Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summertime!

Yes, it's that time of the year where I take some time off from the blog.

ALA Amazing ARC Giveaway books have been mailed to the winners, so if you received an email from me that you were a winner, check your mailboxes soon!

I hope you enjoy the last days of summer.

Happy reading!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

ALA Amazing ARC Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to the ALA Amazing ARC Giveaway Winners:
  • Erin D.
  • Tracy B. 
  • Devera N.
Look for an email from me requesting your address so I can mail your prize to you!

Thanks to everyone else who entered! I hope you'll come by the blog often for book reviews and librarian writer musings.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Boys in the Boat Book Review

Title: The Boys in the Boat
Author: Daniel James Brown
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0670025817

416 pp.

Reading copy via local library

If you're looking for a historical nonfiction title that will appeal to teens as well as adults, then The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is the one.

Don't let the subtitle, "Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics" fool you too much. The Olympics is the climax, but certainly not the whole book. The heart and soul of the book is the story of Joe Rantz, a mechanic's son who was abandoned by his family during The Great Depression.

Joe is forced to survive in the rough-and-tumble backwoods of the Pacific Northwest, finally finding his way to the University of Washington. He tries out for crew only because it'll help him get a job on campus. But rowing ends up being so much more for him, and for the other boys in the boat.

The book has plenty of action-packed rowing scenes as the scrappy Washington crew proves their mettle again and again, but there's also the historical sweep of the Depression and the rise of Nazism. There's the drama of learning to trust one another and work as a team. There's the craft of boat building and the physics of rowing. There's even romance as Joe courts his high school sweetheart.

The Boys in the Boat is at times poignant, even heartbreaking, but it is, ultimately, an inspiration.


The Boys in the Boat Book Trailer:


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Lost Planet Book Review

Title: The Lost Planet
Author: Rachel Searles
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
ISBN- 13: 978-1250038791

384 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles is a rollicking sci-fi adventure for middle grade readers.

A boy wakes up with a blaster wound to the back of his head and no memory except the phrase, "Guide the star." He's told that his name is Chase and he's on the planet Trucon. Chase begins a search for who he is and what "Guide the star" means. Helping him are an orphan named Parker and his caretaker, Mina, who have secrets of their own.

The action is virtually non-stop as the trio make their way across space, making friends and enemies along the way as an interstellar war looms. The stakes are high and the pacing keeps the reader turner pages.

However, there is a lack of character development, especially in Chase. A lack of memory also makes him without much of personality. In fact, his lack of memory seems to be his only distinguishable characteristic. This is a two book series, so hopefully, Chase will develop more as a character instead as a plot device in the second book.

I'd recommend The Lost Planet to readers who enjoyed Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke or Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard.

Full Disclosure: Rachel Searles and I were in the same writing critique group where I read an earlier version of the opening chapters, but my review is based on the ARC. Updated 7/27/14 2:47 pm

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pretty Deadly Volume 1 Book Review

Title: Pretty Deadly Volume 1
Author: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Illustrated by: Emma Rios
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1607069621

120 pp.

ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

Pretty Deadly Volume 1 collects the first five issues of the Pretty Deadly comic, which is an Eisner Award nominee. Kudos to Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios for creating such a complex series with intriguing, badass female characters.

The framing device is a butterfly telling a story to a skeleton bunny (and we see the bunny getting killed very graphically) about a little girl named Sissy, who has two different colored eyes and wears a vulture costume. She and her guardian, a man named Fox, are being hunted by Death's handmaiden, Alice. So they end up joining forces with Death's daughter, Ginny, to try to conquer Death himself.

To be honest, I found the beginning very confusing. But the mythology of this world is slowly teased out throughout the issues and came to a satisfying conclusion. Of course, with enough open for more issues.

Normally, I prefer artwork with very clean lines, but there's a rough-hewn brutality in the artwork that works for this mash-up world of western lore and mythos. Also, I noticed how the layouts are framed to be scrolled, which was nice since I did read it on a device.

And the fact that this a series created by women with strong female characters can't be emphasized enough. More, please.

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