Friday, December 23, 2016

The Complete Chi's Sweet Home: Part 4, by Kanata Konami

When I first began reading Chi's Sweet Home a feline-themed manga series by Kanata Konami, I thought the whole thing would simply be about cute kitten shenanigans. And, while I DO enjoy such antics (I mean, I can watch cat videos on YouTube for hours), I knew there wouldn't be much depth to the series if it were JUST that. Not enough to sustain me through four volumes at several hundred pages a pop. 

Boy was I wrong!

Sure, the bulk of the first volume was just Chi geting into trouble (adorable trouble) as she acclimated to her new family and new surroundings. About the only drama was the apartment Chi's human family lived in at the time didn't allow pets. But the storyline deepened as I read into the second and third volumes. Sure, there were still the Cute Kitten Eposides, but Chi also learned about friendship and family and what it meant to have a loving and comfy home (and that not all kitties have these her new friend Cocci).

Part 4 brought out All The Feels, though:

Early on, Chi's human daddy sees a poster advertising a missing kitten who looks exactly like Chi. He's torn over what to do: Should he ignore the poster? Or should he do the honest thing and call the number? 

Meanwhile, the reader learns that Chi's cat mom goes out every night to search for her missing kitten. While playing with Cocci, Chi encounters his littermates, but doesn't realize until much later that his new friends are actually his brother and sister (a "DUH! moment for our fuzzy little heroine, but it adds to the drama). 

Things come to a head when Chi's cat mom saves the kitten from being hit by a car...and ends up getting hit herself. Chi's human family comes to the rescue, and Chi's cat mom ends up being OK. But Chi's human daddy knows it's time to take both cats home. Their REAL home. And they do just this, much to the sadness of little Yohei. 

At first, Chi is happy with her cat family. But as time passes, she starts to miss Yohei and the only home she's ever known. The poor kitten gets sadder and sadder until her cat mom tells her she may leave and go home to her her human family.

Chi races away, but her human family has packed up to move. To France. Chi returns to find the apartment empty. Oh no! Chi begins calling out to Yohei, but will she catch up with her family in time?

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

 Overall, I adored this series! --AJB

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Romantics, by Leah Konen

So, I've been hearing things about Leah Konen's quirky romantic comedy, The Romantics. And they've all been good things. So how could I NOT check it out.

I was not disappointed.

The Romantics read like the manuscript for an old-school John Hughes film. But cast with modern-day actors...with, perhaps, a cameo from Molly Ringwald and/or maybe that squirrely-looking dude from 16 Candles (you know, the one who wanted to borrow the protag's underpants). The characters were adorkable and quirky, the romance was sweet, and, of course, there was a Happy Ending that was right up there with kissing your crush over your birthday cake whilst wearing a horrible frothy-poofy dress the color of flamingo vomit (but wardrobe doesn't matter, because you're kissing your crush...right?).

The Romantics is narrated by Love. That's right. Love. But if you're thinking a winged, diapered cherub sporting a bow and arrow, get that image out of your head right now. Love, in this case, is more abstract, but still very much a physical character. Love tells the story of Gael, a hopeless romantic band geek who is hopelessly in love with Anika, the girl he's been seeing for the past few weeks. One night, he drops the L-Bomb and thinks everything is cool. Unfortunately, Anika doesn't feel the same way. To add insult to injury, Gael learns Anika has been cheating on him...with his best friend. Gael goes through the usual post-breakup scenario: He mopes, he gets mad, he does the rebound thing... And that's when Love steps in to make sure Gael doesn't miss out on True Love. 

The result: Awesome! 




Yes to that too. 


Yeah. Sometimes.

But Awesome? 

You betcha!

Recommended for someone looking for a light, cute read. --AJB

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Last True Love Story, by Brendan Kiely

Teddy Hendrix is a good kid, but a bit lost. He doesn't really have any true family except his paternal grandfather, aka Gpa, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. His mother is always away for work, so Hendrix is the one who sees Gpa losing his mind more each day. He loves Gpa and the stories he tells about his grandmother who was the love of his life. One thing Hendrix does know is that he wants to write all these stories down before Gpa's mind goes and loses them forever. One day, however, good, sweet, Hendrix does the unthinkable. He asks Corrina, the girl he has a crush on, to help him spring Gpa from the facility he's living in. Corrina, who is just looking for a reason  to leave, takes him up on it. They steal his mother's car, and decide to drive across country to Ithaca, NY, where Gpa and his wife first began their love story.

The Last True Love Story, by Brendan Kiely, is a great YA summer read. It has all of the elements of a fun road trip book, including a budding romance, woven with more serious issues dealing with family and belonging. I really enjoyed the main character Hendrix's love for his grandfather and his dedication to record all of his grandfather's stories for their family history before Gpa loses his memory permanently to Alzheimer's. This is definitely an endearing novel.

