Monday, September 16, 2019

Stargazing, by Jen Wang

I love stories about friendships that seem magical from the first! I mean, don't even get me started on Perks of Being a Wallflower. I will gush endlessly! And I will do the same of Jen Wang's amazing and incredible new graphic novel, Stargazing.

(although Stargazing is directed more toward a Middle School audience and Wallflower is decidedly mature)

In Stargazing, we meet Christine, the eldest daughter of very conservative and strict Chinese-American parents. Christine is shy, reserved and very responsible, but a part of her wishes she could break free of that image and be more herself... or, to be exact, the version of herself she wishes to be. If only her parents would allow it. If only she could allow herselfMoon, Christine's new neighbor, is everything Christine is not: Outgoing, free-spirited, imaginative. These two opposites become best friends. They plan to participate in the school's talent show together and Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: That she has visions of magical beings who will, eventually, some to take her back to her home world somewhere among the stars.  Unfortunately, Moon's "visions" are a symptom of a brain tumor. Now it is up to Christine to be there for Moon. But cam she deal?

Stargazing dealt with so many feels-worthy subjects: Friendship, family drama, jealousy, and, of course Moon's scary health issues. But the author wove all the difficult elements into the story in such a way things never felt preachy or forced. Rather, it was just a beautiful story with wonderful characters and an equally wonderful message.

I recommend you grab Stargazing as soon it hits the shelves! You'll be so glad you did!

--AJB

Friday, September 6, 2019

Pumpkinheads, by Rainbow Rowell (illus: Faith Erin Hicks)

In honor of Pumpkin Spice Season 2019, I give you Pumpkinheads, the latest literary offering from Rainbow Rowell (author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl). This seasonally fun graphic novel (illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks), is an absolute blast to read! And it most certainly did get this Summer-Loving librarian excited for Autumn. And for pumpkin spice...and apple pie...and S'mores...and kettle corn... and... Well, maybe I'm just hungry!

Anyway: It's Halloween, and best friends Deja and Josiah are wrapping up their last season ever at DeKnocks World Famous Pumpkin Patch & Autumn Jamboree. Come next fall, these two besties will have gone their separate ways to separate colleges. So Deja decides they must make the final night count! This means ditching their post and sampling all the tasty snacks DeKnocks has to offer and, most of all, helping Josiah finally talk to Marcy, the cute fudge shop girl he's been crushing on for three seasons but never had the guts to approach. As the night progresses, Deja and Josiah chase Marcy across patch and encounter petting zoo escapees, snack-snatching hooligans, evil exes, and rival employees. Will Josiah track down his crush before the patch closes for the night--and for the season? And, if he does, will the encounter be everything he hoped for?

You'll have to read the book to find out!

Pumpkinheads was such a fun adventure and I loved everything about it. The characters, the plot, the humor...and even the predictable (yet adorable) Rom-Com-worthy ending. This is one of those books that leaves you feeling happy. And I highly, highly recommend it!

--AJB

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Snow, Glass, Apples, by Neil Gaiman (illus: Colleen Doran)

Firstly, a word of caution: Snow, Glass, Apples is not your average Disney fairy tail. 

Neil Gaiman, the Grand Master of Dark (and gorgeous!) Fantasy, puts a vampiric spin on the classic tale of Snow White with this beautiful graphic novel. In this version, we focus on the so-called Evil Queen...who, as we learn, may not be so evil after all.

This well-known Villain (who is not really a villain) narrates this creepy tale, telling how she came to the palace as an innocent girl who naively believed she was to have her own Happily Ever After... Until she met her new stepdaughter and learned that the girl, while impossibly beautiful, is not, in fact, the sweet and innocent princess Disney taught us to know and love. In fact, this Snow White is a bloodthirsty monster who murdered her mother and, when banished to the forest, preyed on the citizens of the kingdom. Using the classic poison apple ploy, the Queen believed she had defeated her stepdaughter. And she did...until a prince with exceptionally creepy ideals came along and foiled her plan. No spoilers, but I will say that things do not end well for the Queen. In this story, there is no Happily Ever After for anyone. Except, perhaps, the real villain. 

To me, the dark and disturbing vibe of Snow Glass Apples was, perhaps, closer to what the Grimm's Brothers were shooting for when they first penned the tale. The illustrations are haunting and beautiful, and artist Colleen Doran did an amazing job bringing the tale to life.

If you prefer your fairy tales with Happy Endings, this is not for you. But if you have a taste for the macabre, you should absolutely pick this one up! It's just as good as How to Talk to Girls At Parties or Sleeper and the Spindle (if not better).

--AJB


Cat Shaming, by Pedro Andrade

Popular blogger Pedro Andrade's Dog Shaming was such a hit, he had to give props to America's other favorite household pet: The Cat.

