Thursday, October 26, 2017

Wild Beauty, by Anna-Marie McLemore

This year I discovered a new Favorite Author (or a new "One of my favorite authors". I have a few...). And that would be Anna-Marie McLemore. She writes unusual/unconventional love stories that are always somewhat magical and fantastical, although not overly so. Even though McLemore is fairly new to the world of YA Lit, I've loved everything she's written so far. And her latest, Wild Beauty, doesn't disappoint.

For over one hundred years the Nomeolvides family has been cursed: Each generation produces only daughters, and if these girls fall in love too deeply, those they love disappear. Vanish into thin air never to be seen again.  Further, each Nomeolvides girl is born with the power to create flowers from nothing. Believed to be witches, the family was long ago exiled to the famed gardens of La Pradera, where they must remain under the threat of death.

When Estrella Nomeolvides and her cousins all fall in love with Bay Briar, they fear she will disappear like so many loves before. So they perform a ritual to appease La Pradera, each sacrificing their most treasured possession with the hopes that the land will leave Bay alone. As a result, the unexpected happens: A strange boy appears on the grounds. He knows nothing of who he is or where he came from. The only clue to his identity is a scrap of cloth pinned to his shirt, on which the letters "F-E-L" has been written. 

Beliving he is a long-lost love the land returned, the Nomeolvides women take this boy into their care. And no one feels more attached to him than Estrella, who believes her sacrifice, more than anyone else's, was responsible for bringing him back. But who is Fel really? What is his connection to La Pradera? As Estrella and Fel dig deeper into the history of La Pradera, falling deeper in love with each passing day, they learn a dark secret: Maybe Estralla's family is not where the curse comes from after all.

Like the author's past two books (When the Moon Was Ours and The Weight of Feathers) Wild Beauty is Magical Realism at its very best. McLemore's lyrical writing style reminds me of Alice Hoffman or Kathi Appelt. Her stories are ones I want to get lost in - and remain in long after I've finished reading the final page. Yes, this IS a "Kissing Book," but it's one I would be happy to recommend to anyone. Because this book is simply incredible!


Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Rise of the Isle of the Lost, by Melissa De La Cruz (Tween)

I will always be a Disney girl at heart. If you're like me, you'll want to devour this Descendants series and even watch the Disney movies. Each volume adds at least one new character who is a descendant of one of the Disney movie characters. The Rise of the Isle of the Lost introduces us to Ursula's daughter. I'm a BIG mermaid fan, and The Little Mermaid happens to be my all-time favorite movie, so I was very excited to get my hands on this book! There is very little of the actual mermaids though, so don't get your hopes up too much for them. There is also our favorites from the first books, Mal, Evie, Jay, Carlos, and of course, Ben. And, as with the others in the series, the villain kids end up managing to become involved in all that's going wrong in the kingdom and the Isle of the Lost.

I love how each book has a new problem to solve, but doesn't take away from the overall journey that the kids from the Isle are going through in their attempt to be good. We get a continuing story of their lives, but also the new drama by adding new characters and new drama. I hope the author continues to write more of this series, and I wouldn't be sad to have more of the movies as well. *JK*

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Weight of Feathers, by Anna-Marie McLemore

I adored Anna-Marie McLemore's award-winning novel When The Moon Was Ours, so when The Weight of Feathers hit our New Book shelf, I scooped it up instantly. And I was not disappointed. This story is gorgeous!

This is a Romeo and Julietesque story about the Palomas and Corbeaus, two traveling families who put on shows that are downright magical: The Paloma's mermaid shows are famous throughout the land, and the Corbeaus don goregeous winged costumes and perform astounding stunts among the treetops. The fued between these two families goes back generations and has become something of a legend in and of itself. Lies, rumors, and cruel pranks abound, making things worse. Things finally come to a head when the two families find themselves in the same town at the same time:

During a catastrophic accident in the middle of a performance, Cluck Corbeau saves the life of Lace Paloma, not realizing who she is. Not wanting to owe her rival anything, Lace disguises herself as a local and crosses the line into enemy camp, planning to work off any debt feels she owes...and gets pulled into the world of the Corbeaus. Over the next several days, Lace and Cluck form a tentative friendship that blossoms into love. Even after Cluck learns Lace's true identity. 

Together the teens delve into their familys' pasts and learn the secrets and lies go deeper than either of them ever suspected. Incluing one especially dark secret that could unite the two families--or drive them even further apart.

Can love survive family drama? 

I loved The Weight of Feathers just as much as When The Moon Was Ours. McLemore's writing is lyrical and the worlds she paints with them are magical and beautiful. I was sorry to have to leave Lace and Cluck's world. But there is hope: There's a new novel by this author due out this month, and you can bet I will be first in line to read it (or as near to first as I can get). --AJB

Supernatural (TV Series)

No fewer than 10 people have told me I have to watch Supernatural, a (thus-far) 13-Season epic that is about two brothers who investigate ghosties, ghoulies, monsters, and other things that go bump in the night. 

Sounded to me like a modern day riff on X-Files. A show which I love, by the way. So my saying that is actually a good thing.

Well, the other day, I was in need of something new to watch. And, being that it's October, I wanted something on the creepy/weird end of the viewing spectrum. I picked up Supernatural because, well... because I was curious and because I was running out of excuses of what to tell all those people who kept asking me why I hadn't checked out the show yet. 

