Recovery Road by Blake Nelson 
submitted by Lynette

Maddie is seventeen, and already has been given the descriptive nickname “Mad Dog Maddie” for her wild behavior. After too many wrong turns she finds herself in a teen rehabilitation center. Rehab isn’t for her – she does not want to be there, nor does she think her problems are comparable to the others she meets in rehab. Everything changes when she meets another rehab patient, Stewart. The time that had been dragging on so slowly in rehab is now happening so fast after meeting Stewart.

And then she gets to go home.

Maddie is a changed girl now, she’s actually trying to reel in her rage and desire to drink and party – but, no one is buying it, no matter how hard she tries, what grades she gets, or how nice she acts towards others. Though she is sincerely trying to turn her life around for the better everyone, including Stewart, classmates, and her family, suspect she’s going to slip back into her ways. So what about Stewart and his struggles? The more Maddie tries to turn to him for help the more distant he becomes.

Author Blake Nelson writes in a way that makes Maddie’s issues feel so real. Her struggle to reign in her anger and party girl behavior are heart breaking to read. As the reader you understand her sincerity, and yet you also understand why those around her are leery to forgive and forget her wild past. They can’t fully invest in Maddie again until she’s proved herself, and this isn’t anything she can turn around in a matter of months. She realizes she might be fighting her own reputation for years to come.

I would recommend Recovery Road to any young adult struggling to turn people’s opinions of themselves around. It isn’t easy, you might not be able to get everyone to forgive you, but you can come out the other side as the person you want to be – regardless of what anyone thinks about you.

[ add comment ] ( 4199 views )   |  related link
Favorite Read-Alouds Published in 2013 
submitted by Natalie

Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack

Can you really tell a compelling story using just pictures and two sounds? The answer is “Yes!”

Big Snow by Jonathan Bean

While under the guise of “helping” his mother to clean the house, a young boy is constantly reminded of playing in snow as he waits for a big one to arrive.

Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman must have been pretty busy writing his dreamlike novel for adults, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which was recently voted National Book of the Year in the UK. Yet somehow, he still found the time to imagine a little Panda with a tragic flaw. Terrible things happen when Chu sneezes. You can’t even begin to imagine what.

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger

Everyone gets a little cranky time to time. But when especially trying things like long lines or super-hot days pile up, they can turn otherwise sweet children into monsters!

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

I had no idea crayons were so sensitive. Hilarious and not to be missed.

Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller

Sophie’s family picks up a spaghetti squash shopping at the farmer’s market but much to her parent’s dismay, Sophie forms an attachment to their dinner.

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

Fans of Mo Willems will love this melodramatic watermelon chomping crocodile.

[ add comment ] ( 13088 views )   |  related link
Twelve Great Reads  
submitted by Tony

Can you believe it? 2013 is almost over. And you know what that means…end of the year time is Best of the Year time!

So here is a list of some favorite comics from the past year. They may or may not have been published in 2013. Many of the titles are ongoing series so I have just named each series as a whole rather than any specific volume.

All of these works can be checked out from LFPL. I have also named the author and main artist for each title (except for #12 where there were multiple artists over the course of its run, sometimes even in the same issue).

Due to the variety of stories being told, it was difficult to rank the items in order of preference. Instead, they are listed below in alphabetical order.

American Vampire by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque

What if vampires were evolving? What if one of the meanest, low-down gunslingers of the Wild West was the first of a new breed of stronger, faster vampires? Stephen King himself adds his macabre touch to this tale of horror and revenge across the decades.

Batman: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

One of the best of DC’s New 52 storylines. Scott Snyder (who is also the primary writer for American Vampire) deftly continues the building of Gotham’s most important character - the city itself - that he began in the Gates of Gotham. We are introduced to the shadowy Court of Owls and to the Talons, an army of immortal assassins in service to the Court, as they decide to show Batman who really runs Gotham.

Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja

Action and comedy mingle in this fast-paced look at the life of the non-powered superhero. It’s just a man with a bow tackling problems with femme fatales, Russian mobsters, and the training of a sidekick…er, partner. The writing by Matt Fraction is quick and witty, and the art by David Aja is a perfect fit.

