Conflict

Dueling reviews: Ketchup Cloud by Annabel Pitcher

August 28, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

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Librarian review:

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher is a bit of a conundrum for me. I really wanted to like this book, I really, really did. But . . . I did not like it really at all. The problem I have with this novel is that too much was going on and none of it was satisfying for me. I did appreciate the family dynamics that Pitcher created in this novel, I found them real and refreshing and fun to read. I did not like Zoe writing letters to a condemned man on death row. Artistically I think that the author was going for a sort of "Dexter" meets "My Mad Fat Diary" but it does not really work out.

I kept waiting for the action to start interesting me and drawing me in and I waited till the very end of the novel. The prose is lovely and succinct and the characters have some depth and are not cardboard, but I just felt that too many loose ends did not tie up and there was too many side plots and other issues that really had nothing to do with the main core of the story.

This is not a terrible book my any means and as youth novels go it had some lovely moments. Perhaps being an older person I am jaded or there is something that I am not getting from this book. I suggest you read it to find out, I don't think you will feel like you have wasted time - in fact maybe you will get something out of it that I did not.

 Kirkus review:

Of course Zoe isn’t anything like Texas death row inmate Stuart Harris. She got away with her murder.

Plagued by guilt and using the alias “Zoe,” the British teen writes a series of confessional letters to Harris. These episodic letters reveal a string of fateful decisions, including her role in a young man’s death. Seizing on her parents’ marital problems, Zoe escapes to a party and finds instant attraction with “The Boy with the Brown Eyes.” But when he disappears, she takes solace—with clothing removed—with popular Max Morgan. While periodically running into the mysterious guy, who she learns is named Aaron, Zoe continues her mostly physical relationship with Max. When she also discovers that Aaron and Max are brothers, readers clearly understand that one of them will die because of her. It’s not just suspense that drives this epistolary page-turner, but Zoe’s authentic emotional responses and unyielding wit (“who knew that vomit could be flirtatious?”). Zoe’s not a monster here but a typical adolescent who does like Max but is in love with Aaron. An engaging subplot involving Zoe’s younger, deaf sister and her mother’s culpability in her disability mirror Zoe’s mounting tension.

After many red herrings, a bittersweet ending brings compassion and answers to Zoe’s dilemma and shows just how easy it is to make mistakes and how hard love can be.

Dueling Reviews: The Comic Book War by Jacqueline Guest

August 21, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (8) Facebook Twitter More...

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Teachers review:

    The Comic Book War is a youth fiction book written by Jacqueline Guest. This book deals with some very interesting topics, it just deals with too many of them for its own good. The story takes place in Calgary Alberta in 1943, and focuses on Robert Tourond, a grade ten student who is dealing with the fact that his three older brothers, George, James, and Patrick, are fighting in World War II. After finding a meteorite one night, Robert believes that three of the comic books he reads each directly relate to one of his brothers fighting overseas. Whatever might befall one of the heroes in the comic somehow parodies what is happening in the life of one of his brothers (whichever comic book hero that brother is associated with).

      Robert has an overwhelming urge to purchase these comics. He does this to feel closer to his brothers. It's as if by purchasing the comics and reading them, he is somehow helping support his brothers. If he is not able to do this, he will somehow let his brothers down, and danger will soon find them. Robert goes through many trials to earn money to purchase these comics, and through this we are introduced to the cast of characters in the book, and the many things that happen to them.

       I enjoyed the book, but it did not always succeed. Like I said above, this book deals with a lot of issues, it deals with: growing up, the belief in the unknown, family, feminism, war, and the violence of war, suicide, death, and first nations heritage, poverty, alcoholism, and maybe even a few more. As you can see that is a lot of ideas to pack in to a book that is 187 pages long. I feel that this book would have been more successful if it took out a few of those issues which would mean it would have more time to focus on the ones that remained.

         The characters were relatable, and there were some touching moments in the book. I also found parts of the book to be very cinematic, and I could see the book coming alive in my head. Near the end of the book there were times when Robert felt like he was being drawn into the comics and I could see this happening in my own mind. As well, earlier in the book Robert has to deal with his mother and there are pieces written as if they were blurbs coming right from a comic book. When I read these sections I could hear a voice in my head reading them in a 1940's news reel voice. I found it interesting how some of the relationships developed in the book between Robert and his parents, and Robert and one of his friends.

