Saturday, March 12, 2011
Kagome and the others fight to save Kikyo and stop Naraku from getting all the shards and poisoning their only hope to stop him. Meanwhile, Sesshomaru is looking for a certain someone to help him hone his inherited blade so he can take out Naraku, himself, if need be.
Ohnoes! Kagome and her companions temporarily derail Naraku's plan but suffer a significant loss in the process. And Sesshomaru, who at most normally manages to appear merely vaguely put out, here not only looks ever so slightly snarly in his focus, on the second-to-last page he looks downright shocked. =:-O And with good reason.
Friday, March 11, 2011
White Day has come and gone but Watanuki hasn't been able to find the spirit who "gave" him chocolate on Valentine's Day. As he looks for her so he can return the gesture, he runs into a different spirit who demands that he help her regarding a poisoned hydrangea that turns out to be suffering a greater contamination than he expects. Later at school he starts to see what look like tiny wings on the back of a classmate who's been acting strangely belligerent lately. When she suddenly latches onto the belief that Watanuki is an unbearable irritant, he finds himself in yet another precarious position. Being able to see spirits is all well and good, but not being able to actually do anything about them is becoming a problem.
If he's going to be relying on Dômeki so much to save his behind, Watanuki had better learn to say "thank you." And Yûko, still complaining about not getting enough White Day gifts, herself, turns momentarily serious as she contemplates the closeness of Watanuki's latest close call and the plots of those behind it.
St. Kleio Academy is an exclusive school whose students have been educated since birth to be the best they can be in their fields for the betterment of society (and the business world's bottom line). The pressure to excel is considerable, as every student, save one, has great shoes to fill--for they are all clones of history's greatest achievers: Freud, Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Marie Curie, Mozart, Einstein, Hitler...among others. Theoretically, the students are meant to embody the best of their originals without following too precisely in their footsteps, but when J.F.K's recently graduated clone is assassinated while delivering a speech about looking hopefully toward the future, the others begin to fear they are more bound to their predecessors' fates than they'd believed.
Shiro, the lone non-clone and son of one of St. Kleio's professors, feels a little useless while his friends and classmates prepare for their yearly expo in which they display their developing genius to their future employers from the government and business communities. When the school's flamboyant director shows up with a young adopted clone in tow, Shiro is unhappily enlisted as babysitter (to the immature director as much as to his small charge). Meanwhile, a new fad has been spreading throughout the school as the clones, desperate to prove their independence from their originals, look to small key-chain charms of a sheep (appropriately named Dolly) for divine protection from all things unpleasant--including their oppressive destinies. As the clones' devotion to Dolly takes on an increasingly creepy tenor, those responsible for J.F.K.'s death reveal that they've only just begun.
The cold disassociation almost every non-clone but Shiro seems to feel towards the clones, who see themselves as fully human individuals, is frightening. They're just tools to be pampered and made use of until they break and are replaced, only they don't know it and for the most part trust the people shepherding them through life and their studies. At this point, I'm not sure whether the greater threat originates from within the school or without. But with the twist at the end of this volume, you can be sure I'll keep reading till I find out.
Neighbors Yoshimori and Tokine are descendants in a long line of kekkaishi, magical barrier-wielders, acting as protectors of the Karasumori mystical site in which their oblivious school also happens to be situated. Unfortunately, their grandparents have not gotten along very well for some time, but the two have managed to put that aside and work together to keep the peace and control the ayakashi (a kind of spirit) that flock to the site in search of power.
Over time, it has become clear that the driven, headstrong, cake-loving Yoshimori has some as-yet untapped and unstable potential of his own, so the ever-practical Tokine tries to keep him out of trouble while she fights alongside him. But now that a young ayakashi has delivered a prophesy warning of death and destruction at mystical sites across the country, and at Karasumori in particular, Tokine isn't sure if Yoshimori will be the cause or the cure. While Yoshimori's older brother Masamori works behind the scenes to counter the corruption in the Shadow Organization, the kiddos and their families must learn to trust one another and present a united front to their enemies, whoever they may be. And that won't be easy.
