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Recommendations for Friday, March 09, 2012

Wildwood by Colin Meloy, Carson Ellis

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

Unshelved strip for 3/9/2012

A Bride's Story Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori, William Flannagan

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelhistorical fictionromance

This innocent romance set in nineteenth century Central Asia is the story of twenty-year-old Amir Halgal’s marriage to twelve-year-old Karluk Eihon.

Why I picked it up: Mori wrote and illustrated the only period romance manga I enjoyed, Emma.

Why I finished it: The intricate, detailed clothes, particularly Amir’s, are simply amazing and make Mori’s art shine. Amir is clearly different from her new family -- after talking about soup, she jumps on a horse, bow slung over her shoulder, and returns later with a string of rabbits to cook -- but everyone seems delighted that she’s unusual.

I'd give it to: Emma, because the romance that begins to develop between Karluk and Amir is subtle and believable, unlike more over-the-top, head-over-heels romance novels that turn us both off.

The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs In Her Back Pocket by Katie Workman

The Mom 100 Cookbook presents 20 of the most recognizable mealtime problems every mom faces (salad rejection, white food only, fear of fish) and offers up 5 spot-on recipe solutions for each. That makes 100 delicious no-fail recipes- presented in full color- that all moms should have in their back pocket. Easy to prepare, there’s nothing frou-frou about Katie’s recipes. They’re just the kinds of dishes that make the whole family happy. Katie (the mother two very opinionated sons and wife of one appreciative husband) was the founding editor-in-chief of Cookstr.com. Her food pieces appear in The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, AOLfood.com, and on her blog TheMom100.com.

National Publicity includes:

  • PARENTING MAGAZINE, 4 recipe excerpt (2nd serial), May 12
  • FOOD & WINE, Feature Dining piece, May 12
  • NBC-TV, Today Show, Recipe Demo, 4/5/12

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A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged science fiction

Prince Khemri has reached the age of ascendance. To become one of the million princes ruling the galaxy’s largest government, he must go to the nearest temple and connect, for the first time, to the Imperial Mind. Unfortunately, the trip is his baptism by fire. After surviving an assassination attempt, Khemri begins his training. And he gets closer and closer to becoming a candidate to replace the current emperor, which will make him more of a target than ever.

Why I picked it up: Garth Nix’s books are immensely popular at my middle school, so scoring (and sharing) an early copy at a library convention means I’ll be getting a bunch of attention from my patrons.

Why I finished it: For a book about space and galaxies to rivet me to my chair like this did, it must be an exceptional book. Everything about the world Nix created was so vivid that I felt the blowback when Khemri launched a missile to close a wormhole. I couldn’t get enough of Khemri’s master assassin, Haddad, with his psionic abilities, mastery of weapons, and the pulsing, blue, glass panels in the sides of his head. 

I'd give it to: Shona, who would like Khemri’s snappy internal dialogue, especially when he finds out his princely duties will include crawling the wrong way up a refuse pipe to get into a starship, but will not involve his masseuse and courtesans.

Superpowered Pony: (DC Super-Pets!) by Sarah Hines Stephens, Art Baltazar
Salamander Smackdown: (DC Super-Pets!) by John Sazaklis, Art Baltazar

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelsuperhero

In Superpowered Pony, Supergirl’s Pony takes on Mechanikat (Metallo’s cyborg kitty) and Dogwood (Poison Ivy’s plant-like dog, or dog-like plant).

In Salamander Smackdown, Flash’s super-fast turtle, Whatzit, faces Professor Zoom’s cyborg newts.

Why I picked it up: The DC Super-Pets books are more fun than Captain Carrot ever was (and I was a huge fan).

Why I finished it: Both books had me at the endpapers. They are simply spectacular. Baltazar drew all of the heroes, villains, and their pets, including a bunch of bugs that are members of the Green Lantern Corps. I want a poster. The illustrations inside are just as good, and I love how the text uses large, colorful fonts to make the comic book onomatopoeia pop out like they should. Whoosh!

