Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thor: The Warriors Three

by Len Wein, Alan Zelenetz, John Buscema, Charles Vess, et al.

128 p.

You all know Thor! But have any of you ever heard of his three best friends, the Warriors Three? Well this is a clloection of three stories that showcase the Warriors Three. First up is a story where the three are in Manhattan and they rescue a lady from suicide and her fiance from a gang of jewel thieves. Second is a tale of how the three went on a quest to find the missing god of poetry, who had gone off in search of inspiration. and third is an epic tale of how the three save a couple's wedding from the enchantments and mischief of Loki, the god of mischief. Incidently, I think that the warrior in green looks a lot like DC Comics' Green Arrow.

X-Men First Class, Volume 1

by Jeff Parker, Roger Cruz, and Kevin Nowlan


For millions of years mankind has slowy evolved and changed -- untilfive young people paved the way for a new kind of human. While students at the Xavior School for Gifted Youngters, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast and Iceman taught the world what it meant to be X-Men. These are the hidden stories of the team that laid the foundation of a mutant dynasty!

Killing Orders: A V. I. Warshawski Novels

By: Sara Paretsky, 368 pp.

Victoria (V.I.) Warshawski is a private eye who has been begged by her aunt, which V.I. has been angry with for years, to come over and help her with a very important crime that she has been suspected of. However, their differences in the past create more friction and V.I. can only speak to her cousin in order to get more details about the case; which is that V.I.'s aunt has been asked to leave her jib due to the fact that she was suspected of mutual forges that were found in the safe of her church in which she is the accountant.

Trouble is brewing while V.I. is doing her investigating and on several occasions, V.I. has had to save herself from being murdered.

Meanwhile, V.I.'s best friend is murdered and another friend's uncle has been stabbed and almost killed! Who is next? V.I. must hurry up and solve this one case (that has turned into several cases) in order to stop any more murders!

At first, this novel is comical, yet it turns into huge suspense and you find yourself trying to help V.I. figure out just who exactly is calling the shots and committing all of this crime.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Girl Parts by John M. Cusick

2010/240 pgs

About the Book: After David views a classmates suicide online, his parents believe that he is disassociated and needs to learn the art of human interaction. They purchase David Rose, companion bot, a girl designed to teach David how to feel and love in the real world. Rose has a timer that includes an intimacy clock and while David tries to get to know Rose, he's really only interested in one thing. When the clock ticks down, David discovers Rose comes without the appropriate girl parts, so he tosses her aside. Rose meets Charlie, a loner from David's school and Rose and Charlie begins to fall for her. Even though Rose was programmed to love David, she finds herself falling for Charlie as well.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I was sadly disappointed with this book. I had high hopes and was looking forward to reading it and the premise sounded like one of my favorite mangas, Absolute Boyfriend and maybe a bit like Chobits.

But where Chobits and Absolute Boyfriend succeed in the robot becoming more human and the characters learning about human relationships, Girl Parts doesn't quite get there. Having the two possible love interests didn't really give time for either storyline to develop. I also never really connected with either story or cared much for Rose, which made me like the story less. I guess I just had higher hopes for this one.

What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman

This book opens with a double suicide.  17 year old Wyatt's mother and father jump off different bridges within two hours of each other, for love and loss of the same woman.  That seems like a really dark way to start a novel, right?  Well, it is a dark story, but it's also full of warmth and humor...kind of like real life.  This is the story of Wyatt Hillyer, his life, his loves and his losses and it's as revealing for what it leaves out as much as what the author chooses to put in.  It's a war story, a crime novel, a love story.  I thoroughly enjoyed it but I can't recommend it to everyone.  You have to have a slight taste for the macabre and a willingness to stick with a big story told in a very personal way.
Kim F

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon

221 pages

Christopher is 15, loves computer games, and is brilliant at math. He also has autism. He hates being touched, despises everything that is yellow or brown, and can't relate to most emotions. In the "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," we get inside Christopher's head as he investigates the murder of his neighbor's dog. In the process, he learns some shocking stuff about his own family and goes on an adventure that pushes him beyond his well-established comfort zone.

