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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

ALA Amazing ARC Giveaway

I was fortunate enough to go to the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas this year. Loved the Printz Awards where Marcus Sedgwick became my new author crush. Loved the sessions, especially this one on reinventing summer reading programs. And, of course, loved the ARCs that publishers so willingly hand out to eager librarians.

I have some of the bounty to share with you! I am giving away Advance Reading Copies to three lucky readers. The titles available are:

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Hider, Seeker, Secret Keeper by Elizabeth Kiem

If You're Reading This by Trent Reedy

The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney

I'm trying out Rafflecopter, and it looks pretty simple. You can enter simply by telling me your first and second choice in the comments, and don't forget to leave your email. If you want additional entries, you can follow me on Twitter (3 entries), tweet about the contest (3 entries), and subscribe to the blog (10 entries!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The contest runs through 2pm (PST) on August 10, 2014 and you may enter once a day.

Good luck!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Leftovers Audiobook Review

Title: The Leftovers
Author: Tom Perrotta
Narrated by: Dennis Boutsikaris
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: August 30, 2011

Listening copy via library

This isn't YA by any means, although older teens might be interested in it because of the upcoming HBO television series.

I was interested in it because I grew up in a house where the Rapture was a given and I wanted to see what Tom Perrotta did with it.

What he did with it was to make it clear right away that it isn't the Rapture. Some people, readers as well as characters, may argue otherwise, but I think Perrotta wants this to be SOMETHING ELSE.

SOMETHINGE ELSE is more challenging than the Rapture because there's no Biblical guideposts for what happens next, no Mark of the Beast, no Anti-Christ, no Apocalpyse.

SOMETHING ELSE means life will go on, pretty much as before, if you can get over the loss.

And that's what the story is really about. Loss. How people cope, or don't cope, with losing something. Could be losing your whole family. Could be losing a way of looking at the world. Could be losing a future you thought you knew.

There's social commentary and there's even humor, but the pervading drive of the story is people choosing how to deal with their loss. The main characters center on the Garvey family, none of whom disappeared in the Sudden Departure, but all of them cope with the disappearances in vastly different ways.

Dennis Boutsikaris gives a pragmatic, almost casual, reading, which underscores the everydayness of the lives' of the characters. Because even after 2% of the world's population disappears, the trashcans still need to put out on the curb.

Full Disclosure: I have a friend who worked on the HBO show.

Also: If the HBO show does take off, I have already have prediction for how the series ends. (Are you listening, Damon Lindelof?) There's another Sudden Depature. Cue end credits.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Save the Enemy Book Review

Title: Save the Enemy
Author: Arin Greenwood
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1616952594

288 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

I think the marketing department got this one wrong. If you look at the cover, you'd think it's an intense thriller. But, really, it's a comedy.

Zoey Trask is a senior at a private school in Washington, D.C., but she's the New Girl, and she's also the Tragedy Girl, since her mom was recently murdered during a mugging. She has a younger brother who's a somewhat high-functioning autistic and a kooky libertarian dad. She's crushing on cute boy Pete and wondering if she'll get into Berkeley when her dad is kidnapped. The kidnappers are demanding the J-File, although Zoey has no idea what that is. Except her brother has been getting messages in his dreams from their dead mother that help might explain what and where the J-File is.

That synopsis sounds like a thriller, right? But Zoey has an oddly snarky tone, and kidnappers are oddly inept, and even the fight scenes are oddly comical. It's definitely a comedy posing as a thriller. Marketing should have gone with a cover similar to Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series and they would have done a better job of finding their audience.

If you go into this thinking it's a straight-up thriller, you're going to be annoyed by Zoey's ongoing inner monologue. But if you like snarky, oddball girls who are as worried about what to wear to a party as they are about their kidnapped dad, then Save the Enemy is for you.

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