http://www.unshelved.com/UnshelvedA comic about a library2016-09-26T11:50:37-07:00Gene Ambaumgene@overduemedia.comBill Barnesbill@overduemedia.com(c) Overdue Media LLChttp://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-26Unshelved on Monday, September 26, 20162016-09-26T00:00:00+00:002016-09-26T00:00:00+00:00
Get the exclusive Unshelved card catalog USB drive! Available blank or preloaded with all 11 Unshelved ebooks.

Unshelved comic strip for 9/26/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-25Unshelved on Sunday, September 25, 20162016-09-25T00:00:00+00:002016-09-25T00:00:00+00:00
Audiobooks are not cheating. Hear why and request a free poster from Listening Library!

Unshelved comic strip for 9/25/2016

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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on April 25, 2005.

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-24Unshelved on Saturday, September 24, 20162016-09-24T00:00:00+00:002016-09-24T00:00:00+00:00
Audiobooks are not cheating. Hear why and request a free poster from Listening Library!

Unshelved comic strip for 9/24/2016

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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on April 24, 2005.

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-23/Book_ReviewsBook Reviews2016-09-23T00:00:00+00:002016-09-23T00:00:00+00:00
by Gene ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Bookclubvertical

This week's Unshelved Book Club features books about a book that changes a gifted teen's life, bicycle crafters, Rainn Wilson, and an unflappable high school student, along with two board books that are also comics.

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-23Unshelved on Friday, September 23, 20162016-09-23T00:00:00+00:002016-09-23T00:00:00+00:00
Audiobooks are not cheating. Hear why and request a free poster from Listening Library!

Unshelved comic strip for 9/23/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/bookclub/2016-9-23Unshelved Book Club on Friday, September 23, 20162016-09-23T00:00:00+00:002016-09-23T00:00:00+00:00

This week's book recommendations from the creators of Unshelved and their friends.Learn who we are, how we pick books, and other books we've featured.


Amazon | Powell's
The Skunk by Mac Barnett, Patrick McDonnell
Roaring Brook Press, 2015. 9781596439665. 40 pages.

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by sarahhunt tagged picture book

Unshelved comic strip for 9/23/2016

Amazon | Powell's
Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016. 9780316379595. 272 pages.

Link to this review by diane tagged coming of age

Nanette O’Hare has everything going for her. She’s a star athlete, academically gifted, and popular. But something is missing. When her favorite teacher picks up on Nanette’s malaise, he gives her a battered copy of The Bubblegum Reaper, an out-of-print novel that had a big impact on him as a teen. This one small act causes the start of huge changes in Nanette’s life.  

Why I picked it up: I love Matthew Quick’s work, both his adult novels (The Silver Linings Playbook) and his YA stuff (Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock).

Why I finished it: I was intrigued by Nanette who is a teen struggling to define her own personality and live up to the expectations of her family and friends. She quits her soccer team and dumps her old friends, choosing instead to reread The Bubblegum Reaper over and over looking for the deeper meaning behind the story. I really enjoyed the relationships she builds with Nigel Booker, the book’s author, and Alex, another teen fan who also happens to be a poet. Nanette’s and Alex’s efforts to uncover the secrets behind the book result in several surprising events that ultimately lead Nanette to rethink who she is and who she wants to become.

It’s perfect for: One of my students, Jean, who will appreciate Quick's trademark combination of humor and pathos. She'll also like the way Alex takes on the bullies tormenting a friend, even though it gets him in big trouble. Plus, as a poet herself, Jean will love the poetry Alex sends Nanette from juvie.

In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett, read by the Author
Books on Tape, 2016. 9780735284869.

There’s no better company to be in than that of comedic legend Carol Burnett as she guides you through her hilarious behind-the-scenes memories as she narrates IN SUCH GOOD COMPANY. It really is like listening to an old friend (who happens to have incredible storytelling skills and spot-on timing). Plus, this audiobook features cast interviews, a conversation with Dick Cavett, and much more! Just wait until you hear the true stories behind the casting, the costumes, and the mind-blowing creativity that defined The Carol Burnett Show. And all revealed in Carol’s easy, conversational tone, complete with character voices and genuine laughter as she looks back at TV history-in-the-making. We dare you not to smile while listening.