I first read this book a couple of years ago and loved it, and I thought it was just as good this time around. Christopher's perspective is incredibly interesting and it seems like an accurate portrayal of someone with Asperger's (admittedly, this is only my impression as I don't know a lot about autism). Some people I know who've read this book got bored with some of Christopher's detailed descriptions, but I actually like those parts because they show how his mind works. Seeing the world the way Christopher does made me think about things in different ways than I normally do.

Say Hello to Zorro by Carter Goodrich

2011/48 pgs

About the Book: Mister Bud has a routine and nothing is ever to upset his routine. But one day at great and make a fuss time, a new family member arrives-a new dog named Zorro. Zorro disrupts everything Mister Bud knows! Will the two dogs learn to get along?

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: In October, my husband and I added a second dog to our family. Our three year old dog Wrigley was not very happy! So of course I found this book hilarious and incredibly relatable! Just switch out Mister Bud and Zorro for Wrigley and Zedd and you'd have a sense of what life has been like in the Thompson house the last few months!

Even if you don't have two dogs, readers are sure to get a kick out the story. It's a cute story about friendship and learning to get along, only told with dogs. Dogs lovers should pick it up for sure!:)

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

1938/410 pgs

About the Book: The novel is told from the point of view of an unnamed narrator. From the beginning we get the sense that the story is a flashback and the narrator is reflecting on a time in her life that continues to haunt her. Her story starts when she is visiting Monte Carlo with Mrs. Van Hopper, who is her employer. The narrator works as a paid companion to the elderly woman who is always keen on gossip. One day while dining, Mrs. Van Hopper notices a man at a table nearby that she recognizes as Max de Winter, the owner of Manderley. His wife recently passed away in a boating accident and rumor is he can’t get over her death. Mrs. Van Hopper intrudes on the man’s meal and thus begins the relationship between the narrator and Maxim de Winter. After spending time together in Monte Carlo, the narrator begins to realize she loves Maxim, even though he is more than 20 years her senior. On the day she and Mrs. Van Hopper are supposed to leave, the narrator cries to Maxim that she will miss him very much and he proposes. After a whirlwind honeymoon, the pair return to Maxim’s home of Manderley. At Manderley, the new Mrs. de Winter is constantly haunted by the presence of Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife. The household staff don’t respect, the people in the community compare her to Rebecca, and Rebecca’s touch on Manderley echoes throughout the entire house. Secrets begin to unravel and the truth about Rebecca is slowly uncovered.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I had always wanted to read this book, so when I had the chance to for class I decided to finally read it. I loved it and am eager to read more of Du Maurier’s work now. The writing is wonderful and really places the reader into the story. It’s easy to get caught up in the book and get lost in the story. The author puts the reader right into the narrator’s shoes and I felt as though I was upset and haunted by Rebecca just as the narrator is. There were lots of twists and they were surprises which I always like-I hate when I can figure out the story. It is a chilling, psychological story and I even wish there had been a bit more to it-especially about Rebecca as she’s a fascinating character, especially for not even appearing in the novel! I wouldn’t say this book is the stuff of nightmares, but it is suspenseful and very creepy-the author does a fantastic job of setting up Manderley to be an odd, strange, creepy sort of place. I read the entire book with a sense of foreboding, especially since you never really know the truth or who to trust. I did think it was interesting how at first the author makes you not really sure about Maxim de Winter, but then switches things up and makes you like him at the exact moment you really shouldn’t be liking him!

(SPOILER ALERT) I mean, really, we discover the truth about Maxim and what happened to Rebecca and that he killed her, yet at this point, I didn’t find him creepy and strange anymore. I had been all annoyed at him for never telling the narrator he loved her, yet he confesses everything and says don’t you see, I really loved you all along. I wanted him and the narrator to make things work. How twisted is that? Props to the author for making me suspicious of Maxim and then when I find out the truth, I like him more!

Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

2011/228 pgs

About the Book: Missy didn't mean to cut. But after a bad school party and torment from her ex-boyfriend, Missy seeks comfort in the blade. Then Death shows up and grants Missy a sword and claims she is now a Horseman of the Apocalypse, more specifically, War. As War, Missy has a larger blade that can cut down anyone in her path. Through it all Missy learns the one thing that's been missing: control.