I'd give it to: My nine-year-old daughter. They’re easy readers, but she loves them as much as I do. I’m going to get her the entire set this winter.

Kitty Cornered: How Frannie and Five Other Incorrigible Cats Seized Control of Our House and Made It Their Home by Bob Tarte

With the winning humor and uncanny ability to capture the soul of the animal world that made Enslaved by Ducks a success, Bob Tarte shows us that life with animals gives us a way out of our narrow human perspective to glimpse something larger, more enduring, and more grounded in the simplicities of love—and catnip. These 6 interlopers shape his life, from their dining habits to their sleeping arrangements to the placement and furriness of their furniture. More than that, Bob begins seeing the cats as unlikely instructors in the art of achieving contentment, even in the face of illness and injury. Bewitched by the unknowable nature of domesticated cats, he realizes that sometimes wildness and mystery are exactly what he needs.

"[Tarte] endearingly portrays each cat's distinctive personality, recalls its heart-wrenching history, and recounts episodes of reality-TV-worthy feline shenanigans . . . Delivered with infectious whimsy, considerable self-deprecation, and admirable patience, Tarte's empathetic chronicle recalls the anxious episodes that helped put any moments of relative tranquility into hard-won perspective. Any human who has shared a life with one animal, let alone many, will immediately recognize the infinite joy and inherent frustration found in such a communal enterprise." - Booklist

"[Tarte's] journalistic objectivity and self-deprecating introspection lend heartwarming humor to this account of cat-inspired chaos . . . A funny, pleasing read for cat lovers of any age." - Kirkus Reviews

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The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

Link to this review by emilyjones tagged coming of agemystery

Lizzie Hood and Evie Verver are thirteen, next door neighbors, best friends, and practically inseparable until the day Evie goes missing and everything changes. Lizzie tells the story of how Evie's family is affected by her disappearance. She witnesses how Evie’s parents’ perfect facade starts to crumble as each day goes by and they don’t know what happened to their daughter. Everyone thinks Lizzie is the key to finding Evie, since she was the last one to see her. But as she searches for clues, Lizzie discovers secrets about her best friend she never imagined.

Why I picked it up: I am interested in any book about a missing person, and when it's a missing teenage girl, it's a done deal.

Why I finished it: Despite the amateur sleuth feel of Lizzie's attempts to help the police find her friend, Abbott masterfully captures the sense of a thirteen-year-old girl: the drama, the extreme emotions, and the longing to be desired and loved.

I'd give it to: Jason, who would share the anger and loathing that Evie's situation made me feel. (I was so outraged after finishing the book, I talked about it for days afterward -- I haven't had a story evoke such a visceral response in a long time.)

The Littlest Pirate King by David B, Pierre Mac Orlan, Kim Thompson

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged fantasygraphic novelparanormal

Graphic novel adaptation of “Le Roi Rose” by Pierre Mac Orlan.

Undead pirates roam the seas. They want to die and find eternal peace. But when that doesn’t work, they pray for a living creature to torment. They find a baby boy amidst the wreckage of a ship and decide to raise him until he’s ten. Then they plan to kill him so they can have a cabin-boy.

Why I picked it up: David B.’s Epileptic made me a fan of his work. But the cover, featuring ghastly pirates behind a little boy, would have caught my attention anyway.

Why I finished it: It’s a kid’s book with an edge. The pirates aren’t particularly horrifying, but after they fail in their attempt to die, they attack a boat, murder the crew, and make off with the loot they find aboard. (Then they celebrate their plunder but realize material possessions really aren’t much comfort to the undead.)

I'd give it to: Nathan, who would recognize the boy’s reckless, wild behavior from his own younger days, and would be able to share it with his son, Holden.

