Monday, April 26, 2010

Horns by Joe Hill

Could you get past the "horror" genre to read a really good coming-of-age story? Because this book is SO WORTH IT ... even if you're not a fan of the supernatural.

Ig did something terrible last night, but he can't remember what. Now, in addition to a killer hangover, he seems to have sprouted devil's horns from his forehead. And they seem to make everyone he comes into contact with confess their darkest thoughts.

Much of the story is told in flashbacks to Ig's high school days: hangin' with his friends, meeting Merrin and falling in love, etc. And while Ig was a good kid with high morals and solid faith, since Merrin's murder a year ago, he's struggled to find footing.

I would love to read and discuss this story with a book club. There's lots of meat here to dig into concerning belief, humanity, evil, revenge, love ... but I'd have to convince them that a horror story is worth their time. Any ideas on how to do that?

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Evan always promised he'd write a song about Audrey. But she'd never dreamed That Song would be his breakthrough to fame - or that the song would be about their breakup.

Audrey didn't ask for this kind of notoriety, and she certainly doesn't want it. Even though she hasn't seen Evan since the night of their breakup, he's ruining her life every day: school is unbearable, her job sucks (worse than usual), and she can't even go out to see a band anymore without it becoming front-page news.

I enjoyed this book - Audrey's a very likeable character, and her reactions are realistic; she's not happy being an accidental muse, and she doesn't deal with it especially well.

Music fans will enjoy the song quotes and music references throughout the book, and it's fun to wonder what you would do if you suddenly became famous.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Will Grayson is a morose teen with one friend: big, gay Tiny. He's trying to survive by two rules: shut up, and don't care. Tiny, on the other hand, never shuts up and cares way too much about everything.

will grayson is a clinically depressed loner teen with a secret online boyfriend, isaac, and one i.r.l. frenemy, maura. he's trying to keep his head above the dark water, and isaac's the only one helping.

Two teen boys - one name: two awesome writers - one book.

I love, love, love both of these writers - and their resulting partnership is all good. I've joked that this book is really "An Abundance of Nick & Noras" - and if you get that joke, you probably don't need me to tell you how good this book is.

If you don't get that joke ... I've got a killer reading list for you to start on. Call me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fool by Christopher Moore

Raunchy, hilarious, and extremely quick witted: If you're afraid of swear words, steer clear - otherwise, great buggering bloody bastards is this a good book!

This is a twisted retelling of Shakespeare's "King Lear" as told by Lear's fool, Pocket. The basic storyline's all there - two-faced flattery, family mutiny, rage rage at the storm, etc. Except also add in a bit of ghost shagging, appearances by the witches three from "MacBeth," and quite a number of laundress' with smashing knockers.

I listened to this one on audiobook, and many times I found myself backtracking to hear again the complex, multi-faceted epithets that Pocket tosses about like juggling balls. Moore is truly a master of wordplay.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Once a week, a group of vampires meet in the church basement to discuss their problems, issues, and coping mechanisms. Sounds like AA, doesn't it? If you're going to live forever, you're going to have to come to terms with some pretty heavy stuff ...

Everybody at the library knows I have a long-standing love of vampire books. So although I'd never heard of this one, it showed up on my desk because another staff member thought it looked like something I should read.

It's a funny book - very different from other vampire tomes in that these vampires are sickly because they avoid human blood. They look at it as having a blood-borne infection: they were infected, not "turned" or "changed" into vampires. They are weak, have horrible headaches, and throw up. When the sun's out, they're completely unconscious - no dreams, they can't hear what's going on, and they look dead. The rest of the time, they're miserable.

So when something strange starts going on and their cover may be blown, the question is: will any of these sickly, whining 90-pound weaklings be able to step up and assert themselves? Pretend for a minute to be a butt-kickin' warrior vampire like the vampire books all say?

Friday, April 16, 2010


by Amy Efaw

So often these days we hear about the ways that sex is romanticized for teens. It seems that every media outlet makes creates a form of entertainment that shows sex as something that every teen is doing, and there are rarely consequences. Here comes a book that shows an image of a teen and her reflection on the cover. In the reflection, her belly is a small bump. The book opens with a police officer banging on the door to Devon's apartment because a baby was found in a trash can minutes earlier. In this story, the main character is forced to face what has occurred in her life, not just on that one day, but in the months, and even years, leading up to it.

When I finished the book I wanted a sequel. I would really like Efaw to write about the baby when she becomes a teen. How did being a "trashcan baby" affect the rest of her life? Does she want to meet her biological mother? What has happened in Devon's life since that day?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

I have a new favorite picture book - these peas are soooo darn cute!

This is - quite obviously - an alphabet book. For each letter, the peas tells you who they are: "We're listeners, miners, and neighbors right next door. We're nurses, officers, and outlaws taking more."

Just how much character development can you wring out of a green circle (the basic shape of a pea)? The answer is, TONS! I really want every illustration from this book as art on the office walls. That's just how cute, comical, and innovative these goofy little guys are.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


by Scott M. Fischer

So you think kids cannot sit still long enough to read a story? Here's a book based on a song that will encourage them to move as you read. Check out the video:

This is a silly story with fun illustrations. I watched the video before I had the book in hand, so when I did get to read it, there were already voices for all the characters floating through my mind. Grab some wiggly kids and tell them they can act out this book.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb

This is the book upon which the Oscar-winning movie was based. I have not yet seen the movie - because I believe the book is always better, so I wanted to read that first.

Now, having finished the book, I CANNOT WAIT to see the movie. This book rocks, and I can see how it will have translated to screen; I also can see how they will probably have changed the story to accommodate a movie audience. Hopefully, this means I will be OK with differences when I see the movie.

Bad Blake is a run-down, past-his-prime country singer. He had a few hits back in the day, but now he's playing juke joints with a different local backing band every night. Unexpectedly, Bad falls for a New Mexico reporter, and begins a relationship that's as much about her 4-year-old son as it is about her.

The story doesn't end tied in a big bow, and things don't always work out for the best. That's what makes this story so real: now I'll see if the movie keeps it real

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

War Dances by Sherman Alexie

I was surprised: this time, Alexie is writing for adults, and in short story format. The book actually consists of poetry, Q&A, and stories in several forms - which was truthfully a bit discombobulating for me as an audiobook listener. Although it is ALWAYS a treat to hear Alexie narrate his own work.

As always, Sherman Alexie's writing in this volume is both funny and heartbreaking. I was especially captivated with "The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless." It's the tale of two people who meet in an airport. They'd never met before ... and actually didn't meet here either; it's a brief encounter without the pressure of conventionality. The scene moves quickly from sweet to a little scary, and then back to safety again. Later, it's heartrending as our narrator crumbles right before us.

I do love Alexie, and I will recommend this one. Just maybe on paper rather than audio.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Out of my mind

by Sharon Draper

Melody Brooks is eleven years old and she has never spoken a single word. She has cerebral palsy is confined to a wheelchair and cannot use her arms or legs. She also has a photographic memory. She laughs at jokes at exactly the right time. Her doctors, school mates and some teachers might believe she is incapable of coherent thought, but you will cheer right along as Melody proves them wrong. Join Melody and her loved ones in the quest to show the world just how smart she is.

I absolutely enjoyed this story. It can be challenging to find good books written for kids about diversity. This one is a home run. Melody's character is portrayed in a very realistic way.