Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Archie, vol. 1 by Mark Waid

Boy, it had been an exciting book week for me.  When this little gem came in yesterday I immediately confiscated it and set it aside to be devoured right before I went home.  I have been waiting for this one for months.  I love Archie comics.  I loved them when I was growing up and I love them still.  When this landed on my desk I almost did a happy dance.  I did a happy dance inside.

I was not let down.  The art is great.  It's completely my style, bright and crisp.  The characters are truly updated versions of their old selves.  The best part about this book was finally having a background story to work with.  You know what you're getting with an Archie comic.  You're getting this great slice of life, this idealized high school world that you only see in teen movies.  I will buy into it every single time.

If you've read any of the Archie comics, you know that Betty and Veronica are always fighting over Archie.  You don't really know why.  They seem to like each other alright.  Archie's kind of, well, a bumbling boy with no real charm.  This book right here starts at the beginning and it is so nice to have a beginning.  Archie doesn't seem like just some idiot and there is finally a reason for all of the fighting over him. It's a great start and I cannot wait to see more.

In the first issue in this collection, Archie tells us that he's just gone through a breakup with Betty.  Everyone at school is surprised.  Obviously, Archie and Betty were the power couple, the couple that everyone looked up to.  Archie and Betty have been together forever, like since they were five.  They did everything together.  Now they aren't even talking.  All we know is that the break up has something to do with #lispstickincident which Archie doesn't want to talk about.  Right away everyone starts scheming on how to get them back together and they all decide to vote them in as Homecoming King and Queen.  Only, Jughead has different ideas and Betty ends up queen with someone else while Archie gets to play his guitar in front of an audience for the first time.

I bet you can't guess who shows up next!  There's a new girl in town: Veronica Lodge, millionairess and realty show star.  And she has something to hold over Archie's head.

I really, really enjoyed this.  I don't know how I'll survive until the next volume comes out!

P.S.  In case you missed it, CW has announce a new Archie TV show, Riverdale.

P.P.S.  If you're looking for something a little darker, you can always give Afterlife with Archie a shot.  In these comics, Riverdale battles zombies.  Oxford doesn't own these but you can request them from other libraries.  -RYQ

Monday, March 28, 2016

Withering Tights, by Louise Rennison

When Tallulah Casey, 14, is accepted to attend a summer acting program Dother Hall, a very prestigious performing arts college located in the Yorkshire countryside, she is thrilled! One, she'll be off on her own for the first time ever. Two, she'll be emmersed in acting classes (and maybe get discovered as the hottest new star of stage). Three, there will be boys to snog! Lots and lots of boys! And minimal adult superviision. Woo-hoo! Why didn't Tallulah sign up for this thing sooner!?!

What no one told Tallulah is Dother Hall is an all-girls college and, in fact, the only "boy" in attendance is Bob, the elderly maintainence man. Worse, she's proving to be a complete clutz on stage, the head instructor seems to have it in for her, and she's boarding with a family who seems to be unnaturally obsessed with squirrels. 

What's a girl to do?

I never really got into Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson series, but I gobbled up Tallulah's story, snort-laughing and cringing all the way through (for those of you familiar with Georgia Nicolson, Tallulah is Georgia's younger, and just as boy crazy, cousin). I must confess Withering Tights, the first in a trilogy about Tallulah Casey, is an absolute HOOT (pun absolutely intended; you'll get it when you read the book)! The situations this girl gets herself into....  LOL just thinking about it.

Will Tallulah make it through another semester without getting booted out of Dother Hall?

Will she return to live with the Squirrels, I mean, the Dobbins family and their looney twins?

Will the fog EVER let up?

And what will happen with Cain?

