Thursday, August 30, 2012

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad YP FIC HARSTAD

Mia, Antoine, and Midori have won the ultimate vacation: an all-expenses-paid trip to the moon! They will train with NASA, explore the moon, and come back world famous.  But not really.  There is something very dark hiding on the dark side of the moon and there is nothing that can prepare them for it, no one to save them from it, and if they don’t make it back no one will ever even know what killed them.

This book is tense, creepy, scary, eerie, and all sorts of other things that will keep you up late at night.  What works so well is that it’s a really slow burn.  We get to know all that characters with chapters from their perspective and learn about their hopes and dreams before they are thrust into mortal danger.  This makes for a slow start, but it makes the horror of the later chapters really pay off. The use of photos and diagrams also was a very smart touch by Harstad.  It helps establish a layer of believability and adds a nice variety to boot.  It’s one of those “will ANYONE survive” type of horror books that really pushes you to the edge of your seat.  It was the rare book, where I didn’t see the final twist coming at all.  So if you want a genuinely creepy book, this is a sure fire scarer. 

You can check our catalog for 173 Hours on the Moon here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn YP FIC HAHN

It was the last day of school. 1956.  Nora’s life was so simple, her biggest worry finding a boyfriend. Mister Death changed all that. BANG. BANG. Cheryl and Bobbi Jo were dead.  All fingers point to Cheryl’s ex-boyfriend, Buddy.  No one knows about Mr. Death.  Nora doesn’t know what to believe any more. Not about the murders, not about Buddy, not about God, life, love, death, or any of the rest of it.  Told through the eyes of the kids left behind, this is the story of the last summer of innocence.

This is a sad and haunting mystery about all that death robs from those left behind.  The violence is left off screen and the shifting focus is on the teenagers that knew the victim. The shifting focus keeps the suspense building and helps underscore how violence has such large ripple effects.  This let’s Hahn explore much more than just a mystery, but also a lot about 1950s society.  This is based on a real event that happened when Hahn was a teenager and she does an amazing job of bringing that to life in a way that feels immediate.  She is able to write as a teenager and also finish with an epilogue written at the age she is now and have both feel totally genuine.  The story is a great look at a different time, but also the way that childhood has to end for everyone.  I recommend this to fans of historical fiction and anyone that wants a well written, suspenseful read.

You can check our catalog for Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls here.

Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk YP FIC BERK

Guy joined the forensics club against his usual policy of laziness and disinterest for two reasons: hot girls and death.  He’s always been interested in the former and the sudden passing of his father has him semi-obsessed (as much as Guy gets obsessed with anything) with the latter. When he and his best friend, Anoop find a REAL dead body at a FAKE forensic scene, they decide to solve the case. The deeper they look the more Guy has to actually DO things; and the more he finds out about his deceased dad, but they aren’t things he wants to find out.

I read this book weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to reviewing it. HA! Procrastination joke!  Fortunately the jokes are way better in Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinato. Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator’s (Does it show that I like the ridiculously long title?) humor is by far its main strength.  The humor is brash, dumb, and juvenile, which means its right up my alley!  If you like about 337 variations on ‘your momma’ jokes, then it’s likely up your alley as well. And who doesn’t like ‘your momma’ jokes? Your momma? Like Beck’s previous book The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin,  the overall mystery is less of a draw than the humor. The main character is likeably dorky and lazy which made him very relatable to me.  Some of the side characters weren’t all that fleshed out or memorable, but never to the point of being distracting. This is a fun, light (and I could use that after the dark, darker, and darkest books I’ve reviewed lately), and consistently funny mystery.  I recommend it to anyone that needs or just highly desires a good laugh.  

You can check our catalog for Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby YP FIC BARNABY

Come see the oddest of oddities, the tragic spectacle of twisted humanity at Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show.  We have a towering giant, a shrunken dwarf, a bearded woman, the albino family of Bora Bora, and the strangest of all: Portia, the ‘normal’ girl that made freaks into a family.  But that family can’t protect her if Mister finds her.  And Mister always finds hi wayward girls.

This is a delightful historical fiction tale set in a circus during the Great Depression.  It has great period detail and a very unique setting.  It was fascinating to get a realistic look into the freak shows of old.  Barnaby builds a wonderful supporting cast and an amazing protagonist.  Portia is a natural born storyteller and liar, which almost always makes for a great character.  She’s resourceful and clever, but also very flawed.  This drives the plot forward in a way that makes it feel meaningful and make sense why a ‘normal’ girl would have to live with so called ‘freaks’.  Her storytelling and lies work as a metafictional examination of the power of stories to shape the reality we want to live.  The ending feels a bit rushed and sort of too neat.  I mean, how realistic is a ‘happy’ ending in the Great Depression? But have no fear; the book is more than good enough to handle a less than perfect finish.  I highly recommend this to anyone that wants a good story with a unique setting, but especially for fans of historical fiction.

You can check our catalog for Wonder Show here.

American Barbarian by Tom Scioli YP FIC SCIOLI

In the future wasteland of America, the sword rules.  Two Tank Omen, a future pharaoh with tanks for feet and his army of cyborgs, dinosaurs, mutants, and madmen plan to rule all.  Meric Lionheart, last of a slaughtered family of knights, carves R-E-V-E-N-G-E on his hands and takes the legendary Star Sword to revenge his family and save America.

This is a beautiful and strange love letter to Jack “The King” Kirby.  Jack Kirby co-created Captain America, Avengers, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, x-men, The Hulk, and many more.  The art in American Barbarian is a spot on tribute to Kirby’s art style, so it will seem sort of outdated to some more modern readers.  HOWEVER! The supremely over the top action and character design should more than make up for it.  The book reads like what a over-imaginative teen from the 60s would imagine as the COOLEST COMIC EVER!!!  And in a hilariously over-the-top way, it absolutely is. The plot moves forward from one action set piece to the next and never stops rocking!  This is an absolute must read for fans of Jack Kirby and I highly recommend it any comic fans in general.

You can check our catalog for American Barbarian here.