I was able to make so many different connections with this book. From the grandfather with Alzheimer's to the many impressive classic rock references. *JK*

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Inn Between, by Marina Cohen

Quinn hasn't had it very easy lately. Everything started unraveling when her younger sister, Emma, vanished on the way home from school one day last winter. That's when her parents stopped being happy. Ever since then, Quinn has felt crushing guilt. She should have been with Emma that day, not in detention for something that never should have happened (she was caught cheating). Everything bad that happened since was her fault.

And NOW Quinn's best friend, Kara Cawson, is moving halfway across the country.

At least Quinn is getting to ride with Kara's family to their new house, where she will spend some much-needed time away from the madness of her homelife.

It's been the weirdest road trip ever, though: There was that odd diner that only served grilled cheese sandwiches. There were those creepy wind turbines. There was the desert itself, which Quinn is positive is filled with snakes and scorpions and other creepy crawlies just waiting to pounce...

Most of all, there is The Inn Between, the uber-strange Victorian bed and breakfast she and the Cawsons stop at. Here, things are just The staff is a bit too cheerful, there are no phones (or cell service), and the physical structure of the building itself seems to change from moment to moment. There are other things too, like the familiar-looking man in the cap who fills Quinn with dread. And the girl Quinn keeps seeing from a distance, the one who looks like Emma (but Quinn can never get close enough to be sure). 

Then Kara's parents and brother mysteriously vanish, and no one seems to know where they've gone. As the girls try to unravel the mystery of the missing family members, they begin to learn the truth about what really brought them to The Inn Between. A semi-inconclusive ending lets the reader come to their own decision about happens next, not unlike the age-old riddle about The Lady or The Tiger. 

Marina Cohen's chilling middle-grade novel, The Inn Between, deals with some very deep concepts for the age level of its intended audience. Almost right away, readers will conclude that the characters are in some sort of limbo, a stopping place between the conscious world and the next (thus the name of the hotel). This could account for the disappearances of Kara's family. Readers may also guess at Emma's unfortunate fate. Predictable, yes, but in that intentional way when authors want the reader to catch on. And that doesn't minimize the awesomeness of this story, which had me glued to the pages!

The Inn Between reminded me a lot of the movie The Dust Factory (available for checkout from the Teen DVD collection). In this sleeper film, a teen boy is in a rollerblading accident. When he sits up, his world is strangely changed: His mother and best friend are nowhere to be found, but his grandfather, who is suffering from severe Alzheimer's, is suddenly lucid and talkative. There's also Melanie, the girl who is always cold and ice skates on the lake even though it is summer. Melanie shows Ryan The Dust Factory, a strange circus tent across the railroad tracks. Together they learn the truth about their strange surroundings and what they must do if they wish to go home.

Both book and movie are highly recommended--AJB

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets (DVD)

So... Years before The Secret Life of Pets movie aired the first teaser trailers, my husband and I pondered the age-old question: "What do Howard and Luna do when we leave for the day?" (Howard and Luna are our cats). It was one of those oddball questions one tosses to their BFF when it's late at night and you're tired and both feeling a bit silly. On the other hand, the inquiry is totally legit. I mean, do they raid the refrigerator? Invite Sam and Zack (the neighbor's dog and cat, respectively) over for wild parties? Haul the old Nintendo out of the closet and challenge each other to a Street Fighter challenge? 

Ok, maybe the question isn't "totally legit," but still funny to discuss...and funny to picture. 

I just never imagined there were others out there who asked the same strange questions of the universe. But apparently, there are similarily twisted minds out there, because here we have The Secret Life of Pets, the latest from Illumination Entertainment and one of the latest additions to the New Movie Shelf.

It all starts when Max, a tiny dog, meets his new roommate, a huge, harry dog named Duke. Things don't exactly go well. There are jealousy issues and territory issues and personality issues. One thing leads to another and the two find themselves collar-less and lost in the streets of New York. After getting jumped by a gang of ally cats, the boys are picked up by a duo of bumbling dog catchers. They quickly sprung from their prison by a rouge bunch strays led by a cute, but psychotic bunny with a serious vendetta against all humans. Max and Duke are soon in a sewer of trouble. Fortunately, Giget, a pampered pooch with a crush on Max, is at the ready to lead the neighborhood pets on the Ultimate Rescue Mission. 

The Secret Life of Pets has everything one could want from a great film: Car chases, kung-fu fights, explosions, heroic rescues, and grand romances. And it all happens before the owners return for the day.

The only drawback is the film's humor isn't exactly geared toward young children (in fact, many of the jokes and situations would fly over a little kid's head). Older children, teens, and adults will find it hilarious, though! In fact, the hubby and I liked it so much we watched it twice. And laughed just as hard the second time as the first.

Also, don't miss the three awesome mini-movies that come with the DVDs Special Features. You'll be humming a certain song from one of the shorts for days afterward. But no spoilers. 

So yes, this one is absolutely recommended!! --AJB

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Book vs. Movie

What do you usually prefer? 

The book version or the movie version?


So... Books allow for so much more detail. I mean, how often does a key scene get left out of a movie? How often do movies just get the whole thing wrong? And, when it comes to the final part in a series, the book usually doesn't get split into two or more parts so the studio (or whoever) can squeeze more $$ out of the franchise. Everyone says, "The book is better". 