Sarah Teenlibaran Says: Rage is part of Jackie Morse Kessler's Horsemen of the Apocalypse series, which are very inventive books that tackle very serious issues.

When I first read the premise of the books, I wasn't sure how they would work, but the author manages to pull off a story that takes an issue that needs to be discussed and handles it in deft way. She's never preachy and the story is never perfect with a happy ending. Even with it's bent of fantasy with the Horsemen, the characters ring true.

Missy not only struggles with cutting, but she's being bullied at school. There's not a perfect solution and there's no easy way out, but there is hope. I think teens will appreciate that honesty.

I liked Rage because we get to see the character of Death more than we did in Hunger. I really like Death and in many ways he reminds me of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer-snarky and funny but also a bit sensitive. While Missy's story might not resonate with every reader, I do think it's an important book and I really like the way the author tackles tough subjects in a creative way. She also adds a dark sense of humor so the book never feels heavy and issue driven-there are some lighter moments as well.

I'm looking forward to see if we get any more novels about the Horsemen!

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After" by Steve Hockensmith

320 pages

The vicious zombie-killing Elizabeth Bennet (now Darcy) from "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is back! She's been married to Mr. Darcy for four years now, and everything is great...except she's becoming more and more depressed by the fact that, as a married lady, she can't fight the dreadfuls anymore. She has been keeping her skills sharp by sparring with her husband and the ninjas on their property, but it just isn't the same. Then the unthinkable happens: Mr. Darcy is bitten by one of the sorry-stricken and will soon become an unmentionable himself! However, Elizabeth refuses to accept his fate. She believes that Darcy's aunt, the great Lady Catherine, has connections to people with a cure and she will do anything to get it. As if that weren't difficult enough, Lady Catherine, Elizabeth's worst enemy, refuses to make Lizzy's quest for the cure easy. Fortunately, her family is there to help her.

I. love. this. book. Granted, it's not too hard to impress me when it comes to funny zombie stories. But this one really cracked me up! I love the contrast between the proper English language and manners of the characters with the wacky zombie elements. It's so ridiculously random that I laughed out loud several times. I also enjoyed seeing more involvement from Lizzy's sisters, Mary and Kitty, as well as their father. The main storyline is predictable, but there are some twists thrown in and I found the conclusion very satisfying. If you've enjoyed any of the monster mashups that have been so popular lately, I highly recommend this one!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War" by T.J. Stiles

510 pages

This biography follows the story of Jesse James from the time that his parents arrived in Missouri to his death, putting his life in the context of the social and political environment of western Missouri during and after the Civil War. Jesse James is often portrayed as a sort of hero, but here it appears that he was quite the opposite: a cold-blooded killer. The author makes a good case for viewing Jesse as a political terrorist rather than a legendary Wild-West outlaw. Stiles has done very extensive research, and his claims are supported by some pretty solid evidence. He shows Jesse's upbringing in a Southern, white supremacist family; the James family's unwavering support for the Confederacy; and the way that Jesse and his brother Frank's group of bandits targeted Unionist and Republican individuals and institutions.

It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. It's pretty dense, but I like that Stiles backs up what he says with references. It's repetitive at times, but most of the stories are exciting and told well. I learned a lot about not only Jesse James but also the Civil War in Missouri. I knew that it was especially chaotic here in the middle of the country, where everything--North and South, East and West--meet, but this story brought that to life and made me realize how dangerous life was at that time.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

"Love makes you immortal."

After a devastating accident that took Mia's family, she moves to New York City to attend Julliard and fast becomes a rising star in the classical music world.  Adam has also had a meteoric rise in the music industry as one of the #1 emo rock bands in the country. Only thing is, he can't get Mia out of his head after she walked away three years earlier. Coincidence brings Adam to NYC and to one of Mia's concerts. After the concert the two walk the streets and in the process understand better where the each of them went and where they might be headed.

After finishing the first book (If I Stay), I didn't see that another book was necessary. I was wrong. What pushed me about the book was my gaining awareness of how two people in the same situation really do look at things so completely different-no matter what the emotional connection. The character of Adam is only seen in the first book through Mia's eyes and here he has a chance to show the reader who he really is and how he perceived their relationship. The characters make the book. The frame of New York City nicely compliments the flashbacks to Oregon and the language is simple, musical and fraught with emotion. 2011, 264 pages.

