanessa is a fairly normal girl, with the exception being that her sport of choice is wrestling. Brendan is the star of the wrestling team, so the two spend a lot of time together. On the surface, their relationship is perfect, but under the surface, they’ve got some serious issues that neither one wants to talk about. Vanessa has thrown everything she is into this relationship, to the point where she is in danger of losing the few female friends she has left. Brendan is secretly questioning his gender identity. He can’t understand why he sometimes feels as though he would rather be his girlfriend than be with her. When he learns the word “transgender”, it sends shock-waves through the core of his being. Deep down, he realizes this is a word that might apply to him. In a fit of confused angst, he throws a rock through the window of a local GLBTQ teen center where our third narrator, Angel, works. Angel is a male-to-female transgendered person who has seen some incredibly difficult times. As a result, Angel has found a calling in helping young people come to terms with their sexual orientation and identities. Can Angel help Brendan, even if Brendan isn’t really sure who he is?
Freakboy takes on a whole host of issues, though the transgender one obviously takes front and center. Brendan and Vanessa’s relationship issues are painfully realistic. Vanessa has clear self-esteem issues and frequently misinterprets Brendan’s actions. She defines herself through having a boyfriend and, while she’s obsessed with her relationship, she remains surprisingly self-absorbed. Brendan is by far the most well-developed character in the book; he’s not the type of person who definitively knew his identity from a young age and he doesn’t always hate being a boy. Angel, on the other hand, seems like she’s there to provide the reader with a more traditional transformation story or to show how an adult might handle being trans rather than contributing to the overall plot. Angel is a great character, but her integration into the narrative feels rough and somewhat forced.
Overall, a decent, if heavy-handed, tale of teenagers dealing with a tough and under-addressed issue.
Black Belt Librarian is a practical guide to making sure your library is a safe space, both for you and your patrons. Written not by a librarian, but by a security professional, this slender book is filled with tough questions and great advice. This should probably be required reading for anyone in a supervisory or managerial role and highly recommended reading for front-line staff. I, for one, am really glad I read it and am currently encouraging all of my colleagues to do the same.
All of Sophie’s life has been about her mother. As long as she can remember, she’s been taking care of her mother through all of the ups and downs that a bi-polar disorder can bring. Until one day, when Sophie gets home from school to find the house much quieter than usual. She finds her mother barely alive on the bed with a nearly-empty bottle of pills nearby. After 911 has been called and the house cleaned up, Sophie packs her things and heads to her aunt’s house. She hasn’t seen her aunt’s family in years, but was always told that she could call them if she really needed to. This time, Sophie had no choice. As her mother slowly recovers, Sophie reflects back on the life they’ve been living together (and why her aunt’s family has been kept at a distance) as well as what it means for their futures. For the first time in her life, Sophie is not the one who has to take care of everything and she’s not sure how to feel about it.
This is more or less a traditional “problem novel” where a main character has an issue that they have to deal with by the time the book is over. In this case, it is the mentally-ill parent and the teenaged daughter who does more of the actual parenting. Sophie’s love for her mother is obvious and palpable, but later revelations about her mother’s behavior make one wonder why no one stepped in earlier. The reader will feel empathy for Sophie, but she’s not a particularly nuanced character.
In the not-too-distant future, things are looking pretty grim. Poverty is at an all-time high and the earth’s resources are nearly gone. The only good thing going, as far as most folks are concerned, is the OASIS, an immersive web application that has become synonymous with the internet. It’s how everyone interacts in the future, from going to classes to hanging out on elaborately themed planets. The OASIS is the brainchild of one James Halliday, an eccentric with a 1980′s obsession. When Halliday dies, his avatar informs the world that he has hidden an easter egg somewhere in the OASIS. To find it, one must first uncover three keys and find/pass through their respective gates. It’s the contest of a lifetime; history in the making. Then five years ago by with no one even having a clue as to the whereabouts of the first key.
All across the world, egg hunters (or “gunters” for short) dedicate their entire lives to finding the egg. A multi-national corporation has hired scores of the best hackers money can buy for their “oology” division. Exhaustive research about ’80′s pop culture is undertaken by anyone who has even thought about looking for the egg. Wade Watts is just an average guy living in a stack of trailers like so many other poor folks. He’s too poor to even buy credits to search “off-world”; all he can do is practice old video games, watch John Hughes movies and brainstorm the solitary clue Halliday gave the world. He doesn’t really think he has a chance, but, like the rest of the world, he feels he owes it to himself to give it a shot. Imagine his surprise and excitement when becomes the first person to find the first key. Suddenly, Wade’s avatar becomes the most famous name in the OASIS, which is both really cool and really dangerous. And the egg hunt? Oh, it’s on.
Ready Player One is a blast to read. It’s the ultimate geeky read with references to all sorts of retro pop culture liberally used throughout. It’s also both funny and action-packed. Readers will have just as much fun cheering Wade on throughout his quest as they will nodding knowingly at all the song/movie/game/tv references. I was slightly worried that younger audiences might not get everything in the book, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the readers in my high school book group got most, if not all of the references and loved the book all that much harder for them. Thus, Ready Player One is a book I will readily recommend to geeks of all ages. Because they will love it. And so will you. So go read it already
Evan has been moving around his entire life. Thus, he has perfected the art of being the New Guy. As the New Guy, Evan focuses entirely on meeting girls. He has no male friends to speak of and goes from girl to girl. He’s always had good luck with girls and views them as little more than conquests. Friendship with girls who won’t sleep with him aren’t really worth his time. Then Evan sleeps with the wrong girl. She’s a girl with a violent ex-boyfriend (who is unfortunately friends with Evan’s roommate). Evan gets beaten up so badly that he’s pulled out of school by his father and taken to live in the small rural community in Minnesota that his father grew up in. There, everyone knows everyone else. Evan quickly discovers that he cannot simply spend the summer hiding from everyone and everything. Slowly, bit by bit, Evan begins to make actual friends, both male and female. Still, Evan is haunted by the repercussions of his beating and has trouble even thinking about going back to his old way of living.
Evan’s perspective is a unique one in YA lit. Evan isn’t really the most likeable of characters, but it doesn’t take the reader long to figure out that it’s not entirely Evan’s fault. Evan’s mother is long absent and his wealthy father is more comfortable with computers than people. As Evan begins to open up to his new friends, he begins to reassess the way he thinks about both women and relationships.
The ending is little on the tidy side and the final chapters portraying Evan at the public school feel like they’re rushed and possibly unnecessary. Otherwise, it’s compelling read about issues rarely addressed from the male perspective. This would likely make a very interesting book for discussion groups.