But is it always?

Movies, on the other hand, bring your favorite characters to life: Harry, Frodo, Katniss... And, true, they're A LOT more visually appealing than books (when you don't count reader imagination, that is). Movies can be tackled a lot quicker than books. Even the two-hour-plus epics. Also, with movies, you don't have to worry about buttered popcorn stains on the pages.

But We Want To Know What YOU Think!

Stop by the Teen Department in December and vote for what YOU prefer: The Book or The Movie (See the voting box on the display by the Graphic novels). A winner will be randomly chosen in January.

I Could Pee On This Too, by Francesco Marciuliano

Here in the Teen Department, we Teen Librarians read A LOT of books written specifically for the teens and tweens. It's our job to keep on what's good (and not so good) in Teen Literature. But we don't limit ourselves to that. Occasionally we'll pick up and read a book from another department (Youth or Adult). And if we think teens might enjoy said book, we review it here.

This is the case with I Could Pee On This Too: More Poems by Cats, a humorous poetry collection by Francesco Marciuilano.

So: Everyone knows about Librarians and Cats. And it's not just a stereotype or cliche. It's actually true in a lot of cases. We bookish/literary types really DO tend to be cat people as well (Although other animals are cool too. I, personally, have an affinity for turtles--especially sea turtles). I am no different. 

So when I passed by the New shelf in the Adult Area and saw I Could Pee On This Too, with its cover featuring two adorable fluffy kittens, I just had to check it out. And I was pleasantly surprised. Very much so. Because I don't usually go for poetry. In fact, I avoid it if I can. Basic rhyme, slant rhyme, free verse, and the occasional iambic pentameter all kind of escape my interest along with the hidden meanings and metaphorical imageries poems are meant to convey. Reading it just makes my eyes glaze over. Give me straight-up narrative any day.

But I Could Pee On This Too is laugh out loud hilarious! These "poems by cats" are simple and straightforward and totally sum up feline behavior. Anyone who has ever coexisted with a cat will be able to relate to them. There's "Sit," all about a cat's mysterious need to sit on whatever their humans need at the moment. There's "Home Decour," which details knocking things to the floor ("I'm Sorry" reflects the same musings, but involving food). There are poems about catnip, poems about interacting with other cats, poems about the desire to spaz at 3 a.m. after sleeping all day, poems about self-esteem. And more. Accompanying each poem is a cute cat picture, which adds to the book's Awesome Rating. 

I Could Pee On This Too can be found in the Adult Area (811.6 M). --AJB

Friday, December 2, 2016

Can YOU Solve The Ultimate Puzzle?

Do YOU love puzzles? 

Do you love winning prizes?

If you answered "Yes" to both questions, than stop by the Teen Department in December and try your hand at solving The Ultimate Puzzle (yes, it's really called that). If you get it right, you'll receive a small prize, bragging rights, and be entered into a drawing for the chance to win an Ultimate Prize.
You should totally try this. Because who DOESN'T love winning prizes?

Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

I just finished reading the fourth installment in this series and it is so wonderful that I wanted to give you all a little overview.

Phoebe is a normal girl who one day sees a unicorn transfixed by her own reflection in a lake.  The unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, grants Phoebe one wish and after the customary wish for infinite wishes, Phoebe wishes for the unicorn to be her best friend.  At first, Marigold seems too selfish and vain to be much of a friend but eventually she grows attached to Phoebe too.

Then there are all of the great side characters.  There's Dakota, the popular mean girl who always picks on Phoebe and somehow ends up with sentient hair.  There are goblins, who want Dakota's magical sentient hair.  There is a candy dragon named Todd.  Phoebe has a guy friend named Max who is kind of a nerd.  There is even a lake monster named Ringo.

These comic strips are funny enough to make me giggle out loud like a weirdo.  Plus, who doesn't love unicorns?  Look for the books in our youth department.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dear My Blank: Secret Letters Never Sent, edited by Emily Trunko

Have you ever really really wanted to say something important to/about someone, but didn't have the courage to sign your name or single out the person or persons you wanted to say this important thing to/about? 

Well, now you can!

And I don't mean by posting a vaguely-worded, passive-aggressive meme on Facebook (as if the world can't figure out that you're talking about your ex or your best frenemy). 

Dear My Blank: Secret Letters Never Sent is a book based on Emily Trunko's Tumblr of the same name. Here you'll find Words of Wisdom to younger selves, hate mail to ex boyfriends or girlfriends or friends, yearnings of unrequited love, musings of regret, and more angst than can be comfortably handled in one sitting. Really, it's all kind of depressing. And sometimes reading it gives you that squeamish feeling of sorting through someone's dirty laundry (or, if you prefer, closet skeletons).

But it's entertaining for the same reasons. And its easy to see how this book could become as popular as Post Secret or Cringe. And I did love Cringe

The only real problem I had with Dear My Blank was in the formatting. Half of the pages feature either dark yellow text on a light yellow background or white text on a yellow background. Often the text is microscopic small. This made for difficult reading, and I was more inclined to skip those pages.