Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Poison Study

Poison Study
By Maria V. Snyder
Mira, 2005.
409 pgs. Science Fiction

Yelena faces death by hanging until she is offered amnesty by the intimidating Valek, chief of security for the territory of Ixia. Valek offers a condition Yelena can't deny. He will spare her life if she will become his poison taster. Valek teaches Yelena to recognize the slightest hint of poison in food and drink. While enjoying her freedom from the dungeon Yelena discovers that some people want her dead. As political tensions grow in Ixia Yelena discovers a magical talent within her that she cannot control. This is an exciting series opener with intelligent political focus, adventure, and sophisticated romance.

ALC

Only the Good Spy Young

Only the Good Spy Young
By Ally Carter
Disney/Hyperion Books for Children, 2010. 265 pgs. Young Adult

Cammie Morgan knows she's wanted (alive) by the dangerous Circle of Cavan, so she's not surprised that she's constantly surrounded by CIA agents trying to keep her out of their hands. However, she's completely surprised to find that Joe Solomon, her favorite teacher, is at the top of the CIA's suspect list. Convinced he is a member of the Circle, they're desperate to find him. At the same time, he tries passing Cammie cryptic messages that leave her more confused than ever about who she can trust.

Like the third book in the Gallagher Girls series, book four has a much more serious tone than the first two books. However, this one wrapped up more loose ends--while still leaving plenty of unanswered questions for later books in the series--than book three, though, and should leave readers with less of a cliffhanger ending than book three. A gripping plot with twists, turns, and still a bit of humor, Only the Good Spy Young is an engaging read that will satisfy fans of the series while still leaving them hoping for the quick publication of the remainder of the series.

AE

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Milkweed

Milkweed
By Jerry Spinelli
Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 208 p. Young Adult Fiction

He didn’t even know his own name. It was the cries of “Stop, Thief!” that constantly rang in his ears as he was running away that caused him to offer this up as a possible moniker when questioned roughly by the other street boys. But because he is tiny and fast (and knows how to steal a good strawberry bobka when he sees one) the boys welcome him into their happy gang of ragtag thievery and inform him that he must be a gypsy, as he is not a Jew. Thus he is christened Mischa, and not being a Jew quickly becomes very important in Warsaw, Poland as WWII approaches. But Mischa soon finds that even gypsies are a mysterious target and the increasing violence against both these demoralized communities eventually forces them into the infamous Warsaw ghetto.

Mischa, the tiny Gypsy, is an amazingly endearing and thoroughly naïve narrator and he approaches the war with a genuine surprise that captures both the heart and tears of the reader. As Mischa joyfully continues his food scavenging during the ghetto confinement, traveling back and forth through a two-brick opening in the wall, he befriends many a needy Jew and encounters many disturbing scenarios. He acquires numerous names from his ramshackle “family” members but through the devastation continues to prove that even those with nothing can sometimes give the most.

DAP

Factory Girls: from Village to City in a Changing China

Factory Girls: from Village to City in a Changing China
Leslie T. Chang
Spiegel and Grau, 2009, 431 p. Nonfiction

Leslie Chang doesn’t just describe the lives of the young women who leave their small rural villages in China to work in the factories that make our shoes, belts, purses, clothing, gadgets and appliances. She takes us into their lives in an intimate way, revealing their hopes and fears, their personal transformations and the ways in which they are also transforming China. The author follows a number of young women as they leave home, change jobs, gain skills and change jobs once again. We follow the young women as Leslie did, meeting them, learning about them, sometimes losing contact and never knowing the ending of their stories, sometimes finding them again and seeing the trials they’ve endured. She describes each of them with insight and compassion.

The girls appear in alternating chapters; each girl is unique and rarely do their stories overlap. The only difficulty I had with the book was that I often wanted to read one girl’s story from beginning to end. The book isn’t organized that way but is arranged chronologically, as Leslie Chang experienced the events. Nonetheless, I highly recommend the book. It is a must read if you are interested in modern China or in the lives of women around the world.

Understanding the Book of Mormon: a Reader's Guide

Understanding the Book of Mormon: a Reader's Guide
Grant Hardy
Oxford University Press, 2010, 346 pages, Nonfiction

Grant Hardy’s insightful book about the Book of Mormon is based on the premise that as a literary work, the book deserves close and careful reading by believers and nonbelievers alike. Whether written by Joseph Smith or its purported authors and abridgers, there is much to be gained by comparing the preoccupations and writing styles of the various characters. Hardy closely examines only three major characters: Nephi, who fled Jerusalem with his family and is the founder of one of the major civilizations traced in the book; Mormon, who has collected and abridged most of the book (including the writings of Nephi); and Mormon’s son, Moroni, who is the final writer in the book.

Hardy has obviously studied the book extremely closely while asking interesting questions about the text and the writer or writers. What themes exemplify the writing of each character? What details about the character’s life are revealed and what are left out and for what possible reasons? In what ways is each character’s writing unique in style or form? Why are original documents such as letters and sermons sometimes included while at other times the abridger’s comments suffice to summarize? Hardy asks no end of interesting questions and offers insightful answers.

The book is dense and demanding but well worth the effort. Hardy is a professor of history and religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and also wrote “The Book of Mormon: a Reader’s Edition (University of Illinois Press, 2003).

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West
Christopher Caldwell
Doubleday, 2009, 442 pages, Nonfiction

This book, while pessimistic about the immigration problems in Europe, is helpful to understanding the history of immigration in Europe after World War II and to the present time. The author also describes the problems caused by varying national policies about immigration in the European Union. Due to labor shortages and vast reconstruction needs in Europe at the close of the war, most European nations opened their arms to immigrants and citizens of former “colonies.” Most nations assumed the laborers would either return to their native countries or become assimilated into the culture of the host nation. The reality has been far different. In many European nations, immigrants have retained loyalty to their native culture and religion even in the second and third generations. Europe generally has become more and more secular and liberal since World War II, while the immigrant populations have very often been or become more and more religious and conservative.

Add to these trends the general “intolerance of intolerance” in Europe, also a consequence of World War II, and you have nations where it is almost impossible for leaders to even talk about the difficulties caused by immigration and the failure of immigrants to assimilate without committing political "suicide”. The book is sometimes repetitive but it also sometimes offers brilliant insights. Caldwell doesn’t offer solutions for the future but outlines the great challenges ahead for Europe and Great Britain.

