Sunday, September 21, 2008

Into the Volcano by Don Wood

Two brothers, Sumo and Duffy, have been sent by their father to live with an aunt they never knew that they had. Dad is working in Scandanavia (he's Norse) and mom is working in Borneo (she's a Pacific Islander and a vulcanologist). So, they have been picked up by their strange cousin, Come-and-Go and taken to the small island that their mother is from. That's is disruptive enough, but when the local volcano begins to erupt, their new-found family doesn't remove them from danger, but instead, goes on an expedition into the volcano, taking Sumo and Duffy along.

This is really Sumo's story. At the beginning, he is reluctant to visit these strange new relatives, and once the expedition begins, he is the sole voice of reason and reluctance. He is also perceived by the others as cowardly and slow. However, he has some inner strengths that this trip will definitely uncover. His relationship with his brother also changes, when he is forced to be the strong one instead of Duffy.

This story is set up in classic comic strip panels and Don Wood's illustrations are, as usual, striking. He does a good job adopting the comic style. I especially like the sound effects and screams that occasionally bleed into other panels. His characters are interesting, too. The side characters are fully drawn without being overly emphasized; expression and body movement tell much of the story, esp. those of the boys and Come-and-Go. Like Duffy and Sumo, for much of the story, the reader is kept off-balanced and confused, unsure of who to trust or believe. Even at the end, you're still not so sure.....

It was a fun and exciting read and one that would be a great companion to more classic adventure stories. I was especially reminded of Jules Verne novels, maybe because I just read Journey to the Center of the Earth, which this resembled in many instances. Not overtly, but subtly, calling to mind a classic without stealing from it. It was great! Definitely getting this one for the library.
Other reveiw: Fuse #8

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Teen, Inc. by Stefan Petrucha

Get ready to suspend your disbelief. In fact, as a preemptive strike, just go ahead and remove it altogether, maybe put it in a drawer to save for later. Have you put it away? OK, good, now we can get one with it!

Jaiden Beale was orphaned as a direct result of corporate negligence. Because he had no other family, NECorp, the corporation responsible for his parents' deaths decided to go ahead and adopt him. No, you didn’t read that wrong, he was adopted by a corporation. They converted an office to make into a bedroom (yes he lives at the corporate an office). He’s got managers, not guardians. They have meetings where they create power point presentations with his dating options (Jaiden is horrified at this and frankly so am I), they make spreadsheets with his progress, and schedule him for gym outings and tutors. In fact, even his name was given to him by the corporation – although they outsourced the job to a branding firm (I thought this was hilariously funny - what a great touch). Anyhoo, Jaiden thinks he’s pretty normal notwithstanding the fact that he’s being raised by a company, because after all, who has a normal family anyway?

So Jaiden is getting along pretty good. Most importantly he’s finally got the attention of the girl he likes via a well timed Biology class assignment. That’s when everything comes crashing down. He uncovers some possibly negligent and downright immoral dealings that NECorp is responsible for. And therein lies his big problem. If you are raised by a corporation does that make it your parents? What exactly does he owe it? Acquiescence? Loyalty? Love?

So if you can actually suspend your disbelief about a corporation raising a child (with no permanent caregivers!?! Where is his nanny??? They make him live in an office??? And how is he not a sociopath yet???) and treat him basically like a corporate project you’ll probably be able to enjoy this book. Jaiden has a funny, sort of na├»ve voice that is light and relatively untroubled. He’s got some good friends like Nate (who once the trouble starts is just plain awesome – frankly it’s the best part of the book).

So a cute light read – I think teens will enjoy it. It’s a silly concept, but an enjoyable one if you let probability sit in the backseat and just go along for the ride.

Book-A- Minute

You know, for when you want all the jist, but none of the boring reading. I have to say it is funny stuff. My favorite? Catcher in the Rye. Classic.

The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
"Angst angst angst swear curse swear crazy crazy angst swear curse, society sucks, and I'm a stupid jerk."

For more Book-A-Minute synopses. Thanks Rachel!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

It's the first day of school. This is going to be Charlotte's year. Her year to shine, her year to be popular, her year to get the boy. After getting a surprise boost to her goal, Charlotte chokes to death on a gummy bear. But she's not one to let that get in her way! Dead or alive she's still going to get her guy. And by get her guy I mean act with single minded stalkerish purpose.

“Charlotte Usher headed purposefully across the parking lot to the front doors of Hawthorn High, repeating her positive mantra – ‘This year is different. This is my year.’ Instead of being forever etched in her classmate’s high school memories as the girl who just too up space, the seat filler, the one who sucked up precious air that could be put to better use, she was going to start off the year on the other foot, a foot with the hottest, most uncomfortable shoes money could buy.”