Forsythia and Me by Vincent X. Kirsch

2011/40 pgs

About the Book: Chesters best friend Forsythia is amazing-at everything! She can make the tallest birthday cake, she can win awards for anything, she can even play piano while backwards and standing on her head! But when Forsythia falls ill, it's Chesters turn to amaze Forsythia.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Forsythia and Me is an adorable picture book about two best friends. What I loved most about the story is that Chester never is jealous of Forsythia but instead is supportive and caring and is happy for his friend. There's never any idea that Chester isn't as amazing as Forsythia. Forsythia is a great friend as well-she never brags about her talents and she is just of supportive of Chester as he is of her. They have a fantastic friendship and it makes for a great story. It's all about admiration and support, not jealousy and bitterness, which really made the book stand out.

The illustrations are bright, colorful and full of detail. I love the spreads of various trophies that Forsythia has won! Plus, give Forsythia a fantastically retro style and heart shaped glasses and I was in love.

A great picture book with a sweet story about two unforgettable friends.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gin Tama, Volume 12: The Longest Way Around is the Shortest Way

by Hideaki Sorachi


Gin battles Nizo and his "demon" sword while Katsura, who is very much alive, confronts Shinsuke. Of course, the good guys win. The only problem is that now the Shinsengumi thinks that Gin is working with Katsura's terrorist group. So, Hijikata sends Sagaru Yamazaki to take down Gin, who is recouperating at Shinpachi's house. Little does Sagaru know that Otae has upgraded the place to capture stalkers and other intruders. Later, after Gin has recovered, Gin helps out two men whose dress up every year as Santa and His Reindeer to deliver presents to the neighborhood children. Only, Gin ruins the evening by having Santa and the reindeer dress up as thieving ninjas and they only deliver one present. Then Gin and his friends share a New Year's pot of stew. But instead of sharing, they fight over who will get all of the meat. The Shinsengumi, in order to improve their image, hire singing sensation Otsu as their Chief For The Day, hoping she will show them how. but they lose her to kidnappers and realize they can only be themselves. Finally, due to an unusual amount of snow, Otose organizes a winter festival where folks can compete in a snow sculpture contest. Of course, it all degenerates into a massive snowball battle royale, complete with random acts of vandalism.

Gin Tama, Volume 11: To See the Sunrise

by Hideaki Sorachi


Shinpachi ends up on a date with the cat-eared girl he saved on the train. The date seems to be going well until they go to a hotel. Shinpachi is a first nervous about what will happen but decides to take it like a man. But instead of getting lucky, he gets robbed. Then an alien girl whose an adrenaline junkie crashes into Gin's scooter. So Gin has to help her make her deliveries. the girl doesn't want to slow down and they go airborn when Gin's scooter explodes. Having survived the explosion, but still pretty banged up, Gin is taken to the hospital. At the hospital, the nearly blind assassin Sachan, who has a masochistic crush on Gin, is on a mission to find a doctor who is harvesting patients' organs to be sold on the black market. Sachan sees Gin there and loses all concentration. Then Katsura is believed to be murdered and Elizabeth gets gin and the gang involved in finding out who did it. This leads to the discovery of Shinsuke's plot to destroy Edo, which involves Nizo the Butcher, who is beefed-up thanks to a "demon" sword. Will Gin arrive in time to save the day?

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

By: Joanne Fluke, 324 pp.

Another great Hannah Swensen culinary mystery! I am reading these in order. I think it is funner that way. I don't want to miss anything!

In this "episode," the victim was found by Hannah's mother, Delores. However, the strangest part about this is that on the kitchen table of where this murdered victim was found, there is almost a whole lemon meringue pie; only one piece was eaten out of it.

Everyone is getting ready for the Fourth of July parade and for the first time ever, Hannah's business is going to have the best float entered. She does not get to see it though until the parade. Her sister, Andrea, is getting it all put together.

Hannah gets into trouble after the parade with the murderer. She is locked up in her own cooler! Will someone save her before it is too late? Or will Hannah be able to help catch this murderer?

