June 26, 2009
I Am Legend
I saw the Will Smith movie I Am Legend a while ago, and really liked it (which should come to absolutely no surprise to those who know of my fascination with creepy monsters that go bump in the night). Somehow though, I had never read the book. Then I discovered that one of my favorite comic writers, Steve Niles (who wrote many of the 30 Days of Night books), had done a graphic novel version of I Am Legend. Somehow I felt if I was going to read it, I should at least start with the original book, and I’m so glad that I did.
The movie tie-in version of the book is actually a collection of short stories by Richard Matheson (not sure if this the the case with other versions). It leads off with I Am Legend; after a plague decimates society, infecting the living and creating vampires, Robert Neville finds himself as quite possibly the last living human on earth. It was creepy, but ultimately just a really sad, kind of heartbreaking portrayal of a man faced with the utmost loneliness.
There were a couple of other stories that I were just the right amount of weird and creepy. There were a couple that I really liked. The Near Departed, had a tinge of dark humor when a mysterious client plans for a death. In From Shadowed Places a young man suffers the wrath of an angered witch doctor. And my favorite, the uber-creepy Prey, where the trapped spirit of a bloodthirsty hunter escapes from it’s prison. Definitely an enjoyable collection, I can’t wait to look for more books by Richard Matheson.
June 26, 2009
Sisters of the Sword by Maya Snow
What a great start to a new series! Sisters Kimi and Hana want nothing more to become Samurai warriors…something quite impossible in 1216 in feudal Japan. Lucky for them, their father, the Jito, or ruler of the province, teaches them basic fighting techniques, believing that women should be able to defend themselves in case of an attack. However, their training is brief, for girls (especially daughters of the Jitoare meant to practice tea ceremonies and calligraphy, not fighting with swords and daggers.
The girls’ world is forever changed though when their uncle commits the horrifying and treacherous act of slaughtering their father and two older brothers, forcing the girls to flee for their lives. Not knowing if their mother and younger brother escaped, they disguise themselves as peasant boys in order to take shelter at a dojo. Run by Master Goku, it is no only the same dojo where their older brothers had trained to become samurais, but where their cousin Ken-ichi is currently studying.
Will the girls be able to keep the secret of who they really are and avenge their father’s death? Or will Ken-ichi’s father track them down?
Perfect for middle school readers, Sisters of the Sword is just the first in the series, be sure to look for Chasing the Secret and Journey Through Fire
June 23, 2009
Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith
Jack Osbourne has always lived a normal, suburban life with his parents and sister. Until the night he is woken up in the middle of the night by men who threaten to kill him, his mother and his sister if they don’t do exactly what they say. That was the night that changed everything. The night his father was arrested for drug trafficking, forcing he, his mother and sister into the Witness Protection Program. The night he became Zach Granger.
The Grangers live in a tiny town in Nevada’s Ruby Mountain, where everyone knows everything about everybody. Zach and his sister “Wanda” have made new friends, and their mother is on her way to opening a bookstore right in the center of town. Things are finally starting to look up. Will Zach’s family be safe here in their new haven, or is it just a matter of time before the danger from their past catches up to them?
Zach’s Lie is a great suspense thriller, perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series; I can’t wait to read the sequel, Jack’s Run.
June 23, 2009
The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb
Calder is a Fetch, an otherworldly escort who appears to people on death’s door. If a soul decides that it is ready to die, it is his job to use his key to open a door, through which lays the path to heaven. In general the living can not see him, and he is not to interfere with the soul’s decision. He knows that someday, he must choose a squire, a dying soul to whom he will offer his key, acceptance of which will apprentice them into a “life” as a Fetch. It has been over 400 years though, and Calder has yet to find the right soul. Until he sees her. A beautiful young woman, weeping for the dying soul of a baby boy. A woman that he is certain can sense his presence.
His overwhelming desire to meet this woman leads Calder to do the unthinkable. He convinces a dying soul to let him use his body, an action that creates havoc between the delicate balance of the real world and the afterlife. What Calder doesn’t realize is that the woman who fascinates him is Alexandra Romanov, the Empress of Russia, and that body he has taken belongs to Grigori Rasputin. What follows is a spiritual and epic story set in the midst of the Russian Revolution, where worlds dangerously begin to collide and overlap.
Overall, despite being a little slow in spots, I really enjoyed this book. Going into it, I didn’t know about the historical context of this story, with Whitcomb offering an explanation about the mystery which surrounds the Romanov family. Without this context, this would have just been another book about a supernatural being. I would definitely recommend this to teens who like the otherworldly books, but are looking for something with a little more depth.
June 23, 2009
The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
I have to say, one great thing about Gene Luen Yang is that I’m always caught off guard by his books. As in American Born Chinese, you never really know which direction the stories in The Eternal Smile are going. Co-written with Derek Kirk Kim, this trio of short graphic novel stories combine human nature and fantasy in a way that really makes you have to stop and think, especially when you realize that in each story, not everything is what it initially appears to be.
There is Duncan, who harbors princely aspirations; Gran’pa Greenbax, a frog who thinks money is the key to the world; and Janet, a 9-5 sales representative who longs for an African prince to come save her. Each one learns a life lesson is a most unexpected way.
June 17, 2009
Forever by Pete Hamill
I’ve put off writing about this book for a while now. I loved it so much, I’m not sure I can really do it justice without giving away the magic of the book.
Forever begins Ireland during the 1740s. Cormac O’Connor is a boy who learns that he is half Irish, half Jewish in a time and place where the only acceptable heritage is to be an English Protestant. After the death of his family, he accepts the Irish vow to avenge his father’s death by ending the familial line of his father’s killer, the Earl of Warren.
This vow takes him on an adventure, crossing the Atlantic to the bustling port city of New York. Through a series of events and encounters, Cormac is granted immortality (this is where I don’t really want to ruin the plot). His immortality comes at a price though….he may never again leave the island of Manhattan. Doing so would be considered suicide, a death that would prevent him from ever joining his family in the afterlife of the Otherworld. The story then follows Cormac through the ages as he tries not only to really live, but also stay true to his original vow of avenging his father’s death.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve loved a book as much as I loved this one. It weaved a wonderful story, combining history together with a bit of magic. I’m kind of sad that it had to end.
June 17, 2009
BPM (Beats Per Minute) by Paul Sizer
I saw that another librarian had read this, and I just had to check it out. BPM (Beats Per Minute) tells the story of Roxy, a New York City DJ who is trying to work her way up through the clubs as she struggles to maintain her personal life. After a chance meeting with a recluse DJ legend, her sets start to improve until she finally has a chance to fill in for a friend at one of the hippest clubs in the city.
Overall, the story was good, but not great. What really made me love the book was the attention to detail. Each page has a song listed at the bottom, a sort of tracklist/mixed tape for the book (which can be found on I-Tunes). There was also a Liner Notes section that pointed out various background type details in the panels throughout the book.
Paul Sizer really captured what it is like to love music and spinning; in the forward of the book he claims that this is his “love letter to the two things he’s loved since he was a kid.”