The Private Eye Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, Munsa Vicente

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by geneambaum tagged graphic novelscience fiction

Unshelved comic strip for 9/19/2014

Contains The Private Eye issues #1 - #5.

This digital comic book series is available in a variety of file formats and languages (including Català!) only at the Panel Syndicate website. Pay whatever price you name (really!) for this and the individual issues of the series.

@bookblrb: A woman hires an unlicensed investigator to dig up dirt on her, then she's murdered.

The Dirty Version On Stage, in the Studio, and in the Streets with Ol' Dirty Bastard by Buddha Monk, Mickey Hess

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged biography

Russell Tyrone Jones, better known as Ol' Dirty Bastard (ODB) was a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. They are a loose collective or rappers who achieved great critical and monetary success, but rarely release albums or appear in public together. ODB was the wildest of the men in the group, and often skipped concerts and studio time. Buddha Monk, the author and a friend of ODB, was tasked with getting him to gigs and recording sessions. ODB was known to be inconsistent in his personal life. He was often generous with his time and celebrity, but also reclusive, sometimes hiding away from friends and family for weeks at a time. (His friends believed his erratic behavior and outrageous publicity stunts may have been indications of mental instability.) There is a lot of information about the beginnings of the Wu-Tang Clan and how ODB refined his rapping skills, as well as a discussion of song and album influences which helped shaped his unusual sound. ODB spent time in jail and struggled with drugs and alcohol, which finally killed him in 2004 at the age of thirty-five.

Why I picked it up: I was around in the early days of rap and loved groups like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. I had gotten out of listening to rap by the time Wu-Tang Clan broke big in 1993, but they were definitely an important group. I wanted to brush up on the history of rap.

Why I finished it: ODB pulled off a few brilliant publicity stunts, like when he used his welfare card as the cover of Return to the 36 Chambers. In another instance, he picked up his welfare check with his family in a limousine. (You can watch a recording of this thanks to MTV.) But his behavior was also often inexplicable, like when he was caught shoplifting a fifty dollar pair of shoes with over $500 in his wallet. He couldn't be bothered to show up for concerts and court dates, which led to losing money and prison time. I can't decide if he was complicated, or just childish and purposely not good with a schedule.

It's perfect for: Todd, my high school friend who went to see NWA with me back in the day. Yes, although I am a white, suburb-dweller, I saw NWA back when they opened for Whodini and LL Cool J. This would be a blast from the past for him, too, bringing back our fairly short rap phase. Todd is also somewhat erratic himself -- he went up to Alaska and lived as an itinerant handyman for a few years, before taking a bike trip alone through South America. He would dig ODB’s wildness. Todd's "facing down a bear" stories were always entertaining, and he once took his high school homework to a strip club and studied while ignoring the dancers and the strange looks everyone gave him.

@bookblrb: An in-depth biography of the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard by his friend Buddha Monk.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Read by the Author

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse…and in her own voice. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a listen into a child’s soul as Woodson searches for her place in the world. Her eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and will certainly inspire others who listen to this extraordinary work, which has already received 6 starred reviews! Listen to the entire first chapter here.

4 CDs: 9780553397260, audio download: 9780553397277

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Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Link to this review by emilyreads tagged romance

Flight attendant and serial heartbreaker Summer Benson has just suffered two near-fatal blows: one, a plane crash, and two, the loss of her hot pilot boyfriend, who was all set to propose until he realized he just didn’t love her enough. Summer heads to Black Dog Bay, Delaware, the breakup capital of the world, to nurse her wounds and recuperate. There she discovers a whole community dedicated to the art of getting over it -- from the local boutique offering styles from frumpy to hot-cha-cha, to the Winery, a bar with an endless playlist of lonely-heart and girl-power anthems. Summer quickly runs afoul of the local Miss Havisham, Hattie Huntington, but she’s savvy enough to win the attention of the town’s most eligible bachelor, too -- Mayor Dutch Jansen, a hottie raising his teenage sister.