Gin Tama, Volume 10: Even an Inch-Long Insect Has a Soul

by Hideaki Sorachi


A baby is abandoned by Gin's doorstep and it looks just like him. Yet, it turns out that the baby is not his but actually the grandson of a very shrewd businessman whose bodyguard is a blind swordsman named Nizo the Butcher. Then, on a really hot summer day, Gin goes into town to buy a new fan and ends up getting involved in stopping a plot to destroy the world. During a festival, Gin and friends help out at a haunted house which only leads to the guy running it getting hurt. And due to the popularity of beetle sumo wrestling, Gin, his friends and the Shinsengumi go off into the forest in search of a rhinoceros beetle. But the beetle that the Shinsengumi are looking for happens to belong to a government official. Finally, Shinpachi rescues a cat-eared girl on the train who wants to date him. Not knowing the first thing about dating, he goes to the one source he can trust, the internet! Unfortunately, everyone in the chat room he's on is an idiot.

Gin Tama, Volume 9: Whatever You Play, Play to Win!

by Hideaki Sorachi


Katsura, Gin, and the others attempt to rescue Katsura's pet Elizabeth (who looks like Duckie Momo) but they walk into a trp instead. Then, Gin and Hasegawa lose money while gambling and end up gambling for their lives. Sadaharu, Kagura's giant pet dog, suddenly grows to super-giant size, transforms into a demon, and terrorizes the city. Otae and a co-worker of hers at the a local tavern have a contest to see who can bring in the most business, and their friends end up losing all their money. Hijikata tries to enjoy his day off but keeps running into Gin and they fight the whole day. And finally, Gin and friends play kick the can with an old guy who turns out to be a ninja master who goes all out when he plays.

Monday, April 11, 2011


by Toni Morrison, 275 pages

Almost 20 years after the end of the Civil War and Emancipation, former slaves are struggling to survive.  Sethe and her daughter, Denver, are isolated from the black community and left alone to deal with brutal memories and ghosts of the past.  Paul D., another former slave from Sethe's past returns, and his arrival is soon followed by that of a stranger who seems at once alien and familiar.  These newcomers revive a past that Sethe has fought to keep buried for twenty years.  "Beloved" won both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature.

This book is incredibly powerful and very hard to read.  Morrison brings slavery and a post-war Ohio painfully to life.  About twenty pages in, I wasn't sure I was going to make it, but the story sucked me in.  Just when I was sure I couldn't take any more, Morrison would throw in a moment of love or kindness that was all the more meaningful for the awful reality in which the characters live.  A great read, but you'll need a strong constitution to make it through!

The House of the Seven Gables

by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 328 pages

When Colonel Pyncheon has Matthew Maule sentenced to death as a witch over a coveted piece of land, he sets into motion a curse that attacks him and all of his descendants in turn.  Several generations later, Hepzibah, an aging spinster lives alone in the House of the Seven Gables.  She is shortly joined by her young cousin Phoebe and her brother Clifford who has spent most of his life falsely imprisoned for the murder of his uncle.  Peace is in short supply, especially with another cousin, Judge Jaffery Pyncheon, a dead-ringer for the old Colonel,  lurking about.

In this richly detailed story, Hawthorne leaves it up to the reader to decide if the ghosts and the curse of the Pyncheons and Maules are real or based in the beliefs of the characters.  It's not quite as dark as "The Scarlet Letter," but stands on its own as a classic American tale.  This one's great if you like vivid descriptions and bits of philosophy and history in your books.

Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley

"I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise...."

The images I have of Walt Whitman come from a very cathartic reading of Leaves of Grass when a good friend died while he was reading it. I have always felt pushed and challenged by his words and the life he lead. But in all my readings and musings, I never really paid attention to this part of Whitman's story.

A short biography of Walt Whitman geared towards younger elementary school children; this novel focuses on the impact the Civil War had on Whitman who was too old to fight. Instead he dedicated himself to caring for and visiting soldiers in hospitals in Washington D.C. It was also at this time that he gained a strong respect for Abraham Lincoln. Beautifully illustrated with snippets of poetry throughout (full text included in the back), this is a good introduction to Whitman. It is is no way thorough and there is much more to learn about the man and poet who helped shape American poetry. 2004, 56 pages.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two)

by Patrick Rothfuss
(2011 | 994 p)

"There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man."