Eternal

Eternal
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
Candlewick Press, 2009. 307 pgs. Young Adult

Miranda is a fairly normal high-schooler until, in an attempt to save her life, her guardian angel Zachary puts her in the path of a vampire. As a newly-turned vampire princess, Miranda is supposed to reject her former life and embrace all that her new "father," the reigning Dracula, decrees. When Zachary, in somewhat human form, having been demoted by Archangel Michael, accepts a position as Miranda's personal assistant, he has to try to save the unsaveable--the undead.

Eternal is a somewhat darker story than other vampire stories I've read, and Zachary's very human emotions and passions certainly differ from the typical idea of an angel. I didn't find either Miranda or Zachary to be a truly engaging character, but Zachary's task of saving his former charge and regaining his status as an angel do make for an interesting story of redemption and who (or what) is redeemable.

AE

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jane Slayre

Jane Slayre
By Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin
Gallery Books, 2010. 369 pgs. Fiction

The plot should sound familiar. A lonely orphan is raised by her heartless aunt until she is sent away to boarding school where she eventually becomes an instructor. She then takes a job as a governess and falls in love with the taciturn master of the house. He, in turn, loves her but their plans to marry are thwarted by the existence of a lunatic wife. “Jane Eyre?” you ask. Not quite. This is the story of Jane Slayre. A lonely orphan, gifted in the art of slaying, who is raised by her vampire aunt until she is sent away to a boarding school that harvests zombies where she eventually becomes an instructor. Naturally, after that, she takes a job as a governess and falls in love only to have her opportunity for happiness stymied by a lunatic werewolf wife.

I am not the biggest fan of Jane Eyre, but I loved this horrified version of her story. I’ll admit the zombies are usually a little much for me, a prefer vamps and weres; however, even that wasn’t able to detract from the enjoyment I experienced as Jane spiked and beheaded her foes while winning Mr. Rochester’s heart. I wholeheartedly recommend this funny spin on a familiar tale to anyone looking to venture into the ever growing world of twisted classics.

CZ

Time You Let Me In

Time You Let Me In
Greenwillow Books, 2010. 236 pgs. Young Adult Nonfiction

Twenty-six poets under the age of twenty-five share poems on a variety of topics, from family to war to weather. Written in free verse, this collection is raw and emotional while simultaneously being polished and truly poetic.

While not a true poetry fan, I appreciated the skillful mastery of the poets who contributed to this collection. Even with seemingly mundane topics, they used just the right wording and rhythm to invite readers into their lives.

AE

Roses

Roses: A Novel
By Leila Meacham
Grand Central Pub., 2010. 609 pgs. Fiction

Mary Toliver doesn’t believe in the curse that has haunted the Toliver family since settling in Texas on their cotton plantation, Somerset. But as Mary’s life unfolds, both she and the reader come to realize that there might be a curse after all. Mary loves Percy Warwick and he loves her, but her stubborn obsession with Somerset hinders her commitment to him. Their inability to commit complicates their lives and causes much secrecy and tragedy for them and their succeeding generations. To say any more would give away the plot in this epic love story that spans generations.

Roses is an engrossing story of Southern honor and manners; rich characters who frustrate you, yet still demand your attention; and seemingly never-ending tragedy. Meacham’s a great storyteller and I was fascinated by the novel. Fans of Gone with the Wind will want to read this one. Don’t be daunted by the length; this is a quick read that I couldn’t put down. Readers beware—there is a bit of graphic language.

MN

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Passage

The Passage
By Justin Cronin
Ballantine Books, 2010. 766 p. Fiction

Amy Bellafonte is just six years old, but she’s humanity’s last hope. The setting is Colorado, just five years hence, and Amy is the final subject forced to participate in a medical experiment overseen by the US Army. The other 12 men have all been death row inmates and their lives were going to end regardless. However, the virus found in the Brazilian jungle that was hoped to be an eternal elixir-of-youth somehow turns its victims into raging, dark creatures with a thirst for blood. And when these “virals” escape from their underground facility it’s anyone’s guess just who will end up winning the world war that ensues.

Cronin is a master at feeding you snippets of the future and then unveiling the back story layer by mesmerizing layer (and his characters are superb, too). While a literary take on the vampire craze might not suit everyone’s fancy, those who wish to enjoy a stupendously thrilling horror/suspense/romance will find The Passage hits the summer reading sweet spot. Not to be confused with Meyer’s romanticized vegetarian softies, Cronin’s vampires exhibit all the frenzied bloodbaths you’d expect in creatures of pure evil. It’s not quite as grisly as Stephen King’s endorsement might suggest, but be prepared for anything. Hands down, Cronin has a winner and you’re gonna love it. Warning: not to be read late at night when you’re home alone or scared of the dark. And remember, be very afraid if you start dreaming about the fat lady with the smoke rings and the plunging knife.

DAP

The Great and Only Barnum

The Great and Only Barnum
By Candace Fleming
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009. 151 pgs. Young Adult Nonfiction

P.T. Barnum's name is still one of the biggest in the circus business (currently, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's). However, before Barnum was part of the circus business, he owned and operated a hugely famous museum, although that museum was vastly different than the traditional museums of today. Part zoo with exotic animals, part freak show;part real and part made-up, Barnum's museum earned him a reputation as a humbugger and a showman likes of which the world had never seen.

Fleming paints a well-rounded portrait of Barnum, showing his flaws (including a tendency to ignore his wife and children in favor of his business) as well as his strengths. Besides painting an interesting portrait of Barnum, this book also gives readers a glimpse of 19th century life and the entertainment people sought.

AE

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures

Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures
By Menno Metselaar and Ruud van der Rol
Roaring Book Press, 2009. 216 pgs. Young Adult Nonfiction

This photobiography is incredibly powerful. Combining text from Anne Frank's diary, as well as tons of photographs, including photos taken by the Frank family, and their own commentary, Mestelaar and van der Rol have created a book that allows readers another view into Anne Frank's life. Readers can see her actual diary and pages from it as well as view the Franks' hiding place. Extending beyond the end of Anne Frank's diary, the authors also include information about her time in concentration camps and information about her father, the lone survivor of the Frank family. All in all, a stunning book.