Why I picked it up: Sometimes a girl needs to read a book with ice cream cones on the cover.

Why I finished it: This is, quite literally, a Lifetime Original Movie in book form. Unrealistic plot twists, a town right out of a J. Crew catalog, characters that are too good (or too bad) to be true -- they’re all here, and you’ll have a ball meeting each and every one.

It's perfect for: You, on the beach, sipping a margarita and wearing a floppy hat, yearning for the chance to try the panties-in-a-wine-glass pickup trick on that hot guy over at the clam shack.

@bookblrb: Summer heads to Black Dog Bay to nurse her wounds after a plane crash and a bad breakup.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Read by Kirsten Potter

“Look with thine ears.”—King Lear, Act IV, scene 6

How fitting that the first of BOT’s four September LibraryReads available on audio has a powerful King Lear connection, with a major opening plot point that takes place during a production of this classic Shakespearean tragedy. Emily St. John Mandel’s “achingly beautiful” (Booklist) new listen, Station Eleven, gives us the pleasure of doing just that—looking with our ears, and hearing truly terrific writing thanks to our “riveting guide” (AudioFile), audiobook narrator Kirsten Potter. “Look with thine ears” and experience the sounds of great literature in the way only an audiobook allows. Click through to hear a clip of this buzz-worthy new listen from an author to watch.

9 CDs: 9780553545586, audio download: 9780553397987

(Want to be a hero to the audiobook loving patrons in your library? Solve a "CD Case" and win a full month of Books on Tape/Listening Library new releases for your library! Click to to see all our September releases and enter to win)

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Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Link to this review by diane tagged historical fiction

Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been exiled from the French court and sent to a convent as punishment for her caustic tongue and entirely too honest stories about the aristocracy. For a headstrong, educated girl from a Huguenot family, it’s a difficult adjustment to religious life in a stark cell wearing only drab nun’s garments. Her only comfort comes from working in the garden alongside a nun who helps pass the time with the tale of a young girl alone in a tower, forced by a witch to grow her hair long enough to be used as a rope ladder.

Why I picked it up: I was drawn to the beautiful cover featuring a lovely woman with long, braided hair gazing with longing toward a distant city. Blurbs from Susan Vreeland and Jennifer Chiaverini, two of my favorite authors, added to its appeal.

Why I finished it: Forsyth’s wonderfully descriptive style transported me back to the court of Louis XIV with all its decadence, fashion, food, sexual liaisons, religious persecution, and petty grievances. Then she took me to sixteenth century Venice, and on to a tower on a deserted island when a young girl is imprisoned until her true love comes to rescue her. The perfect combination of romance, suspense, and intrigue kept me captivated for all 500 pages. (When I reached the author's note at the end, I discovered that Charlotte was a real life woman who wrote and published the story "Persinette," which became Grimm's fairy tale “Rapunzel.”)

Readalikes: Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz focused on how and why the Wicked Witch of the West is so wicked. Both Maguire and Forsyth bring new elements to well-known children’s tales, adding details and a backstory that transform them into fully formed novels for adults.

@bookblrb: Charlotte-Rose is exiled from the court of Louis XIV to a convent. Her only comfort is a story a nuns tells.

Frank Einstein And The Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, Read by Jon Scieszka & Brian Biggs

VIDEO ALERT! Using real science, funny man and beloved author, Jon Scieszka, has created a unique world of adventure and science fiction—an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade listeners. The first title in an exciting new series, Frank Einstein And The Antimatter Motor is truly a one-of-a-kind audiobook, featuring Jon’s own hilarious narration and SUPER COOL robot sounds by the book’s illustrator, Brian Biggs! WATCH this exclusive video to visit with Jon in the studio as he explains why audiobooks help his writing process, and how they can help kids become better readers. (Plus, hear a preview of those robot sounds!)

