I love Bee and Puppycat. I want more of that show... all the time. And so when I found out that there was a Bee and Puppycat comic, I waited eagerly fI love Bee and Puppycat. I want more of that show... all the time. And so when I found out that there was a Bee and Puppycat comic, I waited eagerly for the first volume. These stories are adorable, funny, and have the same quirky, charming characters from the show. Each artist brings their own style to the table, playing with Natasha Allegri's creation. Some stories here are stronger than others, and I found myself wanting more. Since there are only a handful of episodes, and a lot of hinted backstory, I was hoping that the writers/artists would use the comic book format to explore some of those plots. And while Natasha Allegri's story and Madeleine Flores's "What Happened" expand on Bee and Puppycat's lives and work, most of the others are "a day in the life of". It's a fun read, but not quite what I was hoping for....more
Amber Appleton is an unyielding optimist. Even though she, her mom, and her dog - Bobby Big Boy - live on a school bus, and her mom sort of sucks at bAmber Appleton is an unyielding optimist. Even though she, her mom, and her dog - Bobby Big Boy - live on a school bus, and her mom sort of sucks at being a mom, and Amber's starting to feel like the walls are closing in, she still maintains a positive outlook on life. Amber volunteers at a local nursing home, helps teaching English at a nearby Korean church, and fights to keep her favorite teacher from losing his job. But when a fatal tragedy destroys Amber's life, she loses it. She is just a shell of her former self, and it's up to the people she's always cared for to help Amber.
It's almost impossible not to like Amber. As a character, her voice is strong, unique, and realistic. Great attention is paid to the surrounding cast of characters, making everyone - even the jerky jocks - realistic. Quick weaves together a story that involves poetry, religion, disability, and depression, without it ever becoming too overwhelming or preachy. I highly recommend this book!...more
I really enjoyed the first collection of Matt Wagner's Madame Xanadu. This one didn't do it for me though. The story follows Madame Xanadu as she doesI really enjoyed the first collection of Matt Wagner's Madame Xanadu. This one didn't do it for me though. The story follows Madame Xanadu as she does some old-fashioned detective work in 1940, following a series of mysterious deaths and reliving memories of her life in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition.
I thought the plot dragged on, with occasional highlights, such as cameos from Dian Belmont and Wesley Dodds. The storyline following her time in Spain was fairly predictable - no big revelations when Nimue's nature causes problems with the Inquisition! The dialogue is also pretty bad - particularly the scene with the showgirl and Richard Miller.
Most of all, I didn't like the artwork. It felt very messy and busy, particularly compared to Amy Reeder Hadley's gorgeous work in the previous volume. Some of the characters' expressions were hilarious given the context of the scenes. For example, when Nimue's lover has been taken by the Inquisition and a neighbor confronts her with this news, her expression reads as... sleepy.
This mysterious killer releasing his demon dog to kill a man... cross-eyed? Detecting a bad smell?
And good old Tomas de Torquemada... Indiana Jones-style face melt? Look at those teeth, they're horrifying!
With a subpar story, dialogue, and artwork, I'd say this one is skipable. I'm hoping the next collection is better than this one. I like the Madame Xanadu character, but it felt like she didn't have to make much effort here to solve the mystery and defeat the villain... because who doesn't have mummified shards from the brain of a kraken lying around? Seriously. I feel that Wesley Dodd's and Dian Belmont's perspectives would've been much more intriguing than what we get here....more
A mix of historical fiction and fantasy, The Secret Journey of Jack London reimagines the writer's life, beginning with his adventures in the KlondikeA mix of historical fiction and fantasy, The Secret Journey of Jack London reimagines the writer's life, beginning with his adventures in the Klondike. Jack is 17 (a few years younger than the real Jack) and journeying with his aging brother-in-law in an attempt to strike it rich. While Jack is seeking gold in order to save his mother's home, his true purpose is to learn more about himself. The brother-in-law is quickly written out of the story and Jack instead teams up with two other young men. They navigate the Chilkoot Trail and White Horse Rapids and spend the winter snowed in an abandoned cabin. This would be the high point of their trip. When they do finally make it to Dawson, they are kidnapped and forced to pan for gold as slaves.
We've reached the halfway point of the book and you might be wondering where the fantasy comes in. So far, the story has stuck mostly to the facts, with minor tweaking here and there. But midway through, the story shifts, and Jack's camp is suddenly attacked by the Wendigo, a flesh-eating monster. He escapes with the aid of a wolf, Jack's mysterious guide that appears throughout the book, and a young woman named Lesya, daughter of a forest spirit. At this point, we've wandered into a bit of a supernatural romance, with Lesya teaching Jack about the "call of the wild" but also trying to keep him close to her.