AE

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Little Blog on the Prairie

Little Blog on the Prairie
By Cathleen Davitt Bell
Bloomsbury, 2010. 276 pgs. Young Adult

Gen Welsh does not want to spend her summer living as if it's 1890, but since her mother signed the family up for a summer camp in Wyoming that functions as if it really were the 19th century, Gen finds herself milking cows, churning butter, and using an outhouse. As if that weren't bad enough, Nora, whose parents own the camp, seems determined to keep Gen from enjoying one of the few good things about the camp--fellow camper Caleb's company. Desperate for some normalcy, Gen uses her totally-against-camp-rules hidden cell phone to text her friends about camp life, which her friends then use to create a blog about Gen's prairie life.

This is a highly enjoyable read, funny all the way from the title to the ending. Gen's adventures will keep readers chuckling.

AE

Wisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate

Wisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate
by Mark Oppenheimer
Free Press, 2010. 237 pgs. Non-fiction

The beginning and ending of Oppenheimer's memoir are deeply engaging. The middle, not so much. Mark Oppenheimer was a kid who, from the age of two, couldn't stop talking. His mother used to call to beg his father to come home because she couldn't stand it anymore. His teachers didn't like him much either--he was always arguing with them or correcting their English usage. But at age 12 he discovered debate and the life-changing concept that talking could lead to glory. Oppenheimer's account of his rapid rise in the debate community comes with enlightening and interesting explanations of the (many!) different types of debate and competitive public speaking one might engage in, and what makes someone good at that sort of thing. The book bogs when Oppenheimer reaches the end of Prep School and then goes on to Yale where what interests him--drinking and various girlfriends, basically--gets tedious for the reader. An unbecoming condescension towards those not of his privileged background also colors the text. In the end, Oppenheimer chooses to become a journalist rather than the obvious career choices for a public speaker (lawyer or politician), and his particular interest in the history of religion takes him and his readers in an unexpected and interesting direction. An unusual book, not altogether satisfying, but with very bright spots as well.

LW

The Genius in All of Us

The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong
By David Shenk
Doubleday, 2010. 302 pgs. Nonfiction

In The Genius in All of Us, David Shenk presents new scientific discoveries uncovering a new way to think about IQ and talent. First, he argues for a new way to think about genes and genetics. Where we once thought our genes decided who we are and what we can become, science is now finding that our environment plays an extremely large role in activating those genes and changing how they in turn alter us and our potential. Once the science has been explained, Shenk gives on overview of what this means for us and our children.

Almost half of this book’s 300 pages contain “The Evidence” which includes sources, notes, clarifications, and amplifications. The author’s presentation is convincing and fascinating. What we learn is that while not everyone can become an expert at anything, we are all hardwired to be adaptive to our environment. The right circumstances, drive, and opportunities can create amazing abilities in peoples. It would almost appear that we have more control over our genes than we do over our environment which is a dramatic paradigm shift. This book’s topic reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, but relies more on science to make its arguments.

CZ

Princess of Glass

Princess of Glass
By Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury Books, 2010. 266 pgs. Young Adult

Princess Poppy (one of the twelve sisters from Princess of the Midnight Ball) is visiting family in Breton as part of the royal exchange program set up to foster good feelings among nations. Not exactly thrilled to be there, Poppy avoids dancing as much as she can and knits furiously to ward off disturbing dreams of King Under Stone and his princes. Her time in Breton improves when Prince Christian comes as part of the exchange and shows an obvious interest in her. But a mysterious young lady appears at a ball and enchants all the young men, including Christian. Poppy, able to see through the enchantment due to her knitting, realizes that someone wicked is behind it and sets out to help the young lady.

I really enjoyed Princess of the Midnight Ball, but did not like this one as much. This story is told from too many perspectives, throwing off the flow of the story. While princesses are always assured a victory, I was very confused how this victory happened. The climax and resolution were hazy and not explained very well. Read this for the lighthearted tone and romance.

MN

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict
By Laurie Viera Rigler
Dutton, 2009. 293 pgs. Fiction

Jane Mansfield, a gentleman’s daughter from Regency England, inexplicably awakens in Courtney Stone's body in present day L.A. Although her apartment may be smaller than a dressing closet, she is enthralled by the lights that burn without candles, machines that wash clothes, and that glossy rectangle in which tiny people perform scenes from her favorite book: Pride & Prejudice. As Jane tries to piece together her past - both Courtney's of which she knows very little, and her own back in Regency England, she finds they share some remarkable similarities, especially in regards to a friend named Wes - who is as attractive and confusing as the man who broke Jane's heart back home.

This is a sequel to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, and I liked this much better than the first book. It still has some flaws - the book doesn't really explain the time-traveling well enough, the reasons and characteristics of the experience are just too vague. But I did enjoy the culture-shock this regency woman experienced in modern-day L.A., plus I was more sympathetic to her personal dilemmas and found her soul-searching more meaningful than the character in the first book (plus her observations on some aspects of present-day culture are remarkably adept).

BHG

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
By Laurie Viera Rigler
Dutton, 2007. 293 pgs. Fiction

Courtney Stone, a modern Los Angeles girl nursing a heartbreak, is transported through time into Regency England, waking up to find herself inhabiting the body and life of Jane Mansfield. Courtney is forced to pretend she is Jane and must learn to adapt to life in the nineteenth century. Although she is a fan of everything Austen, she is not prepared for chamber pots, public baths, bonnets, chaperons and different rules that apply to women of this time period.

While it was fun to experience the sights and sounds of the Regency Era through this novel, there were some definite problems. I think the most frustrating thing was that Courtney is a "Jane Austen addict" but she seems to understand very little about the period. She acts shocked and confused about things that surely an Austen fan would know - not being able to wear makeup or roam town unescorted, even the rules of courtship - romance being central to Austen's novels - are lost on Courtney. Her indignant tirades about feminism seemed remarkably naive for an Austen fan, and she continued to make reference to things that no one of that era would have understood, like when she asks a woman if Hargrove Court was a retirement center. The ending also left off with several inexplicable elements and loose ends. I love Austen and I'm a fan of time travel, but this book didn't really appeal to me on either level.

