Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the graphic novel by Tony Lee

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: the graphic novel
Author: Tony Lee (adapter), Jane Austen (author), Seth Grahame-Smith (author), Cliff Richards (illustrator)
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (May 4, 2010)
Genre: Graphic Novel
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is a graphic novel of the mash up of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice with Seth Grahame-Smith's. The mash up is adapted by Tony Lee, who has worked extensively in comics for the last six years, including writing for such licenses as X-Men, Spider Man, Starship Troopers, Wallace & Gromit, Shrek and Doctor Who. His critically acclaimed graphic novel ‘Outlaw: The Legend Of Robin Hood’ has been announced as a Junior Library Guild Selection for 2009.

Illustrator Cliff Richards is a veteran artist best known for his five-year run on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics series. He has also worked on several projects for other comics publishers, including Birds of Prey, Huntress, and Wonder Woman for DC Comics, and Rogue, Excalibur, and New Thunderbolts for Marvel Comics.

My thoughts:
If you want more gore and less story, then read this graphic novel instead of the book. There's definitely more zombie splicing, heads rolling and women kicking A in the graphic novel. What's missing, though, is the hilarious nature of the original mash up. In my original review, I did like the goriness of the illustrations, and I think Richards does a fabulous job of illustrating macabre, but I miss the humor.

Some books that I actually enjoyed when they turned into novels:
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Twilight the graphic novel adapted by Young Kim
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer, adapted by Andrew Donkin

Any graphic novels that you prefer over the book?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Title: Little Bee
Author: Chris Cleave
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 16, 2010)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Summary from Amazon
All you should know going in to Little Bee is that what happens on the beach is brutal, and that it braids the fates of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan (who calls herself Little Bee) and a well-off British couple--journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday--who should have stayed behind their resort's walls.

My thoughts
 Cleave's book had me at "hello." His first line, "Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl," is an apt introduction to Little Bee, a 16-year-old Nigerian refugee in England. Her voice is the voice of a survivor. The memories she holds inside are both horrifying and character- building. This book has already been highly lauded by the press, but how will it play out for my audience? This book is graphic for the young reader, but eye-opening for the mature readers. This is for the student who is passionate about human rights, who is loath to hurt another human being, or who has horrors they too are holding. Although this book is sometimes too painful to bear, you will keep reading because Little Bee and Sarah also carry hope on their weighed down shoulders. There is humanity still, even if we feel we are in our darkest moments. This is for the people who seem to have no voice. Mr. Cleave gives them a voice, and we in turn need to learn from this that we all must speak up for those that cannot speak up for themselves.

I am very impressed with Mr. Cleave's grasp of these two female voices, both Little Bee and Sarah. The men in the story are confusing to me, but I really gravitate to these two strong females. Like every good book, though, we are haunted by the characters in our waking hours and we want more, so there is a very substantial website that like "reading ladders" will entice you to read more of his work.  I am including a short video of Mr. Cleave talking about Little Bee.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan

Rating: 5 out of 5
Softcover: 258 pages
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Genre: YA chick lit
Source: this book is courtesy of Selena from Booksparks in exchange for an honest review

About the book (from the publisher)
High school senior Bronwen Oliver swore she was switched at birth.  She has nothing in common with her stoic, blonde mother or her ketchup loving brother and dreams only of her fantastical family, the Lilywhites, coming to take her away. 

However, when 22-year-old Jared Sondervan comes into her life she can hardly believe how lucky she is.  He is respectful, sweet and a part of the most wonderful family Bronwen has ever met.  When Jared proposes she doesn’t hesitate to say yes.  But as the wedding draws closer she has to decide whether she wants to be a Sondervan or fully embrace being Bronwen Oliver.

My thoughts
I honestly had a very full Saturday planned when I woke up this morning, but I received this book in the mail this week and just was going to start reading the first chapter with coffee.  I didn't put it down until the very last page. Finally, a refreshing YA chick lit book with romance of the human kind, no conniving, back stabbing drama, and although there is heartbreak, it doesn't wallow in it for 200 pages. Thank you Ms. McCahan! Bronwen is a heroine that young women can look up to. She's got a good head on her shoulders, her morals are sound, and although she dreams that she belongs to another family, she really tries to be a good daughter and a loyal friend. I find Bronwen's voice in the book charming and fresh. Finally a character with her own high standards. It also helps that Jared, the love interest, is a character to "sigh" for. He's got the cutest, non-cheesy, "wish a boy told me that" lines and I think the girls will go gaga for him. No moody, angst-ridden, bad boy here. I laughed, I cried, and at the end, my heart was full. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Erin McMahan has a lovely bio on her blog. Its got Bronwen written all over it. I can't do it justice, just go to her site to read about this first-time novelist. I, having already enjoyed her bio, will wait for her to write more books.

By the way this book, as well as all the other review copies I get this school year are going to the the middle school classroom of Mrs. Tamara Wong Morrison at the Volcano School of Arts and Sciences in Volcano, Hawaii. Public charter schools, and especially Mrs. Morrison's 6, 7, and 8th grade English classroom, are doing a great job of finding creative ways to continue the literature discussions beyond the classroom walls, and I'd like to help by providing books to teens. Middle schools are where we keep readers or lose readers forever. Let's continue to "mind the middle."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirby

Rating 4 out of 5 for its genre
Hardcover 224 pages
Publisher Thomas Nelson (May 2010)
Genre Memoir
Source this book is courtesy of Book Sneeze

About the book. . .
I Am Hutterite: The fascinating true story of a young woman's journey to reclaim her heritage takes the reader into the inner workings of the little-known Hutterite colony in southern Manitoba where author Mary-Ann Kirkby spent her childhood. Kirkby sets up a vast network of characters, mostly family members, who  provide the reader with insight into this commune where the community kitchen ensures that everyone gets fed, the community school ensures that all the children are cared for and educated, and the outside world, with its technology, commercialism, and strict socio-economic structure just does not factor into everyday life.  If Kirkby didn't throw in some hints about the kinds of equipment and vehicles they used, this story could have been going on in the 1860s rather than the 1960s.

At ten years old her parents pack up their seven children and a handful of possessions and leave the security of the colony to start a new life. Overnight they are all thrust into a world that they don't understand, and a world that doesn't want to understand them. The author is desperate to fit into this new world, even at the expense of denying her heritage and hiding her culture from others well into her adulthood.  This memoir is the author's reconciliation with herself, written really to benefit her son so that he will understand who he is.
My thoughts. . .
When I read, I always try to picture the student that needs to read this book. This book is for the reader who enjoys a quiet book, who enjoys escaping into a world very different than the ones depicted on television, in the magazines,  even outside the door. This is for the reader who doesn't need to read fantasy and science fiction to understand that there are other worlds that exist around us. This is for the reader that feels like they don't quite fit in; the reader who feels that perhaps they were born in the wrong decade, the wrong century. I hope they find solace here. This book is about a people who live and argue and breathe as one family. It is about idyllic complacency. It is also about loss, and culture shock and shame. Mostly, though, it is the author's long journey to acceptance. I think it teaches teens that sometimes secrets and shame can stay hidden for a long time. Sometimes we can swallow the shame about ourselves, about our past and succeed in hiding it from even those that are close to us. But it's never too late to make the journey back. I'm glad that there were still open arms to take Kirkby back, even just for the day, so that she really could tell this story. This story, the story of these people, deserves a wide audience and the right reader to embrace it.


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