3 CDs: 9780553396997, audio download: 9780553397000

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The Rules for Breaking by Ashley Elston

Link to this review by danritchie tagged coming of agemystery

After Anna Boyd witnessed the murder of her boyfriend and his father by a drug cartel, she and her family entered the Witness Protection Program. Now they have their real identities back and no longer live in fear of being uprooted at a moment’s notice. In Natchitoches, Louisiana, she has new friends and a boyfriend she is crazy about, and is looking forward to high school graduation.  

While she was a protected witness, Anna kept a journal detailing her life. It disappeared during her family’s last move and now it has been returned, along with a note from "T." Anna assumes it's from Thomas, a known cartel assassin. With her life again in danger, she convinces the government to let her family stay where they are, and hopes that Thomas is caught before he finds her. 

But after Thomas abducts Anna, her boyfriend, Ethan, and her sister, he tells her he is the only one who can protect her from the cartel. (He’s trying to protect himself, too, by taking out his replacement when he comes for Anna.)

Why I picked it up: I’m always on the lookout for a good mystery with lots of suspense and plot twists.

Why I finished it: It is compelling to watch Anna try to figure out what Thomas is up to -- he clearly will kill anyone who tries to help her but insists that he needs her as bait for the cartel members who want her dead. Anna and Ethan need a strong bond to get through the ordeal. When an old boyfriend of Anna’s turns up as Thomas’s accomplice, it puts a compelling twist on her relationship with Ethan.

It's perfect for: Sharda, a native of New Orleans where the story takes place. She will enjoy how Thomas uses the city, its history, and its culture to hide himself and his prisoners.  When he finally takes Anna to meet his boss, they move through the streets dressed in a tux and white gown (like everyone else) because it’s the St. Joseph’s Day parade.

@bookblrb: The only person who can protect Anna Boyd from the drug cartel that’s hunting her is one of its assassins.

Business Adventures by by John Brooks, Read by Johnny Heller

On July 12, in his blog “GatesNotes,” Bill Gates shared his enthusiasm for Business Adventures, an out-of-print collection of New Yorker articles from the 1960s, calling it his favorite business book. Immediately, and unsurprisingly, interest in this title has spiked (to say the least)! And anticipation for a brilliant new business audiobook (that’s Bill Gates and Warren Buffett-approved) is a sentiment being shared by listeners in libraries across the country. Business listens have long been a popular way to maximize a daily commute to the office, or even a secret solution to get ahead while at work. Business Adventures by John Brooks, read by the award-winning Johnny Heller, is a must for any business listening list. And you can hear a FREE full chapter by clicking here.

14 CDs: 9781101913345, audio download: 9781101913352

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Facing the Music by Jennifer Knapp

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged biography

In 2001, Jennifer Knapp was a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) singer/songwriter known for her honest lyrics. She was a rising star who had sold over one million albums. Then she dropped off the face of the earth. She stayed off the grid for seven years before announcing that she was in a same-sex relationship and that she was beginning to record again. Many of her fans considered this a betrayal, but Knapp believes that being honest about who she is has strengthened her faith. She does not see any inconsistency in being both a Christian and gay.

Why I picked it up: I had all three of Jennifer Knapp's albums back in the early 2000's.  I found her music incredibly real and approachable. She was brutally honest about her struggles to be a good Christian and to understand what she was supposed to do. I could sing all of her songs by heart, and still have them on my iPod.

Why I finished it: This is a thought-provoking book. Knapp gives a revealing look at her mental state, the pressure others were putting on her as a Christian role model, and the grind of her career. It references Knapp’s appearance on Larry King where she told her life story and then debated a pastor about whether one can be Christian and gay. I had seen that hour-long interview before, and I watched it again after finishing the book. I definitely see a bit of both sides of this argument.  While it is unrealistic to expect fallible human beings to be perfect, I believe it makes sense to expect musicians who self-identify as Christian artists to be in sync with major doctrinal issues. I felt like Knapp came off better in the Larry King show than the pastor she was debating.