Kekkaishi is a solid supernatural action series with unique, well-developed characters about whom you actually care (evidenced by the grief you feel when you lose one of them...). The big-arc baddies are scary and you're only now starting to see more clearly into their identities and scheming, which just makes you worry about the goodies even more.
Natsume mistakes a goofy-looking cat for a drunken, dirty Nyanko-sensei. When the silent kitty suddenly makes off with the Book of Friends, Natsume and the real (and rather offended) Nyanko-sensei follow it into the woods, where they overhear a gathering of yokai plotting to attack the local humans for the sake of their missing king. If Natsume speaks up, they'll surely eat him; but if he doesn't, what will happen to his fellow villagers? And later, Natsume accompanies Natori-san, a famous actor who secretly moonlights as an exorcist (and is the only other person Natsume has met who can see yokai), to a conference of fellow practitioners. Can the boy trust them with his secrets?
The more he interacts with the yokai who've haunted him all his life, the more Natsume sympathizes with them (at least with the ones who aren't trying to kill him or hurt anyone else) and the more he longs to be a bridge between them and humans. Apparently, I'm a sucker for natural diplomats as much as I am for quasi-families. I also love grumbly relationships of mutual dependence between characters who gleefully let each other squirm when things get unpleasant but who don't hesitate to jump into the fray when the need is real.
The line work in this series is light, airy, and delicate and lends itself to the story's atmosphere of quiet country life and the fragile (and often permeable) boundary between the human realm and the supernatural.
About the Book: When Duck awakes to a strange noise under her bed, she calls out to her friends to help.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: A great aloud and storytime book, The Great Monster Hunt is a fun and humorous read. Each animal finds another animal to help out with the hunt for Duck's monster and each time they add another noise on top of the one Duck heard. The ending is silly and come as a surprise to young readers who will be anxious to see just what is making the mysterious noise. A fun picture book and one of my favorites on the Building Block list.
When Kitty finds out her mother is going into surgery for what could potentially be cancer, she is forced between staying safe and staying away from Denver or risking death and rushing back to her mother's side. She tries to stay under the radar and out of trouble, but a brewing war between two vampire factions may drag her back into conflict with old enemies who want her dead. This is the fourth book in the Kitty Norville series.
These books are just so much fun! Vaughn mixes real world concerns and emotions with supernatural dangers. This is a genre that can easily get melodramatic and hokey, but Vaughn avoids all that by creating likable, imperfect characters and mixing real-world threats with fantastic ones.
About the Book: All the animals on the farm love to eat. The pigs eat gooey glop, the geese munch corn-but the cow loves cookies!
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I think this is my favorite Building Block nominee. The story is told in rhyming verse. Each animal that's introduced is then repeated as the story goes on. And we always get to call out "the cow loves cookies!" which I think would make this one a great read aloud and a hit in storytime. The artwork is adorable and colorful. The Cow Loves Cookies is sure to delight young readers.
About the Book: Eula is a square cat. When she falls over, it's hard to get up. Circle skirts just don't work on her. It's tough being a square cat when everyone else is round. But Eula has friends who accept her and help her get her purr back.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is a creative take on acceptance. Poor Eula doesn't feel like she fits in and is sad about being a square cat. But luckily she has great friends who help her see the good things about being a square cat. I thought the best part of the book were Eula's friends, who don't make fun of her but help her embrace her squareness-a great lesson for kids. Pair this with Spork by Kyo Maclear for fun unique picture books on accepting who you are.
In this third installment of the Kitty Norville series, Kitty is trying to get away from civilization after her traumatic exposure in Washington. Playing Thoreau should help her recover from her experiences, except for the fact that it leaves her with too much time to think. Things change, however, when bounty hunter Cormac shows up with Kitty's wounded lawyer needing a safe haven. When locals start leaving slaughtered animals on her porch in an effort to scare her out of town, her holiday starts to feel less like Walden and more like a horror story.