BHG

Operation Mincemeat

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
By Ben Macintyre
Harmony Books, 2010. 400 pgs. Nonfiction

Major William Martin’s body was found on a Spanish coastline. He appeared to have died in a plane crash while delivering extremely sensitive document about an upcoming Allied invasion. Though Spain was officially neutral in the conflict, the documents were leaked to German intelligence before being returned to British officials. These important plans were relayed all the way to Hitler himself, who used the information to redeploy German troops to the areas of the impending attacks. Fortunately for the Allied Forces, all the documents found on Major Martin’s corpse were forgeries planted by British Intelligence to dupe the Germans, and Major Martin himself never actually existed.

This is the best spy literature I have read in ages, fiction or nonfiction. Macintyre is an engaging story teller and this is a story well worth telling. The individuals involved are fascinating and the plot is filled with lucky breaks and daring deeds. I can highly recommend this to anyone interested in World War II histories, espionage stories, or students of both human folly and courage.

CZ

Blue Lipstick

Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems
By John Grandits
Clarion Books, 2007. 42 pgs. Young Adult Nonfiction

Fifteen-year-old Jessie voices her teenage concerns about her annoying brother, school, dumb jocks, and more in this unique, hilarious collection of poems. Jessie's strong opinions are revealed through concrete poetry: words, ideas, type, and design that combine to make pictures and patterns. The poems are inventive, irreverent, irresistible, and full of surprises--just like Jessie--and the playful layout and ingenious graphics extend the wry humor.


I'm not usually a big fan of poetry, but this book is great! Jessie is funny, sarcastic, and unique. The visual design alone makes the book worth checking out. The poems are shaped like what they are about--a line graph of Jessie's emotional day, a cello and a guitar as Jessie makes friends with a guitar player, etc. It's really a fun book, both in design and in the text.


AE

Sacred Walls

Sacred Walls: Learning from Temple Symbols
By Gerald E. Hansen, Jr.
Covenant Communications, 2009. 86 pgs. Nonfiction

In this photo essay, Hansen discusses the exterior symbols on 11 LDS temples and compares them to passages in the Book of Mormon in an attempt to help readers better understand the symbolism of temples and the ordinances performed therein, particularly the endowment ceremony.

The photographs in this book are stunning; the writing wasn't quite as impressive. While the exterior symbols explained are informative, the links to Book of Mormon passages were often weak connections, and in many cases, seemed to focus more on other books of scripture to demonstrate points. Perhaps readers would be better served if Hansen had focused either on the design or on the Book of Mormon but not combined the two. Nevertheless, the discussion of the symbols was interesting and will likely help readers find new symbols at temples.

AE

Just Another Girl

Just Another Girl
By Melody Carlson
Revell, 2009. 221 pgs. Young Adult

Sixteen-year-old Aster wishes she could have a life just any other girl. However, as the main caretaker for her mentally-disabled sister Lily, Aster's life is anything but normal. Aster is desperate to get some freedom, but her older sister is no help, her mother works long hours, and her father hasn't been part of the picture for years. When cool, good-looking Owen comes along--and actually doesn't seem too freaked out at Aster's situation--Aster thinks he may be her ticked to normality. However, Aster's Christian beliefs and Owen's reputation might be incompatible.

This book is a clean-read, and Aster's struggle to care for her sister but also have some independence will evoke sympathy from readers.

AE

Monday, June 21, 2010

So Cold the River

So Cold the River
by Michael Koryta
Little, Brown, 2010. 508 pgs. Fiction

Eric Shaw was a highly-esteemed cinematographer in Hollywood until he punched out a blowhard director. Now he makes funeral films--retrospectives of the recently deceased. Eric's uncanny ability to capture on film the essence of people he never knew lands him a job in West Baden, Indiana, where his employer sends him to discover and film something about the boyhood of her father-in-law, who is nearing death. West Baden was at one time one of the great spa sites in America, famous for its "Pluto Water," a sulphurous curative which Eric takes a sip of from a bottle the father-in-law has kept all these years. He becomes violently ill, but is drawn back to the water and tries it again--this time it has a mild honey flavor and he finds it fends off the headaches he has suddenly developed. Oddly enough, the bottle of water also stays perpetually cold, even developing a sheen of frost in the summertime heat. The reader figures out quicker than Eric that he might want to lay off this stuff but in the meantime he has begun to see things no one else can: a train surrounded by black smoke, with a devilish figure in the boxcar door, for instance. Turns out Eric has let loose a malevolent spirit, a former resident of the valley known for his wicked ways, who has come back for vengeance and dominion. Already an honored writer of detective fiction, Koryta has here taken a fine first step into the horror/suspense genre. His characters are well developed and appealing or frightening, respectively. The setting is historically accurate and the narrative seamlessly incorporates local lore. I don't normally "do" scary, but I couldn't leave this book alone.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Last Colony

The Last Colony
By John Scalzi
Tor, 2008. 324 p. Sci-Fi

John and Jane Perry are doing quite well on the planet Huckleberry, learning the constellations on the new planet and acting as the small colony’s ombudsman. They’ve left their military life and super humanoid forms behind when they retired from the Special Forces and are now living in peaceful contentment with their adopted daughter Zoe. That is, until they receive a request from the Colonial Union to act as Colony Leaders for the latest addition in humanity’s quest to conquer the stars. Then they find themselves in the midst of political intrigue in a battle between the dreaded Conclave and the machinations of the less-than-honest Colonial Union. Oh wait, and they also weren’t told about the intelligent life forms that already roam their new home on Roanoke planet--creatures that look surprisingly like alienized werewolves. Can John, Jane and Zoe work out these complications before the colony riots or they’re vaporized by their enemies? That remains to be seen.

Scalzi, winner of the John W. Campbell award for best new writer, beguiles the world of science fiction with his humorous style and fans of this series are sure to enjoy the continuing wit and sarcasm of John Perry and his fellow beings—both alien and human.

DAP

Fire in the Soul

Fire in the Soul: 100 Poems for Human Rights
New Internationalist: 2009. 184 pgs. Young Adult Nonfiction

This collection of poets from around the world explores the theme of basic human rights. Although many of the poems deal with human rights violations (such as genocide) or are written by poets who were imprisoned for their beliefs, they are not poems of defeat; they are demonstrations of the strength of the human spirit.

