Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sold Audiobook Review

Title: Sold
Author: Patricia McCormick
Narrated by: Justine Eyre
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication Date: November 26, 2012

Listening copy via Sync

Sold by Patricia McCormick was a National Book Award finalist, a lyrical, heartbreaking story about Lakshmi, a thirteen-year-old girl who is sold by her stepfather into the sex trade.

Justine Eyre does a phenomenal job narrating Lakshmi's story, starting with her love for her mother and the struggling farm they live on in the foothills of the Himalayas, through Lakshmi's journey to what she thinks is a job as a maid to the city, and the suffering that Lakshmi endures in a Calcutta brothel, trying to hold onto her humanity and even hope.

The subject matter is difficult to listen to and Justine Eyre's expresses quiet desperation, loneliness, and grief without histrionics. If you're listening to this on a road trip, as I did, be prepared for an emotional gutting.

Sunday, April 12, 2015



Books for sale
Whew! The first ever YALLWEST books festival is over! Two days of YA madness with over 80 authors, a couple thousand attendees, and tons of books!

I volunteered to help out on both days, so I didn't go to any of the panels. But that didn't mean I didn't get to meet people and have fun!

Scrabble time
I was assigned to the gaming area, playing Scrabble with authors and attendees. Hasbro was one of the sponsors and donated a variety of games to give away as prizes. I want to give a shout-out to Hasbro for their generosity.

Several hundred inner city kids were bussed in for the event and they had never played Scrabble before. Many of them didn't own any board games. So it was especially rewarding for me to introduce them to one of my favorite games and then hand them one to keep.

Thanks to all the authors, sponsors, volunteers, and lovers of YA books who made it such an awesome event! Hope to see you next year!

Epic Reads

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone!

(or Passover) (or lazy Sunday)

Enjoy the day and enjoy this video:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Sculptor Book Review

Title: The Sculptor
Author: Scott McCloud
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1596435735

496 pp.

ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

Comic book authority Scott McCloud wrote and illustrated the graphic novel The Sculptor, his first work of fiction in over 20 years. The fact that it's already in development for a film should give you a clue that it's a hot property.

David is the titular sculptor, a once-rising artist in the New York art scene. But he's kind of a dick and he alienates his patron and most of his friends. Now he's broke and desperate. So, of course, he makes a deal with a devil.

The Sculptor is an amazing piece of work, a Faustian tale for the 21st century. David is flawed, certainly, but flawed in the way most artistic types are. He cares more about art than people. But then he meets Meg, an aspiring actress, with flaws of her own, and David begins to regret his deal with the devil.

Readers will fly through near-500 pages of the graphic novel as they are pulled into David's story. Scott McCloud's illustrations aren't perfect (one panel of Meg in a coat makes her look like she weighs 200 pounds), but they convey plenty of emotion and action and beauty.

A tip of the hat to McCloud for giving The Sculptor a diverse cast of supporting characters. It is, after all, New York City. Which brings me to my quibble. There is at least one crowd scene that takes place in the streets of New York and all the faces in the crowd are white. All of them. Even the ones in the back that are just circles. After the inclusiveness of the rest of the book, it was jarring to me. (Most people won't even notice this, but that's another blog post.)

But overall, The Sculptor is a stellar graphic novel and should be read by all people who care about what art means and what it takes to create. It's the kind of book you'll think about for days after and will want to share with all your friends so you can talk about it together.

Bonus video: Scott McCloud discusses The Sculptor

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wildlife Book Review

Title: Wildlife
Author: Fiona Wood
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0316242097

400 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

Wildlife is Australian author Fiona Wood's US debut, and my love for Australian YA grows.

Wildlife is a dual narration novel, with Sibylla telling one story and Lou telling another. Both live in the same dorm during a wilderness semester at school, which is a pretty interesting background to begin with. The teens are supposed to learn appreciation for nature and self-reliance, but of course they learn so much more.

Sibylla is a bit of nerd, but recently became popular due to a fluke that got her a modelling gig. Now cute-boy Ben is unofficially her boyfriend and out in the woods, kissing may become something more.

Lou is an outsider, literally and figuratively. She's the new girl at school and she deliberately pushes away any attempts at friendship. That's because Lou has had her heart broken, in the most tragic way possible.

But Lou can't help observe the dynamic between Sibylla and Holly, Sib's toxic best friend. And she can't help becoming friends with Michael, an outsider himself who's on the autism spectrum and who had relied on Sib to help him fit in.

Sib's torn between her raging hormones and her brain telling her that Ben isn't really boyfriend material. She's torn between following Holly's lead like she always has and finally standing up for herself.

How Lou and Sib slowly learn to trust each other and become friends is a compelling read, a read that young women who are learning who they really are and what they really want will appreciate.

I'd recommend Wildlife to readers who liked Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo or Panic by Lauren Oliver.

Bonus video: Fiona Wood discusses Wildlife


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