I really need to read the sequel! Like, NOW! --AJB

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern Day Slave Child by Shyima Hall

Usually when we think of Egypt images of pharaohs and pyramids pop into our head. We may picture a visit to the country as a warm place for a vacation with stops to see lots of interesting artifacts. However, for the people of Egypt there are many different social positions and for the majority it's poverty. Shyima's family is part of this group. With seven brothers and sisters, she falls in the middle. Often being left in charge of the littlest ones. Her family must share an apartment with two other families. She doesn't have a mattress and when it's time for bed her entire family shares the floor of one room. It's a life that may sound sad and small. But even wither her father's constant yelling and sometimes abuse, she's happy. She loves her family and she loves where she lives. Her happiness comes to an abrupt halt when she is seven years old. Her parents send her away, away to be a slave for a well to do family. Long days, no time for her self, her name is almost forgotten as her captors refer to her as "stupid girl". Shyima is hours from home with no end in sight. Her terror rises to a new level when she realizes her captors are moving to a new country, the United States. Shyima is taken with them and is their only servant left within the household, all of the duties fall upon her. A child that she be outside playing or attending school. She is left to clean, cook, care for her captor's children, and then possibly rest for an hour before her day begins again. Right before Shyima becomes a teenager (she has lost track of her age at this point), there is a knock on the door...

Is the title not enough to pull you in? As soon as I read the title I was hooked. Even more nerve racking this book is not located in our fiction section, I stumbled upon this book in the biography section. The author, Shyima Hall, is a real woman. This was her life. At seven years old her parents knowingly sold her into slavery. She would never see them again. I cried. At seven years old I was making friends, friends I still have today. We played out on our backyard swing set, we rode bikes, went to school. My parents tucked me in and told me how much they loved me each night. Sure I was expected to clean my room and help with the dishes. I was not Shyima. Each time this poor girl got knocked down I felt it. I wanted to reach through the pages and yell for her. Her situation is not an isolated case. In Egypt, servitude or slavery that she experienced is illegal however, it's common place. In the Unites States there are more than 17,000 people sold into slavery each year. Many of them are smuggled into the country such as Shyima. Scary, right? Shyima's story made me more aware of a situation that I didn't know existed aside from a Hollywood movie. Hidden Girl is a must read. It's a great eye opener and a book that you will thank yourself for reading.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jem and the Holograms: Showtime, by Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell

Reading Jem and the Holograms: Showtime, a graphic novilization of the popular late-80s cartoon by writer Kelly Thompson and artist Sophie Campbell is akin to eating a gourmet cupcake from a fancy bakery. A gourmet cupcake frosted with an inch of sugary pink icing, generously drizzled with edible purple glitter and raimbow sprinkles, topped off with a squirt of whip cream, and crowned with a shiny candied cherry. It's sweet (sooo sweet), you can taste its absolute (squee!) adorableness in every bite, and for the rest of the day you can almost feel sparkly pink glitter seeping from all your pores, proving the accuracy of the "you are what you eat" theory.

Yeah...that's about right. 

I'll start by saying I've been hearing A LOT of positive buzz lately about this graphic adaption: Strong female characters, diverse characters (both in ethnicity and body type), LGBTQ appeal, a romance that's NOT a love triangle...all wrapped up in a colorful (literally and figuratively) and fun storyline. All good things (Hello! I am SO there!). Plus I'm a fan of both the old TV show and the more recent movie (Sign me up to read this thing! Like, yesterday!). So heck yes I was thrilled to finally get my hands on this book! Even more so than the second issue of Lumberjanes

All that said, I am so happy to report that Jem and the Holograms: Showtime is every bit as awesome as hype/buzz/hoopla reported it to be-and then some. Unlike the movie, which veers off in some different (but still so cute) directions, the graphic novelization sticks fairly close to what I recall of the original storyline. With some modern adaptions, of course:

The plot centers around a group of musically talented sisters who are trying to get their band, The Holograms, off the ground. Trouble is, their lead singer, Jerrica, has some major performance anxiety issues. How to solve this? Enter Synergy, a super-cool, super-fututistic, Avengers-worthy audio/visual supercomputer designed by Jerrica's late father. This allows the shy, mousy Jerrica to transform into the uber-pink, uber-sparkly Glamazon, Jem. Wearing this disguise, our heroine has no trouble conquering her stage fright. Soon the Holograms' video goes viral and attracts millions of fans. It also attracts the jealousy of current "It" band, The Misfits. So you can probably guess where things go from there. To complicate things, a squeedorable star-crossed romance starts up between Kimber of the Holograms and Stormer of the Misfits (OMG! those two are SO cute!). To complicate things even more, Jerrica starts dating Rio, a hunky music journalist who is determined to find out who Jem really is. The drama escilates, cumulating in a food fight that disqualifies the Holograms from participating in a Battle of the Bands against The Misfits...and then ends on a cliffhanger where our heroines crash the show anyway. Right in the middle of The Misfits' set. There's motorcycles shaped like guitars, holographic T-Rexes, lots of big colorful hair, diabolical plots, cute romances, humor, music, and lots and lots of action. 