        Overall I really enjoyed parts of the book, but I found that the ending came a bit too fast, with lots of issues being wrapped up a bit too quickly for their own good. In the end, I found that the way the book ended it left this reader a bit unsatisfied.

 KIRKUS REVIEW

A teenager with three brothers fighting overseas in World War II concocts an elaborate coping mechanism that works to keep his anxieties down and his spirits up—until it doesn’t.

A small meteorite takes on talismanic properties for Robert when he suddenly begins to spot mysterious parallels between the exploits of his three favorite comic-book heroes and incidents reported in the letters he receives from his big brothers, who are off in Europe with the Canadian armed forces. Determined efforts to raise enough money to buy each new issue of each comic put him head to head with hard-bitten classmate Charlene. Their bitter rivalry slowly transforms into friendship and then something closer as they come to understand what is in many of the messages they are delivering to the people in town. Then one such telegram comes to Robert’s parents, and his certainties of the links between fiction and fact are shattered. Guest gives her tale a distinctly Canadian flavor with references to locally produced comics (the better known ones from the U.S. were not imported during the war) and by casting Robert and his family as Métis, a persecuted minority. But her young characters’ emotional challenges are not confined to a particular country or war.

Built around a timely (ever timely, unfortunately) theme, this wartime tale featuring young characters with complementary strengths and vulnerabilities shines in a sharply rendered setting. (historical notes) (Historical fiction. 11-14)

And now for something completely different - a post from "Unspeakable"

August 16, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

We are so lucky to have a post from Caroline Pignat the author of the novel "Unspeakable" discussing her creative and writing process, enjoy!

Discovering Story

Caroline Pignat

People often ask me where I come up with my ideas, but writing historical fiction feels more like a an archaeological dig than an invention. The stories are there -- in our past -- just waiting to be discovered. You don’t have to look long or hard to find an amazing fact. A little sifting always unearths a skeleton of a story. Something that makes you stop and say -- wow! Something you want to tell others -- hey guys, did you know this?

 As a little kid, I loved the dinosaur museum. It amazed me how they could pull together the bones of a T-rex so that I could see its size and shape and imagine what it must have really been like back then.

 History Museums do that too. They may miss a few pieces or details, just like any archaeological find might, but what they’ve pulled together, what they’ve preserved, and recreated for us are the bare bones of an amazing story so that we can imagine what it must have been like. Whether it’s a war or a famine or a sailing or a sinking, someone lived through that event -- or died because of it. Someone sat in that chair or wore that cap. Someone wrote in that diary. Someone walked in those boots. Where were they going? Did they ever get there?

 The Museum of Canadian History, right across the Ottawa River from Parliament, has a fantastic exhibit on the Empress of Ireland. They created it to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking on May 29, 1914. You can’t walk through that exhibit without being affected by the thousand stories it holds. Of people that perished. Of those who survived. Passengers. Crew. Men, women, and children. Each one had a story.

 The artifact that moved me most was the porthole. Its glass was cracked. It seemed so small. Had someone escaped through it? Had someone tried... and failed?

 As I researched Unspeakable, I learned more and more about the fate ofThe Empress of Ireland -- how it collided with another ship in the foggy St. Lawrence; how the water gushed in the hole and open portholes causing it to sink in fourteen minutes taking 1,012 souls along with it. I read survivor accounts of people escaping through the portholes as the ship lay on its side moments before it was completely submerged.

 Imagine that. Trapped in a sinking ship. Climbing up to a small round window overhead, hoping you’ll reach it before it sinks forever. That one fact drew me in to the story and I imagined how that night must have been. I put myself there with my family. What would I have done? How would I have felt? What if I got through -- but my husband couldn’t fit? That’s where fact becomes fiction. But, more than that, I think that’s where empathy lives.

We are so lucky to have so many fantastic museums in Canada. Think about the ones you’ve visited, the amazing exhibits you’ve seen. Which ones affected you? Which ones moved you? What intriguing item or fascinating fact stayed with you long after you left?

 Learn. Imagine... and then write. But, above all, remember. Always remember those stories.

And then pass them on.