One of the craziest moments in the book was about a revelation to Knapp. For about a year she had mentored a seventeen-year-old girl named Katy Hudson who was trying to make a career in CCM. Later, while Knapp was living in Australia, she saw that Hudson was touring Sydney. She had changed her name and her career goals, was calling herself Katy Perry, and touring on the strength of her song "I Kissed a Girl” It motivated Knapp to pick up her guitar again.

It's perfect for: My friend Bryan, an NFL football player. He has struggled with enjoying the attention of fans while wanting to have a private life, too. He is also a Christian and would be interested in how Knapp struggled with her need for privacy. She read rumors online that she was married with kids, had been sighted in Seattle, and had throat cancer (although the predominant rumor was about her homosexuality). She was frustrated that even after she had retired from music, fans were still prying into her life. Bryan hasn't had any career-threatening publicity, but since he is also in a position where people feel entitled to weigh in on his performance and his personal life, he would identify with Knapp. 

@bookblrb: Christian music star Jennifer Knapp stayed off the grid for 7 years before announcing her same-sex relationship.

The Extinction Parade Volume 1 by Max Brooks, Raulo Caceres

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelhorror

Vampires look down on zombies -- they’re stupid, bumbling, and a bit of a joke. When there’s another zombie outbreak, they can’t understand how the humans are stupid enough to get eaten by the subdead. As chaos envelops the world, vampires go on a feeding frenzy a la 30 Days of Night. But then they realize their existence is threatened because, if all the humans die, there will be nothing left for them to eat.

Why I picked it up: Brooks wrote World War Z.

Why I finished it: The vampires' view of the world is completely self-centered. Hunting in the modern age has become more problematic. People are interconnected, and vampires have to be careful who they hunt, how many, and how often because disappearances are noted. Vampires learn new ways to dispose of their kills, and largely feed on the poor who won’t be missed. It’s no surprise that they hardly notice that zombies are getting a real foothold worldwide until it’s too late. I also enjoyed that, during hunts, the vampires were very concerned about the quality of blood in their victims, and have a preference for religious adherents with a better diet.

Readalikes: David Wellington’s vampire series, the first of which is 13 Bullets, in which the creatures are even more bloodthirsty, and his zombie series, which starts with Monster Island, where an American leads an expedition to an infested Manhattan in order to save his daughter. Both are page turners, and they’re much less well known than they deserve.

@bookblrb: During a zombie outbreak, vampires go on a feeding frenzy and then realize their food supply is disappearing.

Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged nonfiction

Photos illustrate each step of fifty-four different techniques to start and end knitting projects. These vary from practical to beautiful, and best uses are listed for each.

Why I picked it up: I saw a knitting instructor consulting this book while she fixed one of her student’s knitting problems.

Why I finished it: I've been knitting for a long time, but I've only ever used one or two basic cast ons and bind offs. This opened up a whole new world of beginning and endings that look nicer than any I've used. There were cast ons that I didn't know were possible, like an invisible one in the center of a circular knit, that gave me ideas for cool projects.

It's perfect for: Cece, because there's a provisional cast on that will let her start at the center of a shawl and knit in the other direction from the same cast on row. She's ready for some advanced projects like this.

@bookblrb: An illustrated guide to fifty-four techniques to start and end knitting projects.

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques, Alexis Dormal, Mark Siegel

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelpicture book

Anna Banana’s stuffed animals want to go to sleep, but she won’t stop reading. When she’s finally ready to go to sleep, they have other plans.

Why I picked it up: The girl and her six stuffed animals on the cover, jumping on her bed, look like they’re having a great time.

Why I finished it: Artist Alexis Dormal does something I love very, very much -- he defines comic panels with just the right amount of color in the background (instead of the black panel borders used in most comics). It’s clear the entire story takes place in Anna’s bedroom though the level of detail comes and goes. All of this combines to give the story a wonderful, very natural flow from panel to panel and page to page.

Readalikes: The most colorful graphic novel for young readers about going to bed at night, the utterly beautiful Good Night, Gabbaland.

@bookblrb: Anna Banana’s stuffed animals want to sleep, but Anna won’t stop reading.

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