So I watched the first few episodes of Season 1. And so far so good. I like. But not gonna lie. I was correct in my initial reaction: It IS very, very X-Files.  Almost to the point I can hear that well-known theme song being played as I watch. I'd say Supernatural is more Monster of the Week rather than Mythology, but very X-Files nonetheless. Here we have Sam and Dean, two brothers who both lost loved ones due to mysterious and paranormal circumstances (compare to X-Files: Each of the main characters lost someone in to similarly unexplainable ways and they are each searching for a family member who mysteriously disappeared). They team up to hunt creatures whose existance The Man and/or society would rather deny (compare with X-Filesneed I say more?). Good times.

In fact, I only have one complaint about the show so far. And that is, the show is in desperate, desperate need of a strong female character. Not a romantic interest, per se, but a Hermione Granger/Dana Scully type of character. A "no B.S." type to play devil's advocate and keep a cool, rational head when the brothers are in danger of going off the deep end. Perhaps this gets remedied later on in the show. I certainly hope so.

Overall: As much as I like Supernatural so far, I like X-Files better.  

But I do like Supernatural. So far. I plan to watch a few more episodes and see where it goes. --AJB

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson

There is something that I cannot resist about a slim novel and this one comes in at 149 pages plus has a great cover.  I'll be honest and say upfront that this isn't a book for everyone but I really liked it.  It was weird, which I love, and it was scifi without feeling like scifi.

This is our world after the vuvv, an alien race shaped somewhat like coffee tables, have landed.  The vuvv are all about efficiency and when they first landed they promised Earth a world with no more work and no more disease.  However, all of their tech was sold to the highest bidders and now the economy is in ruins.  Adam used to have a normal life but now his father is gone, there's another family living in his basement, and his mother has been unemployed for months.  Adam is a painter in a world where most art is digital and each short chapter feels like a painting.  Adam is trying to find ways to support his family, by recording his relationship with Chloe for the vuvv and entering in an art contest, while dealing with a disease makes digestion miserable.

I thought this was a really interesting book.  It looked at the line between the haves and have-nots in a way that didn't feel heavy handed.  Adam's family used to be middle class and I like how it painted the picture that anyone could lose everything.  Adam's mother never gives up hope and Adam is always trying to come up with a better way.  Great scifi for someone who doesn't necessarily like scifi. -RYQ

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tenth Kingdom (dvd)

Several months back, my husband and I stumbled across The Tenth Kingdom while at the store, searching the bargain shelf for a movie to watch. We didn't end up getting it (we bought the Lord of the Rings trilogy instead). I stumbled across The Tenth Kingdom again while weeding/sorting the Teen Department's dvd shelf and thought I'd give it a try. From the synopsis, I thought it would be similar to Chris Colfer's Land of Stories. A book I found charming and enjoyable. Also, the film featured lots of big names. How could I go wrong?

The verdict: I'm glad I rented the film instead of buying it, because I didn't finish it.

Originally a TV miniseries from the late-1990s, The Tenth Kingdom centers on  Virginia, a 20-something New York woman, and her greedy, bumbling father They get sucked into the fairy tale world by way of a magic mirror/portal. Before they can return home, they must find a way to defeat the Evil Queen and restore the heir to the throne, who has been transformed into a dog, to his true form. They are aided/hindered in their quest by a werewolf who is in love with Virginia. Meanwhile, the troll king and his idiot children are wreaking havoc on the land. The heroes travel across the countryside, encountering various fairy tale characters and making new friends (and more than a few enemies). 

I got about halfway into the film before losing interest (I'm sure there was a "Happily Ever After," so no need to prolong the torture to find out what happens). My excuse was the plot was dragging along at a snail's pace. I got bored.

Another complaint I had was I'd be hard-pressed to define an actual audience for the film. Some parts were so silly and juvenile and cheesy (the annoying cheesy) I couldn't imagine anyone over the age of seven really enjoying it. Then, without warning, it would suddenly flip gears: Visually scary and/or violent images, mature dialouge/innuendo.... The switching back and fourth was so jarring it really disrupted the flow of the film. I'm not certain whether the writers themselves had a clear idea of what they were trying to achieve (at times it seemed like they were just feeling it out as they went along).

Overall, I really can't recommend this one. But if you want a great movie recommendation, stop by the Teen Desk. We have a ton of other movies we think are awesome. --AJB

Archie, vol 4 by Mark Waid

It is no secret that I am in love with the new Archie, sometimes called "hot Archie."  When the newest in the series lands on my desk, I have been known to squeal and hug it.  This updated comic has branched out into other things, too.  I love CW's Riverdale, though I am watching on Netflix so don't ruin the second season for me!  The revamp of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is also pretty great.  I even saw an Archie Diegest the other day that was a special Riverdale edition that I did not buy and have been beating myself up about ever since.

This new volume is more serious than the last and it was a roller coaster ride for me.

Now that Veronica has returned to Riverdale, her relationship with Archie is strained.  Veronica has matured slightly, at least on the surface, and she's starting to talk like the future heir of her father's billions while Archie is the same old Archie.  Things already shaky between them, Archie is worried about Veronica finding out that he could be cut from the football team so when Reggie threatens to tell her if Archie doesn't drag race him in Betty and his newly restored 1969 Mustang Mach 1 Cobra, Archie feels trapped.  He takes off in the car without telling Betty where he is going but when she finds out there are dire consequences.

Even though this was a much more serious run than the previous volumes, it was still loads of fun.  Plus, cliffhanger!  I can't wait to see what happens next.  (Also, so much fun to read the car stuff out loud to my husband. Ha ha.)