This was an eye-opening anthology of poems. The inclusion of poets from around the world really showed how many different types of human rights violations have occurred and how the problem isn't limited to one type of country or people.

AE

Heaven

Heaven
by Angela Johnson
Simon & Schuster, 1998. 138 pgs. Young Adult

Fourteen-year-old Marley is enjoying life in Heaven, Ohio. She loves her parents and little brother, is entertained by letters from her uncle Jack, and has good friends in Bobby and Shoogy. However, when a family secret surfaces, Marley has to adjust to a completely new way of thinking about the world.

Although this is part of a trilogy, this book can also be read as a stand-alone. A Coretta Scott King award-winning novel, this is one that draws the reader in emotionally as Marley has to work through this change in her life, yet unlike some novels, there is not an overwhelming amount of teenage angst. The cast of characters are lovable all in their own ways. Johnson offers readers a beautifully written and heartwarming story.

AE

The Alchemist's Daughter

The Alchemist's Daughter
by Katherine McHanon
Crown Publishers, 2006. 340 pgs. Fiction

Emilie Selden has spent her life working with her father, an alchemist who secludes them both from the world. Emilie is content to follow in her father's footsteps, even though eighteenth century Britain doesn't exactly welcome female contributions to science. When Robert Aislabie appears on their doorstep, seemingly interested in science, Emilie is drawn to him and the bright London life of luxury that he represents. Lured away from her home and her work by the handsome rogue, Emilie soon finds she has much to learn about life and her family.

This is an interesting story for those who want to explore relationships and the workings of the human heart.

AE

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
By Alison Goodman
Viking Press; 2008. 531 pgs. YA F Goodman

Eon has a secret and believes keeping it could mean life or death. This coming of age novel takes place in feudal Asia, during a time when dragons still exist and men are the supreme rulers of everything. Political power is shared by the Emperor and the Dragoneyes (men who control the power of the 12 energy dragons). Each year, one dragon comes into power and chooses an apprentice from a highly trained group of 12 year old boys. Lame Eon is not considered a likely candidate since competition at the selection tournament is extremely grueling. To everyone’s astonishment the Mirror Dragon (missing for 500 years) arrives and picks Eon. Thrust into the powerful position of sitting on the Counsel, Eon, along with a few unique personal protectors, try to keep the power balance away from the brutal and ruthless Lord Ido. Eon struggles to understand how to use this new power and responsibility, at the same time THE SECRET is rapidly taking its toll, UNTIL...

Although I am not a fantasy fan I quite enjoyed this book and definitely will read the sequel. With unique supporting characters, a strong protagonist and a shrewd evil villain, don’t be discouraged when the story moves a bit slow after the opening chapter. Things pick up quite nicely. The author deals with a few mildly uncomfortable subjects very inoffensively. This book has been nominated for the 2011 Utah Beehive Young Adult Fiction Award. mpb

The Book of Weeds: how to deal with plants that behave badly

The Book of Weeds: how to deal with plants that behave badly
By Ken Thompson
DK Publishing, 2009. 192 pgs. non fiction

“Weeds are plants you don’t like or haven’t learned to like”, so says Ken Thompson in his book The Book of Weeds, subtitled How to Deal With Plants That Behave Badly. Sown throughout this book are prickly words of wit such as “Bake perennial weeds in the sun until they look like Vampires in the final scene of Dracula.” Clear colorful photos in true DK style blossom on nearly every page making weed id easy in any garden. Unfortunately now I know those green things flourishing in my yard are all weeds. There is a fair amount of general garden knowledge given throughout the book but I especially like the last half where special attention is given to individual weeds. Thompson explains the talent each weed possesses as they attempt to take over your garden. There are suggestions on how to eradicate each weed providing you have the stamina to pursue the fight. And finally there is the Silver Lining Section which includes any redeeming qualities a weed might possess. (If you have elephant hawk moths in your yard be sure you let a Fireweed or two grow, it’s their favorite food.) I recommend this book to gardeners and non gardeners alike. Imagine how impressed your jogging companion will be when you can identify all the badly behaving plants along the path. mpb

The Secret Life of Prince Charming

The Secret Life of Prince Charming
By Deb Caletti
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009. 322 pgs. Young Adult

Seventeen-year-old Quinn is trying to maintain a relationship with her father, who has been absent most of her life. At the same time, she's constantly hearing about the many flaws in men, as all the women in her life have had their hearts broken. When she discovers his father has a tendency to steal from the many women in his life, she embarks on a quest with her younger sister and older half sister to return the stolen goods and to discover the truth about their father and life in general.

I highly enjoyed this book. Some language detracted from the book but only slightly. The many relationships depicted (parent-child, sibling, romantic) were genuinely depicted and there were moments of true beauty in this book.

AE

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Winter of Her Discontent

The Winter of Her Discontent
By Kathryn Miller Haines
Harper, 2008. 323 pgs. Mystery

Rosie's had a string of bad luck lately: she was accidentally cast in a Broadway dance chorus in a musical that's got "flop" written all over it. She's worried about her missing-in-action boyfriend who hasn't written in months. Lately she's also been keeping bad company with her mob-muscle pal, Al, who's dabbling in a host of shady money-making enterprises in this time of shortages and rationing. But despite his illicit line of work, Al's no killer. When the cops finger him for his girlfriend's murder, Rosie and Jayne, her closest friend, set out to clear Al's name, and plunge into an intricate backstage drama featuring a bevy of suspiciously well-dressed wannabe starlets. But the plot could soon be taking another lethal turn, bringing a final curtain down on Rosie, Jayne, and all their good intentions.

This is the second installment of the Rosie Winter Mysteries. I read the first book in this series, The War Against Miss Winter, awhile ago and really enjoyed it. This is a great series if you're looking for clean mysteries and if you like historical fiction, particularly WWII. I love Rosie Winter's character, she has a sense of humor and her personality peppers the sometimes methodical move from clue to clue. I thought Haines really brought war-time New York to life in this book, not just setting the stage but delving into the moods and psyche of the era. For someone who doesn't usually like mysteries, I love this series.