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Amazon | Powell's

Amazon | Powell's
I'm Sunny (My First Comics) by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm
Random House, 2016. 9780553533460. 22 pages.I'm Grumpy (My First Comics) by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm
Random House, 2016. 9780553533446. 22 pages.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged board book

Two short board-book comics that focus on feelings and the joy of sharing. 

Why I picked them up: Jenni Holm’s daughter is totally sunny, and her son is often grumpy. When I read her books, I often look for them in the characters. 

Why I finished them: Bright colors, basic shapes, and few words make these a great introduction to sequential art for the younger set. Plus (Warning: Minor Spoiler) balloons make everyone happy, and dropping my ice cream makes me nearly impossible to cheer up, too.

Readalikes: The two Yo Gabba Gabba! board book graphic novels, Gabba Ball! and Good Night, Gabbaland!, the only other chewable comics I recommend. And for kids whom you’re ready to trust with thinner pages, Régis Faller’s wordless Polo books.

The Duel The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr by Judith St. George, read by John H. Mayer
Listening Library, 2016. 9781524757618.

Audiobooks put you in the room where it happened. Judith St. George’s lively biography, told in alternating chapters, brings to life two complex men who played major roles in the formation of the United States: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Named as a Top 10 book for ‘Hamilnerds’ by The Nerdy Book Club, THE DUEL was also praised by School Library Journal as “equally intriguing and approachable.” The audio edition allows famous historical figures to tell their stories, bringing this fascinating period in American history to life—plus those who have listened to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat hundreds of times will want to add this new listen into the mix. A perfect choice for classrooms!

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Amazon | Powell's
The Bicycle Artisans by Will Jones
Gingko Press, 2014. 9781584235507. 288 pages.

Link to this review by robert tagged artcoffee table booknonfiction

This coffee table book profiles eighty-eight bicycle crafters, from frame builders such as Mark Nobilette to graphic designers such as Garrett Chow. Each chapter features a profile of an individual or group with info about its philosophy and the direction it takes with bikes, and includes several pages of gorgeous pictures. Not only are there details shots, there are also workshop pictures of metal tubes being mitered, brazed, and welded into place. There are also action shots, including one of three-time cyclocross world champion Zdenek Stybar taking major air on a shockingly pink bike with drop bars.

Why I picked it up: I commute, shop, and sightsee by bicycle, but I don't race. But because I’m short and stout, the production bicycles that fit me often feature design compromises or racing styling, so I'm always on the lookout for trendsetting work by specialty houses and custom builders.

Why I finished it: As soon as I opened it, I recognized a bike as a one-off masterpiece by Bruce Gordon. With its beautiful carbon fiber fenders and its frame tubes bonded into titanium lugs highlighted by lusciously perfect circles of red paint -- just because I'd seen the bike in real life didn't keep me from drooling again when I saw the photos. There is a serious emphasis on eye candy in this book, but The Bicycle Artisans is not just about the bling. The innovative but utilitarian STRiDA folding bicycles credited to Ming Industries are also lovingly photographed.

It’s perfect for: Paul, Joi, Big Paul, Andy, Erin, Eric, Sharon, Kelly, Mike, Gail, Gayle, Gale, and all of my other riding pals. Many of them have riding and lifestyle needs that aren't catered to by today's current crop of carbon fiber racing machines with no room for racks, bags, or tires wider than an inch. Most of the artisans are interested in more practical bikes for commuting and toting kids or groceries, folding bikes that do well on public transportation or can be stored in small apartments, and bikes geared for the non-competitive, performance-oriented world of randonneuring.

