Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Paul's an "out" gay sophomore in a high school where gay and straight don't matter; parents, on the other hand, aren't always quite as accepting - except Paul's, who are cool. Between Paul's ex having second thoughts, his best girlfriend dating a jerk, the cute new artist kid at school, and the drag queen quarterback, it's just another high school soap opera/high-drama situation.

I'll admit that I expect a lot from David Levithan, and this one left me cold; it's a little too unrealistically accepting to be truly believable, yet not unrealistic enough to become a fantasy.

But I have to admit that opinion may have been jaded by the audiobook. Full cast audio are either excellent or bad, and I thought this one fell in the latter category. Compounded with the overly melodramatic music interludes, and it just felt over-wrought and lame.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Teeth: Vampire Tales edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Nineteen short stories about vampires - how could I resist? This book brings together some huge names in fantasy fiction; some of the authors I've read, others were new to me. And overall, it's a stellar collection.

I'm always fascinated by different views of the same subject - and vampires is a topic ripe for review. Each author here takes their own approach to the mythology - some stay true to precedent, others take liberties with the mythology to put their own spin on the genre.

And the short story format - well, it's amazing how much a really great writer can squeeze into just a few pages; you really feel connected to these characters, and then you realize you've only known them a minute. Next thing you know, it's over.

There are some excellent set-ups here - stories that I'd love to see spun into larger works. Notably, the book's last story; "Why Light?" by Tanith Lee will haunt you long after the book's been closed. Nocturnal communities? Sun-born? I'm so there ...

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

One night, when walking aimlessly, Alexandra happens across a Winnebago filled with books. But not just any books - this is a bookmobile filled with every book she's ever read.

I was disarmed by this lovely, gothic tale: a love letter to book lovers. It's a strange tale, unexpected and yet really beautiful, with slightly awkward illustrations. It's not perfect, and so it somehow feels more real.

It's the kind of story that makes you think. What's on my bookmobile? Who is my librarian? And are they proud of my collection?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

Meet 11-year-old Swan Lake - a girl who knows her own mind and doesn't often hold her tongue. As a narrator, she's brilliant: we see family tragedy filtered through a child's skewed perception and observe day-to-day life through the lens of a kid who sees more than she should.

Her mother's family, the Moses clan, are a proud people; they're known for honesty and integrity, and the family businesses hold a solid place in 1950s Arkansas society. But as this book begins, the Moses' are rocked by a series of events that shakes up their family dynamic and eventually force them to re-examine "Moses Honesty" versus "Plain Old Honesty."

The book's got great heart and a warmth I really enjoyed. It's literary but still fun, light enough for summer reading but welcomes further examination. Due for release in July, I've already devoured the advanced reader's copy of this book and will be recommending it for next year's book club rotation; themes of family, trust, faith, and childhood innocence could all be ripe topics for lively discussion.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

I got utterly and thoroughly sucked into this world and these characters - and then the action just ENDS! No conclusion, everybody's under investigation, no answers. Not even a temporary conclusion before the next book's action! Argh!

The first book in a new series, Clare is continuing her Shadowhunter mythology here but stepping back in time to the Victorian age. Some common Shadowhunter family names pop up here and the immortal Magnus Bane features into this story as well, but for the most part it's a stand-alone series.

This book has a steampunk feel to it - the bad guys is creating humanoid robots and trying to animate them with demon energy. It's got another great lead female character who isn't quite human but until now has never suspected anything was different. And there's always the allure of a sexy Shadowhunter (or two).

But where Clare's past books have wrapped up a storyline yet led you into the greater story of the series, this one has nothing completed when it ends. And second book doesn't come out for six months.