Cat Shaming (shelf location: T636A) is hilarious as can be, and I found myself literally laughing out loud as I flipped through it. These adorable felines are accused of everything from biting and vomiting to yowling at 3 a.m. to destruction of property. Some are even Cat Burglers in the most literal sense. However, none of them look the least bit ashamed. On the contrary, their reactions range from indifferent to downright proud! In fact, the very term "Cat Shaming" is, to me, an oxymoron. Because any person who is now, or has ever been, will tell you that you can't shame a cat. Because cats are above it...ALL of it.

Still, Cat Shaming is an amusing and fun read. I've been owned by cats for more than 15 years and, I read, I related to quite a bit of the feline antics (For example, when my Luna is especially displeased, she will empty the food dish...and then Revenge Vomit the contents right in the path of the highest foot traffic. And she's not sorry either). I'd recommend this for anyone who has ever been owned by cats or just enjoys cat memes.

--AJB

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Summer Reading Reviews, Part 10

The Star of Kazan
The Star of Kazan is about a girl named Annika who as a baby is found in a church./  She grows as a servant.  One day her "mother" comes and takes her away.  She becomes an aristocrat and a "Von).  Then an old lady who is dead leaves her a trunk full of jewels.  Her mother sells them.  Then Annika is sent to a school.  After that, her friends have to save her.

Circles of Seven
I read Circles of Seven by Christian fantasy author Brian Davis, the third book in the thrilling series Dragons in Our Midst.  I discovered this series first when I found out about this amazing challenge.  This book will have you hurtling off a cliff with the characters Billy and Bomiel.  He is very clear about the subject of book dragons, and danger, and Jesus Christ.  I would recommend this book to anyone who would listen.  I can say that there was never a part I didn't like.

Land of Stories audiobook
The Land of Stories is about two twins escaping a book. I also liked the authors voices.

Girls World, August 2019, magazine review
I really enjoyed reading Girl Woprld 2019 August edition!  the magazine included games, recipes, fun quizzes, and tons of DIY's.  Even though this is a little different from the magazines I usually read, I still loved it!  I highly recommend this issue!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Summer Reading Reviews, Part 9

Cats (CD review)
Most musical CD's I've listened to make sense.  But this one was totally crazy, wacky, and quirky with a good beat and it made me want to dance!  I loved all of the names of the cats and I would totally want to see the actual musical.  I recommend this to anyone who like fin, upbeat music and cats!

Every Soul a Star
Ally, Bree, and Jack couldn't be different and have never met each other in their lives.  But a total solar eclipse brings them together and they discover that they're more alike than they realize.  With Ally's friend Ryan and Bree's sister Melanie, they attempt the almost impossible- finding the exoplanet.  This book was very interesting and in depth.  My favorite scene in this book was the solar eclipse scene because I've never seen a full solar eclipse.  This book gave me so much detail about what it would look like.  I'd recommend this book to, well, anyone because it's got something in it for every one to enjoy.

Mr. Lemoncello
Mr. Lemoncello and the Lemon Heads are back- this time competing in a VR game against Charles Chillington and his team of 8th grade bookworms.  There are twists and surprises around ever corner.  (Get ready for Haley Daley and her Kid Palooza Peeps.)  But nobody would expect any other because- Hello?  It's Lemoncello!  I loved all of these books because they are so unexpected and fin with lots of fun library facts and cool games.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fin books, adventure books, and fiction books.

Evermore by Sara Holland
Jules Ember is in hiding. She's trying to stay away from her enemy- the sorceress names Caro.  Jules must find a way to defeat Caro so she cannot break her heart.  On the way she learned that she loves  ****.  (Removed in case of spoilers!)

Star of Kazan
I read the Star of Kazan.  I really liked it.  I liked how she loved to be friendly and was never mean.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Summer Reading Reviews, Part 8

Taste of Home
The July-August 2019 edition of Taste of Home magazine is great for those who like to cook food or bake goodies.  It's great for those of us who just like looking at food and reading about it.  Make sure to take a look at it on Flipster today!

City of Fallen Angels
Clary is training to become a more skilled Shadowhunter.  Her mother is marrying Luke.  Some unknown person is murdering Shadowhunters for an unknown reason, but somehow its all connected.  Jace, Clary, and Simon must stop whoever is doing it before it gets too far.

Leepike Ridge
This is a really good book for adventurous readers.  It's about Tom who lives by Leepike Ridge, and he escapes his house to get some fresh air because Tom's teacher asks his mom to marry him and eventually ends up below Leepike Ridge.

Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes
I really enjoyed the book Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes.   I enjoyed reading a different perspective on the Greek myths.  Percy's retellings are hilarious and enjoyable, making it a refresher from the old myths.  I enjoyed the fresh perspective on the stories and the fascinatingly enjoyable illustrations.  I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a creative take on the old classics.

The 100
I read The 100 by Cass Morgan.  Overall, I really liked the book.  I thought the characters had very interesting character development.