BHG

Caught

Caught
By Harlan Coben
Dutton, 2010. 388 p. Mystery

Dan Mercer stands before the red door, knowing that if he opens it, his life will change forever. He feels a strange reluctance, but slips it open nonetheless. What happens next will haunt him until his life’s end—which could be sooner rather than later if anyone who hates a child molester gets their hands on him. However, after opening the door to the sting house and getting caught on camera walking into a what he thought was a teenage girl’s bedroom (whom he met in an underage chat room), he swears he’s been set up from start to finish. Innocent or guilty? – the story winds back and forth and between all the possible suspects so it’s never a sure bet just who did the dirty deed.

Coben’s latest suspense novel strikes the thrill-seeking spot and there’s a bit more than just the mystery at stake. If you like your crime a little raw and don’t mind the sordid subject, than this is a sure hit for suspense lovers. Strong language will keep the sensitive readers away, but the fast-paced action and constant twists will keep the eager reader guessing just who the real killer(s) is/are up until the very last page.

DAP

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook

The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook
by Mireille Guiliano
Atria Books, 2010. 298 p. Nonfiction

If a vacation get-a-away sounds utterly divine right about now, then why not try the haute cuisine of gay Paris (pronounced /gei pə'ri:/) and give your taste buds a treat they’ll never forget. If the airline tickets are slightly outside your budget, then peruse Mireille Guiliano’s cookbook in order to wine and dine yourself into believing the Eiffel Tower is just around the corner. And you can do it all without putting on those dreaded holiday pounds. If exotic flare and flavor is what you’re looking for than we’ve got what your stomach wants.

Guiliano is the author of the bestselling French Women Don’t Get Fat and she finally serves up more than just the secrets to eating yourself slim—she now produces the recipes to all those delectable French dishes. There are recipes for all the expected meals and entries include exotic titles such as Pumpkin and Apple Gratin, a Croque Monsieur (Eric Ripert Style), Butternut Squash Soup and a Fruit Salad with Quinoa. If that doesn’t say ‘health in a bowl’ then I don’t know what does. Of course, the ever important dessert course is included under “Closures” and the French take on a Mango Lassi sounds too soothing for words.

If you can’t beat them, join them. For those tired of staring daggers at all those skinny French girls then we might as well give in and start eating like the gourmands suggest. Bon appétit!

DAP

Richistan

Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich
By Robert Frank
Crown Publishers, 2007. 277 pgs. Nonfiction.

Just before the U.S. economy took a brutal beating in 2008, Robert Frank wrote this book detailing the lifestyles of the wealthiest Americans. The spending habits of these multi-millionaires and billionaires (because just having a million dollars now-a-days barely raises you above the middle class) demonstrate a shocking level of consumerism and opulence. And if readers aren’t dazed by the spending, they may still experience feelings of astonishment over the amount of debt people are willing to get themselves into in order to “have it all”.

Before reading this book, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the amount of money the “other half” was spending. But when I read about the $350,000 watches being purchased, I had to take a serious moment to swallow the unkind feelings that may have surfaced. It would be interesting to learn what has changed over the past couple of years since the recent economic downturn. But definitely, the strongest conviction I walked away with was the assurance that if I found myself in possession of a large (or small) fortune, I would surely be a better rich person than most of those described in this book. I would demonstrate the perfect combination of frivolous and sensible. Money is so wasted on the wealthy!

CZ

Under Heaven

Under Heaven
by Guy Gavriel Kay
Penguin, 2010. 567 pgs. Fantasy.

Shen Tai hears ghosts each night at Kuala Nor, site of the last great battle between his countrymen and the Tagurans. As a memorial to his father, Tai has come here to bury the bones of the dead, and to give their spirits peace. The Kitans on one side, and the Tagurans on the other, honor his work and bring him supplies, and it is the Tagurans who bring him news of an extraordinary gift: 250 Sardian horses from the White Jade Princess. Tai knows this extraordinary gift will either make his fortune or get him killed instantly and thus begins Kay's atmospheric, alternative Tang Dynasty epic replete with court intrigues, Kalin warriors, silent assassins, and a man made nearly undead by a frightening shaman. One thinks at the outset that this will be an adventure with horses, but the horses themselves barely figure into the plots to get them and the shifting relationships of family, the power struggles of the mandarins of the court, the loves won and lost, the unlikely friendships of memorable characters. In the end, Under Heaven is an historical, fantastical romance, the whole of which is much greater than the sum of its parts. If the reader can sit up and pay attention so as to keep the panoply of players straight, and overlook the author's wearying fixations on lovemaking and winebibbing, the story itself is rewarding and memorable, and the characters become very dear.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beatrice and Virgil

Beatrice and Virgil
By Yann Martel
Spiegel & Grau. 2010, 197 p. Fiction

While taxidermy isn’t a career choice for many, it figures strongly in celebrated author Yann Martel’s latest novel. After his brilliant and much translated Life of Pi, Martel hands us the story of a raw-boned, introverted and enigmatic taxidermist. The man is a foil for the book’s protagonist, a celebrated author with a brilliant novel translated into scores of foreign languages and famous for its focus on wild animals. Familiar? The author is Henry, who has been attempting to write a fictional account of the Holocaust but can’t seem to bring any publishers on board. It’s at that point he receives an odd letter of help from a taxidermist writing a bizarre play about two animals, a howler monkey and a donkey—Beatrice and Virgil—or the two people Dante encounters in his journey through heaven and hell. While Henry is put off by the taxidermist’s discomfiting manner, he can’t seem to stop visiting the amazing shop of dead things or reading this intriguing, yet highly alarming play.

Beatrice and Virgil is a story about horrors -- the horror of murder and the horror of the human conscience. It’s a difficult read, due somewhat to its original and modernist nature but mostly because of its disconcerting qualities. However, there are several beautiful passages on the nature of art and history. Opinion? It works, but it’s perhaps one of most disturbing and the unique stories of the Holocaust up to the present. As with Life of Pi, the story seems to be headed decidedly in one direction when the twist at the end comes slamming into you out of nowhere -- until you realize it’s been staring you in the face the entire time.

