Monday, April 27, 2009

Egad! The Twilight Cake!

Feast your eyes on this beauty via Cake Wrecks.

Do I mind that the apple is now a red bell pepper? Nah, not so much. Would I still like to know what the Wreckerator was smoking when s/he made those flabby-yet-disjointed amoeba arms? [nodding] Yes, yes I would.

What a let down getting this cake would be. Homemade, sure, I could accept this. Store bought? No way Jose.

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

Quinn and her younger sister Sprout (real name Charlotte) just reunited with their father a few short years ago. This makes it all the more troublesome for Quinn when she realizes all is not right in the house of her father. And it has to do with his decorating scheme. Alarm bells start going off in Quinn’s head. Yes her fathers a bit of an egomaniac, yes he gets away with bad behavior because he’s charming and fun to be around, and yes, he’s treated the women (the lots and lots of women) in his life rather shabbily. But Quinn loves her dad despite his faults and she’s sure he feels the same way about her, until the day she isn’t.

So Quinn, Sprout, and their half-sister Frances Lee go on a karmic quest. A road trip. The theme of which I’ll keep to myself because that would be a major spoiler, but rest assured it is inventive and heart-felt and totally awesome. Not to mention insane since they’ve also got an enormous Big Boy statue in the back of the truck. Which was a particularly nice touch. As was the shout out to Canada and the dill pickle chip (hello Old Dutch let me count the ways I miss you although, sadly, she did not mention the ketchup chips which are yum yum yummy) and Mack toffee (…mmmm teeth breaking gooey goodness).

I loved Sprout and Frances Lee whom both overshadowed Quinn in my mind. Their humor, spikiness, and goodness made this book something special. Although, I must say Quinn’s character arc from firm supporter of her dad to firm supporter of herself was a wonderful thing to witness.

The set up of the novel is interesting. With anecdotes and memoirs and advice from women interspersed with the story. These detail stories of their loves gone wrong, their loves gone right, love advice, etc. This is, after all, at its heart a story of love of romantic love, of parental love, of familial love between female family members. I think at times I felt like it was almost too much, but by the time I had finished the book I decided that it was about right. After all, I couldn’t help thinking about all those teen girls who thought Rhianna deserved what she got from Chris Brown. The message in this novel is not subtle, but it is one we need to be telling the girls (and the boys) in our life. If love hurts it is not love.

Previously: The Fortunes of Indigo Skye

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

You know what? I’m just going to start this review by gushing about how much I loved this book. I loved it. I adored it. I sacrificed precious sleeping hours staying up late reading it and didn’t regret it when I felt tired the next day. I loved it as much as Graceling, and that people, is saying a lot.

This story is set in world where magic is a powerful presence. There is clan magic, tied to the earth and used for healing. There is wizard magic which is a magic that wizards are born with, but that must be controlled and channeled with talismans. There is also a complicated and dark history that binds these magics together and those whom are currently working to once again break them apart.

It is a fantasy told from two perspectives. We’ve got Han, a reformed thief, who is trying to make an honest living to support his family. He’s street smart, tough, and has a way of being in the wrong place at the wrong time drawing him into events he’d sooner avoid. We’ve got Raisa, the princess heir who is trying to be more than just another empty headed princess. She’s tougher than her small stature would indicate, independent, and willing to do what it takes to make her kingdom a better place for all its citizens.

We’ve also got a host of secondary characters that are rich and varied. There is no one that shows up in this book that you wouldn’t mind knowing more about. I fell in love with them all. Even the ones I hated.

There is a lot of setting up the storyline in this first entry into what is obviously going to be a series. Sometimes that can be boring, but here it is not. While Chima is setting up the rather complicated and involved story, she makes sure to add tons of action, superb character development, and a healthy serving of intrigue. I am dying to read the next one, which isn’t actually that great of a situation to be in since The Demon King won’t be published until October 2009.

Learn more about The Demon King – including a peak at the first chapter on Chima’s website.

(a note on the cover art. I only read the first in her Warrior Heir series, but I was struck at how similar the cover art to this new series resembles the old one. Is there some sort of connection between the two that I’m missing? I suspect its just a design thing, but I figured I'd ask!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Amazing Book Scuplture

I found this on the and apparently the sculpture is named Biografias and is made entirely out of biographies. Amazing!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Britten and Brülightly by Hannah Berry

This was a really interesting graphic novel for me. I really don’t read too many except for Fables and Y the Last Man and a small handful of others, so when this came in the mail I wasn’t sure what I would make of it – it being so different in content and tone.

It is dark – and I mean that literally and in several ways. It is set in a city where it never stops raining, and the art and mood reflect that. There is a liberal use of grey in the not very wide color palette. You’d think that might make it boring, but in actuality when the artist introduces a new color, it is extremely striking. Several pages might be dominated by purple, green, or blue along with the ever present grey. It makes the art pop.

Fernandez Britten, our private eye whom prefers to be called researcher because it has less connotations has earned himself the name “Heartbreaker.” Not because he is a gigolo or anything, but rather because his inquiries often turn up information that breaks the hearts of his clients. A man of few expressions other than his quiet reserved depression, it is Britten who supplies most of the humor in the story through his communication with his “partner” Brülightly – a teabag. Clearly even a man as downtrodden as Britten needs to communicate with someone – even if it is only himself.