Readalikes: If you're interested in bicycles beyond racing, read Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike by Grant Petersen. He is possibly the most polarizing and iconoclastic bike designer in North America: The word “retro-grouch” was coined to describe his advocacy for proven and reliable parts, designs, and construction methods. If you prefer vintage bike porn, try Rebour, edited by Robert van der Plas, a collection of the wonderfully meticulous line-drawings by illustrator and journalist Daniel Rebour from the 1930s to the 1980s.

In the Shadow of Liberty by Kenneth C. Davis, read by the Author and a Full Cast
Listening Library, 2016. 9781101891742.

Called “a must-have selection for any library collection” in a starred review from School Library Journal, IN THE SHADOW OF LIBERTY by New York Times-bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis is also a must-hear selection thanks to a talented full cast ensemble. Through the powerful stories of five enslaved people who were “owned” by four of our greatest presidents, this audiobook helps set the record straight about the role slavery played in the founding of America. IN THE SHADOW OF LIBERTY is brought to life on audio by Frankie Faison, Keith David, JD Jackson, Adenrele Ojo, Adam Lazarre-White, Dion Graham, and Mark Bramhall, alongside the Author himself. Get a sneak preview of these talented readers telling the stories of the real people who were essential to the birth of this nation but traditionally have been left out of the history books. CLICK TO WATCH THE TRAILER AND HEAR MORE.

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Amazon | Powell's
The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy by Rainn Wilson
Penguin Audio, 2015. 9781611763379.

Link to this review by dawnrutherford tagged audiobookbiography

In his forty-ninth year, Rainn Wilson reflects on a life filled with D&D, exotic places, acting, and awkward fame.

Why I picked it up: I've never really watched The Office, but I loved Wilson in Galaxy Quest and Juno. But what really drew me to this book was that I played bassoon for eight years.

Why I finished it: Much to my disappointment, the bassoon is mostly used as a prop to show what a big dork Wilson was in high school. By the time I figured this out, though, I was more intrigued by his spiritual journey. I've never really known anyone who practices the Bahá’í faith, so it was all new territory for me, and I liked its message of love and acceptance and unity. It also emphasizes self-examination and exploration of spiritual matters, which is so important to Wilson that he created a production company called Soul Pancake. The motto is "We make stuff that matters,” and they produce those awesome Kid President videos. He has also published a Soul Pancake book which encourages readers to "chew on life's big questions" and explore their creativity. So cool!

It’s perfect for: Evan, who wants to be an actor when he grows up. Wilson's depiction of his struggles and sacrifices would make anyone think twice about choosing this career. Before he because famous, Wilson spent lean years barely scraping by. One miserable winter he and a friend split a studio in an unheated, shower-free, rat-infested loft in pre-gentrification Brooklyn.

The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz, read by the Author and a Full Cast with original medieval music from Benjamin Bagby
Listening Library, 2016. 9780735287389.

Great storytelling is meant to be heard. Don’t miss out on this unique audiobook production from New York Times-bestselling author Adam Gidwitz, featuring a Full Cast, original music by medieval scholar and musician Benjamin Bagby, and a bonus track of the first known recording of the epic poem, “The Song of Hildebrand.”

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children: William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne's loyal greyhound, Gwenforte…recently brought back from the dead. As the narrator collects their tales, the story of these three unlikely allies begins to come together. Start listening now.

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Amazon | Powell's

Amazon | Powell's
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto (Volume 1) by Nami Sano
Seven Seas Entertainment, 2015. 9781626921962. 164 pages.Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto (Volume 2) by Nami Sano
Seven Seas Entertainment, 2015. 9781626922204. 164 pages.

Link to this review by sarahevans tagged coming of agegraphic novel

Meet Sakamoto, the new kid at the local high school. Not only is he tall, dark, and handsome, but he’s intelligent and unflappable. He’s always one step ahead, which is necessary when your talents bring out both love and jealousy in everyone around you. When targeted by bullies, Sakamoto catches the dirty eraser meant for his head before it hits him, and pops open an umbrella just before a bucket of water dumps on him. The most popular girl in school tries to hook him but he cleverly deflects all attempts at intimacy. A teacher obsessed with putting him in his place kicks him out of class, only to realize Sakamoto wanted him to so that he could feed an injured bird. There seems to be nothing Sakamoto can’t do.

