Wednesday, December 31, 2008
This sequel to Spud picks up at the beginning of the second term for John Milton, dubbed Spud by his dorm mates. His mates, known as the Crazy Eight, are back-Fatty, Rambo, Simon, Boggo, Mad Dog, Vern, and newest member Roger, the dorm cat. Before long, the Crazy Eight are in heaps of trouble with the headmaster and prefects and threatened with expulsion unless they settle down and pay attention to their classes. John's voice, heretofore a lovely soprano, is now changing, possibly ending John's dreams of a Broadway career. Can he find love and acceptance? Will the antics of his parents and grandmother cause him to die of shame? Will he ever escape the nickname Spud? Van de Ruit creates a memorable tableau of characters with the Crazy Eight and the various teachers and students at boarding school. Their antics are hilarious and just a bit reckless. There are plenty of late-night excursions to scare the first-year students and quite a bit of sneaking off to forbidden places.
Balsa is a wanderer, a bodyguard for hire trying to atone for the troubles of her past. Chagum is the sheltered Second Prince of the New Yogo Empire. When a mysterious power begins to take over Chagum's young body, his mother hires Balsa in a desperate attempt to save his life from the forces, both mystical and earthbound, trying to kill him. This book is first in a series of ten that have garnered literary and popular success in Japan. Readers who are fans of action manga, especially with strong female characters, will enjoy the ninja-like fighting scenes in this "fantasy world that carries the scent of Japan," as the author says in her note. Other readers will enjoy the high fantasy elements that incorporate the texture and cloth of traditional folklore and fairy tales. Some fight scenes, discussions of assassination, and an occasional mild swear word are touchy elements outside of the use of magic. There is even a dollop of romance for readers who want to see it. The exciting premise, combined with an attractive cover, should insure that this title will circulate well.-Snow Wildsmith 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.
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When Matisse’s sculptor dad develops Parkinson’s disease, he can no longer work to his satisfaction, and the family moves from New York City to tiny, upstate Prague. Stunned by living in a place where the only pizza parlor “didn’t even have sun-dried tomatoes as a topping,” and embarrassed and scared by her father’s quickly worsening illness, Matisse falls into a serious funk. Her new high school is lame, the other students are limited and boring, and many are downright mean. When she connects with new friend Violet, the two eventually manage to grow toward helpful self-knowledge; meantime, aspiring organic farmer Hal begins to seem less and less like the clueless hick Matisse had assumed. The heroine’s strong, clear voice and heartbreaking vulnerability propel the story forward, engaging the reader from the start. Maybe things turn around a little too neatly at the end, but that won’t bother fans of character-driven fiction seasoned with both romance and angst. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
In this first-person, present-tense memoir that could easily be mistaken for a novel, Vincent writes of her grief for her parents, both of whom died within one month of each other when she was fourteen. Vincent begins with her shock and denial and then writes of her guilt at having fantasized about her parents' deaths and her fear that God mistook her fantasy for a wish and made it happen. Many of Vincent's experiences mirror those of others who have written of their grief, but some are unique to Vincent, just as the personal experiences of her readers will be to them. The book moves swiftly. Because it reads like a novel and not a self-help book, this reviewer expected a climax. Instead Vincent's interest in her activities and future rises slowly until shortly before her eighteenth birthday, when she feels ready to resume her life. VOYA Reviews 2007 April
Volponi veers from sports themes to the card table in this short, tense, issue-driven novel about a seventeen-year-old's determination to avenge a slight against his father and humiliate a man who has been humiliating his students for years. The varied characters are unique and add to the book's interest quotient. The writing is terse in this absorbing book that is a fine choice for boys, girls, and reluctant readers.
Booklist Reviews 2008 August #1
If you're a mom / can you still / go to the prom? Pregnant at 16, Sahara, a former Dixie Queen pageant winner, considers her choices in her small Texas town: adoption, abortion, or keeping the child. No way will she marry the baby's father: He's a bum. / He doesn't work. / He's a jerk. / He'd be / a bad dad, just like the dad / I never had. True to the teen's voice, the gripping narrative, written in very short lines of free verse with occasional rhyme, makes for a roller-coaster read. Even teens who do not agree with Sahara's final choice will be caught up in the rising tension as she copes with her guilt, regret, despair, and hope.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
VOYA Reviews 2008 August
Ranging from philosophical to anecdotal, these essays try to inspire and encourage active participation in the voting process. For the most part, they do a good job. Celebrities, writers, intellectuals, and other personas of note contribute their thoughts and stories about voting. Some are more moving than others. Some are funnier, and several are more poignant or pointed depending upon the author, but all are delivered with sincerity. With contributors ranging from America Ferrera, Tyra Banks, and Meg Cabot to Chris Crutcher, Adrian Grenier, and Alice Walker, the viewpoints are diverse and thoughtfully presented. This collection is a worthy addition to any school or public library although schools should be aware that some strong language is used. The final section of the book offers voting information and resources.
THE WORLD OF UGLIES, SET IN OUR NOT-SO-DISTANT FUTURE,is a complex place filled with bubbly technology and lingo, yet bogus rules about status and appearance. Inside you'll find:
A rundown on all the cliques, from Crims and Cutters to tech-heads and surge-monkeys. The complete history, starting with the destruction of the oil bug to the launch of Extras in space. How all those awesome gadgets came to be: hoverboards, eyescreens, skintennas, sneak suits...PLUS an exclusive look at Scott Westerfeld's first draft of Extras.
A must for fans of this series.
The most popular MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game) ever has spawned board games, strategy games, a collectible card game and, now, a comic book. Collected here are the first seven issues, the writing handled by industry veteran Simonson, whose legendary run with Thor prepared him for hard-bitten warriors and medieval battles. And, man, are there battles: in the sky, on land, under water, in arenas, in caves, even in giant spider webs. Ostensibly about an amnesiac killing machine, a sort of sword-and-sorcery Jason Bourne, who’s sold into gladiatorial slavery and then escapes with his companions to unravel his own past, the story also serves to reference the history, character classes, places, and events from the game. And to stage the aforementioned battles. Excepting some well-conceived locations, the art is yet another unextraordinary variation on the manga-toon style, which carries little weight, but renders fights relatively bloodless. However, the heroes are ultra-competent and the mythology intricate enough that it will appeal to even those few boys who are not familiar with the game." Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews. - Booklist Reviews 2008 October #2