Visit the Canadian Museum of History’s website for more information on The Empress of Ir eland -- Canada’s Titanic.

http://www.historymuseum.ca/empress

Visit Caroline’s website for more photos and information on her novels and research

http://www.carolinepignat.com/unspeakable-research.html

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With special thanks to Caroline for taking the time to write this essay.

Dueling reviews: Cinnamon Toast and the end of the World by Janet E. Cameron

August 14, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (8) Facebook Twitter More...

Index

Angel food for thought:

This stunning debut by Janet E. Cameron is a beautiful coming of age story told from the perspective of a young man who is coming out in the 1987 in very rural Nova Scotia. Stephen has fallen in love with his best friend and it is the end of the world. Not the literal world, but that part of the world that Stephen had come to know so well and a world that he wanted to keep forever.

Stephen is trying to navigate his last few months of being a high school student, leaving his friends, his over dependent mother, and going off to higher education and becoming himself. Yet in the traditional way of the world nothing happens the way he envisions it. Stephen is trying to learn to spread his wings and fly, but he wants nothing more than to hide in bed and escape from the world. Will Mark ever understand how he feels about him? Will his Mom ever let go of him and let him go out into the world? Will Stephen be able to accept himself?  

This is a well written and well conceived coming of age story. Stephen is an exceptionally dimensional character and all the supporting cast are also well rounded and real. The only issue that I would have with this book is that the story is so good is was a little hard to read at times.

Youth Review:

 

Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World basically sums up the life of Stephen Shulevitz in eight simple words. Born to a Russian-Ukranian mother and a hippie Jewish father, Stephen once entered the world as Stepan Vladimir Shulevitz in the year of 1969, in a little town named Riverside in Nova Scotia, Canada. He's a hard worker, always getting the best marks in class and getting tormented for it, and he shies away from confrontation - luckily his best friend Mark takes care of that for him. As Stephen matures through his elementary school years into adolescence and the story humorously unfolds, the title begins to make sense: Stephen's mother makes cinnamon toast because it is a less ethnic choice for breakfast food (she doesn't want to feel "foreign", instead she wants to fit in), and Stephen is a little more dramatic than your average teen so many situations in his life seems like the end of the world for him.

          Cinnamon Toast is written by Janet E. Cameron, who was born in Nova Scotia herself. Although the setting may reflect the author's roots, the main character is very unique. Janet thanks in her acknowledgments her "patient husband" Aodhan, but Stephen Shulevitz is gay. What's truly amazing about the book is that while reading it, up til the very last sentence, I could not tell if the author was speaking from personal experience or not. Obviously not, but it was written so well that I would have believed it. Stephen faces so many challenges, verbal and physical harassment alike, ones that bruise, ones that fade, and one that breaks his arm, for being gay, and for being different. The situations ring with truth and pain. Especially in a small-town mindset that Riverside has, the people are a lot less friendly towards people of various sexual orientations.; you were either straight, or you were shunned. I hurt for Stephen, but I also cheer him on, as he learns to grow out of what people say and avoid aggravation by choosing what he decides to hear. This novel follows Stephen as he unwillingly falls in love with his best friend Mark McAllister, the big kid nobody messed with. Mark is strongly (and openly) against homosexuals, and especially desperate to disbelieve that his best friend could be one - and in love with him - and this puts an incredible strain on their friendship.

          Janet E. Cameron does not make this your typical teen romance. She makes it something more, something funnier in tone and grimmer in content. She includes the bloody fights, the uncensored vulgarity, the inexperienced sex, the destructive abandonment, and the desolation of a young gay ethnic man living in the 80s. You should definitely read Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World, if you know what's good for you.

Sovereign Bodies, Bio Ethics and Sci-Fi

August 13, 2014 | Ray | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

HandmaidsThe body has been a battleground and a test ground in sci-fi, often reflecting reality and grappling gritting examples of bio-ethics. If you've read the classic Handmaid's Tale and are looking for something just as thought-provoking but set on another planet, DO get a copy of Lilith's Brood.  Written by the kick-butt author Octavia E. Butler, she's won the Hugo and Nebula awards and the prestigous MacArthur Fellowship.

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If you happen to want a graphic novel with human-animal hybrids and page-gripping scenes, check out Jeff Lemire's Sweet Tooth series.  It scared the boogers out of me and I read the first book all in one subway ride.  When I surfaced, my mind was still blurred from the book and reality didn't seem so real.  - A common condition known as book hangover.

