Friday, January 29, 2016

Halo Evolutions Volume I

A set of stories involving the Halo universe. Every story with there unique plot and theme. For example Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian plot surrounds a sole survivor from a devastating ambush attack from the Covenant (a group of religious extraterrestrial alien species) the sole survivor has to wipe out the ships hard drive to save Earth from being discovered and escape the ship before it self destructs. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

This is where it ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This is a school shooting story.  Kids and teachers at a highs chool are locked in an auditorium during an assembly It is known to be easy to get stuck in and hard to escape from.  The shooter is a student who was returning after an absence so already familiar with the auditorium.  He apparently believes that the world is against him and wants to get revenge, he even feels this way about his sister.  He is portrayed as very anger filled, and hateful towards everyone.  He had been bullied but I didn't quite understand exactly by whom about what.  The story is told by various students both caught in the auditorium and from the outside.  Its called gripping and compelling.  I guess I have just read too many similar stories.  I needed the students who were telling the story to have more depth.  I could not really understand this kid's irrational anger and act.  He did not seem to be a  scary kid without conscience for instance.  Grieving a loss of a parent does not usually result in shooting folks who had nothing to do with the death...
JDW 1/25/16

A Ghostly Demise by Tonya Kappes

This title is on the list of recommended adult mysteries for teens.  It is somewhat similar to television episodes of Ghost Whisperer.  Emma Lee Raines is a betweener.  She accidentally discovered this fact when ghosts needing help in "passing over" started appearing to her.  After the first, there has been quite a string of them having been referred by the previous ghosts in need.  Since she happens to be operator of the local small town funeral home folks have thought the stress of her situation was causing trauma.  Not true.  When she is talking out loud to herself she is actually in conversation with one of her ghost clients.  This book is one of a series and I really want to read them all, this was such fun.  Cephus Hardy disappeared 5 years ago and was assumed to have run away or gone away.  He was the town drunk, womanizer, and perhaps gambler.  Not even his wife and son were especially disappointed or surprised when he vanished.  Only his beautiful, sexy daughter seemed to care.  So he appears to Emma Lee in a store, in front of a lot of people, throws her for a loop when she realizes the person talking to her cannot be seen by others, after she greeted him happily, out loud.  Anyway he does not know how he died, where his body lies and is not about to share all his sordid doings with Emma Lee and so the fun begins.  A traveling carnival is in town, since it stops every summer residents know many of the workers.  The town's favorite celebrity is there as well providing more than the usual suspects.  To add to the fun, Emma Lee's granny is running for mayor and causing quite a ruckus, which actually I guess she usually does anyway.  A murder at the carnival and Emma Lee has two ghosts to help pass over and they are not quiet and cooperative.  Of course everything is sorted out in the end, getting there is a hoot.  There are a couple of errors that a good editor should have caught but they were minor and easy to ignore.  There is a lot of descriptive text that does nothing to help advance the story so it must be there to get the required number of pages.  That was a small irritation that I skimmed over.  Happily recommended.
JDW 1/25/15

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Halo Fall of Reach Invasion by Brian Reed and Felix Ruiz

Part of novel Fall of Reach in comic book format. Similar to Star Wars but except with the lasers and combating against a union of alien races. Plot is a very powerful and resourceful planet called Reach being invaded by the Covenant( alliance of alien races) and a group of augmented super soldiers are the best line of defense the planet obtains and if Reach falls then Earth is next.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