DAP

Stories from the Life of Porter Rockwell

Stories from the Life of Porter Rockwell
By John W. Rockwell & Jerry Borrowman
Covenant Communications, 2010. 166 p. Nonfiction

If you were told your very life would be preserved if you never cut your hair, would you comply with this odd stipulation? Well, if you lived in the Wild West, had a high price on your head and your name was Porter Rockwell, you just might think it wise. Especially if the man doing the telling was none other than Joseph Smith, first prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rockwell is one of the most notorious figures in early church history and the stories told about him run far and wide—stories both stirring and sobering. Porter’s great-great-grandson, along with the help of LDS author Jerry Borrowman, is here to tell all the great stories known about Rockwell and set to rest many of the unpleasant rumors. They don’t aim to write a definitive biography, just touch on the most thrilling aspects of Rockwell’s infamous life. You’ll read about Rockwell’s excruciating time in jail, his saloon business and his appointment as Joseph Smith’s bodyguard. If you want to know the real story behind Rockwell’s involvement with the Danites, you'll find that out too.

Admittedly, it’s one of the most slap-bang adventure stories you’ll ever read and the best part is, they claim it's all true. Perhaps the treatment is a bit too shallow in places, but it does serve as an inspirational tale of this man’s devotion to his faith. Mostly though, it’s a heart-wrenching tale of Rockwell’s complete loyalty to what he terms the “only friend he ever had”—Joseph Smith. If this is friendship, to never betray and swear to always protect, then let every man or woman have such a friend as Porter Rockwell.

DAP

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time

The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time
by Judith Shulevitz
Random House, 2010. 246 pgs. Non-fiction.

Judith Shulevitz begins her story as a non-observant Jew except insofar as she is required by her mother to be; in fact, we first meet her wedged between a file cabinet and a freezer on the Sabbath day, knowing her mother is not allowed to take meat out of the freezer and so will not find her. And yet Shulevitz remains fascinated by the idea of the Sabbath and sets out to understand it. Defined by the rabbis as "a Temple in time rather than space," the Sabbath, ordained by God to follow the sixth day of creation, was believed by the early Christians to have been a strictly Mosaic law overturned by Jesus when he healed the sick on the Sabbath, and then refused to rebuke his disciples for threshing wheat in their hands on the holy day. The idea of a day of worship and rest became part of the Christian tradition only after the believers began meeting on Sundays, which they celebrated as the day of the Lord's resurrection. Charles Dickens, William Wordsworth, the Puritans, the government in the establishment of "blue laws" all played a part in what the Sabbath came to mean to both Christians and Jews. At the end of her investigations, Shulevitz admits that the Sabbath is "a fossil," rarely observed in our breakneck, overworked, entertainment-ridden lives, but though she seems not to believe in a personal God, she does come to the understanding that "at some point we all look for a Sabbath, whether or not that's what we call it. Organized religion need not be involved." And yet Shulevitz's own little family is now observant, walking thirteen blocks to the synagogue each Saturday, lighting the Sabbath candles, and blessing "the children, the wine, the challah." The Sabbath World is a lovely, lyrical, scholarly and yet deeply personal book that should help define and refine anyone's understanding of the Sabbath day, and of ritual and religion.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Prince of Mist

The Prince of Mist
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Little, Brown, 2010. 214 pgs. Young Adult

Thirteen-year-old Max moves with his family to a new home in a new town on the beachfront in 1943. Trying to escape from the war, Max and his family don’t realize they are entering their own personal war. Exploring the grounds around their new home, Max discovers a walled garden full of clown statues that seem to move into different poses. Max’s younger sister adopts a cat that is malevolent. And old home movies they find show the eerie life of a young boy who lived there and drowned. Max knows all these things are connected, but isn’t sure how until he meets another teenage boy and his grandfather who relates a tale of evil. Max knows all these connections will culminate in something, but doesn’t realize the magnitude until he meets the Prince of Mist. A creepy tale, somewhat reminiscent of Something Wicked This Way Comes, this book is a quick read and one that that hooks the reader instantly with its great writing and haunting descriptions.

MN

The Cardturner

The Cardturner: A Novel About a King, a Queen, and a Joker
By Louis Sachar
Delacorte Press, 2010. 336 pgs. Young Adult

Alton’s content to stand back and take whatever life handles him. So when his mom insists he become his uncle’s cardturner, Alton goes along with it. Trapp (as Alton eventually calls his uncle) is a passionate bridge player who has recently become blind. Trapp is also extremely rich and Alton’s greedy parents are determined to inherit his wealth when he dies. So under the pressure of playing the cards right and playing his uncle, Alton undertakes his new job. Alton discovers he legitimately enjoys spending time with Trapp and that he likes bridge. He begins playing with his little sister and with Toni, a young woman whose family is good friends with Trapp and who have a shady history. All these elements come together, when in an interesting twist, Alton and Toni find themselves on the brink of something big.

I really enjoyed this tale of a young man who grows up and realizes he can make his own decisions regardless of what others want. I also found myself wanting to learn how to play bridge and join a club! While a book about bridge may not sound appealing, give this one a try. You might be surprised.

MN

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Once

Once
By Morris Gleitzman
Henry Holt, 2010. 163 pgs. Young Adult

Once, Felix enjoyed a happy life with his parents, who are booksellers. However, when business started to fail, they took him to a Catholic orphanage while they went out to try to solve the problems with their bookshop. Once, Felix ran away from the orphanage to try to find them...and instead found that maybe the problem wasn't with books but with their heritage. As Felix tries to find his family, he instead finds himself realizing the grave danger that he and other Jews are in as Nazi forces sweep across Poland.

Although Holocaust stories abound in YA literature, this one is a cut above most. Gleitzman takes 10-year-old Felix on a journey of loss and of hope. The events of the Holocaust, seen through the eyes of a child who is quickly losing his naiveté, are particularly piercing. This is a must read for fans of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

AE

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
By Wes Moore
Spiegel & Grau, 2010. 233 pgs. Biography

How are our fates decided? How can one person succeed and another fail when their origins appear to be so similar? These questions are asked in a very powerful way through this dual biography of two boys whose names, family circumstances, and socioeconomic positions are all eerily similar but whose lives lead them in two entirely different directions. One becomes a Rhodes Scholar and the other is sentenced to life in prison. The author summarizes their stories well on the front jack stating “The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.”