If you've read Handmaid's Tale or other books that have human-alien, human- Sweettooth
animal, human-robot reproduction or other augmented reproduction -what did you think? Did any of the books examples strike you as totally possible? Have any of them come true? 

After I finished Oryx and Crake, I eerily came across the article of synthesized 'meat' proteins, much like the Chkn products in the book. While it sounds creepy, it could have positive implications for animal welfare.  What are your thoughts? Do you think synesized meat could successfullly mimic the 'real' thing? What ethical implications are possible - for humans and for animals? Especially with growing food demands on an ever-more populated planet, could this be a more sustainable solution?

ZooCitySeeking magical realism with animals and dystopia?

Check out Arthur C. Clarke award winner Zoo City. Set in Johannesburg, South Africa this book stands out. Abandoning the usual tropes, this book is out of the mainstream and delves into a world where magical animals are the familiars of criminals, murderers, and the kick-butt protagonist Zinzi.  She has a talent for finding lost things and solving the complexities around her brother's murder.

 

Want gut-wrenching parasites in fiction?  Parasite

Check out the bio-pharm-thriller Parasite! The protagonist's life is under the control of a mega pharmaceutical corporation, they saved her with an experimental genetically modified tapeworm, but can she ever regain her autonomy and person-hood?

 

 

Dueling reviews: Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat

August 7, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

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The Unsinkable Ellie

Librarian Review:

This book blew me away! When I picked up this book I was unsure what to expect but from the opening sentence I was immediately intrigued and couldn't put the book down, I read it all in one sitting and there were several moments of tears on my behalf toward the plot and characters.

This is a beautifully written book based on actual events of the sinking of The Empress of Ireland. Ellie is our main character who is forced to work as a stewardess on the ship by her Great Aunt. Ellie is an unusual character who at first I did not like and kept reading to see her get her comeuppance; only to find out that she is a very guarded and emotionally damaged young woman. On the ship Ellie meets a young man nicknamed "Lucky" and they begin a platonic romance. However, during the sinking of the ship it is most likely that Lucky has perished and that Ellie is on her own.

The twist of the story is that a journalist really wants Ellie's story and he finds Lucky's journal and blackmails Ellie for a trade - her story for Lucky's journal. At this point in the book we find out the myriad secrets that Ellie has which go beyond being a handful of survivors from that fateful night.

This book is sublime - sophisticated, elegant, beautifully written and the plot and characters kept me gripped and interested. I highly recommend this read!

Youth Review:

Unspeakable. The title suggests a tragedy, something too painful for words. Personally, I think this book is too good for words. It's got those details, those little quirks about each character, it's got those nouns that act as adjectives so that the images you paint in your mind aren't forced but very real (need an example? At one point the author writes, "iceberg eyes" instead of "cold and blue" and I might have shed a small tear), that I don't want to tell you about this story because I want you to read it and see the people yourselves. Ellen Hardy, an eighteen-year-old girl who boards a ship to work as a maid to the upper class - much to her disgruntlement - shares her tragedy in this beautifully written novel by Caroline Pignat, Governor General's Award-winning author of Greener Grass. When it is not transporting readers to flashbacks on the ship, the Empress of Ireland, the story is set in Rimouski, a town in Quebec, and I've got to say, I feel very proud to be reviewing a book by a Canadian author who both has the heart to research about her country's history and who has the talent to create a story as rich as the one this book contains.

          In the same way layers make a chocolate cake better, layers create a good story. It gives it dimension and depth and flavour. (Like cake.) Good art is being able to collect these multiple layers to create a singular masterpiece, and somehow, in 311 pages, Pignat is able to do just that. Ellen Hardy at the beginning of the book did not have me rooting for her. Ellen Hardy was spoiled and selfish and I wanted her to learn a lesson. But as the story wears on and I see Ellen surviving a sinking ship, losing people she loves (by choice and by fate), and the way she is able to love the people who matter to her, I see that Ellen was not a bratty little girl - she was just young. She was a girl becoming a woman. Simply put, Ellen Hardy grew up. A good book has an "ah" moment for the readers that makes people remember it. Pignant makes Unspeakable a great book by giving numerous "oh", "ah", and "I wish I didn't have to actually get up to use the bathroom so I could have more time to read" moments each time Ellen matures and grows. Yes, every author seems to be writing a coming-of-age book nowadays, but this one is different. It doesn't feature a strange, eccentric, wild, colourful character that goes on adventures. It has a quiet strength in the main character that is developed and discovered as the book goes on, and through all of its characters, proves that every person lives an adventure. It has truth. Unspeakable is a story about a girl who lived one hundred years ago, on a ship that no longer can be found, but this girl feels real, and her story resonates with honesty.