I'd give this one to those who enjoyed Morgenstern's Night Circus.  There is actually two magical romances going on here with a nod to the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast.  There is a small rural town somewhere in Illinois where the corn grows strong and seems to talk to some folks, where there is a school with bullies, where lives Petey aka Priscilla who believes she is the ugliest beast around, where lives Finn who loves her.  Finn is face blind and has come to know Petey behind the face that only a mother could love. They are high school seniors. Also here is Sean who is Finn's older brother and an emt.  On the day Roza slips through a magical gap in the corn and winds up injured in The brother's barn Sean is there to help her as is Finn.  They grow to love her truly until one day a stranger slips through the corn and kidnaps her.  Finn is witness but cannot describe the man except in terms of the way he moved.  Sean is devastated.  A night horse and then a goat appear in the barn after.  Petey tells Finn why folks see him as spacey and believes he only loves her because she is so distinctive looking and leaves him devastated as well.  Desperate to get Sean back now that he has lost Petey Finn searches his memories of the stranger kidnapper and comes to know he came through the corn that speaks.  And so it is that he journey's through a gap in the corn to the land where Roza is held captive by the man who asks her each day if she loves him yet.  I will leave you all here with Finn trying to get Roza back for  Sean, with discovering what how independent and determined Roza, with Petey learning to see Finn differently and loving him truly.  Face Blindness has not been mentioned in teen fiction before making this a good choice for diversity lists.  Face Blindness can be very severe and disabling and less so.  Finn appears to be somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.  Ok, complex likable characters, lyrical writing, magical realism what a wonderful story.  Give us more Laura Ruby. jdw 12/30 15

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

So I will start out by saying that I did not, could not like the protagonist Parker Fadley.  I mentioned earlier about making a person likable no matter how angry, hurt and hurtful to others and how to do it.  One way is to give the person a pet they can relate to even if they cannot let humans near them.  Kathe Koja does this successfully in Stray Dog.  Summers fails, even the dog that tries to like this girl is treated badly and dies possibly as a result.  Parker used to be perfect, then something happens at a party she will not talk about and in her eyes she is irredeemable and tries to prove it to everyone.  This is a short fast read, mostly in dialog which makes it so one can stick with it to find out what happened.  If the characters and plot had been more complex, I am doubtful of that.  This is one big rage that eventually falls apart and the secret is revealed.  JDW12/30 15

Thursday, December 17, 2015

You Can't See the Elephants by Keller

This is an issue driven story.  It focuses on child abuse and the tendency for  adults to look away, just not see, especially if the abuser is a respected community member as he is in this story.  Who can believe that he could do such things to his kids.  Mascha is stuck with her grandparents for the summer, out of her father's hair.  He is severely grieving the loss of his wife, to the point that he isn't there for his daughter and her needs.  Mascha is spending a lot of time sitting on a playground watching kids play.  Kids who refuse to allow her to join in.  This is where she meets Julia who is a bit strange and her even stranger  younger brother Max.  She wants to play running away, he fights invisible monsters and rarely speaks coherently.  Mascha goes to Julia's house after she hasn't seen her for several days and witnesses Max being severely beaten, Julia staring at a wall motionless, emotionless, Mother with a bruised face.  She tries to convince adults of the problem only to be warned off.  This is when she decides to rescue the kids by locking them in a small shack in the middle of a field nearby.  This proved to be wrong in many ways and hard on Max and Julia as well as many other folks.  It did, however, bring to attention that which the kids were enduring.  The reference to the elephants in the title is that they tend to stand still and stare emotionless when they are about to die.  This reads fast and I guess its an ok child abuse story, all the necessary elements in place, mean adults that look good on the surface, adults who care but won't risk their own character as one person did only to be sued.  Kids who act as abused kids often do and are afraid to seek help.  And, of course, a rescuerer.  Sometimes I think stories are too set up to feel natural, plausible though.
JDW 12/17

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

One-Punch Man by ONE

One-Punch Man is a Japanese manga that is now starting to come to the US. It’s about a 25 year old named Saitama that trained hard to be a hero who could send shameless villains flying with one punch. He even trained so hard he went bald. You will follow Saitama as he fights monsters and unwilling train a cyborg he saved. Because of his lifeless expressions it comes at a surprise that Saitama is a superhero, but he does this for fun. 
The biggest problem with that is he can’t seem to find an opponent strong enough to take on. K/S