Another funny heartfelt graphic novel from TenNapel. The main character, Hugh, is married and the father of a son who looks to be in 5th or 6th grade....moreAnother funny heartfelt graphic novel from TenNapel. The main character, Hugh, is married and the father of a son who looks to be in 5th or 6th grade. Hugh works in a boring job at a copy center but has a hobby of designing video games that he has never shared with anyone other than his coworker Doyle. When Hugh brings home an old console game from a garage sale--think Atari or SEGA, very low graphics--and starts playing it, he discovers that he can capture the "powerup" spheres from the game into real life! So when he smashes a sphere, he is shielded from harm, temporarily. Soon all sorts of funny and magical things happen to Hugh and his family, as he gets greedy and even more superpowered, and his life becomes a living video game. Will he come to his senses before it's too late and the game's supervillain is unleashed on the world? A great adventure and spoof/homage to videogames, plus fun father-son scenes and some humorous side characters at the copy center. (less)
I feel like I should have a Goodreads shelf for "magical realism" so I can stop labeling books as both "realistic" and "fantasy", I'm probably really...moreI feel like I should have a Goodreads shelf for "magical realism" so I can stop labeling books as both "realistic" and "fantasy", I'm probably really confusing my Goodreads friends. This is one of those books, which is fairly straightforwardly realistic, until BAM! in comes the magical part. It's the heartbreaking story of "Shorty," a teen trapped underneath rubble in the Haitian earthquake of 2010, and a parallel story of Toussaint L'Overture, who led the slave revolt on Haiti in 1791. The two stories alternate and ultimately connect in powerful ways. You can't help but be intrigued and captivated as you read about Shorty's struggle to stay alive; he recounts what led up to his entrapment, what life is like in the slums of Site Soleil, how he came to be caught up in gang life, and how he yearns to see his twin sister again. And Toussaint goes from slave to revolt leader and experiences horrors of war and betrayal. The mystical connections between the two are fascinating, including the use of voudou religious ceremonies and totems. A worthwhile book to read, and although it may not appeal to teens at first glance, they'll hopefully be interested in learning about Haitian culture and will want to keep reading to see how it all turns out, as there is quite some suspense, danger and action. (less)
Fifteen year old Emily Dickinson, dreamily playing hooky in the fields instead of doing her drudgery household chores, meets a mysterious handsome str...moreFifteen year old Emily Dickinson, dreamily playing hooky in the fields instead of doing her drudgery household chores, meets a mysterious handsome stranger, who talks intelligently with her and is very charming. He coyly refuses to tell her his name, so Emily calls him Mr. Nobody. It is 1845, and the quiet, introspective, sometimes frail but still rebellious Emily chafes at being so often confined to her house by her protective mother. She has no real friends apart from her younger sister, so it is quite exciting to meet someone new in their small New England town. But this promising friendship and flirtation is cut short when Mr. Nobody is found dead in a pond on the Dickinson property. Emily goes against her mother's wishes to view the body and sees details that spark her imagination, as she begins to wonder whether Mr. Nobody's death was not an accident. She begins to secretly investigate the crime, something girls of that time just did not do, especially when it means sneaking around, exploring unknown parts of the township, or having to ask strange men piercing questions. And what will she do if her nosy sister finds out what she is doing?
I loved this book! Emily is depicted as a spunky character, full of curiosity, who loves poetry so much she is compelled to write--she scribbles down poetic fragments in a hidden notebook whenever inspiration strikes, since her family would disapprove of her writing. I think the title of the book is very apt, as not only is there a secret connected to the deceased Mr. Nobody, but Emily told him she was Miss Nobody, and she too has a secret: her writing. I liked how each chapter is titled from a line of a Dickinson poem. The mystery is also very well done, and the setting very realistic, with period detail and vivid descriptions of the daily life of women in the 1840's, from cooking to cleaning. Excellent book for middle school and up.(less)
Once again Terry Pratchett scores a home run! I loved this book, from the gritty Victorian London setting to the spunky hero Dodger to the real-life h...moreOnce again Terry Pratchett scores a home run! I loved this book, from the gritty Victorian London setting to the spunky hero Dodger to the real-life historical characters who make appearances. Dodger is a street teen, a "tosher," someone who makes his living sorting through the muck of the sewer tunnels to find lost jewelry and coins. He's been known to pick a pocket or two, but he has a heart of gold and is really not a true thief. He's hardened in the ways of the slum and the poor, but ever optimistic, and also fairly decent in the way of hygiene, thanks to his roommate Solomon, an old Jewish jeweler who is clever and wise in the new sciences of germs and things. Dodger is also great at donning disguises and doing a bit of acting when required. When Dodger rescues a young woman from a beating by thugs, he wants to find the men who abused her, but also to figure out a way to let her stay in England. For she is the abused wife of a German Lord, whom she does not want to go back to, and both the British and