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Recommendations for Friday, March 26, 2010

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

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

Unshelved strip for 3/26/2010

Blackbringer: (Dreamdark) by Laini Taylor

Link to this review by sharonlevin tagged fantasy

Magpie Windwitch, granddaughter of the West Wind, does not choose to live in the isolated world most Dreamdark faeries inhabit. She has travelled widely, learning faerie history and spells. She hunts devils with her ‘brothers,’ a group of crows.

Now an evil being has entered the world, threatening faeries and humans alike. It steals into busy villages and suddenly takes everyone, leaving behind half-eaten meals and rocking chairs that are still in motion. With the help of Talon, a faerie who cannot fly, she must try to stop it and save the world.

Why I picked it up: The sequel, Silksinger, had been nominated for the ALA Notable Children’s Recording list. I enjoyed it so much I wanted to read its predecessor.

Why I finished it: The prelude hints at a prophecy that will affect faeries and humans. I wanted to know whom the child would grow up to be and the significance the animals’ gifts.

I also loved Magpie’s crow brothers, too: Pup, Swig and the wise and loving Calypso, who knows more than he says. Their family relationship is warm, realistic, and delightfully supportive.

I'd give it to: It’s a perfect fit for those readers who loved the Kiki Strike books, because Magpie can take care of herself and save the day.

A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi , Adrian Tomine

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged biographygraphic novel

Graphic novel autobiography about the author of The Push Man and Other Stories and other books. Tatsumi started publishing manga when he was a high school student in the late 1940s and developed Gegika throughout the 1950s. The book mixes life in post-WWII Japan, Tatsumi’s quest to realize his creative passion in a commercial industry, and his experiences as a manga creator and editor with other well-known writer-artists .

Why I picked it up: Having read his dark stories about ordinary people, I wanted to see what approach he’d take in writing about his own life.

Why I finished it: Tatsumi gave me the sense he held nothing back, despite the fact that the book raced forward at a fast pace. It had the perfect mix of character, philosophy, and history to keep me interested.

I'd give it to: Emma, who enjoyed Craig Thompson’s Blankets ; readers of Frederik L. Schodt’s Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics who want an insider’s take take on the early history of manga; and anyone who needs to strengthen their wrists (it’s 854 pages).

Frankenstein : (Classics Illustrated Deluxe #3) by Mary Shelly, Marion Mousse

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged classicgraphic novel

This graphic novel adaptation of the story of Victor Frankenstein and the monster he created is faithful to the details and structure of the original novel. It was originally published in France in 3 volumes.

Why I picked it up: It’s been too long since I read the original. I had forgotten the frame, where Victor tells the story after he’s rescued in the Arctic.

Why I finished it: It works as a graphic novel, and I would have read it if it wasn’t a classic.

I'd give it to: Those who enjoy Manu Larcenet’s art because it has a similar cartoony-but-realistic quality, and libraries looking to stock a zombie book that’s more than blood and brain eating.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged coming of agescience fiction

Nailer works on a light crew, stripping copper wire and other valuables out of rusting ships run up on the shore. It is a dangerous occupation -- some kids get stranded and die deep in the bowels of the ships. After another city killer storm hits the coast, he finds the wreck of a gleaming clipper. Inside is a rich girl, Nita. Nailer wants to protect his salvage. But his father, a pit-fighting enforcer, wants the boat and the girl. Hostile business interests, seeking to take over Nita’s father’s company, want to find her and use her as a bargaining chip.

Why I picked it up: I mistakenly thought it was about ship breakers in Africa. Then I saw that Paolo Bacigalupi was a Nebula nominee and a 4-time Hugo nominee.

Why I finished it: The story focused on Nailer and Nita, not how the world had gotten to that point. It had action and creatures called Half-men, but it was about loyalty, relationships, and family bonds too. It reads across genres, much like The Hunger Games.

I'd give it to: Anyone hungry for a post-apocalyptic story that's not a clone of Mad Max or The Road, and my three sons, who would thrill to the brutal, battling half-men.

Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged nonfiction

Jake Adelstein studied Japanese and became a reporter for a prestigious newspaper in Japan. After paying his dues and learning the peculiar rules of his workplace, he was assigned to cover Tokyo’s red light district. The people who he encountered there were anything but restrained, both in their tastes and behavior. This book becomes sexually explicit at several points as Adelstein immersed himself in his beat. It also makes a real effort to debunk the myth of the Yakuza as honorable, modern-day Samurai. Police contacts helped him get several scoops, but then Adelstein dug too deep. A furious Yakuza boss forced Adelstein and his family to flee the country.

Why I picked it up: I visited Tokyo and heard whispers of the Japanese sex industry. Apparently, there’s some pretty wild stuff you can do if you have the yen for it.

Why I finished it: As Adelstein investigated a kidney transplant scandal that involved the FBI, UCLA and a Yakuza boss, several sources said that there was a hit out on him. He decided to publish his article to remove the incentive for the Yakuza to take him out. I had to see whether he would get away with it.

I'd give it to: Kim, who loves Japan but would be shocked at how things worked in Adelstein’s world. (To curry sources in the police department, he went to officers’ houses bearing gifts until he overcame their resistance and developed a reciprocal relationship.) And Ben, who enjoys stories that take place in moral gray areas. (Adelstein apologizes several times for sleazy things he did to get a story. A police officer friend tells him that if he stays in the reporter game, he will do worse.)

xkcd: volume 0 by Randall Munroe

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged comic stripshumorscience

This collection of the webcomic about math, science, geekdom, and life uses stick figures, graphs, and equations to make me feel like part of the in-crowd while reminding me that I don’t really understand math beyond high school algebra. Monroe has added red notes and doodles in the book’s white spaces throughout.

Why I picked it up: xkcd is one of the few webcomics I read regularly.  A collection development librarian I know emailed me to ask if she should buy this book, so I used that as an excuse to buy a copy to review and guiltlessly spend a few hours reading it.

Why I finished it: It’s smart and then completely crass, and always funny. The math strips I don’t get provide a basis for my friend, math genius and gourmet cook Dr. Sameer Agarwal, to teach me what I missed by majoring in English.  

I'd give it to: You, if you think any of these are funny.

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