Why I picked it up: The positive review in Otaku USA.

Why I finished it: I don’t usually enjoy manga drawn in a seinen style, but the action lines perfectly capture Sakamoto’s smooth moves, whether he’s bounding to the second floor to deliver a plate of lunch snacks or using his drawing compass to sword fight a hornet.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the megane characters in Japanese pop culture. Sakamoto is the embodiment of the extremely analytical, exceptionally smart, calculating, and slightly devilish stereotype. But he also always does the right thing. He solves his friend Kubota’s extortion problem by getting them both jobs at a fast food place -- Sakamoto’s charms bring in a flurry of business and Kubota has to work extra-hard, creating self-pride and determination to stand up to the bullies. Plus I loved it when Sakamoto helps him fight back with a creatively brutal use of a straw and creamer packet.

It’s perfect for: My teenage son, Noah, who looks (and occasionally acts) like a megane. Like Sakamoto, he often puzzles over other people’s behavior and observes that “humans” are an “interesting species.”

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-22Unshelved on Thursday, September 22, 20162016-09-22T00:00:00+00:002016-09-22T00:00:00+00:00
Audiobooks are not cheating. Hear why and request a free poster from Listening Library!

Unshelved comic strip for 9/22/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-21/Audiobooks_are_not_cheatingAudiobooks are not cheating.2016-09-21T00:00:00+00:002016-09-21T00:00:00+00:00
by Ang ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Audiobooks

Audiobooks are not cheating. This week's sponsors at Listening Library have some great resources to explain why. Click through to read up on the subject and request a free poster to encourage audiobook listening in your library or classroom!

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-21Unshelved on Wednesday, September 21, 20162016-09-21T00:00:00+00:002016-09-21T00:00:00+00:00
Audiobooks are not cheating. Hear why and request a free poster from Listening Library!

Unshelved comic strip for 9/21/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-20Unshelved on Tuesday, September 20, 20162016-09-20T00:00:00+00:002016-09-20T00:00:00+00:00
Audiobooks are not cheating. Hear why and request a free poster from Listening Library!

Unshelved comic strip for 9/20/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-19Unshelved on Monday, September 19, 20162016-09-19T00:00:00+00:002016-09-19T00:00:00+00:00
Audiobooks are not cheating. Hear why and request a free poster from Listening Library!

Unshelved comic strip for 9/19/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-18Unshelved on Sunday, September 18, 20162016-09-18T00:00:00+00:002016-09-18T00:00:00+00:00
Enter to win a galley of Fields Where They Lay, Timothy Hallinan's new Junior Bender holiday mystery from Soho Crime.

Unshelved comic strip for 9/18/2016

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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on April 22, 2005.

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-17Unshelved on Saturday, September 17, 20162016-09-17T00:00:00+00:002016-09-17T00:00:00+00:00
Enter to win a galley of Fields Where They Lay, Timothy Hallinan's new Junior Bender holiday mystery from Soho Crime.

Unshelved comic strip for 9/17/2016

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This classic Unshelved strip originally appeared on April 21, 2005.

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-16/YA_Book_ReviewsYA Book Reviews2016-09-16T00:00:00+00:002016-09-16T00:00:00+00:00
by Gene ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Bookclubvertical

This week's Unshelved Book Club is full of YA books about magic moonshine, growing up in Turkey, the best fort in the world, an autistic hacker on the run, a quarterback with an aversion to being tackled, a girl abducted on a class trip, a teen with ALS who finds consolation in friends and a book of samurai poetry, and a group of British high school students who tries to figure out why the strange new student eats onions all the time.

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-16Unshelved on Friday, September 16, 20162016-09-16T00:00:00+00:002016-09-16T00:00:00+00:00
Enter to win a galley of Fields Where They Lay, Timothy Hallinan's new Junior Bender holiday mystery from Soho Crime.