I can't wait for the next book to come out!

So do I recommend this one? ABSOLUTELY!! --AJB

Monday, March 21, 2016

Kill the Boy Band, by Goldy Moldavsky

There's fans and then there's Fans. Goldy Moldavsky's novel Kill The Boy Band draws that distinction immediately. Regular fans will download some songs (or maybe an album) by their favorite band or try to catch the new Star Wars (or whatever) movie the first weekend it's in theaters. Maybe the first week. If they can. Fans will preorder tickets (or the next book) weeks or months in advance. Fans will wait for hours, enduring freezing cold or blistering heat, for a glimpse of their favorite celeb. Fans will devote hours to scouring the internet for even a mention of their obsession.

Fans may even resort to kidnapping a member of their favorite band. On the spur of the moment, of course.

This is what happens when Apple, Isobel, Erin, and an unnamed narrator get a room in the same hotel as their idols, The Ruperts, a British boy band whose name is derived from the coincidence that the first name of all the members is (you guessed it) Rupert. 

So lets meet the players, shall we?

Apple: Adopted, overweight (a point that is drilled home to the point of overkill), rich, and obsessed with kidnapee Rupert P ("The Ugly One").

Isobel: obsessed with Rupert L. Infamous on Twitter and other social media. 

Erin: Goes to school with our Narrator and is obsessed with Rupert X.

Our Narrator: Loves 80s movies and Rupert K...but not necessarily in that order.

Our fangirls, or Strepurs (Ruperts spelled backwards), as they call themselves, are all set to attend the band's Thanksgiving Day show in New York City. They even get a room at the same hotel as the band in hopes of getting a glimpse. 

They get more than that.

While en route to get ice, Apple spies Rupert P. in the hall. So she does what any psycho fan would do: She tackles him...and knocks him unconscious. Minutes later, the poor guy is tied up and blindfolded in the girls' hotel room. He may not be the Rupet of choice (except for Apple), but he is a Rupert. Beggars can't be choosers, as they say. Suddenly finding themselves in possession of a member of their favorite band, the girls do what any crazed, psycho fans would do in that situation: They take photos, contemplate cutting pieces of his hair, and invade his pockets and cell phone (and the dirt they dig up!). 

Then the unexpected happens: Suddenly Rupert P. is dead. And it's apparent that one of the four girls did it. After all, they're all crazy enough to do something insane...and they all seemingly have their motives.

But who really did it?

I've been hearing mixed things about Kill the Boy Band. Apart from the curious title, I've heard this book is a hilarious work of genius. On the flip side, I've heard the book accused of "fat-shaming" and "slut-shaming" and stereotyping those of alternate lifestyles. Among other things. So, curious about the hype, I read it. 


While I can sort of see where fans and critics alike are coming from, I can't say much for either side of the spectrum. I didn't love the book. I didn't hate it. Sure, it had its moments. Mainly, though, I just found the story confusing, convoluted, and taking waaaaay to long to get to the point. I couldn't connect with any of the characters. And the ending was just kind of...meh? Reading Kill the Boy Band was like drinking a diet soda. Sure, it might quench the thirst for a moment, but it's full of empty calories and soon leaves one craving something more nutritious and substantial. 

Can't say I'd recommend this one. --AJB

Monday, March 7, 2016

Awkward, by Svetlana Chmakova

Cardinal Rule For Surviving School #1: Don't get noticed by the mean kids

Cardinal Rule For Surviving School #2: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.

At Berrybrook Middle School, there is a long-standing feud between the Science Club and Art Club. And this rivalry only heats up when the two clubs have to vie for a coveted table at the Annual School Club Fair.  In the heart of this war is new girl Peppi (Art Club) and school nerd Jamie (Science Club)...and the (awkwardly) tentative friendship the two are beginning to form over shared interests. When a prank goes too far, the principal suspends both clubs. Now it's up to Peppi and Jamie to come up with a plan to get the clubs back. But first everyone must put their differences aside so they can cooperate on the best club project the school has ever seen. Maybe Artists and Scientists can get along after all. Maybe middle school isn't so awkward for a new girl.'s still kind of awkward. But that's ok as long as you've got good friends.