Like the rest of the series, "Kitty Takes a Holiday" is a great blend of danger, mystery and the supernatural. Compelling characters and twisty plots make for a book that's hard to put down.
Twist of Fate: The Miracle Colt and His Friends by Chris Stuckenschneider, illustrated by Kevin Belford
About the Book: An accident causes a semi to overturn, trapping the animals inside. This is the story of the animal rescue and the miracle colt that was born.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I sort of wonder if the reason this is on the Show-Me Awards list is because it takes place in Missouri. I don't really know what the point of this book was. Was it to tell me about the accident? Was it about the animals survival? It tried to do a little bit of both and because of that I don't think the book works at all. Instead it has no real plot and I found it boring.
It's told from the point of view of Twist of Fate, the colt who was born after the accident-his mother was on the truck and was pregnant at the time of the accident. Throughout the pages are also pictures of other surviving animals and short bios about them. I didn't think this worked all that well because it didn't tie in well with the story Twist of Fate was telling. I found the whole book choppy and wasn't impressed.
I thought Kurt Vonnegut short stories were witty and creative. Each story ends with the character usually learning something as well as the reader. Whether or not you want moral advice I would recommended that you read this book.
The Princess and her teddy bear live alone in a Marzipan castle and spend their days engaging in a variety of adventures that define what it means to be a kid. Pirate battles, riding ponies and even freaking out about the "thing" underneath the bed can fool the reader into believing this is a children's book. Trust me, it isn't. There are three endings depending on the mood of the reader.
This graphic novel was a surprise read on lunch break a few days ago and it still makes me chuckle in reflection. It has sweet moments and moments that make you cover your mouth and go, "oh no" as you giggle in dark delight. My advice? Just go with it and enjoy! 2010, 68 pages.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
About the Book: Michael is what's known as "boxman"-he has a talent for cracking safes. He was trained by The Ghost and works for a man in Detroit taking boxman jobs for hire. When he gets a call, he goes. As a kid, Michael survived a family tragedy during his childhood but hasn't uttered a word since, which makes him perfect as his job because he will never tell on anyone. Michael is passing his time by writing his story and recounting the journey that landed him in prison nine years ago. Told in alternating timelines, this is Michael's story of how he became a boxman and the strange events that followed.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is a unique crime thriller. The book is told in alternating timelines-the first is the story leading up to Michael becoming a boxman (1992-1999) and the second is a narrative of the jobs he takes (2000). This adds to the suspense of the story because things are slowly revealed in the 2000 timeline and then a little bit later we get the backstory of how that happened. In some ways we're one step ahead of the story until the end when the timelines start to connect. This is a effective device as it gives the reader a chance to try and piece together the story before Michael gets there.
Michael is an interesting narrator because he doesn't talk, so his interactions with others are interesting to read about. We know Michael's voice and his snarky comments, but the other characters don't. Michael expresses himself through art to his crush Amelia, and they communicate through comic panels they draw each other.
I was surprised a bit by how much I liked The Lock Artist. It was an inventive story and I liked reading about Michael's safe cracking skills. Anyone who is a fan of crime fiction should pick this one up. This was also on the 2011 Alex Awards list and I could see this having appeal for older teens.
About the Book: Clarity "Clare" Fern has a special gift-she's a psychic and see visions about people's pasts. When a teenage girl is found murdered in her quiet Cape Cod tourist town, Clare's cheating ex-boyfriend enlists Clare's special talent to help solve the case. Clare is still mad about the fact that he broke her heart. But when the top suspect in the cast becomes Clare's brother, she knows she has to help. Clare joins up with Gabriel, the hot son of the town's new detective to bring the murderer to justice. But will Clare's gift fail her just when she needs it most?
When she was 13, Deanna Lambert made a mistake. She slept with her brother's best friend Tommy and her dad caught them in the act. Two years later, he still hasn't forgiven her and he labels her just like everyone else in the small town of Pacifica - as the school slut. Feeling a bit lost and maybe a little hopeless, she sets out on a mission to escape - but when that plan goes awry, Deanna must come to terms with her past before she can face her future.