          One last thing I enjoyed about Unspeakable: it is evident that Pignat did her research and did it well. The Empress of Ireland really was a ship that sunk in 1914, right before the First World War, and the mechanical descriptions of the boat (although I have not verified them) seem authentic and effectively add to the storyline. There is nothing I appreciate more than a thoroughly-researched, well-written book and Caroline Pignat definitely delivers.

          Unspeakable can be found on shelves under the Young Adult Fiction section, but I can assure you that adults young and old, as well as children of an advanced reading level (as long as parents are willing to explain a few adult concepts), will be able to enjoy Ellen's story of love, growth, and deep-rooted hope.

-Sophia

 

Dueling reviews: Helen and Troy's Epic Road Trip by A. Lee Martinez

July 31, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

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Journey to the heart Land

Librarian Review:

Step right up and test your strength and your sense of humour. Helen and Troy are on a journey through magical america in order to end a curse placed upon them by an ancient God. They must endeavour upon a pilgrimage throughout out the United States to save themselves from an unsure fate worse than death.

Helen and Troy are two typical teens in America who work at a burger joint and their lives are thrown in an act of fate when a creature appears to them one night and gives them directions on what they have to do in order to stop the curse that has randomly been placed on them and to save their lives.

This book is LOL funny and an awesome look at greek myths and mythos set in a contemporary world. If you enjoyed the Percy Jackson series than this may be a book for you to check out. Personally this librarian loves anything that A. Lee Martinez has ever written.

Youth Review:

Helen and Troy’s epic road quest is a fast paced, magical and whimsical book filled with Greek mythology and snappy comebacks that I think everyone should read once in their lives (if you have read the Percy Jackson series or the Heroes of Olympus series, then you’ll definitely adore this one!). Helen is an enchanted American and is the first fully fledged centaur in centuries. But she’s still a teenage girl who’s self conscious about her body and the way her fur smells when it rains. Then, there’s Troy, the typical all around perfect guy who everyone loves. The book starts off in their adventure quickly. Their boss at the burger joint they work at tries to revive his god, but dies trying and the god sets Helen and Troy up on a quest. There is a spark of romance that starts up between them, which has been there for a while, that they’ve been ignoring for a while. But it will eventually come out. I would give this book a 5 on 5!

-Chantee

 

 

 

10 questions for Danielle Paige

July 24, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

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As the author of the book "Dorothy Must Die" we asked Danielle some nail biting, riveting questions. Here is what she had to say:

1. Vanilla or chocolate?

Chocolate!

 2. Why Oz?

Munchkins, and Witches and Flying monkeys, oh my! Oz is a writer’s and a reader’s dream. It’s a big sweeping, epic world that explores Good, Evil, and Loyalty.

 3. How do you feel about adding some darkness to what is traditionally seen as a "Family friendly" book series?

The gorgeous technicolor of the movie makes us forget that there has always been darkness in Oz. Look at the Flying Monkeys and the Wicked Witches. A house lands on the Wicked Witch. I just dialed it up another notch. I hope Baum wouldn’t mind too much.

 4. Other books have tried to re-write the Oz history (Wicked, etc) but you have created a whole new story line, what was the inspiration for this?

I adore Wicked and Return to Oz. I think there’s a part of me that always wondered what it would be like to get to go to Oz myself. This is as close as I’m going to get.

 The jumping off point for me was what happened to Dorothy when she returned to Kansas after her first adventure in Oz. Wouldn't she miss it? Wouldn't she want go back to that magical place where she was a hero? Out of that longing a new Dorothy began to form for me. And once she changed, everything else began to shift for me. As she turned darker, so did all of Oz.