Jack must escape the beautiful Lesya, avoid her insane father, and somehow defeat the Wendigo, before returning to civilization.
Expect a lot of action in this survival story, as well as beautiful descriptions of the wilderness surrounding Jack and his friends. The writing is good and I enjoyed Jack's sense of searching and the way the author played with the idea of people becoming feral in the wilderness.
Fans of books like The Monstrumologist may enjoy this. I'm not sure, however, that fans of London's works would pick it up. While there's a connection to his stories, I wonder if they would be put off by the monsters and spirits. The historical fiction and the fantasy elements don't mix well, making this feel like you're reading two different stories.
With more planned for this series, I would say that this isn't a must-have. However, if you have teens clamoring for more books that feature survival, adventure, or even looking for an Alaska-fix, this would be a good buy. Grades 7 and up....more
I hadn't heard of this blog before, but saw this book on a list of recommended titles for reluctant readers. I'm really not all that reluctant of a reI hadn't heard of this blog before, but saw this book on a list of recommended titles for reluctant readers. I'm really not all that reluctant of a reader, but I'm apparently all for telling cute animals what's what. Matthew Gasteier covers all the bases... animals in our homes (take that, adorable kitten), animals from around the world (and that, yoga polar bear!), and some of the more exotic creatures (you don't know fear until you see a binturong). Penguins are particularly hard hit, but deservedly so. Each entry consists of a mind-numbingly adorable picture of an animal (mmm... capybaras!), Gasteier's telling them what's what, and some cold, hard truths about said animal.
This is a fun book to flip through and Gasteier is hilarious. If your wallet is a little light, then you can just head over to the blog and get your laughs for free. Or buy a t-shirt. Just don't let you cute animal run your life anymore. Now I have to go tell my dachshund what's what....more
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown and, in one month, he will be a man. But Prentisstown isn't like other towns. First, there are no women inTodd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown and, in one month, he will be a man. But Prentisstown isn't like other towns. First, there are no women in Prentisstown - they all died years ago, when the aliens called Spackle released a germ that created Noise. And that's the second thing... the Noise. Every one can hear everyone else's thoughts, from the tiniest squirrel to the loudest man. It's an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise that cannot be ignored. There is no quiet, no privacy, and no room for secrets.
Or is there? When Todd and his dog, Manchee, are exploring the swamp one day, they discover a pocket of silence, where there is no Noise. And the source of the quiet is a girl, something that Todd never expected to see. Todd does his best to keep the girl a secret from the rest of Prentisstown. But Todd isn't the only one keeping secrets - the men of the town have been hiding something from him, something about their past and the legacy that belongs to each boy that becomes a man there. Soon Todd finds himself running for his life, trying to escape a past he didn't know existed. But how can you run when those chasing you can hear your every thought?
The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first in the Chaos Walking series. I thought it was a little slow to start with - this is a world that feels recognizable when you see the settler life that Prentisstown is leading, and you think you know where things are going when the rug gets pulled out from under you. Todd knows almost nothing about his town's dark history or the surrounding world, so you are constantly having to revise the way you understand Todd's world. This got to be a little bit overwhelming, which is how it should be for Todd, but wore on me as I was reading.
The concept of Noise, of trying to keep your thoughts private or calm or layering them so that you can keep something to yourself, as really intriguing, and I liked the connection the author made between the way we're bombarded with all kinds of information today. The way Noise is expressed in the book is very powerful, and I would've liked to have seen that appear a bit more throughout. You also got a strong sense of the desperation that Todd and Viola must feel and the hopelessness of their journey, which can be a bit crushing to the reader... particularly when it comes to Chapter 31. I had a good cry at the end of that chapter.
This book does have one of my all-time favorite openings: "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything." With such a great opening, it can feel like a bit of a slog to continue those first few chapters. However, this book is worth it!...more
Princess Lissar is the daughter of the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms. When her mother falls ill, she extracts a promise from the king that hePrincess Lissar is the daughter of the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms. When her mother falls ill, she extracts a promise from the king that he will remarry again, but only to a woman who matches the queen in beauty. Lissar is mostly forgotten in the kingdom's mourning. However, a neighboring royal family sends their condolences and a puppy for Lissar. Ash, the fleethound puppy, is the only joy in Lissar's life, as she spends the next two years training her dog, learning herbalism, and avoiding her father. On her 17th birthday, when she becomes eligible to be married, Lissar's father decides that his daughter matches her mother's beauty and he will marry her. What follows is a brutal assault that leaves Lissar physically, mentally, and emotionally damaged. She flees the castle and is transformed by the moon goddess, becoming the mysterious Deerskin. As she tries to start a new life in the kingdom where Ash came from, she must grapple with her painful memories.