I, Vampire by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino

A minor character from J.M. DeMattheis’ run on House of Mystery is now the star of his own title in the New 52 universe. The background of Andrew Bennett, the titular vampire, is revealed along the way as he battles the plans of his lover, Mary Queen of Blood, to lead a worldwide vampire revolution against humanity’s dominance over other species.

The Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra

Imagine a world where The Manhattan Project was but one undertaking of a long-running government program to investigate and master exotic science for the benefit of the U.S. Many important scientists from the mid-Twentieth Century work there but one, Robert Oppenheimer, is harboring a secret of his own that will threaten the very existence of The Projects.

The Massive by Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson

The Massive is not just another post-apocalyptic tale. It examines what it would mean to be an ecological activist in the wake of multiple events that trigger permanent disastrous climate change. Brian Wood – best known for creating DMZ and his work on various X-men titles – keeps this exploration from becoming didactic or boring by focusing on the mystery of a disappearing ship which the main characters are seeking. Plus they have to battle pirates!

Mind the Gap by Jim McCann and Rodin Esquejo

This para-scientific thriller is about a woman admitted to the emergency room after being beaten into a coma and what her place is in an unfolding conspiracy. The protagonist, Elle Peterssen, finds herself conscious but separated from her body. She is in an indeterminate spiritual realm and wants to get back to the real world. While Elle struggles to return to everyday life, there is a lot of drama involving her friends, her family, and a mysterious stranger who seems to be orchestrating events from the shadows.

Morning Glories by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma

Morning Glories is part prep school drama, part Lost-style conspiracy, and all fun. Nick Spenser – creator of Infinite Vacation, a title that almost made this list – keeps the intrigue and the action going without skimping on characterization. Love them or hate them, you definitely want to know what happens to these characters.

Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton

What if a zombie outbreak happened only in a small, rural Wisconsin town? And said town has to struggle with the reintegration of its newly revived citizens into society? Not only that but it has to face the pressure from the rest of the world that is pushing at the boundaries of a CDC quarantine zone. Revival is subtitled “A Rural Noir” and that is exactly what it is. Tim Seeley doesn’t back away from showing the macabre and horror inherent in the situation. What else would you expect from the creator of the infamous Hack/Slash series?

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Two alien races are at war but love unites a couple of soldiers from each race as they are pursued by their respective forces who wish to punish them for their treason. They also have to figure out how to take care of their newborn child and deal with overbearing parents! Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ space opera never turns into corny pastiche even though its core story is as old as Shakespeare and is filled with stock science fiction trappings like space battles, mercenaries, and robots.

Saucer Country by Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly

This series has been described by its creators Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly as “The West Wing does The X-Files," and they deliver on the promise of those words. Arcadia Alvarado, the Governor of New Mexico, is about to make a bid for the Presidency when she is abducted by aliens. As her staff struggles to keep her campaign from faltering, Arcadia hires Professor Joshua Kidd, a Harvard sociologist who has studied alien abduction, to help her get to the truth of UFOs and the alien agenda.

The Shade by James Dale Robinson

The Shade (a.k.a. Richard Swift) has been a super-villain since the Golden Age of comic books, primarily serving as nemesis to both the Jay Garrick and Barry Allen iterations of The Flash. But he is also an immortal who gained his powers in the same period which saw Charles Dickens rise to fame. In fact, Dickens was a great friend of The Shade when he was still a normal man. In this series we find The Shade in a morally ambiguous place as he has decided to change his super-villain ways and save his descendants from assasination by a mysterious opponent.

You can check out my graphic novel best of list for 2012 by clicking here.

Would you like to discuss these titles or other works of sequential art? Please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group. Meetings are held at the Main Library on the second Monday of every month, starting at 7:00 PM.

The next three meetings will take place on the following dates:
January 13, 2014 – We will discuss Indie Comics.
February 10, 2013 – We will examine March. Book One, the graphic memoir of Congressman John Lewis.
March 10, 2013 – We will focus on Female Comics Creators.