German governments are about to have an international incident over this. Dodger has the help of writer Charles Dickens, who becomes his sponsor and friend, helping Dodger to "better his station" with new clothes and introductions to the wealthier denizens of London. It's a great mystery that Dodger gets involved in. Politician Benjamin Disraeli and Sir Robert Peel (police commissioner and namesake of the "Peelers") are other real life figures who play prominent roles in the story. I loved the humor of the characters, and the way Dickens stops in the middle of his sentences to jot down phrases he likes--which astute readers will recognize as titles of his yet-unwritten novels! Dodger is great at happening to be in the right place at the right time, or just plain lucky, especially in his run-in with the barber Sweeney Todd, who isn't a real historical figure but almost could be! My only caveat for giving this book to teens is that it is written in very Dickensian style, with flowery phrases and a high level of vocabulary, in very lengthy sentences. It's full of marvelous London slang, such as "growler" (a type of carriage), or "Richards" (Cockney rhyming slang for Richard the Third, which rhymes with items found quite often in sewers...This is a very "earthy" book!) or "Mogadored" (rhymes with "floored", as in to be stumped by something. I love that one because there's a local town called Mogadore, and here I'd thought they already had the market on coolness when their name showed up as the Mogadorian aliens in I Am Number Four!). The whole point of the book, really, is one big gorgeous homage to Mr. Dickens, and you could look at it as if it's a real-life story about a real person that inspired Dickens to write his novels. If you like the musical Oliver! or other stories set in Victorian times, and books about poor orphans who better themselves, you'll love Dodger. And if you've never read a book set in Victorian London, then you'll learn a LOT about the conditions of the time. Especially fascinating is Pratchett's afterword, wherein he details what is made up and what is not. It's just as entertaining as the novel itself! Three huzzahs for Mr. Pratchett and Dodger!(less)
A good book in the middle of a trilogy. Begins with Ky and Cassia separated, and each escapes their work situation to try to find the other. They meet...moreA good book in the middle of a trilogy. Begins with Ky and Cassia separated, and each escapes their work situation to try to find the other. They meet up with some new friends, and learn more about The Rising, the rebellious faction that hopes to overthrow The Society; but also about the Farmers, a group of people who live hidden outside The Society and just want to be left alone to farm and live off the land. Or at least that's what I got from this; I was listening on audio and sometimes I miss a few things. (These two readers weren't really narrators I like and so I would get distracted.) But the basics I got: Cassia and Ky have a strong love that can't keep them apart, although they still doubt each other and themselves about a lot of things. And there's a lot of running and hiding and having to survive in the wilderness. I will read Book Three next and I'm sure I'll enjoy the conclusion.(less)
A taut, gripping, emotional mystery with a compelling main character whose narration you're not always sure you can trust. Jason is called "Freak" by...moreA taut, gripping, emotional mystery with a compelling main character whose narration you're not always sure you can trust. Jason is called "Freak" by bullies and also by his friend "Drip"--in fact he and his other friend Sunshine all embrace their "freakiness", considering themselves "Alphabets" for their multiple-acronymed diagnoses such as ADHD (Drip, whose perpetually running nose got him that nickname) and SM (Sunshine is Selectively Mute) and SCZI: that's Jason, he's schizophrenic and hears so many voices in his head, he's not always sure when he's hearing real people. Your heart just goes out to these teens as they cope with everyday life, made harder by their personality disorders. The sudden disappearance of Sunshine throws the boys into a tizzy. Jason and Drip are questioned, they're suspects, but they're positive that something bad has happened to her and she didn't just run away. But even as Jason tries to trust his instincts about his dear friend Sunshine, he is vaguely remembering something horrible that he somehow knows he's not supposed to remember--could it be that he is responsible for what's happened to Sunshine? It's a really interesting mystery, with wonderful characters. The writing style is a little difficult to follow at first, as you get used to Jason's stream of consciousness way of telling the story. But it's worth sticking with it. The author's psychiatric medical background makes this a very realistic story.(less)
This is a very funny book of poems "written" by cats, and I couldn't stop giggling as I read it. Absolutely spot-on, any cat owner will immediately fi...moreThis is a very funny book of poems "written" by cats, and I couldn't stop giggling as I read it. Absolutely spot-on, any cat owner will immediately find the truth in these. Very sweet, too. And great fun photos of cats. Not really an "adult" book, teens will love it too, but if I remember correctly there's some swear words? (less)