Deerskin is a retelling of Charles Perrault's story "Donkeyskin." I was introduced to a variation of this story through Jim Henson's The Storyteller, where it was called "Sapsorrow." This story is beautiful and heartbreaking. McKinley's language is very traditional, moving at a slow but steady pace, which builds up great amounts of tension in the first part of the book. The relationship between Ash and Lissar will appeal to any dog-person - I gave my dog a lot of squeezes while reading, though she's the farthest thing from a fleethound! I was very caught up in Lissar's transformation from forgotten princess to a strong, almost-mythical woman.
This isn't an easy read. I was drawn in by the characters and the language, and I had a pretty good-sized knot in my stomach during the first part of the book (and some of the second)! Lissar's healing process is difficult and worth reading, by those who enjoy retold fairy tales or those looking for a strong female character....more
Miranda is a slight girl who is easily lifted and carried by the wind. It deposited her next to Bourne Manor, an imposing house that is home to the wiMiranda is a slight girl who is easily lifted and carried by the wind. It deposited her next to Bourne Manor, an imposing house that is home to the widow Wysteria and the four Hounds. Wysteria takes Miranda in - the girl has no memory of where she came from before the wind took her - and puts her to work mending nets for the local fisherman. She also makes Miranda wear a pair of weighted shoes, to keep her from flying off again. As the years pass, Miranda learns some of the secrets of the Manor, hearing rumors of a lost treasure and discovering an attic full of beautiful kites built my Wysteria's dead husband. After the appearance of a friendly boy named Farley, Miranda realizes that the Manor has an insidious hold on her and seeks a way to escape.
I don't know how a book that is relatively short can come across as taking too long to develop, and yet still not completely tell a story. This is a fairly intriguing plot when you boil it down to its basics: Miranda is a mysterious girl who can be carried by the wind, she's trapped in Bourne Manor by the house or by Wysteria, the house is cursed/haunted and corrupts its inhabitants, and there's a mystery about Wysteria's husband that Miranda and Farley solve. A third of the book is dedicated to explaining the daily life of Miranda and Wysteria, and this is just way too long. It's difficult to tell if Wysteria is supposed to be a villain (she has trapped Miranda in the house and works her pretty hard) or just an old woman who's trying to get by (they're often starving) and has succumbed to the house's influence. You feel sorry for her, particularly when she gets pneumonia. The house itself is a confusing character - it's only in the last couple of chapters that it becomes malevolent. It would've been much more effective to show the house's influence over the seven years (which pass in the first 28 pages) Miranda lives there, rather than the few weeks at the end of the story.
The plot really picks up when Farley becomes a regular character and he gives Miranda some of her background. The language is pretty and on the verge of being purple prose. However, for all the descriptions we get, I had a terrible time understanding just how small or how old Miranda was. I also couldn't tell who the intended audience is for this book - professional reviews suggest tweens, but the language is just so proper that I think it would be a hard sell. The cover (which is probably the best thing about the book), the length, and the plot make me think it's for children, but I think the language works even less for that crowd.
Overall, this just feels like a very underdeveloped story. If you chopped out the first third of the book and gave more depth to Miranda, Wysteria, and the house, this would be much better....more
This is, without a doubt, my favorite book in the Abhorsen series. It may have something to do with being a librarian, but I think it has much more toThis is, without a doubt, my favorite book in the Abhorsen series. It may have something to do with being a librarian, but I think it has much more to do with Lirael and her insecurities, strengths, and maybe even her dog. I mean, the Disreputable Dog may be the best talking dog EVER. The only time I found myself slowing down with this book is during Sam's parts. I wish I liked Sam more, but he tends to irk me with his whining and avoiding of problems. I'm not sure why I'm cool with Lirael's depression and not Sam's, but there you go. The only thing that makes this book better is listening to Tim Curry read it. This is a great mix of fantasy, a little horror, magic, and some issues that every teen (and older) deals with....more
This was an awesome ending to the trilogy! Lirael and Sam both play important roles, though maybe not what they expected as the story began. We get soThis was an awesome ending to the trilogy! Lirael and Sam both play important roles, though maybe not what they expected as the story began. We get some long-awaited answers about the Old Kingdom's magic, the Dog, and Mogget. Yay! And, even better, we learn a little history about the Abhorsen family that paves the way for more stories! I think this was a very powerful ending (yeah, I cried) and I loved the way that Nix tied his characters' stories together. I can't wait for the prequel!!!...more