Through the four seasons of the year, Ningen tries to find the meaning of life by fulfilling his vow to kill 365 samurai.
Why I picked it up: It's a 400 page graphic novel full of bloody sword fights.
Why I finished it: The black and white art alternates between kinetic and cinematic. Featuring only one panel per page, Kalonji keeps words to a minimum and focuses on the action 90% of the time. What happens between panels is as important as the moments in them.
I'd give it to: My brother-in-law, who doesn't read much but would make it all the way to the end, Highlander fanatics, and anyone looking for a quick lunchtime read.
Kyra Leigh lives with her father, his three wives and her numerous brothers and sisters. Her life as a Chosen One is all she has known and she's never questioned it. But, then she falls in love with Joshua, a sixteen-year-old boy in her compound. The Prophet decides she is to marry her sixty-year-old uncle, whose wives resent her. If Kyra disobeys, she may be beaten, or her father's wives and children could be given to more obedient patriarchs in the compound.
Why I picked it up: The blurb on the cover from Gregory Maguire: "The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat."
Why I finished it: Gregory Maguire was absolutely right. The audio book is outstanding. The reading is so well done that at one extremely tense moment, I had to stop the CD and read the book instead because it was easier on my nerves.
I'd give it to: My daughter Elise who loves reading dark novels about teenage girls without realizing this is reality for many. Also Lynette, one of the best middle school English teachers I know, who would completely ignore her husband to finish the book.
Guy Montag, a fireman, burns books because they are illegal. Walking one night, he meets a young girl he can't forget who asks him if he's happy. He begins to question his life and the official version of history. After a woman chooses to burn with her books rather than live without them, he starts to read.
Why I picked it up: It's too long since I read one of Bradbury's books, plus this graphic novel adaptation has a good buzz.
Why I finished it: The colors. The muted palette expresses the world's muted emotional state. Then, when the books start to burn, the fire explodes off the pages. It is true to its source material without merely reproducing it in the graphic novel format.
I'd give it to: Banned Book Week booktalkers.
Clover, a bunny, is pretty much always late for school. Professor Hoot always scolds her for being late. Her friends are Kale, a mischievous bunny, and Shallot, a smart bunny. But when Clover meets the newest bunny, Mallow, she loves that there is another female bunny in town and they become best friends.
Clover and her friends have unusual adventures. When Mallow goes off to gather monster berries, she falls onto a ledge and Clover does too. Kale and Shallot come to the rescue.
Why I picked it up: It looks like the animals on the cover are having fun. There are four rabbits, a flying squirrel, a regular squirrel, a fox, and an owl.
Why I finished it: Whenever Clover gets into adventures, she always has to figure out how to deal with the bad guys. Like when she karate kicks the giant fox who has Mallow.
I'd give it to: Bunny lovers. Jared because he likes animals and reading comics. Mocha because she likes drawing.
Leo Binhammer loves teaching English at the Carmine-Casey School for Girls. He's adored by students and teachers alike and feels tempted to have inappropriate relationships with both. Then Ted Hughes, a new teacher, shows up and immediately starts hogging Leo's limelight. Leo decides to keep his enemy close, doubly so when he discovers a secret connection from their past. Then things get even weirder.
Why I picked it up: I'm not saying I fantasize about being fawned over by a school full of ladies, and I'm not saying I don't.
Why I finished it: The twists and turns of Leo and Ted's complicated relationship are never predictable.
I'd give it to: Gossip Girl readers who are ready for something darker and more interesting.
Clankers put their trust in machinery, gears and gasoline. Darwinists use the threads of life (DNA) to create new living creatures. Neither trusts the other. After Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated in 1914, war starts in Europe and combat between countries using each type of technology begins.
Alek, the Archduke's son and heir to a Clanker empire, goes on the run in a stormwalker. To stay alive, he must hide his identity. Deryn serves as a midshipman on a living airship called the Leviathan. She pretended to be a boy to join the British Air Service and must protect her secret.
Why I picked it up: Show me a good cover and I'm easy! Plus Scott Westerfeld does steampunk!
Why I finished it: Fantastic detail and nifty illustrations abound. Terminology for both the living ships and the Clanker machines are creative and easy to understand. This is a compelling world. Westerfeld makes each chapter a mini-crisis that only reading on can solve.
Jem, an otherwise normal fifteen-year old, has the unfortunate ability to see the date of death for each person she looks in the eye. It is unfailing and invariably correct. It also causes upheaval in her life when she finally allows fellow outcast from school, Spider, to get close to her. Together, they go on the run from the police after leaving the scene of a bombing before the explosion due to her prescience.
Why I picked it up: The stunning cover image, a red-tinted eyeball and the crowded numbers.
Why I finished it: Jem and Spider's cross-country trip to avoid the police and the kindness of the strangers they meet is both touching and realistic. Her growing relationship with Spider becomes something for her to cling to. The repercussions Jem's power on her psyche were explored in-depth.
Bonus: the book is full of British slang words like "skiving," "dosser" and "sod."
I'd give it to: Goth teens and Stacy, who watches outlandishly premised paranormal TV shows and has no problem suspending her disbelief.