Saturday, April 14, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Twilight Volume 2

by Stephenie Meyer, Young Kim (Art/Adaptation)

This volume picks up where the last one left off - volume 1 and volume 2 combine to make up the full story of Twilight.

I'm not sure what to add that I didn't cover in my review of volume 1. This part of the story has fewer cheesy lines and a little more action, but it's still a stripped version of the story.

If you want the full Twilight story, go for the original book. If you loved the book, you'll probably love the graphic novel, too. One nice thing about the graphic novel is that, compared to the movie, it keeps closer to the original story and includes some scenes that were cut from the movie. While the illustrations are really good, I wouldn't recommend the graphic novel to someone who hadn't already read the book - it's really more of a supplemental piece than a stand-alone novel.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Silence (The Queen of the Dead #1)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's Monday: What are you Reading?

It's Monday: What are you reading? is a weekly meme from Book Journey.

I just finished reading two very different books. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee. Yes, I know, everyone but me has read The Hunger Games, and I'm a teen librarian. I should be ashamed of myself. But I've read it and I even managed to review it. You can find full reviews for both of these books in the posts below.

I'm currently reading (and have been for a while) Intertwined by Gena Showalter. I've been working on this title for a month or so, putting it down to read other books, then picking it back up again. I'll finish it eventually!

On my to-read list are The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson and Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. Though I really think I need something light and happy after reading The Hunger Games...

Book Review: A Spy in the House

A Spy in the House: A Mary Quinn Mystery (The Agency #1)  (*****)
by Y.S. Lee

She spun about. "What is it?"
"Stay out of wardrobes!"

This book opens with Mary Lang on trial for theft. It's the mid-1800's England, and despite her young age and fairly minor crime, Mary is sentenced to hang. Instead of meeting that fate, though, she is rescued by a woman who runs a school for girls. This school provides an education for girls who wouldn't receive it otherwise, girls with no money and no hopes for a good future. They teach the girls skills that they'll need to provide for themselves in a world that treats women like property. Mary accepts this woman's offer to attend the school, and we jump several years into the future where she's now 17, has changed her last name to Quinn, and teaches at the school. However, she doesn't feel fulfilled by this role, she wants more, and the woman who saved her has a new offer. And this is where our story really begins.

Mary becomes a spy for The Agency, a sort of private-detective, under-cover operation run by women and employing women. Mary is hired as a lady's companion in the house of a suspected smuggler. She is supposed to keep an eye on things and make herself available to the real agent who has already been installed in the household, but of course, Mary can't keep from investigating. In the process, she meets a young man who's also investigating the family, and they decide to work together.

A Spy in the House is a great title for anyone (ok, any young woman - this isn't really a "guy book") who is looking for a historical mystery. I recently had a teen ask me that very question - this title would have been a perfect fit. However, we didn't have it in our collection; I borrowed this from my local library system to test it out and see if my library should get it. I'm seriously considering it - it was an interesting look at the time period and it had a good mystery, one I didn't figure out until the end, and meets a need in the collection.

I really enjoyed this book; it was a great palate cleanser for the heart-break of The Hunger Games, and I sped through it. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series: The Body at the Tower.

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)   *****
by Suzanne Collins

"May the odds be ever in your favor."

I know I'm late to the Hunger Games. It's shameful, really, a YA librarian not reading this book until now. But I did have a good reason. I hate, hate, dystopian novels. I have since I was forced to read 1984 and A Brave New World in high school. I prefer my books to be funny and light or action packed or...well, anything other than depressing. If there has to be death, I prefer it to happen to the really bad guys. And it can never be an animal - if the author kills the family dog or the faithful horse or some other four-legged or winged creature (I'm looking at you Rowling), I'm done. So a book where kids have to kill other kids to survive, I'm not interested.

That being said, I'm a teen librarian and it really is important that I read these things. So I did.

First of all, this is a really well written and thought-out book. The characters, even those you meet only briefly, are fully realized. There is a lot of build up to the main event, but it's important to the development of the plot and gives insight into the workings of Panem. And I'm betting (as I haven't read Catching Fire or Mocking Jay yet), that insight will be important in the next two installments.