And introducing Amy Gumm, a girl from our time who is much tougher than Dorothy was in the original story, felt like the right entry point into Oz. Her journey mirrors Dorothy’s in some ways, like finding friends and finding her strength along the way. But Amy faces a changed Oz, the other Wicked Witch is dead and Amy has to face an evil Dorothy.

 5. Why did Dorothy become so sexual and sexualized?

Dorothy’s obliterated the innocent girl that we loved in the original Oz and literally torn up the gingham dress and put it back together again with a shorter hemline and cleavage. Romance and sexuality are largely absent from the Wizard of Oz. Apart from her Wickedness though, my Dorothy has grown up. Time works differently in Oz and she is now in a kind of perpetual adolescence. And like any teen, she’s testing out her limits and finding that she has none. Only she has all the magic of Oz at her disposal. And a magical closet.

 6. What is your favourite sport? To watch and to play?

Tennis. I adore watching. There is so much poetry in two opponents facing off on the court. I love the epic rivalries like Nadal and Federer--and now Nadal and Djockovich. And epic victories like Andy Murray finally winning Wimbledon. I am a total Rafael Nadal fan. And Serena Williams! Love! As for playing, I am not a natural athlete, I need to take some lessons.

 7. Who is your favourite author?

I can never pick just one! I love the classics. Austen, Dickens, Faulkner. Right now I’m in love with Donna Tartt. And for YA, I am obsessed with Leigh Bardugo.

 8. What inspires your writing? What inspires you to write?

Everything and everyone. I find stories everywhere. I may be writing about a dystopian Oz, but real life is filled with its own magic and struggles and I try and draw from that.

 9. Have you ever wanted to make changes to a piece of writing after it has been published?

Yes, I am eternally wanting that “one last pass”. I love the way the first book turned out, but I always want a little more time with my characters. Luckily, it’s a trilogy so I get to go back to Oz.

 10. If you did not write novels, what would you be doing instead?

I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I started out in television. I absolutely love writing scripts, too. But if I had to choose something else, maybe an actor. Digging into a character, being able to tell a story from the inside out would appeal to me.

 

Duelling Reviews: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

July 24, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (14) Facebook Twitter More...

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Librarian Review:

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is breathtaking. Fast paced, interesting characters, and an amazing take on the L. Frank Baum series. So many years have passed since Dorothy left Oz and she has returned and taken over. Oz has become a dictatorship and is under Dorothy's iron grip. The original gang is all a part of her army to terrorize Oz. The scarecrow is determined to increase his brain power, The Tin Man is madly in love with Dorothy and completely bitter that she doesn't care, and the Lion has an ability to increase his courage by stealing others fear.

Amy is our new girl from Kansas to end up in Oz. She  is taken in by some of the original witches of Oz who are leading a revolution to take Oz back from the tyranny of Dorothy. It has been decreed that since Amy is from Kansas and the only other "world" girl to end up in Oz that she must be the one to help them defeat Dorothy.

This book is a fantastic start to what will hopefully be a great series. The book is maniac paced, interesting, great characters (of course the writer does have Baum to thank for part of that), really good action, and some humorous moments. As a librarian I highly recommend this read.

Youth Review:

A thrilling novel that puts a dark twist on an already loved story, Dorothy Must Die creates a new adventure full of mystery, romance, and death.

 Follow the yellow brick road into Oz, now a land full of formerly fun loving characters that will kill you in your sleep and enjoy it, flying monkey execution for acts of rebellion, and munchkin slavery. You had better hope that a tornado would come and take you back to Kansas or wherever you came from because Oz is no longer a magical world full of music and laughter.

 In this novel Amy, another girl from Kansas, gets swept u in her trailer and taken to Oz with her pet rat, Star. They arrive in Oz and find out that it is not like it was in the books or movie. Oz is having the magic sucked right out of it, and the reason? Dorothy. She came back to become the “rightful ruler” of Oz, but power and magic went to her head. Now she takes all the magic for herself and forces everyone to do her biding, or else. Now she rules over the land as a dictator, and Amy is the only person who can stop her.

 Amy joins the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, a group of Wicked Witches dedicated to returning Oz to the way it was before Dorothy ever set foot in Munchkin Land. Now she is being trained to fight and kill and she has a mission. Dorothy Must Die.

