This was better than I was expecting, but not as good as I think it could have been. It's hard work, adapting a story like Les Miserables into a mangaThis was better than I was expecting, but not as good as I think it could have been. It's hard work, adapting a story like Les Miserables into a manga, particularly with the page limit that this projects seems to have had. The beginning section, focused on Jean Valjean and Fantine, moved slowly and had a pace that I enjoyed. Not having read the original material, I was learning about new aspects of the story. However, the second half really barrels along, and given the many different plots that are happening, this feels incredibly rushed. I would've liked to have seen the story expanded to a second volume. The art was excellent, though I didn't really care for how ridiculous the Thernardiers were. But the rest of the characters were well-done. The action sequences fell flat for me - it was hard to tell what was happening. For example, the scene where Eponine protects Marius was so awkward with perspective that I hadn't even realized what had taken place until we see her wounded a few pages later. I really do think that, with more room to tell the story, this would've been much better....more
Callie loves theater, but she's no actress. She loves being part of the stage crew, creating the props and setting that transport the audience into thCallie loves theater, but she's no actress. She loves being part of the stage crew, creating the props and setting that transport the audience into the story. Her middle school is putting on Moon over Mississippi, a play about the Civil War, and Callie has grand ideas that have to fit into a middle school budget. However, she's also struggling with her long-time crush on Greg, who just broke up with his girlfriend. At first, he seems interested, but then he blows Callie off. Is it because she's into drama? Younger than him? As she struggles with being angry at Greg and still liking him, she throws herself into working on the play. It's there that she meets cute twin brothers, Justin and Jesse. Justin is outgoing, loves theater, funny, and gay. Jesse is shy, smart, and just as talented as his brother, but unwilling to audition. Callie and the twins spend the school year becoming friends and traversing all the challenges that can be thrown at a drama department. Callie also starts to feel something more for Jesse - but does he like her back?
This was a quick, fun read that's full of all the awkwardness of being a teenager in love. Everyone has a little bit of drama (ha-ha) and I appreciated that being gay was not the issue of the book, but just part of the overall plot. I loved that Callie came through, after many moments of heartbreak, and realized that she didn't have to be someone's girlfriend. My only beef with this book is that the drama department was so amazing... what middle school has this sort of theater, budget, and supplies? I'm not sure why the setting wasn't high school, though I think in many school districts, that'd still be pushing it. Well, maybe this is the sort of drama department that schools should aspire to. We should all have working cannons!...more
This book has an intriguing concept - our main character, A, wakes up in a new body every day. A ages just as we do, and A can only occupy bodies thatThis book has an intriguing concept - our main character, A, wakes up in a new body every day. A ages just as we do, and A can only occupy bodies that are his/her same age. On day 5994 of A's life, s/he wakes up in Justin's body and meets his girlfriend Rhiannon. S/he falls in love with her during that day. She is the first person A tells his/her secret to. And they try to make this relationship work.
So there's the concept. But I really just didn't like the book. Why? I found the concept more than a little creepy. I didn't care for A or Rhiannon. A seemed preachy, but constantly broke his/her own rules about how to live the lives s/he gets for a day. I suppose this was to emphasize the importance of his love for Rhiannon, but it just made me dislike A. And the stalking... oh the stalking! It was awkward from the get-go and got so much worse as time went on.
Really, this book seemed like it was more an opportunity for Levithan to do a variety of character studies and show how we have a lot more in common than we think. And I liked the lives that A got to look in on. That was probably my favorite part of this book. But it doesn't make for a great overarching story.
While I found myself waffling when I listened to this - is this a good book and I just don't like it? - the ending hammered home that it was just not good. Spoilers ahead, so look away or stop or whatever if you don't want the ending spoiled.....
Okay, so apparently there are others like A, who can skip Quantum Leap-style from body to body. We find this out just as the book is ending and the scary Reverend that Nathan (a boy A occupied and used to seek out Rhiannon early on in the story) has confided in is actually a person like A. And the Reverend is full of menace and threat and... well, that's about it, because A runs out on the scene where the Reference confronts him/her. And that's it. He tells A that it's possible to keep a body indefinitely and control how long s/he stays. And A freaks, runs out, seeks answers through an email we never get to read. End of book. Well, that and A sets Rhiannon up with the perfect boy on the planet, who makes mix tapes for his parents' anniversary and is always there for everyone and is in a band and has a beautiful, romantic treehouse. This ending is slapped on and leaves you with the feeling that there was supposed to be more... a lot more. But why it ends the way it does is beyond me....more
When Klaus Voormann wanders into a seedy Hamburg nightclub, he discovers the most amazing English band and has to share the news. He brings his long-tWhen Klaus Voormann wanders into a seedy Hamburg nightclub, he discovers the most amazing English band and has to share the news. He brings his long-time friend Astrid Kirchherr, a photographer and art student, to the club, where they listen to a new band called The Beatles. From these first few sessions, Astrid and Klaus quickly become friends with John, Paul, George, and Stuart Sutcliffe, the bass player. Astrid influences the band's look with her photos, her sense of fashion, and, of course, the haircuts she gives them. At the heart of this story is the romance between Astrid and Stuart, the fifth Beatle. Told in short narrative bursts, this book documents their brief but powerful relationship, up until Stuart's death. Readers will learn a bit about the history of The Beatles, and their time performing in Hamburg. We see the run-down clubs the band played in, the seeds of The Beatles imagery, and the relationships between band members. Told in black and white, this graphic novel's art is warm and has the feel of a charcoaled page, ready to smear under your fingers. I didn't know much about The Beatles' history when I read this, but I came away wanting to know more about Astrid, Stuart, and the band's time in Germany. While the story can make leaps in time that are a little difficult to follow, it's still an interesting read that tells a story not commonly known....more
I felt a bit awkward with the whole mushroom/Brother Bullfrog scene. Just kind of... wacky... even for a Bloody Jack book. But I loved the time that Jacky spent traveling with the gypsies. And, as always, Katherine Kellgren is amazing when reading the audiobook....more
This is actually my first Libba Bray book and I loved it! I tried listening to the audio of Going Bovine and really hated it. Libba Bray reads this onThis is actually my first Libba Bray book and I loved it! I tried listening to the audio of Going Bovine and really hated it. Libba Bray reads this one (no weird man voice!) and I loved the voices. Some of the accents were a little off, but all of the main girls were amazing.