Despite my feelings about the dystopian genre, this really was a good book. I can't fully give it five stars because it's not my cup of tea, not because of the quality of the book. Certain parts made me cry like a little girl, and I hate it when books do that - even though if a book can make you feel that strongly, it's a sign that the book is doing it's job, and doing it well. It's been 24 hours since I finished the book, and I still can't shake it. My brain won't turn off and I keep going over scenes in my head. More signs of a book doing it's job. I really need to find out what happens next in the series, but I don't think my brain, or my heart, can take it just yet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I'm currently reading a couple of books in a variety of methods:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (on my Kindle)

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (as an audiobook)

Intertwined by Gena Showalter (hardcover)

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 2 by Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim (graphic novel)

 I just finished reading (see full reviews in the posts below):

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Tales of Death and Dementia by Edgar Allan Poe and Grim Grisly (Illustrator)

What's up next?

I have a number of books on my to-read list, but the top contenders are:

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Book Review: Tales of Death and Dementia

by Edgar Allan Poe, Gris Grimly (Illustrator)

Tales of Death and Dementia is a collection of four of Poe's stories involving some form of madness, which is brilliantly illustrated by Gris Grimly (that has got to be a pen name!). The four stories included in this book are The Tell-Tale Heart (the most familiar of the the stories), The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether, The Oblong Box, and The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.

Each of the stories include Poe's well-known darkness, and he certainly seemed to have a good handle on the nature of madness. Each story is a little creepy, particularly The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, while others are pretty funny, like The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether. In any case, Gris Grimly does an excellent job of capturing the story in pictures. He is particularly talented when drawing crazy-eyes. Seriously.

This book offered a fun, new way to read Poe. The stories are short, but fully realized; the illustrations are awesome; and the book is quick to read through. I'd recommend it to anyone, especially those who are fans of Poe or into graphic novels.

Book Review: The Monstrumologist

by Rick Yancey

“He knew the truth. Yes, my dear child, he would undoubtedly tell a terrified toddler tremulously seeking succor, monsters are real. I happen to have one hanging in my basement.
Sometime during the mid-to-late 1800s in the north-eastern US, we meet Will Henry, a 12-year-old who recently lost his parents in a fire. His father's former boss, Dr. Warthrop, took Will Henry in and made Will his assistant. But Dr. Warthrop isn't your typical doctor; he's a Monstrumologist. Monsters are real and Dr. Warthrop hunts and studies them.

The story opens on a grave robber knocking on the doctor's door. It turns out he found more than he bargained for in the grave of a recently deceased young woman. He found not one body, but two, and brings them both to the doctor. The unexpected body is headless, with a huge mouth in its torso, eyes near its shoulders, arms so long they practically skim the ground and end with barbed claws. It's an Anthropophagi, a monster that feeds on humans (preferably the living variety).

Thus begins the story of Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop as they try to find the rest of the monster's 'herd' (for lack of a better word), discover how they made it to America (they're not native to North America), and try to stop the Antropophagi before they kill again. It also begins one of the grossest stories I've ever read. This story is a cross between a monster-hunt and a forensic/medical drama - at least in the descriptions of bodies and patients and wounds and puss and other grody things.

While the story wasn't fast-paced, it was solid and still had plenty to interest the reader (if they have the stomach for it). While Will Henry is a 12-year-old during this book, that doesn't limit the story to the middle grade/tween ages - I'd totally recommend it to the older teen/YA age, as well.

I'd recommend this book to middle school and high school students (and adults) who enjoy forensic TV shows, monster and zombie books and movies, and have a strong stomach. That being said, it may be a bit too gruesome for the younger end of that age-group, so act accordingly. Seriously - don't read this book when eating; you'll regret it.

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Peculiars

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: A Spy in the House

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)
by Y.S. Lee

She spun about. "What is it?"
"Stay out of wardrobes!"