“Don’t be lecherous: you’re a teabag.”

“I’m a teabag with needs, fern.”

The writing is particularly strong. Descriptive while still being spare, dark but infused with humor, a clear difference between Britten’s narration and what he speaks aloud. The mystery is complicated enough to warrant a re-read of sections and was well-thought out enough to be surprising.

I really enjoyed this.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

King of the Screwups by K. L. Going

Liam is on a quest. After being kicked out of his home for screwing up one time too many, he’s landed in the trailer home of his Uncle Pete (also known as Aunt Pete due to him not only being in a glamrock band, but also being gay). Living in a trailer after living in a much more advantaged environment has its downsides. Namely that Pete isn’t much for cleanliness or cooking. But since Liam is determined to not repeat his mistakes, namely avoiding popularity since he believes that is where his problems stem from, he’s actually in a great spot.

“I shut my bedroom door and stand in front of the curtain rod I’ve turned into a makeshift clothes rack. I need to pick out something uncool to wear, but not a single piece of clothing is by itself unattractive, and since I only wear clothes in my personal color spectrum, even odd combinations of clothes end up vaguely related. Crap. Day one and already there are obstacles. I go out to the kitchen. Pete? Can I borrow one of your T-shirts?”

So Liam is obviously a bit of a pill. He’s a lovable kid who has been let down most by those who are supposed to protect him. His dad is emotionally abusive and his mom has chosen to allow her husband’s opinions, low and cruel as they are, to become family cannon.

If I have one complaint it is that Liam found it so difficult to become unpopular. No matter what he did, he was just as loved and admired by the popular kids. It just struck me as too much. Now, obviously, Liam was fighting against his charming, amiable, and easygoing nature (not to mention his good looks), but please! It is just not that difficult to become unpopular! Stop bathing! Talk non-stop about yourself! Tell people they're fat! Act Surly! Tell people to f-off!

For me, the best part of this book was Uncle Pete and his friends. I loved that they were in a Glamrock band, I loved how Pete slowly figured out his footing on how to be a parent, I loved how he fought for the good of Liam, even when Liam was self-sabotaging. It was heart-felt and real and was truly the strength of the book. The characterization was excellent. Liam was so fun with his knowledge of fashion. Pete, of course, pure awesome. But all the characters felt real to me and I found myself wishing I knew more than one of them in real life.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Let me just say that this is a very hard one to blog about without giving anything away, but I'll give it a shot...

Micah is different. She has always been a loner and freely admits to being a liar, but when her secret boyfriend dies mysteriously, her whole life comes under scrutiny. Now she plans to tell you the truth, the whole truth......or so she says.
I spent the entire book trying to separate the lies from the truth. I'm still not sure.

What struck me at first is that this feels very different from anything else written by Larbalestier. The setting is quite real, New York, and like the Magic and Madness series, you can feel the writer's love of the City. The characters are complex and interesting, fully-realized yet reflected through the lens of Micah's telling, of Micah's "truth."

I can't wait to talk to some of you about this one. But I refuse to until you have read it. I just don't think I can trust myself to not reveal something important!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Found in Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Found this cute comment in a copy of Sea of Monsters at my branch the other day. Made me pretty happy!

I'm going to take it back and put it back in the book for the next reader to find!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I think I'm (we're) Blushing

Oh my goodness, this was totally unexpected. The extremely nice Kate over at Book Aunt gave us a Proximadade Award. How cool is that? Way cool. Way way cool. Thank you very much! It's nice to know someone is reading this!

This is the award explanation:
"This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award."
So now the deal is we need to nominate up to 8 blogs too. Which is hard because there are a ton of fantastic book blogs out there. Well here goes:

1. Bookshelves of Doom (for always making me laugh, especially when she reviews Nancy Drew)

2. Yayayas (for fantastic reviews and general loveliness)

3. YA Books and More (for general awesomeness, being a fellow Texan, and making more book trailers than you can shake a stick at. Sorry I didn't run into you at TLA!)

4. Bib-Laura-graphy (because I love her round-ups of goings-on)

I think I will have to check my links at work for more nominations!

TLA Conference Roundup

It has been quiet around here on Oops, that's because us lucky Texas librarians got to go to Houston for this year's Texas Library Conference. And I for one, am still sort of recovering.

The panels and speakers were really great this year. Walter Dean Myers never disappoints, neither does Justine Larbalestier (and believe me everyone was salivating over the arcs of her new book Liar and from what i've heard back from those lucky enough to get one is that it is pretty spectacular) or Scott Westerfeld (arcs were sadly missing of Leviathan although some of us were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the art - which was awesome). And you know who else doesn't disappoint? Gloria Steinem. Nope. She certainly doesn't. She is simply amazing. I think that was the highlight of the conference for me. She spoke for around an hour and it was far too short.

It was a great conference. Would have been better if I hadn't had the flu the entire time, but there you have it. Life likes to mix it up for you!

I'm already looking forward to next year.