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November 20, 2014

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The Problem with Stories about Amnesia (Solved by Robert Glancy and Jason Bourne)

The Problem with Stories about Amnesia (Solved by Robert Glancy and Jason Bourne)

Anyone who cares about narrative, movies, or both should be reading Matt Bird’s Cockeyed Caravan blog. He spends most of his time there deconstructing the narrative structure of Hollywood movies and explaining how and why movies do (and don’t) work. But while he only discusses movies (and usually big-budget Hollywood ones at that), his insights [...]

Review: Bright Before Sunrise

Review: Bright Before Sunrise

Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt. Walker Books, an imprint of Bloomsbury. 2014. Review copy from publisher. The Plot: Is it possible for one night to make a difference in a person’s life? Jonah and Brighton are about to find out. The Good: First things first: I loved this book. I loved Jonah and Brighton, separate [...]

Review: Imprisoned

Review: Imprisoned

Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin W. Sandler. Walker Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Bloomsbury. 2013. Review copy from publisher. YALSA Nonfiction Finalist. It’s About: The United States entered World War II after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The history of the Japanese [...]

Community and Poverty

We review two books today, both set in very specific communities overshadowed by poverty and tragedy. Let’s start with Men We Reaped, a memoir by Jesmyn Ward. Ward’s fierce, poetic debut novel, Salvage the Bones, won the National Book Award and a 2012 Alex Award. It follows a pregnant teenage girl and her family through [...]

Pick of the Day: Hostage Three

woman facing left

An idyllic trip ends when Somalian pirates size a yacht and hold the family onboard for ransom.

Review of the Day: A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar

Global History as a Teacher

A Song for Bijou By Josh Farrar Walker Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Bloomsbury) $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-8027-3394-8 Ages 9-12 On shelves now Now let us discuss the middle school book. It is, arguably, the most forgotten book of its kind on a library and/or bookstore shelf. The book written for your average everyday [...]

Weekly Reviews: The Ones that Got Away

You know what’s hard about managing a book review blog? Mailing away those books that you know you would love — if you only had the time. So today’s theme is books I wish I had kept for myself to review. (I’m only half joking!) First up, The Fort of Nine Towers. This book is a [...]

Review of the Day: The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

The Water Castle By Megan Frazer Blakemore Illustrated by Jim Kay Walker Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Bloomsbury) $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-8027-2839-5 Ages 9-12 On shelves now Where does fantasy stop and science fiction begin? Is it possible to ever draw a distinct line in the sand between the two? A book with a [...]

Review: In Darkness

In Darkness by Nick Lake. Bloomsbury. 2012. Review copy from publisher. The Plot: A young man is trapped in darkness: one minute he is in his hospital bed, the next the building is rubble around him and he is alive but there is no way out. He will tell you a story, his story, of how he [...]

Weekly Reviews: Postmodernism

Today we look at two examples of the postmodern novel. Postmodernism has gotten a bad rap–almost from the beginning–for being purposefully obscure, denying the existence of meaning, and encouraging moral relativism.  But, while I concede that many postmodern works of art can be infuriatingly vague, for me at least the best postmodern novels (like the [...]

Weekly Reviews: Speculative Fiction

Today we review three thrillingly original works of speculative fiction. Let’s start with a post-apocalyptic, dystopian debut novel. The Office of Mercy is being marketed as a Hunger Games readalike. (I’ve also seen comparisons to recent Alex Award winner, Pure). However, debut author Djanikian is more concerned with ethical questions than fast-paced action. The Alphas had good intentions [...]

Review: Kiki Strike The Darkness Dwellers

Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers by Kirsten Miller. Bloomsbury USA. 2013. Review copy from publisher. Sequel to Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City and Kiki Strike: The Empress’s Tomb. The Plot: Kiki is back, along with Ananka (the narrator) and the other Irregulars: Luz, Oona, Betty and DeeDee. Inside the Shadow City told how the gang got [...]

Review: Kiki Strike The Empress’s Tomb

Kiki Strike: The Empress’s Tomb by Kirsten Miller. Bloomsbury USA. 2007. Review copy from publisher. Sequel to Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City. The Plot: In Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, Kiki assembled the Irregulars, a group of disgraced former Girl Scouts who all have extraordinary talents and skills. Together, these fourteen year olds discovered [...]

Review: Kiki Strike Inside the Shadow City

Back in 2006, I reviewed Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller (Bloomsbury USA 2006). The sequel, Kiki Strike: The Empress’s Tomb, was published in 2007. The third book, Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers is coming out January 2013. Bloomsbury is reissuing the first two books, with new covers (first image is the original, the [...]

Weekly Reviews: Crime

In this week’s reviews, we delve into three takes on the everlasting American obsession with crime and criminals.  We start with Rob Deborde’s Portlandtown, which injects its paranormal underpinnings (and just “what is it with all this paranormal activity occurring in the Pacific Northwest?” asks reviewer Carla Riemer) with classic tropes from Western and Crime fiction [...]

Pick of the Day: In Darkness

red background, profile in silhouette

LAKE, Nick. In Darkness. 352p. Bloomsbury. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-743-7; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-820-5. LC 2011022350.
Gr 9 Up
–Trapped in the rubble of Haiti’s massive 2010 earthquake, teenage Shorty desperately waits for rescue. While in darkness, events of his traumatic, violent life replay in his head. He is haunted by his father’s brutal murder, his twin sister’s disappearance, and the armed gang activity that has been his means of survival in Site Soléy (Cite Soleil), a very real and dangerous [...]