Sunday, August 23, 2015

Teens' Top Ten

It's that time of the year again!

Voting has opened up for Teens' Top Ten nominees! Get the vote out to teens!

Voting will close at the end of Teen Read Week, which is October 24th, so there's still time to catch up on the titles you haven't read yet.

Teens can vote here.

This year's nominees are:

  • Alsaid, Adi. Let’s Get Lost. Harlequin Teen.
  • Armentrout, Jennifer L. Don’t Look Back. Disney Hyperion.
  • Blackburne, Livia. Midnight Thief. Disney Hyperion.
  • Blake, Kendare. Mortal Gods. Tor Teen.
  • Clare, Cassandra. The Bane Chronicles. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry.
  • Cremer, Andrea. The Inventor’s Secret. Penguin Group/Philomel.
  • Dellaira, Ava.  Love Letters to the Dead. Macmillan/Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books.
  • Despain, Bree. Into the Dark: The Shadow Prince. Egmont.
  • Han, Jenny. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Simon & Schuster.
  • Howard, A.G. Unhinged. Abrams/Amulet Books.
  • Lu, Marie. The Young Elites. Penguin/G.P. Putnam's Sons.
  • Maas, Sarah J. Heir of Fire. Bloomsbury.
  • Matson, Morgan. Since You’ve Been Gone. Simon & Schuster.
  • Nielsen, Jennifer A. The Shadow Throne. Scholastic.
  • Novak, Ali. My Life with the Walter Boys. Sourcebooks.
  • Pearson, Mary E. The Kiss of Deception. Macmillan/ Henry Holt & Company.
  • Rutkoski, Marie. The Winner’s Curse. Macmillan/Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  • Scott, Victoria. Fire & Flood. Scholastic.
  • Shine, Joe. I Become Shadow. Soho Teen.
  • Smith, Andrew. Grasshopper Jungle. Penguin Group/Dutton Juvenile.
  • Smith, Jennifer E. The Geography of You and Me. Hachette/Poppy.
  • Stone, Juliana. Boys Like You. Sourcebooks.
  • Sundquist, Josh. We Should Hang Out Sometime. Little Brown & Company.
  • Talley, Robin. Lies We Tell Ourselves. Harlequin Teen.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Night Film Audiobook Review

Title: Night Film
Author: Marisha Pessl
Narrated by: Jake Weber
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0307932655

Listening copy via local library

Marisha Pessl's debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, was a hot read a few years ago. I read it and thought it was intelligent and intricately plotted, but overall a meh from me in terms of being invested in the characters.

There was a lot of buzz about her second book, Night Film, and I decided I'd give it go, especially since the audiobook is narrated by Jake Weber. I've been a fan of his since American Gothic, so I was willing to spend a few hours listening to him.

Night Film centers on a disgraced reporter, Scott McGrath, who's obsessed with finding out what happened the night the daughter of a famous director committed suicide. The director is Stanislas Cordova, a provocateur as much as an auteur, whose controversial horror films are only shown at underground screenings. The daughter is 24 year old Ashley, a former piano prodigy with a troubled past.

The story plods on a bit as Scott's investigation forces him to team up with a quirky coat-check girl and a small-time drug dealer, but there are enough tantalizing clues and mysterious signs to keep me engaged. And there are some real moments of flat-out terror.

Jake Weber does an outstanding job narrating, imbuing a world-weary reporter's cynicism with charm, moral outrage, and regret. He does a good job with the supporting characters as well, and I'm willing to forgive his Jamaican accent because that's a mercifully short scene.

I'd recommend it for listeners who have the patience to let psychological thriller push against the border of horror.

Night Film Book Trailer:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

We Should Hang Out Sometime Book Review

Title: We Should Hang Out Sometime
Author: Josh Sundquist
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 23, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0316251020

336 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

Josh Sundquist is a Paralympian, motivational speaker, and YouTuber who's not so good with the ladies. This biography tells the tale of all the girls he's loved before (or at least crushed on) and what went horribly wrong.

It's a quick, funny read about a guy who thinks having a girlfriend means a pretty girl likes him and he doesn't have to, you know, talk to her or actually have to work at a relationship. It takes a long time, a pseduo-scientific study, and some honest friends to set him straight.

This book shows how clueless guys really are about girls, and the big reveal is that girls are human beings with their own inner lives and don't exist to make boys feel special. Josh is not entitled to a girlfriend just because he's a nice guy.

I'd recommend this to readers who enjoyed An Abundance of Katherines by John Green or Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford.

We Should Hang Out Sometime Book Trailer:

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Exquisite Corpse Book Review

Title: Exquisite Corpse
Author: Penelope Bagieu
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1626720824

128 pp.

ARC provided via NetGalley

Fun fact: "Exquisite Corpse" was a game invented by Surrealists where a piece (of art, of literature) was constructed by each participant adding to what the earlier participant had created.
This French import by graphic novelist Penelope Bagieu plays with that conceit in Exquisite Corpse. Zoe is a "booth babe" with a ne'er-do-well boyfriend and no real direction in life. Then she has a chance encounter with famous author, Thomas Rocher.

Except she doesn't recognize Thomas as a famous author. And she certainly doesn't know that Thomas is supposed to be dead. All she knows is that she's met a lonely, kind of weird guy who treats her so much better than she's used to. But when she finds out the truth, everything about their relationship changes.

I absolutely loved the illustrations. Zoe is adorable. Color choices in each panel perfectly reflect mood and character.

The story, however, was a disappointing in the end. I don't want to give away the twist, but it was a "been there, done that" moment for me. I was waiting for another twist to elevate to something special, but no, that was it.

If you're looking for a quick read with great art, then give Exquisite Corpse a try. If you're looking for a story that's a little meatier, then look elsewhere.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mort(e) Book Review

Title: Mort(e)
Author: Robert Repino
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1616954277

368 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

"I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords." 
Kent Brockman

Mort(e) by Robert Repino was an ARC I picked up at last summer's ALA Annual Conference and I finally found the time to read it.

I was intrigued by its animal apocalypse premise: superintelligent ants bring sentience to animals, who rise against humans in "the war with no name." A neutered housecat, Sebastian, becomes a soldier and possibly a messiah.

You don't expect something like that to be especially realistic, and the science given to explain how the ants brought about the war is nonsensical. The author would have better served his readers by making this a Great Unknown. (Not particularly spoilery: the ants put hormones in the water to mutate the animals. And yet it doesn't affect the humans. If you're going to put something in the water, why not poison all the humans and be done with it? The answer is spoilery, but basically it's because otherwise there wouldn't be a novel.)

But you either go with it, or you stop reading. I kept reading.

And it wasn't just the WFT moments that kept me reading. It was because of Sebastian, an ordinary housecat, who protects his family from intruders, enjoys a sunny square on the carpet, and becomes best friends with the neighbor's dog, Sheba.

When the war starts, Sebastian and Sheba are separated, and Sebastian is determined to find her, at all costs. His first moment of sentience was curling up with Sheba and promising her to protect her. That promise is what keeps him going through the war. When the war's over, Sebastian is recruited to head an investigation about a new biochemical weapon the last of the humans have developed. Sebastian figures his position might help him find Sheba.

I found Sebastian's journey, his loneliness, his tenacious hope to be heartbreakingly compelling. Would I have been as compelled if I weren't a cat person? I don't know. 

Mort(e) isn't going to be for everyone. But I would recommend it to readers willing to try something ambitious, a novel that aspires to blend together a parable about humanity's relation to nature, science fiction dystopia, and a criminal investigation story.


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