Kvothe is a trouper, a thief, and a brilliant student whose lifetime of achievements and failures have become the stuff of legend. Most believe that death has finally caught up with him. Kvothe values the privacy that such beliefs bring too much to argue.

In Patrick Rothfuss' stunning debut novel, "The Name of the Wind," the great scribe Chronicler has found Kvothe still alive if not altogether well. Kvothe is quietly passing his time as Kote, a humble innkeeper in the middle of Newarre. Chronicler collects personal histories and no story in the four corners of civilization is more prized than Kvothe's. None too pleased at being discovered, Kvothe does his best to discourage the scribe. Chronicler, however, will not be turned away. Reluctantly, Kvothe agrees to share the true story of his life. It will take him three days to give a full recounting. "The Wise Man's Fear" is day two.

Kvothe's story is fraught with peril, tangled in desire, and hilariously funny in nearly equal parts. But that's all I'll say on it. Kvothe tells his story much better than I ever could. When asked to describe his book Rothfuss himself simply says, "It's a story about how stories grow." Seven truer words were never spoken.

Pandora Hearts: Volume 4

by Jun Mochizuki, 180 pages

Break intentionally allows himself and Alice to be captured by the Cheshire Cat and returned to the Abyss. When Oz and Gil realize what's happened, they ask Sharon to use her legal contract with her chain to transport them there on a rescue mission. All four encounter memory fragments from their own pasts as well as from one another's, but Break is scarily proactive about making the most of his time there. As they battle the deadly Cheshire Cat and the dangers of their own psyches, they endeavor to discover some snippet of the truth of what happened 100 years ago when an entire chunk of a city was inexplicably swallowed into the Abyss and the family clans had their original falling out. But for Alice, remembering the past might be worse than forgetting it. Meanwhile, Vincent's taking advantage of Break's absence to do some scheming of his own.

Even the poor Cheshire Cat thinks he's doing the right thing. Part of the mystery here is just figuring out who the real villains are. There are a lot of characters just out to avenge their own personal grievances, but does that make them evil? And who is the mysterious Jack Vessalius, now only a living fragment of Alice's memories, who's helping Oz and Gil to find her before she's lost forever? Both the characters and the plot in this series are imaginatively complex. Even sweet little Oz has moments where the effects of his unhappy childhood and uncertain future creep out and surprise people. But then he giggles it all off as nothing and scampers away, leaving his companions (and the reader) even more nervous than before. Nice.

Pandora Hearts: Volume 3

by Jun Mochizuki, 180 pages

The trio come across another illegal contractor and his chain who've somehow escaped from Pandora's keeping before he / they could be interrogated. Unlike the atypical Oz and Alice, most chains enlist their illegal contractors in serial murder and cannibalism to achieve their mutual goals (see, this is why this isn't in YA--eep!). But even so, Oz tries to reason with the contractor, discover what pain drove him to make such a bargain, and convince him to break it off and go be with his young son for a few moments before turning himself in and paying for his crimes. But Oz and his friends aren't the only ones on the escapee's trail, and the other pursuers are not as sentimental as Oz.

There are lots of sad yet revealing flashbacks in this series. In this volume, we see the trauma of Oz's non-relationship with his father and find out what happened to Gil after the tragic coming-of-age party and how he came to be adopted by the Nightrays and take on the role of Raven. We also meet his scary younger brother Vincent and watch the machinations of the Vessalius clan's Break as he schemes against his enemies and the Intention of the Abyss (the controlling spirit behind the Abyss's existence...I's complicated). And poor Alice, unsure of who or what she is or what she means to any of the people around her, longs to recover her memories as she watches her companions with uncertainty and gloom. Oz needs to flash a sincere smile at her and reassure her that she has a place here, too.

Pandora Hearts: Volume 2

by Jun Mochizuki, 180 pages

Oz Vessalius had been looking forward to his coming-of-age party. But when the party is crashed, his faithful valet and best friend Gilbert is magically manipulated into attacking him, and Oz is spirited away to the Abyss (often seen as a prison world of twisted reality), it just reinforces the boy's conviction that it is not his lot to have things easy. But that doesn't mean he's going to get down about it. Instead, he quickly makes a contract with a strange, violently tempered girl named Alice who has lost her memories and contains a chain (a scary stitched-up-stuffed-animal-looking spirit in the Abyss) called the B Black Rabbit. The two use the contract to escape back to Oz's world, but when they get there they find a few things have changed (and a few, oddly, have not).