In each of the eight chapters, Moore describes events or decisions in both boys’ lives during a single year that led them to their polarized futures. Don’t expect any real answers to what points a kid toward success or failure. What Moore does provide is a very vivid picture of the obstacles young men face as they progress to manhood, especially in our country’s inner cities. Readers gain a timely reminder that our youth need role models and positive influences that give them confidence in their own ability to rise above their circumstances. Moore realizes at one point that “The Expectations that others place on us help us form our expectations of our selves.” A powerful message our society undeniably needs.

CZ

War

War
By Sebastian Junger
Twelve, 2010. 287 pgs. Nonfiction.

From the author of The Perfect Storm, comes a new book detailing the lives of U.S. Army soldiers fighting from the most dangerous camp in Afghanistan. What goes through the mind of a man after a bullet ricochets off his helmet? What type of relationships develop between soldiers who continuously trust their lives to each other? How can these men return to civilian life after living on the front lines? Junger tries to answer these and other probing questions, illuminating the sacrifice and courage demonstrated by those fighting for our country.

The author spent months at a time on the outpost eating the same food, sleeping in the same bunks, and venturing out with the company on missions into enemy territory. His observations give a unique look at these men living in extreme circumstances. It’s a look into what we ask of those protecting our interests and the toll it takes on them physically, emotionally, and mentally. I highly recommend this book. Be prepared for the rough language that necessarily accompanies an honest portrayal of Army life. But also be prepared to understand a little better how modern warriors are made.

CZ

Birdology

Birdology: Adventures with a Pack of Hens, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop
Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Living Dinosaur
by Sy Montgomery
Free Press, 2010. 260 pgs. Non-Fiction.

I have always felt comfortable calling someone a birdbrain whose intellect I wanted to impugn. Wrong again. Even chickens are much smarter than we give them credit for, according to award-winning nature writer Sy Montgomery and she should know. A keeper of hens for much of her adult life, she branches (sorry) way out from the henhouse in this fascinating book about the high art and savagery of falconry, how birds migrate so accurately (they can "see" the magnetic fields of the earth), and how crows put walnuts under the wheels of cars at stoplights and then go back for the nutmeats after the cars have passed. Not such birdbrains after all. My favorite bird in this book is the cassowary, the aforementioned dinosaur bird who is most closely related to and looks most like its dinosaur ancestors, and who could peck your head off if he felt threatened. Birds, as Ms. Montgomery says, are the only wildlife most people see every day. It is instructive to know what intelligent company we are keeping.

Twenty Boy Summer

Twenty Boy Summer
By Sarah Ockler
Little, Brown, and Co., 2009. 290 pgs. Young Adult

Anna thinks lift can't get any better when Matt, her best friend, kisses her. However, Matt's sister Frankie is their other best friend, and Matt makes Anna promise not to tell Frankie about their new relationship, thinking it'll be better if he tells her. However, before Matt has a chance to tell Frankie, he dies. The next summer, Anna is still keeping their secret, which becomes increasingly harder when Frankie and Anna hit the beach for the summer, with Frankie determined they'll have a "twenty boy summer." Anna isn't interested in meeting anyone, but not being able to explain that her heart has been broken makes her agree to Frankie's plan.

While some of the themes explored in the book (love, loss, and healing) are pertinent to teens and adults alike, Ockler's characters and plot didn't have quite the same pull for me that other books on the same topic have, perhaps because the book's depth was sacrificed by the immature behavior Anna and Frankie exhibit throughout the book.

AE

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fire in the Bones

Fire in the Bones
By S. Michael Wilcox
Deseret Book, 2004. 255 pgs. Nonfiction

In this biography of William Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English from Greek (New Testament) and Hebrew (Old Testament), Wilcox tells more than just Tyndale's story; he also talks of other reformers who wanted to get the Bible into the hands on the average man, as well as make other reforms in the Catholic Church. Wilcox also draws comparisons between Tyndale's efforts translating the Bible and Joseph Smith's work translating the Book of Mormon.

This was both informative and interesting. Tyndale's dedication to his task, even to the point of being executed for his determination to make the Bible accessible to the English population, is inspiring. This is a good starting point for those interested in learning more about the father of the English bible.

AE

Finding Peace, Happiness and Joy

Finding Peace, Happiness and Joy
By Richard G. Scott
Deseret Book, 2007. 336 pgs. Nonfiction

LDS Apostle Richard G. Scott shares insights about how to find lasting peace and joy in this life. With his characteristic directness, he writes as though he's having a one-on-one conversation with the reader. He addresses various reasons for having a lack of joy and peace, shares insights and stories from his own life, and encourages readers to seek personal revelation to get specific guidance for how to find the peace and joy they need.

This book was very insightful and I really enjoyed the personal stories Elder Scott shared, including his own mistakes and shortcomings. This was really an inspiring book.

AE

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
By Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown and Company, 2010. 178 pgs. Young Adult

In this devastating story, Bree Tanner--a character introduced in Eclipse--and the newborn vampire army prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

Fans of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series will be interested in learning more about the newborn vampire’s perspective in this new novella. This book follows Bree’s conversion to the vampire lifestyle and her perspective on the vampire world. After reading this book, I want to re-read the scenes in Eclipse where Bree was first introduced.

AMM

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer
By Van Jensen
SLG Publishing, 2009. 128 pgs. Young Adult Comics

Pinocchio Vampire Slayer continues where the classic Pinocchio story ended. After his maker/father Geppetto is killed by vampires, Pinocchio tries to protect the disbelieving inhabitants of his village, aided only by woodcarver Master Cherry, a greatly aged Blue Fairy and the ghost of the nagging cricket he squashed some time ago. As that last reference indicates, this is not the sentimentalized Disney version of the story; the protagonist of this book is one tough little puppet. As a vampire fighter Pinocchio has the advantage of a built-in wooden stake—as long as he remembers to tell lies at the right time.

I think that this book is quite clever in having Pinocchio use his bluffing nose as a vampire stake. I found the graphics to be a little hard to figure out at times, but would recommend this graphic novel to anyone looking for a twist on the Pinocchio story we all grew up with.

AMM