I enjoyed this title from start to finish. In her debut novel, author Sara Zarr has created a journey of self-discovery that is honest, heartbreaking and hopeful.
This read would be empowering to any young person who feels that they'll always be defined by a single choice. Change is possible, but sometimes YOU have to be the one to create it - even in very small ways. What a great testimony to the amazing power of love and forgiveness.
In this second book of the Kitty Norville series, Kitty is on the road when she gets a call from her lawyer informing her that she's been subpoenaed to testify in a senate hearing about the Center for Paranormal Biology. When she arrives in Washington, she is waylaid by the local master vampire and warned about the dangers of the local werewolves. Oh, and the head of the Center may or may not be running unethical experiments on supernatural subjects.
Vaughn steps up the action and intrigue with devious scientists, politicians, and reporters- human and supernatural. Kitty finds herself in the spotlight- the last place she wanted to be, but she doesn't let that stop her from making new friends and a few new enemies. Some characters are out to use her and some are out to get her, and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between the two. This is a sequel that's even better than the original!
by Jacqueline Rayner, 111 pages
This came out in 2009 so it features David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. Being a DK issue, it has lots of pictures and interesting tidbits about the Doctor, the Tardis, Gallifrey, the Time Lords and the Time War. It also describes the Doctor's adversaries and Companions from Ten's time as the Doctor. Fun to look at for any Whovians, especially fans of Ten. We don't own the latest edition, which is about Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor.
As those in the know say, Doctor Who is all about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.
Kitty Norville is a late night DJ for a Denver radio station. Being a radio DJ is kind of like being God, so when Kitty refuses to play any music unless one of her callers requests a song that was made prior to 1990, she inadvertently turns her show into an all night talk show. The topic: the supernatural. Most people think it's a joke, but a few start to suspect that Kitty is more than she seems. Soon she is dealing with a bounty hunter that specializes in werewolves and angry vampires determined to shut her down.
I couldn't put this book down. The story is fast-paced and exciting with smart dialog and flashes of humor. Despite their supernatural origins, Vaughn's characters are surprisingly human. In the beginning of the book, Kitty is just trying to survivor her complicated life, but as the story builds she starts to figure out what's important and that some things are worth fighting for. This should appeal to fans of urban fantasy and maybe the paranormal romance crowd, even though romance isn't the focus of the book. If you're looking for a great escapist read, give this one a try!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The Pout-Pout Fish and his sea-dwelling friends are back in this sequel to the popular picture book of the same moniker. In this installment, Ms. Clam yawns and accidentally loses her pearl (for shame Ms. Clam) and the Pout Pout fish offers to retrieve it for her. As his journey continues towards the bottom of the sea, it becomes darker and darker until the Pout Pout fish gets lost and scared. With some encouraging words from his angelfish girlfriend and some help from his friends, will Pout-Pout find the pearl-pearl? (ahem...excuse me, got carried away there)
Bright, intricately detailed illustrations make this book as aesthetically pleasing as it is fun to read. This would make a great read for fans of the original Pout Pout Fish book as well as little ones who might be struggling with their own fears of the dark. A great message about conquering your fears and finding courage in yourself with the help of those who love you.
Chico Bon Bon is resting in his tree house when he hears a strange noise. With the assistance of his handy toolbelt he sets out on a mission to identify the noise and solve the problem. Readers will be shocked and tickled to discover what Chico finds in the laundry chute.
This sequel to "Monkey With a Tool Belt" is an exciting installment in what I hope will be a growing series from author Chris Monroe. The artwork is vivid, whimsical and so much fun to explore. With over 17 rooms in his tree house and more than twenty tools in his tool belt, I found myself getting lost in exploring with Chico as he searches for the source of the noise in every room of the house. Monroe's attention to detail is brilliant and so funny.
Excellent illustrations and a great pace of a story, kids of all ages will enjoy this latest adventure with Chico.
