You'd remember if you met a guy named Radar Hoverlander, which is why he keeps an assortment of identities handy. He might be the guy who swindled you out of your grandmother's inheritance, or sold you the luxury island resort that didn't really exist, or let you in on an exclusive new investment opportunity that didn't pan out. At a party in the Hollywood Hills, he meets a beautiful grifter named Allie Quinn who might just be his match. As they start working together, the bad news is she always seems to be one step ahead of him, and the worse news is he's not sure he minds.
Why I picked it up: The blurb on the back cover misleadingly invoked both David Mamet and Tom Robbins, two personal favorites.
Why I finished it: The convoluted nest of crosses and double-crosses are only vaguely Mamet-like, and the voice is nothing like Robbins. But Radar has an exceedingly literate and clever turn of phrase, and it's fun to hear it applied to the world of con artists. And as things get complicated a very clever trick is played on the reader. After I figured it out I wanted to give the author a standing ovation.
I'd give it to: John, who, like Radar, thinks he is smarter than everyone but fears he isn't.
Mississippi, 1929. Robert Johnson loves the blues, but can’t play the guitar. At the crossroads one night he says, “Hell, I’d give my soul in a second...to be a real bluesman.” He finds that he’s suddenly able to play, but he’s paid a very heavy price.
Later, on the road, he falls in with Clyde Barrow. They’re attacked one night by a group of men who want to lynch RJ, and it’s up to Barrow to save him.
Why I picked it up: On Unshelved Answers, 143Books suggested I might like this manga because of the style of its art.
Why I finished it: After reading the sequence when RJ loses himself in the music for the first time, which expresses the energy of that moment perfectly, I had to see what else Hiramoto had in store.
I'd give it to: Zack, who enjoyed the Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad series, and Mark, who listens to the blues and should give manga a try.
Everything you’ve read about vampires is wrong. Real vampires have serious health issues, suck blood from dead guinea pigs, and attend mandatory support groups. After one of their members gets staked by a zealot, the rest go on high alert. In the middle of this chaos, Nina, a teen vampire, meets a young werewolf who has been abused in an illegal pit-fighting ring and feels compelled to help, despite her limitations.
Why I picked it up: Catherine Jinks played with genres in Evil Genius, so when I saw her taking a swing at the rapidly proliferating vampire genre, I was in.
Why I finished it: These vampires literally black out and lose all consciousness from sunup to sundown. Their physical weakness makes them targets. The realities of disposing of dozens of guinea pig carcasses each week was hilarious. Yet there was action and drama as well as a sweet relationship between Nina and another vampire in her group.
I'd give it to: Twilight readers experiencing withdrawal who may be looking for a substitute. Stan because it would resonate with his snarky sense of humor. And Shona, who never really liked her guinea pigs.
Dash Bad Horse is a reservation cop surrounded by meth cooks, prostitutes, and drug dealers. He tries to do a little good for the community here and there. Most of the time, like the rest of the police force, he’s responsible for helping Chief Red Crow maintain a criminal empire.
But Dash has a secret. He’s working undercover for the FBI to tie Red Crow to murders. Terrified of being discovered, he’s begun to sample the vices around him to deal with the stress.
In Dead Mothers Dash’s mother, Red Crow’s old flame, has been murdered, and both want to know who did it. Dash tries to hide his grief by focusing on another case. A mother was found murdered in the room next to her kids. Unfortunately Dash doesn’t work fast enough for the woman’s son and he seeks vengeance.
In The Gravel In Your Guts the aftermath of events in Dead Mothers continues, so don’t read this volume first. Dash Bad Horse can’t stay away from Red Crow’s daughter or her drug habit. Red Crow’s love for Dash’s mother, as well as his daughter’s painful past, are examined as Dash and Red Crow reflect on their lives.
Red Crow’s backers have sent a representative, the sadistic Mr. Brass, to look out for their investment. Pressures build on Red Crow to an explosive ending.
Why I picked it up: Now that Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets is finished, I need a new gritty crime series to follow.
Why I finished it: The dark tone never waivers, even when Bad Horse is trying to do a little good. And Mr. Brass is more brutal than the rest of the book.
Hansel and Gretel, Learning How to Shudder, The Devil and the Three Golden Hairs, and The Valiant Tailor adapted into full-color comics by European artists.
Why I picked it up: The colors and layout of Mazan’s adaptation of “Learning How to Shudder.” An image from this story is on the cover.
Why I finished it: This isn’t a watered down Brothers Grimm collection -- the stories still have the nastiness and spite of the original stories. Hansel and Gretel’s mother wants them to be eaten by animals, the young man who doesn’t know fear faces frightening specters, and the king in “The Devil and the Three Golden Hairs” does his best to kill the young child (but fails).
I’d give it to: Bill, who should read more good European comics. Libraries that serve young students where the Grimm collections probably aren’t getting the attention they deserve.
Seventy years ago the world governments ceded land to dragons so that they could live unmolested. The borders are inviolate, with no communication between the species, and things have been calm since the end of the war. Kay has always lived on the border of Dragon and the United States. Her father is a sheriff and her mother a border agent. While hiking, she falls into a stream. A dragon rescues her and they strike up a forbidden friendship. As the U.S. army begins probing the border to test its new “Dragonslayer” jets, they might be the only hope to stop a new war.
Why I picked it up: I read dragon books to screen them for my school library’s collection.
Why I finished it: What would happen if dragons suddenly showed up in modern times, spitting fire and fighting the air force? Kay provides a great anchor for this idea.
I'd give it to: Purists who insist that dragons and modern society don’t mix (formerly me!) and Mariah, who likes strong heroines like Kay.