Unshelved comic strip for 9/16/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/bookclub/2016-9-16Unshelved Book Club on Friday, September 16, 20162016-09-16T00:00:00+00:002016-09-16T00:00:00+00:00

This week's book recommendations from the creators of Unshelved and their friends.Learn who we are, how we pick books, and other books we've featured.


Amazon | Powell's
Character, Driven by David Lubar
Tor Teen, 2016. 9780765316332. 304 pages.

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by geneambaum tagged coming of age

Unshelved comic strip for 9/16/2016

Amazon | Powell's
Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
HarperTeen, 2016. 9780062356048. 368 pages.

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged coming of agefantasy

Lennie's dad, a crime lord, abandoned the family years ago. Lennie's mom and her three uncles take care of her and their moonshine business. Lennie feels guilty because six months ago her friend Dyl disappeared and was later found dead. Her death has left a huge hole in Lennie's life and poisoned her relationship with Smith, Dyl's brother. 

Lennie decides to break out of her funk by taking some moonshine to a party. She is toasting partygoers with her family's salutation -- before anyone drinks the moonshine, they must make a wish, then after a sip she repeats the wish and says, "May all your wishes come true, or at least just this one," then they both take another sip. Feeling sick, she leaves with Smith long before the party is over. The next morning, she gets a call from a friend who is still trapped at the party, manic with worry. Apparently all the wishes spoken at the party have come true. She confesses to her uncles, and Lennie discovers she is just the latest in her family to manifest this wishing talent.  Now there is a huge clean-up task, as the mansion of the party has devolved into chaos. There is no possibility of unwishing, and Lennie’s father wants her power for his enterprises.

Why I picked it up: I thought the premise of moonshine-powered wishing was clever.

Why I finished it: The rules of wishing and wish-granting are strict and troublesome. One kid wishes for the Cheetos touch, instead of the Midas touch, leading to several deaths when the people he touches burst into orange powder and Cheetos. Several other wishes are hilarious, like the guy that wished to be old and cool -- he is hip, but also 100 years old. Another person wished for the party to never end, which means no one can leave the horror show that is now the party. When Lennie's father finds her, he is chilling, willing to hurt her or her friends to get Lennie’s servitude. 

It’s perfect for: John, because he would love that this isn't a madcap, funny, wishes-gone-wrong book, but instead, a somewhat crass, twisted book where there are real consequences to people's wishes and everything doesn't work out all right in the end.

Dark Horses by Cecily von Ziegesar
Soho Teen, 2016. 9781616955175.

From the internationally bestselling author of Gossip Girl comes a dark, psychologically complex update of Black Beauty replete with jealousy, romance, mystery, and redemption.

Merritt Wenner has been self-destructing ever since the tragic deaths of her grandmother and her horse. After an epic all-night bender, she walks out of the SAT and disappears. Her parents, looking for a quick fix, ship her off to a residential equine-assisted therapy program.

At Good Fences, Merritt meets Red: a failed racehorse and a terror in the barn. Red has never bonded with anyone, but Merritt is not afraid of him, which makes all the difference. Soon they’re sneaking rides after curfew. Red’s owner, recognizing their potential, funds their launch into the hunter/jumper circuit.

Against the cutthroat backdrop of competitive riding, Merritt finds herself unexpectedly attracted to Red’s groom, Beatrice, and at the same time drawn to Carvin, a rival rider. But in Red’s mind, Merritt belongs to him alone. Anyone else poses a threat. And Merritt can’t imagine the lengths Red will go to keep her to himself.

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Amazon | Powell's
Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey by Özge Samancı
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015. 9780374316983. 200 pages.

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged biographygraphic novel

Özge Samancı’s graphic novel describes her childhood and adolescence in Turkey, from the time she wanted to attend school with her older sister in the early 1980s to figuring out what she wanted to do with her life as she finished her university studies.

Why I picked it up: I know almost nothing about Turkey except what I learned from a film about its crazy '60s and '70s film culture, Remake Remix Rip-Off. And friends who’ve been there rave about what a great place it is.