My Life as a Stuntboy by Janet Tashjian

Link to this review by danritchie tagged coming of age

Twelve-year-old Derek is still working on his reading skills and sketching illustrations of his vocabulary words. While skateboarding and practicing his parkour skills around UCLA with his friend Matt, Derek is approached by Tony. He offers Derek a job as a stuntman for the movie he is working on. With the chance of a lifetime in front of him, Derek’s life should be perfect. But if something can go wrong for Derek it usually will, and things get more complicated. His parents will only let him do the movie if he agrees to a tutoring contract and changing the diapers of their pet monkey. His best friend is jealous. And he discovers on the first day of filming that he is stunting, in drag, for a teenage girl.

Why I picked it up: I read Tashjian’s first book about Derek, My Life as a Book, and I wanted to see what he’s been up to. That, and the doodles he uses to illustrate his vocabulary words cleverly enhance the story.

Why I finished it: Derek is quite philosophical for his age. I wanted to see how he would mend his broken friendship after Matt posts a video of Derek struggling to read aloud with a tutor.

I'd give it to: Jackie, our local skateboard fanatic. He will enjoy the stunt scenes, and I also think he will relate well to Derek because of the mischievous side of his personality.

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez, Jenna Glatzer

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged biographycoming of agenonfiction

Gaby Rodriguez was a regular high school student, trying to maintain a high ranking in her graduating class, when the media broke the story. For her senior project she had pretended to be pregnant for six months. Almost no one knew the truth, including her boyfriend’s family. Rodriguez matter-of-factly discussed the numerous members of her family who dropped out of high school due to pregnancies, and this history added to the sense of disappointment her family felt when she announced her due date. (Her mother and boyfriend knew the truth, but her brothers didn’t, and they threatened her boyfriend.) 

When the news got out, TV came calling and Gaby ended up with Matt Lauer on the Today show, telling about her senior project, and discussing both the criticism and praise that came her way.

Why I picked it up: I had heard about this on the local news months ago (like Gaby I live in Washington State) and wanted to hear the whole story. I was also hoping to hear about how the people were were jerks when they thought she had screwed up acted after finding out the truth.

Why I finished it: It is a very quick read, plus Gaby is brutally honest about her family’s reaction -- several of them ask her why she had ruined her life. Her mentor and science teacher who felt both crushed by the news of her pregnancy and betrayed when he found out about her lies.

I'd give it to: Michele, who, when she heard about the project and the reactions of her family, said “Well, now she’ll get to see if they really love her or not.”  It might not be that simple, but it was eye-opening and raw. 

That Is All by John Hodgman

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged humorliterary

A book of fake trivia ("Were You Aware Of It? A Cautionary Tale Regarding Sex in Weird Shacks"), lists ("Taboos of the Sea"), tables ("Disgusting Regional Sodas"), how-tos ("How to Make Your Own Wine in a Toilet, Even If You Are Not in Prison"), stories ("How I Became a Former Professional Literary Agent") and daily predictions of the future ("April 20, 2012: In Black Mold, AR, science teacher Mark Byrneth accidentally evolves in front of the entire class. He is suspended and, eventually, caged.") that lead up to Ragnarok. Plus a list of 700 ancient and unlistable ones who will play some role in the end of the world. Get a feel for the magnificence of Hodgman's vision in this video trailer.

Why I picked it up: This is the third volume of Hodgman's compilation of humorous and complete world knowledge. I loved the first two books and their especially well-done (and star-studded) audiobooks.

Why I finished it: The jokes pay off my years spent poring over books of trivia, lists, and facts. They range from the straight-up silly ("KATHERINE HEPBURN had to ban dry dog food in the house, because if SPENCER TRACY found it, he would eat the whole bag and die.") to odd statements that turn out to be true ("Similarly, professional basketball was whites-only until 1950, with an exception made in 1947 for Wataru Misaka, a Japanese American New York Knickerbocker. But that was because the Japanese have a natural genetic affinity for the game.")

I'd give it to: Fran, because the book deals with the fears that come with turning forty, knowing that your kids will outlive you and death comes for everyone sooner or later. She'll like that knowledge of one’s fate can coexist with hope and happiness.

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