Monday, March 7, 2011
In this graphic novel, Alexandra discovers an unusual bookmobile on one of her middle-of-the-night walks around Chicago. It's a mobile library that contains every book, magazine, newspaper, letter, form, and scrap of paper that Alexandra has ever read. But she can't check anything out, and when she returns to the spot where she found the library the next night, it's gone. She searches for it every night and soon it becomes an obsession. For years, she occasionally finds the bookmobile, only to lose it again. It inspires her to go to library school and find a career that she loves, but ultimately her obsession with books and the bookmobile is more harmful than helpful.
This book seems to be saying two things to me: one, that our relationship to books is powerful and the things we read shape who we are; and two, that there is danger in putting more effort into reading than our real lives and relationships with real people (and I expand this to include not only books but also any kind of escape from reality, like television, movies, and video games). It seems strange that a best-selling author would write a book about the dangers of reading, but I think she basically wants to encourage people to enjoy books but not to take them too seriously and forget to live in the real world. It's an interesting concept that I haven't read about in any other books. The illustrations are plain and the book left me with a sad feeling, but I recommend it for anyone who loves to read, as it made me think about the way that books impact my life.
"History's Greatest Events: 100 Turning Points That Changed the World--An Illustrated Journey" by Kelly Kauner and the editors of Time Magazine.
"You can't create love, Liam. You just have to take it wherever you can find it."
According to Liam Geller, Liam Geller is a perpetual screw-up. He has been since childhood and he knows he always will be. If he could just stop making mistakes, he knows that his father would be the type of father he has always wanted - one that cares and takes an active interest in his life.
After one too many transgressions, Liam's father kicks him out of the house. Against his homophobic father's wishes, he goes to live with his cross-dressing, gay glam-rocker Aunt Pete in the small town of Pineville. He sets out on a mission to become unpopular, reinvent himself and prove to his dad that his interests lie in other places besides girls and drinking.
This book was a refreshing retreat from some of the hard-hitting YA fiction I've been reading lately - although it's not without a healthy dose of conflict. It's blatantly obvious to everyone but Liam that his dad is a jerk and at certain points, it's almost heartbreaking to hear Liam blame himself as he relives instances since childhood where he has inadvertently disappointed his father.
Yes, this book is as crazy as it sounds. And yes, while they have lots of heart, the characters aren't always believable. But the message is clear - there comes a point where you have to stop trying to please someone who simply can't be pleased, even if it's your own father. Unfortunately, that's a big part of growing up.
World War Two turned the lives of most Americans upside down, not in the least the lives of Kitty Heaney and her two sisters. Between boyfriends going off to war, joining a defense job, and keeping up with USO dances and letter-writing, the sisters lives are centered around this major event in American history. Reading Elizabeth Berg is much like living: experiencing love, passion, heartbreak, jealousy, devotion, fear and an entire litany of other emotions. Descriptive yet succinct, she is able to bring to life both Chicago during World War Two and life as young, civilian women. Readers of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society with appreciate a keen story teller with a passion and understanding of the correspondence of yore, but who can also create a family so real they feel as if they are your own.
About the Book: Mr. and Mrs. Monster are waiting for their monster hatchlings. The first hatching is a scary blue monster and the second is a scaly green monster. But the third hatching is fluffy and pink and cute-yuck!
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Yuck! That's Not a Monster is a fun take on the ugly duckling story. Little Shock is the pink monster and he's a shock to his monster family. He has no scales or lumps and instead is very cute and cuddly. He likes to give kisses instead of roar and go scaring.
Kids will get a kick of the twist on the monster story. Little Shock may not seem like a monster, but he saves the day in the end and will leave readers cheering. Bright colorful illustrations and large easy to read text make this a great book for read alouds.
About the Book: Bella loves to write poetry. Her best friend Bean wants to spend the day outside but Bella wants to stay in and write her poems. Bean keeps interrupting and soon Bella decides to write a poem about her best friend.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I picked this book up because one of the character's was named Bean, and as a Bean, I had to read it. I wasn't really a huge fan. The story just felt like it never really flowed that well.