Why I finished it: I loved the way Samancı used photos as part of her comics from the very beginning. The book is dedicated to her family, whose heads are represented by two-holed buttons, with bodies and arms drawn on paper underneath them. The buttons add depth to the image, it’s beautiful, and she even manages to get them to express a bit of character.

Because Turkey experienced a military coup in the 1980s and the country had some conservative social elements, it reminded me of my wife’s stories of growing up in South Korea during the same time period: kids were taught to worship the founder of modern Turkey, Atatürk, much as South Koreans were taught to revere King Sejong; school is central, with tests determining one’s future -- Özge is actually told she can wet her pants instead of using the restroom during her university entrance exam, since time is so important; and Dallas and Man from Atlantis were popular in both places. (Why was Patrick Duffy, who starred in both shows, so acceptable and popular in countries controlled by the military?)

Readalikes: Marzi: a memoir, a graphic novel about growing up in Poland in the '80s. Both books are great at hinting at the tough times their narrators are living through as they come to understand how repressive their governments are.


Amazon | Powell's
Fort by Cynthia DeFelice
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015. 9780374324278. 208 pages.

Link to this review by wally tagged coming of age

Wyatt and Augie have a few weeks of summer vacation left, and their plan is to use scrap from Augie's uncle's junkyard to build the best fort in the world. Threats by two bullies and the presence of a developmentally disabled teen named Gerard complicate things. Can they outwit the bullies and help Gerard become more confident?

Why I picked it up: After a bunch of literary fiction for adults, I wanted to read something simple and clear. 

Why I finished it: I really liked the boys and how their differences made them a stronger team. Wyatt (the narrator) is more of a city boy, familiar with computers, while Augie knows how to kill, clean, and cook a squirrel as well as how to move around in the woods.

It’s perfect for: Susan, who would love how the two friends are, at first, nervous around Gerard, but also indignant at how the bullies have treated him (they made up an insulting song that he sings to himself). She'd really like how Wyatt and Augie help Gerard understand what real friendship is like when they enlist his help in defending the fort.


Amazon | Powell's
Uncaged (The Singular Menace Book 1) by John Sandford, Michele Cook
Ember / Random House, 2014. 9780385753050. 416 pages.

Link to this review by diane tagged coming of agethriller

Sixteen-year-old Shay Remby is trying to find her brother Odin, who is clearly in trouble. Odin, an autistic and brilliant hacker, participated in a break-in to a research facility to disrupt the research of a biomedical company and free the test animals. A young girl was killed, and the research that was interrupted was far more sinister than anyone suspected. Now Odin is on the run from Singular Corp’s pseudo-military security forces, who are intent on keeping the public from finding out what happened.

Why I picked it up: I was intrigued by a young adult novel written by John Sandford, whom I know as an author of action-packed adult thrillers.

Why I finished it: I was hooked from the first chapter where a blood-covered Shay is in a cheap hotel, cutting and dying her hair. Shay is a strong, capable young woman who finds allies in a guerrilla artist, a former gang member, a group of street kids, and an insider at Singular. They stay just ahead of the bad guys, garnering enough publicity to keep their cause in the news. As they learn about the real purpose of Singular’s research (transferring memories from ill or old people into younger bodies), Shay and her friends become more of a threat.

The action and violence build to a shocking climax, but the story isn’t finished, so I immediately picked up book two in the trilogy, Outrage.

It’s perfect for: My friend, Bre. She will love the stunts Shay and her friends pull to expose Singular, like stringing lights and anti-Singular banners from the Hollywood sign. And since she’s also a dog lover, she’ll really like the wolf-like X, the dog Odin rescued from the lab, who has extraordinary instincts thanks, in part, to Singular’s experiments.


Amazon | Powell's
Gutless by Carl Deuker
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016. 9780544649613. 336 pages.