One thing that has not changed is the rivalry among Oz's and the other prominent families who each control a door to the Abyss. Another is Pandora, the secretive organization that studies the Abyss and polices elements that escape from it into this world. Oz doesn't really trust any of them, not even his own family, except maybe for Uncle Oscar. He does, however, trust Alice, even though he knows next to nothing about her. And he trusts Raven, the man in charge of his care since his return and who reminds him so much of his friend Gilbert.... Because of the unsanctioned nature of Oz's contract with Alice, the boy's time in this world is running out. If they don't get to the bottom of all the mysteries before the tattooed clock on his chest has completed a full turn, he'll be flung into the deepest depths of the Abyss, and no one's quite sure what happens after that, since no one's ever come back. As part of their investigation, Oz, Alice, and Raven return to Oz's family mansion, the scene of his disastrous party-- and find the same enemy lying in wait, happy now that the principal players have returned to re-enact the events of that day...ten years ago!

Alice in Wonderland lends its weirdness and a few of its characters to this vaguely late-Victorian-styled world of magic and intrigue. There's a lot going on, with more plot complications than I care to try to understand enough to describe, but the story is interesting, the characters pleasantly mysterious and funny and scary, and the art attractive.

XxxHolic: Volume 9

by CLAMP, 185 pages

Watanuki learns about buying and selling dreams and then helps a harmless cherry-tree-haunting ghost and the lonely young girl brought in to exorcise her.

Little by little, Watanuki is making and maintaining connections (even the ones he complains about but is honest enough to acknowledge he appreciates). And all the while, Yûko's encouraging him to question his perceptions of both himself and others and see what's true with his own eyes (well, his own eye and part of Dômeki's...hee hee).

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle: Volume 24

by CLAMP, 183 pages

With a boost from Yûko, Mokona and the boys follow Sakura's trail back to the Kingdom of Clow, where Fei-Wang has cut off the world from time, forcing its denizens to repeat the same few hours over and over again. But why this world? Why this day? How does it all fit into his own wish? Even after all this time together, the companions still have their secrets, and Syaoran's may supply at least some of the answers.

Dude?! How many times have I said, "Dude?!" while reading this series?! Every time something like this happens, I wish I had the whole stack of books up to this point to go back and reread for clues. I'm not even sure what we've just learned, what with independent wishes to turn back time, souls separated from their bodies, lost and recovered memories, future visions, "images," true twins, and alternate / parallel worlds and dimensions that may or may not have their own versions of the same things (or people). It is all so very, very complicated. But the characters are so endearing, you stick with them and root for them, even if you're sometimes confused as to what exactly you're sticking with them through or what you're actually rooting for them to accomplish. And, of course, the lovely art helps. Ultimately, I just want them all to be happy, whatever that may mean for each of them.

But, seriously. Dude.

Things I know About Love

By: Kate Le Vann, 153 pp

Livia Stowe has been diagnosed with leukemia at age 15. However, she has been well for a year now. The doctor suggest that she still take it easy. Livia wants to go to Princeton, NJ to visit her brother, Jeff, while he is on vacation for the summer. She is now 17 - almost 18 - and wants to go even though her mother says no. Livia's persistence pays off and her mother gives in.

While in Princeton, Livia meets Adam all over again. Adam is from their hometown and is going to Princeton with Jeff. Adam and Livia fall for each other and go to New York together! Livia "fancies" Adam, but she is afraid of rejection and heartache again. Should she tell him she has been ill to almost dying in the past? Would Adam be like her previous boyfriends? Or will he be different and actually care about her?

"Things I Know About Love" is written as Livia's and Adam's blogs. So we get to read both sides of their relationship through their private blogs.

I really like how this book is written by an author from Yorkshire, England and we Americans are foreign in the book. Also I adore how Le Vann uses words, such as fancy, mum, snogging, and flat. It is different and makes the story more interesting.