Which brings us to...Cardinal Rule For Surviving School #3: Build things. Build Friendships. Build Yourself. 

Svetlana Chmakova's graphic novel Awkward is just adorable! It's all about navigating the drama, pain, friendships and, of course, the total awkwardness of middle school. It's about deciding to do what's right instead of what's popular...even if it means going against what your friends are pressuring you to do. And it's about stepping outside of your comfort zone to find friendships (and yourself). Sure, Awkward's ending may wrap up a bit neatly for some, but that's part of its charm (I do love me a happy ending!).  This tween-appropriate story is perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier's Smile and Drama

Read this one! You're gonna heart it! --AJB

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thanks For the Trouble, by Tommy Wallach

Parker hasn't spoken in the five years since his dad died. His way of communicating with the world is to write his thoughts, feelings, stories, and (brief) replies in notebooks (to date, he's filled 105). Another thing about Parker: He's also become a fairly skilled pickpocket, preying on the careless rich elite who frequent posh hotels. 

Then one Halloween Parker lifts a wad of cash from the purse of a sad-eyed, silver-haired girl eating in the dining hall of the Palace Hotel. And he would have gotten away with it too, except that he left his notebook behind on the table. A notebook containing a fairy tale he wrote about a girl with silver hair. A notebook containing his name and contact number. Even though he could use the cash, Parker has no choice to go back, apologetically return the cash to its rightful owner, retrieve his notebook, and hopefully escape without getting charges pressed. But the girl, Zelda, won't let Parker off that easily. She wants to know all about him. Why he steals. Why he won't talk. Why he won't go to college or plan for his future. She also drops a shocking confession: She plans to give the cash, all she has in the world, to the first needy person she encounters. Afterward, she will jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Zelda agrees to give the cash to Parker on one condition: He agree to apply to (and actually attend) college. The pair then makes an adventure of Zelda's final hours: Shopping, exploring, engaging in some pretty wild shenanigans, and, of course, talking of (writing) their most personal secrets. Turns out there's more to Zelda--and to Parker--than anyone could have imagined.

Thanks for the Trouble is the second book for author Tommy Wallach (his first was We All Looked Up, which I didn't read). It's been on our New Book shelf for about a week and looked interesting, so I picked it up. The concept was ineteresting: A seriously troubled boy trying to show an even more troubled girl that life is worth living. Sounds like the proverbial blind-leading-the-blind situation, but in this case it worked. Thanks for the Trouble is one of those books where nothing really happens, but everything happens. As Zelda and Parker's mini-adventures became more random and wild and as their conversations became more personal, I was drawn deeper and deeper into the story. 

I'd definitely suggest this one. --AJB

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

22811780Ahh the joys of being seventeen. Parties with friends, shopping for a dress for prom, hopping in the car and driving off to your favorite restaurant anytime over winter break... Not for Imogene Scot. She loves a good mystery, and by mystery I mean a novel with a fantastic mystery theme involved. No worries, she blames that on her father who is a medical coroner turned mystery novelist. She's not sure if she gets any of her social hesitation from her mom, because her mom left in the middle of the night before Imogene was even old enough to finish a full sentence.

The mystery of her mother has always eluded her, her own father tells her nothing more than a bed time story involving a stone. That she can get over. However, when her father leaves in the middle of the night Imogene can not deal with the fact that both her parents have left. After discovering clues along the way she believes her father has left to find her mother. Maybe if she finds him she will find a happily ever after at the end? Maybe.

The Mystery of Hollow Places dives into some heavy topics that many of us have dealt with in one way or another. Podos does a fabulous job of crafting metaphors that dance around the topics of depression and mental illness. On top of that the themes of child abandonment and strained family relationships are worked in to the story. All of that mixed with trying to be a "normal" teenager. You will cry for her when the world comes crashing in around Imogene and then stand up and root whole heartedly for her when she show her confidence and breaks the rules to find answers. The Mystery of Hollow Places is located on the New Teen Shelf. Check it out and let us know what you think!