Okay, so the basic plot... teen beauty queens, on the way to the Miss Teen Dream pageant, find themselves marooned on an island when their plane crashes. A handful of the 50 contestants survive the crash and are led by Miss Texas to survival. Well, it's a sort of survival. Because Miss Texas is so sure that they'll be rescued that she sets the group to practicing their pageant routines instead of trying to find food or shelter. But no one will be finding these girls because the island they've crashed on is a base for The Corporation (sponsor of Miss Teen Dream), where they are secretly planning a weapons deal with the sanctioned Republic of Cha Cha. Also, there are sexy pirates. And grub-eating. And snake explosions. And mustache remover for ladies. And a dance number. Seriously.
There's a lot going on in this book. A LOT! And I know that's driven some readers away, and I understand. This is a hectic book that wants to accomplish so many things. And really, I didn't mind that. I liked it. It meant I got to read about feminism, girl power, femininity, lesbians, transgender characters, racism, overachievers and nonconformists. And it was pulled off with humor, wit, and still left me really attached to these characters.
I really liked the twist on Lord of the Flies - one of the girls mentions that, while being stranded on island turned those boys into savages, it took being on this island for the girls to really discover and be themselves.
Fans of Christopher Moore's Christopher Moore books may really enjoy this one. Or Tina Fey fans.Tina Fey There's a similar level of snark and awesomeness.
I'm not really doing this book justice in my review. It's just... amazing. Go read it. Give it to girls in your life. ...more
So I looked at my review of the first volume, which I'm shocked was all the way back in 2008... can that be right? I was kind of harsh. Having watchedSo I looked at my review of the first volume, which I'm shocked was all the way back in 2008... can that be right? I was kind of harsh. Having watched the anime, I have fallen in love with Ouran High School Host Club, so I decided I needed to go back and read the manga. And now I love it. Maybe it's being more aware of the different manga genres that they joke about. Or maybe I have an easier time following the story, now that I've seen it played out on TV. I don't know, but whatever it is, I adore it.
Stories in this volume include the club trying to keep Haruhi's gender a secret during the school's physical exams (a favorite of mine!), the twins fighting, the club accepts a new member - Shiro - as Tamaki's apprentice, and the club vacations at the Ohtori Aqua Garden - with disastrous results. We learn a little about the twins' history and see a few touching moments mixed in with the chaos.
Bisco Hatori's asides are funny and let you know you shouldn't take anything too seriously. If you want a fun, light read in manga, this is great!...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
I knew what I was getting into when I started reading If I Stay. I knew it would be a tear-jerker and that there would be a wonderful romance in jeopaI knew what I was getting into when I started reading If I Stay. I knew it would be a tear-jerker and that there would be a wonderful romance in jeopardy and that, at the center of it all, would be a girl deciding if she would live or die. And normally I don't like reading books like that... I don't like books designed to make me cry. Maybe that's because most of the time it seems like the sole purpose of these books is to get you through a box of Kleenex, and not to establish characters, tell a story, or give you a new perspective. So I'm not sure why I checked out If I Stay, other than that I knew I had a lot of driving to do and wanted something recent to listen to.
I'm glad I did read this - it's a good story and I think it has a greater purpose than just being a cry-fest. I'm just not quite sure what that is. There are a lot of layers in this books - first and foremost, the fact that Mia and her family have been in a horrific car accident, leaving her alone (should she choose to live).
And then there's her relationship with Adam, which is both complicated and wonderful... sometimes maybe too wonderful IMHO. I appreciated the way Forman depicted the strain on their relationship as they pondered Mia's impending acceptance to Juilliard.
And then (no and then!) there's Mia's family. Again, I thought they were just too many kinds of wonderful. Maybe this was to balance out the awful thing that happens to Mia or maybe I've just read too many YA books with horrible parents, but it just kind of strained credibility that everyone was so wonderful and supportive and really cool. That doesn't mean her family wasn't incredibly likeable... they were unique and fun characters. But sometimes I thought that they were so great just so you'd feel even worse for Mia.
And somewhere in there is friendship and weird antics (a punk band makes a sneaky diversion in an attempt to get Adam in to see Mia in the ICU) and a bit about the afterlife.
So yes, there are many layers to this book. I think that this book sometimes felt like an exercise in creating characters. We learn about Mia in fractured bits and pieces and she recalls moments from her life and flashes back to them, all while lying in a hospital bed or in surgery. And those flashbacks serve as short stories that develop the friends and family in her life. Mia's decision to continue living or to die serves to connect all these fragments.
I didn't mind this storytelling technique - I like jumping in with a character and learning more about them as we go. I think what bothered me was the way some characters were too-perfect. And I just didn't feel like this would be very memorable. Still, as far as tear-jerkers go, I'm glad I read this one....more