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged coming of age

Brock is playing soccer in the park when Hunter, the sophomore quarterback at his new high school, calls him over to catch passes. Brock has good speed and a knack for hanging on to Hunter's spirals, so he tries out for the football team in the fall. He is soon called up to the varsity team. His success on the field is limited -- he’s only able to run far down the field on straight routes because he has an aversion to being hit. (This means he can’t catch a crossing ball which would put him in the middle of the field, where linebackers and safeties could hit him hard.) Some of his teammates notice, and they call him "Gutless." Despite this Brock settles in at school, making a friend in Richie, a relentlessly optimistic Chinese guy bullied by Hunter.  

Over the next few years, Richie and Brock become great friends, which is awkward for Brock because he doesn’t know what to do when Hunter treats Richie badly. After Richie joins the football team as a kicker and makes some clutch field goals, Brock hopes that Hunter will stop ragging him. But a crucial error by Richie costs the team a victory and Hunter goes all out to humiliate him. Richie has had enough and responds in a way that will require Brock to take a stand and to be anything but gutless.

Why I picked it up: Carl Deuker is one of the holy trinity of authors of middle school sports books, along with John Feinstein and Mike Lupica. (Tim Green is also making a push to be included, but that would ruin my trinity reference.) Because of Deuker's Payback Time, Gym Candy, Swagger, and On the Devil's Court, I always have books to give sports-crazed readers.

Why I finished it: It deals with bullying, school violence, and other serious topics in an enjoyable, sports-based way. I enjoyed the book for its action, and didn’t realize it would switch to the bullying/violence situation until it went there with real emotional power. Richie is a realistic victim of bullying who sometimes draws too much attention to himself, like when he brags about his game-winning field goal in the school lunchroom.

It’s perfect for: James, a student of mine who plays every sport as if his life depends on it, but especially football. (He has won the state title with his high school team the last two years.) Given that Deuker usually sets his books in Seattle, where he has lived and taught for years, this is perfect for him, so the schools and playoff structure that Deuker mentions are what James is already familiar with. I’m sure he’ll see himself in this book. 


Amazon | Powell's
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
Simon & Schuster, 2008. 9781416960591. 192 pages.

Link to this review by murphy'smom tagged coming of age

When she was ten, “Alice” had no idea how lucky she was. She had two parents who loved her and plenty of friends. One day her class took a field trip to the aquarium. After a fight with her friends, Alice left the restroom, but she couldn’t find the rest of her class. That's when she met Ray. He gave her a hat to wear and told her that her classmates were watching a film which she shouldn’t interrupt. He led her to his apartment, where he has kept her prisoner for the past five years.

While she is being beaten and raped, Ray repeatedly tells her he loves her and how lucky she is to be with him. Because he never wants Alice to look older than ten, he only allows her to eat one meal a day. He keeps her on birth control to stunt her menstrual cycles, and forces her to wear little girl clothes and nightgowns with ribbons and bows even though she outgrew them years ago.

Now Alice is fifteen, and she’s getting too old for Ray. He wants her to find a newer, younger girl in the neighborhood park and lead her back to the apartment. He will call her “Annabel.”

Will Alice comply because of her fear of Ray or will she use her visits to the park to escape her captor?

Why I picked it up: I was intrigued by the title because I like the song with the same title by Rob Zombie.

Why I finished it: I didn’t just want to find out if she escaped, I wanted to save her from the monster who continually terrorizes her by threatening to kill her family (he knows where they live).

Readalikes: Unfortunately, this novel reminded me of a few nonfiction books. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, which bluntly and honestly tells of her years in captivity. Dugard was kidnapped from a school bus stop when she was only eleven and was held for eighteen years, during which she gave birth to two daughters fathered by her captor. Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland was written by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, who were imprisoned and abused in a basement for over a decade before they managed to escape.


Amazon | Powell's
The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015. 9781481430654. 368 pages.

Link to this review by diane tagged coming of age

Sora is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) just before his last year of high school. His dreams of playing baseball and attending the university are dashed when it progresses. Confined to his house, he seeks friendship and human contact through the internet. He makes friends with a girl who is obsessed with anime and a boy who is a budding web designer, but he finds the most consolation in a book of poetry written by ancient Samurai.