This book has gotten rave reviews from all the big name review magazines. People seem to love it. Me? I thought it fell a bit flat. Charlotte is just sort of one dimensional - she's not a character she's more of a caricature. She's apparently never had a friend in her life and all she cares about is Damon - the hot boy she stalked for several years including secret photos and videos that she's made into insane screensavers. That's not to say that the book isn't funny, because it certainly is, but Charlotte never develops. She remains her frighteningly self-absorbed clueless stalker self, until, kabam, she's not.

Now the packaging on the other hand, beautiful. A coffin cutout on the cover. Pink and Black flowers and vines decorating every single page, silver edged pages. This one is sure to be picked up by a wide spread of gals.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I had a dream one of my fellow Oops posters wrote a review of a book actress Rachel McAdams wrote. There was quite a involved description of a comic scene with a broom. Rachel McAdams herself commented on the post and told us how this scene in the book was actually taken from real life. It was very witty.

In my dream I didn't get the feeling that she wrote a book because she had read books to her kids and found that all the books today were just terrible. What a relief! Anyhow, I just thought I should share that with you.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

Rapunzel's Revenge is the graphic adaption of the story of Rapunzel. If Rapunzel was an ass-kicking gal who, instead of waiting for a prince to rescue her, just went ahead and figured she might as well rescue herself. After her daring escape Rapunzel runs into Jack, a boy disguised as a girl who needs some saving. They flee a dangerous situation together and then embark on their own set of adventures - all leading toward the ultimate goal - revenge on the witch that imprisoned Rapunzel.

The artwork is colorful, bright, and very appealing. I thought the facial expressions were especially well done. They conveyed surprise, sarcasm, mischief, etc. clearly even though they were fairly simple in construction.

It did surprise me at first how young this read. This is geared towards elementary school aged kids and for some reason I had expected it to be aimed at older readers. Once I got over that - I enjoyed it. The humor was quite sly, done with a wink. Hale takes us through different towns each with unique character and filled with unusual citizens. Not to mention creative and enjoyable town names like Last Chance and The Devil's Armpit (see a map here). They also incorporate a few other stories into the mix (with a character named Jack I'll bet you can guess one of them).

I can see young girls going crazy for this. And according to the flap they are working on a sequel.

And how cute is this - you can download Rapunzel paper dolls off of Hale's website.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

This Week in Patti's Reading

I've been lazy about posting reviews this week, sorry! Here is a short and sweet roundup of what I've been reading.

Would You by Marthe Jocelyn
This is the story of a girl who's sister is hit by a car and lays comatose in the hospital. It is extremely well written and all the emotions ring true. I could empathize with Nat, feel her confusion, guilt, pain, love. I especially loved Nat's friends. This one will make you cry.

The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante
Told in the voices of two friends who live on a religious commune. One is a true believer, one a skeptic. I was immediately drawn into the book. It was suspenseful, it was dramatic, I couldn't put it down. About half way through I sort of lost interest - something about the girls voices. This was a well written book, but it wasn't for me.

The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes
The author took a story by Edith Warton (available online through Project Gutenburg) and based a series of interrelated stories on it. The first sets up the rest - it is a story of obsession and hatred so deep it permeates a physical space. The stories are atmospheric, ghostly, bloody, and woven together in interesting and surprising ways. They will appeal to readers who want love stories (albeit ones where the love goes horribly wrong) as well as those who are looking for a spooky read. I enjoyed this very much.

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt
Harper decides to join a summer volunteer project to build a house for a family who has lost their house to a tornado. She went there for much needed escape from her imploding family situation. Her dad and stepmother have divorced, her step-sister (also her best friend from the minute they met) is distant and angry. The story is set up with Harper in the present working on the project and then flashbacks to her family's disintegration. You learn hint by hint, story by story, what has really happened with Harper's family. It took me a few chapters to warm up to Harper's voice, but warm up I did. This one is very Sarah Desseny (with the boy who is a catalyst to change). The ending is also incredibly heartwarming. I enjoyed this one quite a bit as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Celebrity Children's Books

Or otherwise known as when famous people realize that All Books Written for Children are Trash and They Must Rectify. Loudly.

My Favorite? It has to be "The Boy Who Never Got Picked on Ever" by Charlton Heston. That made me giggle.

The Onion is funny.

(Thanks to 100 Scope Notes for the link)

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

The Guardian has a series by Audrey Niffenegger's called "The Night Bookmobile, which looks lovely and is about a bookmobile which is fun. I wonder if it is a preview of a book or just something she is doing for them in particular?

I have a feeling I'm the last librarian on earth to find out about this.

Booktrust Teenage Prize Shortlist

Creature of the Knight by Kate Thompson
The Knife that Killed Me by Anthony McGowan
The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner
Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz
Apache by Tanya Landman
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

I LOVED The Knife of Never Letting Go. I tried to read Apache, but lost interest. The rest I've been wanting to pick up...although not Snakehead (if I'm going to be perfectly honest).

The Guardian Article: Sharp words: Knives Out in Teenage Prize Shortlist.