This is a book about friendship and a book about poetry, but I wonder what age group will really get all the poetry writing. It's a picture book for older readers and would work as a great introduction to poetry for older picture book readers. The artwork is whimsical and the mice are cute, I just wanted a bit more from the story. I'm not sure exactly what I wanted and what I felt was missing, but I just felt a bit disappointed by the book.
About the Book: When an old woman cries out that she hates housework, she hears a knock at her door and a cry to "let us in!" In come fairies who are there to do the housework for her. But the fairies are very noisy and when the woman tells them to stop, they just start all over!
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Anyone who has chores and housework will appreciate this tale! The fairies are trying to be helpful, but when the woman decides she's had enough, the fairies can't stop. They finish the chore they are working on and just take the bed apart or make the dishes messy and start all over, noise and all.
I don't know if I'd mind some fairies stopping by my house to help with my housework, but like the old woman, maybe the noise would be too much. And do you really want fairies all over your house? The illustrations are sure to delight and add a nice fairy tale touch to the story. A cute book and a creative read about chores.
Most books read:
Jenny E. 57
Sarah B.T. 19
Kadie H. 17
Most pages read:
Jenny E. 11,144
Sarah B.T. 5367
Heather C.D. 4121
Jenny E. 60
Sarah B.T. 49
Kadie D. 19
February Challenge winner:
A very quick read, this was my car book for the past few days. It's the story of Sunny, who has been farmed out to a variety of foster homes but wants to find her twin sister, Starr. When the story opens, Sunny is living with Rita, in another foster home, and for the first time, has found someone who seems genuinely kind and caring. But she can't stop thinking of her sister. In typical tween fashion, she sets out on her own instead of enlisting Rita's help and has several adventures on her way to find her sister.
I think kids will like this story. One, it's by Peg Kehret and she's very popular with the younger set, and two, it's a quick, fairly easy and pretty compelling story, even it it is sort of unrealistic. Finally, there's a stray dog-a really sweet stray dog. What's not to like?!
This is a Mark Twain Nominee for 2011-2012
Sunday, March 6, 2011
All Johannes Cabal did was try to check out a book. Of course, it was in Krenz University's Special Collection, and he'd attempted to "check it out" at 1:30 in the morning on a national holiday with the intention of keeping it for an "extended, open-ended sort of period." It would not have been a problem, really, if he hadn't been discovered the next morning in the reading room, pinned down by a slobbering mastiff, along with his bag containing a very large and loaded handgun and the library's decidedly non-circulating, one-of-a-kind copy of Principia Necromantica. And for this small infraction, they have tossed him in a cell awaiting his inevitable execution. What's a somewhat infamous necromancer to do?
Escape, of course. And find himself enmeshed in a mid-air murder mystery, confronted by duplicitous spies, clever and not-so-clever thieves, megalomaniac military men plotting coups, evil-incarnate sorcerers, and all-too-real (and mouthy) ghosts from his past. And if that's not enough, his stupid newly-regained soul keeps triggering his long-unused conscience. That thing just gets in the way!
Cabal has rather grown on me. This is his second adventure, the first being Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer, in which he literally makes a deal with the Devil in order to get his soul back after having unadvisedly bargained it away in return for knowledge (read the book if you want to know why he gave it up in the first place and how he goes about getting it back). He is funny, unpredictable, sarcastic, arrogant, single-minded, quite possibly sociopathic, and also--just maybe, on rare occasions, if it suits his very personal, inscrutable purposes and he doesn't stop to talk himself out of it--one of the good guys. Maybe. Or not.
The story takes place in what appears to be a post WWI, pre-WWII Europe with some geo-political and fantastical embellishments in the form of a handful of small, unstable states and aeroships that use ley-lines as guides, which lend a very vague hint of steampunkishness to the setting. Poor Cabal is forced to deal with more live human beings here than he finds tolerable, but I think that's probably for the best, as I'm rooting for him to learn to let go of the past and return to the world of the living, himself. Given his personality, that will be something of a challenge. Hopefully, the author will give him (and us) future opportunity to explore that potential.