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Recommendations for Friday, May 14, 2010

Foiled by Jane Yolen, Mike Cavallaro

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

Unshelved strip for 5/14/2010

City of Glass: The Mortal Instruments Book Three by Cassandra Clare

Link to this review by moonshadow tagged paranormalromance

Clary needs travel to the Shadowhunter homeland, Idris, to wake her mother from her coma. Her brother, Jace, does not want her to go for two reasons. Valentine is threatening the homeland in an effort to find the third and last mortal instrument. And the Shadowhunter government will want to use Clary's new, unique ability to create magic runes, if they get their hands on her. Jace secretly leaves for Idris. But Clary, irate, uses her power to follow him.

Why I picked it up: I enjoyed the previous two books in this trilogy.

Why I finished it: The question of how Clary would get to Idris, find warlock Ragnor Fell and persuade him to make the antidote for her mother Valentine was running amuck drew me through the entire book.

I'd give it to: Oriana, who would enjoy the twist at the end, and Jack, who would like the battle with the Clave and downworlders (creatures like werewolves and warlocks) on one side and a massive host of demons on the other.

For The Win by Cory Doctorow

Link to this review by billbarnes tagged science fiction

What happens when you want your favorite online video game character to be rich and powerful, but you're too lazy to put in the hours yourself? You pay someone else to do it for you, of course. They’re called gold farmers. And if you think the people who do that work are well-paid with excellent working conditions, you couldn’t be more wrong. In Doctorow's near-future these workers number in the millions in China, India, and Indonesia, under the thumb of mobsters, toiling for the rich. Then they decide to unionize.

Why I picked it up: I loved Cory's Little Brother. Heck, I just love Cory, even if he is an iPad hater.

Why I finished it: Not the pro-union rhetoric, for sure. But I cared about the characters, especially a video game economist named Connor. He’s a smart guy who makes some bad decisions. I think he reminded me of me.

I'd give it to: My new friend Jeanne, an aspiring sci-fi author who is trying to figure out how to convey backstory without slowing the plot down. In this book Cory manages to teach a whole course in economics before you can catch your breath, and makes it fun to boot.

NOTE Are you a teacher, librarian, youth worker, or someone else who could use a copy? Cory can help.

Mercury by Hope Larson

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged coming of agefantasygraphic novelhistorical fiction

French Hill, Nova Scotia. In 1859, Josey Fraser falls in love with Asa Curry, a young man who found gold on her family’s farm. In 2009, Tara Fraser is headed back to public school because her house burned down and her mother had to take a job far away. A magical gold pendant, handed down from one generation to the next, connects the two stories.

Why I picked it up: I’ve been a fan of Hope Larson’s graphic novels since the amazing Salamander Dream (click here to read it online).

Why I finished it: I loved the story for its quiet sense of romance and the supernatural, but I stopped several times to just stare at the drawings. Larson really knows how to draw a line, and uses white on black and black on white to great effect.

I'd give it to: My second grade daughter because she’d get caught up in the possibilities for the pendant’s abilities. Middle and high school students who prefer historic or realistic fiction to manga.

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged essayshumornonfiction

At 28, Halpern moved back home. He spent most days at the house with his father, a retired doctor. His father always says exactly what he thinks. He’s blunt, honest, crass, and extremely entertaining. Soon after Halpern started a twitter feed to record what his dad said, he had hundreds of thousands of followers and the interest of the media and publishers.

This book is full of the best of those tweets in the context of longer family anecdotes featuring Justin and his dad.

Why I picked it up: It looked short. It had “poop” in the title.

Why I finished it: When I started reading it during my daughter’s swimming lesson, I had a terrible cold. My nose was plugged, my eyes ached, and I did not want to be anywhere but at home, in front of the fire. But the book had me laughing immediately. I accidentally spit out a cough drop. I blew my nose and passed it to my wife, who usually doesn’t want to read anything that makes me laugh. She laughed too.

I'd give it to: Fans of crotchety old men, anyone who read Jeff Vogel’s The Poo Bomb and are looking for a parenting guide for the latter years, and my sister KC who understands you can’t really be honest without swearing.

Super Chicken Nugget Boy and the Furious Fry by Josh Lewis, Douglas Holgate

Link to this review by gigi tagged chapter bookscience fictionsuperhero

A new kid named Fern Goldberg arrives at Bert Lahr Elementary school. He was just a normal kid. He and his best friend Lester figure out that when he and his class’ pet lizard fall into a pool of radioactive goo, he turns into a deep fried super chicken nugget boy and the lizard turns gigantic! See what happens when a furious fry tries to crush his school.

Why I picked it up: Because it had a kid in a chicken nugget costume on the cover.  And ninjas too. 

Why I finished it: I wanted to see if Fern could stop the bullies. One of the bullies dads is the principal and he tells his dad who should go to detention. 

I'd give it to: Jarod because he likes stories about food. I’d also recommend it to Toby who likes stories that take place in school.

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged coming of ageromance

Never steal your best friend’s boyfriend. But Sarah just can’t make herself honor that unwritten rule. She’s had the hots for Ryan for years, but her gorgeous friend Brianna started dating him first. Sarah resigned herself to third wheel status until the night Ryan gave her a passionate kiss. Now she isn’t sure what she feels except desire and guilt in equal measure. When Brianna confides in her about briefly cheating on Ryan, Sarah is even more torn.

Why I picked it up: Elizabeth Scott has a reputation for fairly clean and appealing chick-lit. These are rare, so I try to read them whenever I can.

Why I finished it: In addition to the normal agony of teen relationships, which is skillfully imparted, there is a co-dependence theme running through the book. Brianna needs the security of having Sarah follow her around and Sarah needs the reflected attention that comes from being Brianna’s friend.

I'd give it to: Bell, who enjoys the tangled motivations in Kate Brian’s books. Teens who have stayed in destructive relationships for any reason. Girls who want to read the equivalent of a diet soda (all the fizz, none of the guilt).

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged coming of agehistorical fiction

13-year old Samuel is quite a woodsman, and can travel easily through the forest and track animals. One day he sees a smoke pillar coming from his village. He runs home as fast as possible, but the village has been destroyed, his friends and neighbors scalped. Sam sets off after the Redcoats who kidnapped his parents, beginning a cross-country trip that shows him the truth and depravity of war.

Why I picked it up: The dude wrote Hatchet!

Why I finished it: This book was short but tightly written. For example, Samuel’s woodcraft skills are central to the story, but Paulsen establishes them in just a few pages. There are historical notes between the chapters that confirm and add to the story’s details. Samuel, an idealistic pragmatist, is smart enough to hold himself back from fights he cannot win and wise enough to take precautions to avoid capture. I have a feeling this book will be used in curriculum for years to come!

I'd give it to: School libraries and teachers looking for an entertaining book on the American Revolution. Ben, who likes learning without knowing he’s being taught.

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