Interestingly enough I was listening to this audiobook at the same time I was also reading a print copy of another book with a "selectively mute" char...moreInterestingly enough I was listening to this audiobook at the same time I was also reading a print copy of another book with a "selectively mute" character (Freaks Like Us, which was an odd coincidence. And, they were both mysteries. What are the odds! This book is a good legal mystery, as 16 year old Hope, desperate to convince the world that her older brother did not commit murder, tries to investigate for clues and be a good witness at her brother's trial. Her brother Jeremy hasn't spoken a word since he was 9 years old, when he just suddenly stopped talking or singing (he had a lovely voice). But he and Hope communicate with notes written back and forth, and she knows how to "read" his odd gestures. Jeremy has another personality quirk, that he collects empty glass jars and seems to need to have them with him for emotional comfort. Hope and Jeremy's mother has raised the two children on her own, moving them from town to town in a series of failed relationships and waitressing jobs. She's not a model mother at all, but rather a hard-drinking, smoking, self-centered woman who never seems to care much for her kids. So that's another factor hindering Hope, as she is apparently the only person who believes Jeremy could not possibly have killed his beloved baseball coach. She enlists the help of both her best friend TJ and the cute son of the town sheriff, Chase (on whom she has a crush!), to assist her in gathering any evidence she can find. This book was very suspenseful, with stalking and snooping and an interesting twist in the case; it will keep you guessing as to "whodunnit"! I also really liked the character of Jeremy, he's a sweetie. Hope is a great sister to him. Also interesting to note the small town Ohio setting, which I liked.(less)
This is a fascinating book and a great story about a beautiful country and the marvelous apes that live there. It is also a look at the violence peopl...moreThis is a fascinating book and a great story about a beautiful country and the marvelous apes that live there. It is also a look at the violence people do against one another. Sophie has come back to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the summer, to visit her Congolese mother who runs a sanctuary for bonobos there. (Bonobos are primates, very similar to chimpanzees, but share more of our DNA than do chimpanzees.) Sophie's American dad divorced her mother when Sophie was 8, when her mother refused to leave the Congo or the bonobos to come live with them in the States. So Sophie has a complicated relationship with her mother, who has always put the welfare of this wildlife species above her own family. On Sophie's first day back she buys an orphaned baby bonobo in order to save it from the disreputable-looking man who has mistreated it. But she doesn't realize how this sets in motion the murder of more bonobos; a theme of the book is that our actions can have complicated, unforeseen consequences. Because bonobos are entirely dependent on their mothers for the first few years of their lives, Sophie has to bottle feed Otto and carry him everywhere in the sanctuary. Just as she is getting comfortable being a surrogate bonobo mom, the war comes right to the sanctuary and suddenly Sophie must flee for her life--among the wild bonobos! If she survives the rebels with guns, will she survive being alone among these animals who can kill her just as easily? And will she be able to keep Otto alive and safe, when she is the only mother he has?
I loved this book for the adventure and survival aspects; what Sophie goes through is incredible. And I loved learning more about the bonobos' habits and personalities; several bonobos are major characters in their own right. And, for the trifecta, this book taught me a lot about life in war-torn Congo and how complicated and dangerous it can be there. While the author states in an afterword that he did not base the story on any particular conflict, he did give enough details to give the reader a good idea of what has been going on in DRC for many years and the causes of the civil war. I think middle and high schoolers will love this book, as long as they are not squeamish about some depictions of violence.(less)
Sequel to Shiver and a very good one. Even though Sam is now apparently permanently human, he has difficulty adjusting and misses his pack. He's also...moreSequel to Shiver and a very good one. Even though Sam is now apparently permanently human, he has difficulty adjusting and misses his pack. He's also concerned about the new wolves, one of whom wants to permanently become a wolf--a fact Sam finds incomprehensible--and another who is having trouble stopping his constant shifting. And why is Sam's human girlfriend Grace feeling so hot and feverish, like she might be ready to shift into a wolf? (less)
My all-time favorite book series, has been since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Couldn't pick a year that I read it because I would re-read it ever...moreMy all-time favorite book series, has been since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Couldn't pick a year that I read it because I would re-read it every year.(less)
An excellent end to the trilogy that began with Across the Universe. Starting up right where book two left off, on a cliffhanger, the action continues...moreAn excellent end to the trilogy that began with Across the Universe. Starting up right where book two left off, on a cliffhanger, the action continues quite speedily. I don't want to spoil book two for anyone, but I figure anyone reading this has either already read A Million Suns or is not planning to. They've reached Centauri Earth, and once they manage to land, they're in for lots of surprises as to what really is on the supposedly empty planet they've come to colonize. I just love these books for the action and romance and the "what's out there?" suspense. There's a bit of a mystery involved in this one, and several new characters are introduced when the "frozens" are awakened. There was some interesting tensions between Earthborn and shipborn colonists. Just a really good yarn, this book, and I enjoyed it a lot.(less)