 The only problem I had with this story was the way the book played out until the end. This is the first in a series, so there is no true ending, but the ending there was not satisfying enough for me, and did not have me sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for more. Will I read the others when they come out? Yes. Will I rush to the bookstore to pick up a copy ASAP? No. All in all, this was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone who is okay with their former perception of the land of Oz and Dorothy being ruined forever. I give this book 7/10 stars.

-Emma

Gods and Warriors

July 18, 2014 | Alice | Comments (10) Facebook Twitter More...

Fan_of_norse_mythology_by_red_ipod on deviantart dot comUnlike the climate they come from, the myths of the Norse gods have been hot ever since the movie Thor (speaking of hot...). Suddenly, there are books about being a teen in the United States of Asgard, gory graphic novels about warlords of yore, and tales of gods and Valkyries retold in times both ancient and modern. It's not the only mythology that has enjoyed a bit of popularity lately, with Percy Jackson bringing the Greek monsters to your bookshelf and movie screen, but definitely, the Norse myths are having a moment.

Barbarian Lord - this graphic novel, just out this month, is based on a Norse tale and features some of the traditions of the ancient Scandinavian people, not to mention tons and tons of really bloodythirsty action rendered in a heavy comic style that reminds me a bit of Black Metal. This one is not in yet at the library, but worth keeping an eye out for if you want some so-old-there-wasn't-school-yet mayhem.

Valkyrie Rising - When a teenage girl goes to stay with her grandma in Norway, she learns about not only mythology, but also some well-hidden family history and her own destiny. A fast read with a seriously kick ass female heroine. Also available as an ebook.

Gospel of Loki - This is a longer book from the adult collection, but a really good read if you are up for something slightly denser. What really makes it is the voice of Loki, sarcastic, sardonic, and just the right mix of bad and stylish to have you with him all the way. I keep wanting to hand this off to people and tell them to read it!

Stork - This is an unusual one, in which a normal teenage girl suddenly discovers she is one of a group of "storks," women who pair souls with potential babies in utero. This involves making some calls about who will be the best moms, as well as some drama between the storks in their small town, and she has to learn to navigate all of this on her feet. It's lighter, but interesting. Also available as an ebook.

United States of Asgard - This series blends modern day USA with Norse mythology for a setting that makes the adventures of Asgardian teens accessible in a new way. The son of a famous berserker warrior and the daughter of a seer go searching for a missing god in the series opener, The Lost Sun, also available as an ebook.

Vinland Saga - this graphic novel was one of my picks for the summer, and I now have my hands on volume 2, with volume 3 in the system and waiting for me! :D  It's a seriously epic story, as the title suggests, of a young boy whose father, a former hero, has vengeance taken on him by his old Viking warrior tribe. This all happens in volume one, and by the end, we are well set up for volume two, with the young boy swearing to avenge his father in turn. These are not for the faint of heart, as the Vikings were a famously bloodthirsty bunch, but they are gorgeous and massive in scope, well worth the read if myth and battle appeal to you.

Loki's Wolves - The gods have long since died. Ragnarok, the end of the world, is coming. And it turns out that this time it's up to the teenage descendants of the gods to try to save the world -- if they can turn the course of mythology and beat the monsters this time around. This series is actually in the children's section, but so much fun I couldn't not include it, and it is written by two top-shelf YA authors, Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr, so.

And, of course, there's Marvel's Thor. Hero of comic books for decades, many of which are now bound into graphic novels under Marvel's excellent publishing programme. And Thor of the movies, with the delicious Chris Hemsworth wielding the famed hammer, Mjolnir. But did you hear the surprising and very interesting news about the Thor of the comic world that just came out this week? That Thor is going to lose his hammer, and a woman will step into his place, becoming a new Thor?

I wasn't sure what to make of this, especially coupled with the news, just a couple of days later, that Captain America will also have a change coming, and in this case, Falcon will become Cap. Falcon is also African American, meaning that Captain America will be a black man, another interesting move toward diversity and shaking up old images. A good friend of mine pointed out that this is allowing more people to see themseloves in Marvel's heroes, or as having the potential for heroism, which is a lovely idea.

What do you think? Can you completely reboot a character or a myth like that? Do you think it works and carries forward the attributes of a character in interesting ways, or do you think they should just start fresh with new characters instead?