Why I picked it up: I like stories about ordinary teens faced with extraordinary circumstances, and I was intrigued by the modern Japanese setting.

Why I finished it: Sora’s first person account of his battle with ALS is funny, touching, and heartbreaking. His relationship with Mai and Kaito grows through their emails and chat correspondence, and eventually they meet in person. Their trips to the park and out for ice cream allow Sora a bit of normalcy and even some fun. And I was intrigued by Sora’s thought process as he tries to decide whether or not to end his life before he becomes helpless.

It’s perfect for: One of my students, Gina, a huge anime fan who will love all the Japanese pop culture references.


Amazon | Powell's
Bad Machinery: The Case of the Lonely One by John Allison
Oni Press, 2015. 9781620102121. 136 pages.

Link to this review by wally tagged coming of agegraphic novelmystery

Everyone at Griswalds Grammar School (a British high school) starts the new year trying to figure out the new kid, Lem. He seems like a nobody and eats raw onions all the time. Other students strangely and suddenly decide he's fine, but Shauna still thinks he is too boringly weird to be that popular. When Lem invites everyone except Shauna to his parents’ onion farm for a party, she enlists the help of the nerdiest kids in the school to uncover what's really going on.

Why I picked it up: This graphic novel won a couple of awards (YALSA 2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens; Publishers Weekly 2013 Best Books for Children), so I read a few pages. Before I knew it, I was hooked.

Why I finished it: The mystery behind Lem's identity was a compelling plot line that soon becomes outrageous, with a bit of science fiction thrown in, and I loved the characters from all over the school. Shauna is super smart and can conjugate Latin to her teacher, renewing his faith in his students. Little Claire has a lisp and worries about undead "thombies" when they discuss Lem's hypnotic powers, and whether all the kids under Lem's spell will eat brains instead of onions. And Lottie has "the attention span of a moth in a light bulb factory," according to one of their friends.

It’s perfect for: Lily, a seventh grader who would like the dialogue and zingers. When Shauna seeks some advice from Mrs. Beckwith, the wife of one of the teachers, Mrs. Beckwith offers her coffee, declaring it is rocket fuel for the mind. Shauna replies, "Don't most rockets explode?"

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-15/Fields_Where_They_LayFields Where They Lay2016-09-15T00:00:00+00:002016-09-15T00:00:00+00:00
by Ang ( link to this post | email me | my twitter )

Fwtl

We are pleased to welcome back this week's sponsor, Soho Press, and are thrilled to discover that our favorite burglar is featured in a holiday mystery hitting the shelves this fall. Please click through to learn more about Fields Where They Lay, the new Junior Bender title from Timothy Hallinan, and to enter to win a galley.

http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-15Unshelved on Thursday, September 15, 20162016-09-15T00:00:00+00:002016-09-15T00:00:00+00:00
Enter to win a galley of Fields Where They Lay, Timothy Hallinan's new Junior Bender holiday mystery from Soho Crime.

Unshelved comic strip for 9/15/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-14Unshelved on Wednesday, September 14, 20162016-09-14T00:00:00+00:002016-09-14T00:00:00+00:00
Enter to win a galley of Fields Where They Lay, Timothy Hallinan's new Junior Bender holiday mystery from Soho Crime.

Unshelved comic strip for 9/14/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-13Unshelved on Tuesday, September 13, 20162016-09-13T00:00:00+00:002016-09-13T00:00:00+00:00
Enter to win a galley of Fields Where They Lay, Timothy Hallinan's new Junior Bender holiday mystery from Soho Crime.

Unshelved comic strip for 9/13/2016

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http://www.unshelved.com/2016-9-12Unshelved on Monday, September 12, 20162016-09-12T00:00:00+00:002016-09-12T00:00:00+00:00
Enter to win a galley of Fields Where They Lay, Timothy Hallinan's new Junior Bender holiday mystery from Soho Crime.

Unshelved comic strip for 9/12/2016

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