Moving Pictures by Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by geneambaum tagged graphic novelhistorical fictionmystery

Unshelved comic strip for 8/13/2010
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged fantasyparanormal

Three sisters, named for their birth months, each have powers. June reads minds, April sees flashes of the future and May can make herself invisible. They are unsure of their gifts and how to use them. This causes problems as they attend a new school, deal with their parents’ divorce, and fight with one another. Then April catches a cataclysmic glimpse of a future tragedy and tries to avert it, causing her sisters to distrust and resent her.

Why I picked it up: It looked like good chick lit.

Why I finished it: The clever interactions and witty dialogue between the three sisters is worth the price of the book all by itself. The question of whether or not April’s horrific vision will turn out to be true caused incredible tension.

I'd give it to: My wife, who grew up with three witty sisters of her own. Marsha, who liked the mix of real-world drama and magic in Charmed.

Kraken by China Mieville

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged mysteryscience fiction

Billy Harrow, scientist, led a tour group through the Darwin Center’s specimen maze, where strange and ordinary creatures mindlessly stare out from their jars, posing for the tourists. They’re all there to see the pink monstrosity in the huge tank in the center: an 8.62 meter-long giant squid. But the center of the room is empty. The tank and the squid are gone, though it’s impossible to have removed them.

Why I picked it up: I saw Mieville in person twice last year at BEA, once when he signed my copy of The City & The City, and again on stage with Kelly Link and John Ringo. I had the sense of how intelligent he is from his books, but I got a real sense of what a nice man he is, too. Now I know I’ll try every work of fiction he writes .

Why I finished it: Jenn Northington and I agreed to meet at BEA to talk about Kraken on camera, so I had to finish it. (Be sure to read her review, too.) But I would have anyway. Different groups and individuals begin to hunt for Harrow, who they assume had something to do with the squid’s disappearance. Most are looking for magical power, or want to bring about or stop the looming squidpocalypse. The villains are completely nasty, their powers nightmarish. Amidst all of this seriousness, Mieville inserts the occasional pun, which worked with the tension to make the book extra entertaining.

I'd give it to: John and Eddie, who both liked Gaiman’s American Gods and Mike Carey’s The Devil You Know -- I think they’re ready to try a novel in the same vein that’s not by someone known for their work in comics.

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book Five) by Rick Riordan

Link to this review by moonshadow tagged coming of agefantasy

A ship filled with mythological creatures and the giant Titan, Kronos, is headed to New York City. Percy (half human, half Greek god) stops them and their plan to lay siege to Mount Olympus (at the top of the Empire State Building). But this isn’t the greatest threat to the home of the gods. The monster Typhon once again walks the earth. Percy expects Kronos will try to destroy Olympus while the gods’ attention is on Typhon. He’ll need the help of all his friends from Camp Half-Blood, but they’re as divided as the gods.

Why I picked it up: It's the last book in the series.

Why I finished it: There are only five days until Typhon reaches Olympus and the world as we know it ends. And in five days until Percy turns sixteen and becomes eligible to fulfill the prophecy that says the Olympians have one hope against Kronos, but that the half-blood who fulfills that role will die.

I'd give it to: Jes, who would find the chapter titled "Pigs Fly" hilarious, because they do. Mark, because he would love the parallels between this story and the Battle of Troy.

Manga Kamishibai the Art of Japanese Paper Theater by Eric P. Nash

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged artcoffee table booknonfiction

Imagine being a kid hanging out with your neighborhood friends. You hear the sound of woodblocks clacked together, the signal for a show about to begin. A seasoned storyteller has arrived with a miniature stage mounted on the back of his bicycle. Inside the stage (complete with tiny curtains) are painted panels showing different parts of the story you will hear. They’re presented one at a time, like a film strip, while you hear a story in the voices of all the heroes and bad guys.

Manga Kamishibai combines brightly painted panel illustrations and live storytelling. In its heyday, from 1930 to 1956, it was performed on Japan’s street corners for eager children. The art, reproduced in the book as full-page illustrations, was a gorgeous combination of delicate watercolors and garishly bright movie posters. The guys who hand-painted the panels moved into manga and anime after the art form was pushed aside by other afternoon pursuits, mainly television and cram schools. 

Why I picked it up: I liked the action hero kid on the cover and wanted to know what paper theater was. 

Why I finished it: The stories reminded me of the science fiction and western serials that entertained American kids during the same period. The paintings convey all the drama of the stories via their dynamic layouts. This form of storytelling fit neatly into a time when most houses didn't have access to movies, television, or traditional theater and I liked the idea of art changing to find its way to children.

I'd give it to: Librarians who want to have more sea monsters and aliens in their storytimes for all the rowdy kids. Storytellers like Aarene and Rosalie, who understand children need stories no matter how modern they think they are.

Pastwatch The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card

Link to this review by billba tagged alternate historyscience fiction

Several centuries from now, historians don't just study the past, they view it with some pretty awesome technology. Then two specialists charting the history of slavery stumble on a crucial discovery: they have the capability to change the past. As their world slides towards environmental destruction, they decide to rewrite Columbus' famous voyage to see if they can create a kinder, gentler history.

Why I picked it up: Even though I'm a big Card fan, this book never appealed to me. Then Paul Southworth tweeted that he liked it, so I decided to pull it up on my iPad and give it a try. 

Why I finished it: I liked the characterization of Columbus. And, after a slow start setting out everyone's intentions, the book shifts into high gear as the historians begin their mission in the past.

I'd give it to: Bleeding heart liberals who think that it's possible to change human behavior if you can just come up with the right social programs. And a time machine.

Superf*ckers by James Kochalka

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelhumorscience fictionsuperhero

Foul-mouthed, homophobic and frequently nude super-powered “heroes” hold team tryouts, abuse one another and save the world.

Why I picked it up: I’ve read a lot of Kochalka books (My favorite is Peanutbutter & Jeremy’s Best Book Ever). They’re all extremely good-natured, and I wanted to find out if this book could be as crass as the title promised.

Why I finished it: Kochalka’s art keeps even the most offensive parts of this book enjoyable as we watch misguided young heroes behave badly. It’s full of unexpected touches, like the full-frontal paintings of male heroes and the author photographs. And I love the supervillain no one notices: The Sore!

I'd give it to: Readers of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s filthy The Boys, in which a team of agents keep amoral super beings in line, or at least make them pay for what they’ve done. Sameer, who enjoys the crass humor of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

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