[ add comment ] ( 10668 views )   |  related link
Truth is Stranger Than Fiction: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss 
submitted by Rob

While it may ring of cliché, truth is indeed stranger than fiction at times, and Tom Reiss’ most recent book, The Black Count, would seem to vividly support this notion. To many, if not most, the name Alexandre Dumas is instantly recognizable and conjures images of valiant fighters, desperate times, and hard-won victories. How many of these same persons, I wonder, would also be familiar with the familial lineage that bore Mr. Dumas to this world? Before The Black Count, I freely admit that I would have been counted among those completely unaware, and as a result of having read this fascinating book, I shall nevermore have the same thoughts and experience whilst eating a favorite sandwich of mine, the Monte Cristo, and I am the better for it.

Several of Mr. Dumas’ ancestors have fascinating stories to be sure, but it is the tale of his father, Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, that so surpasses the rest, that Mr. Dumas looked no further than the details of that life for the inspiration of his novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Thomas-Alexandre was the son born of a wayward French aristocrat, Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, and his African-born slave and mistress, Marie-Cessette Dumas, in Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti) on March 25, 1762, a time when that region supplied much of the world with its sugar; the Davy de la Pailleterie family even utilized a local island by the name of Monte Cristo as a smuggling point during the Seven Years’ War with Great Britain.

The real adventure begins in 1776 when Alexandre Antoine sold his son in order to pay for his passage for a return to France to claim the title of Marquis, as his two elder brothers had both died. Once in France, he bought back his son, sold his family’s estate, and the two moved to Paris in 1777, where Thomas-Alexandre was provided an upper-class education and life of luxury funded by his father.

This situation changed considerably when in February of 1786 Alexandre Antoine married, and the generosity previously showered upon his son was greatly lessened. Subsequently, on June 2, 1786, Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie entered into the Queen’s Dragoons as a private under the name of Alexandre Dumas, taking the surname of his mother. Over the next few years, he advanced quickly eventually attaining the rank Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Alps, where, at the age of thirty-two, he led an army of over fifty thousand to victory.

After further campaigns in Europe and drawing the attention and admiration of not only his own men and Napoleon, but those of the enemy, he accompanied the French on the bold and reckless invasion of Egypt, but it was during this time that his luck began to fade, something that coincided with his open and public criticism of Napoleon.

Through the excellent writing of Mr. Reiss, the captivating journey of Thomas-Alexandre is told, and it is through this story that certain aspects of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, which may not be terribly familiar to the reader, are conveyed, and the context and impact of this time may be better and more fully understood.

[ add comment ] ( 34333 views )   |  related link
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick 
submitted by Tommy

An old friend of mine, who was 22 at the time, told me to read this book about 15 years ago. I’m not really into Science Fiction and when I hear this term I usually resist. Since then, a few other people have told me to read it too. LFPL recently got a few brand new shiny copies of it and this time I could not resist. Firstly, I’m sorry that I waited this long to read this wonderful, twisted book. Secondly, I don’t think it is Sci-Fi.

The process of getting to know A Scanner Darkly was in reverse of how it probably should be. I watched the movie first, which came out in 2006. Yeah, a few friends had tried to get me to watch that too. Much to my surprise I liked the movie. And with each viewing (4 times) I liked it more and more.

Two friends told me the book was better. Because of time constraints, I read the Graphic Novel which is based on the movie version. It is a nice concise version. Then on to the actual book, which is better.

It is an honest book of what drugs can do to an individual, but it isn’t a moral tale against drugs. It is also a book of paranoia, both for the protagonist and society at large. It was written in 1977 and is set slightly in the future (1994), but it isn’t a futuristic novel. It is just one man spying on himself and his friends trying to figure out what is real. The imagination rules supreme in this book. With all the current controversy over who is listening in on your conversations, it is definitely a book that could have been written today.

Recently, I realized that it has been mostly younger people who wanted me to read A Scanner Darkly. Even though the book is of the generation slightly older than me (I’m 49), I think every adult should read this!

To Reserve A Scanner Darkly in its many forms (book, Graphic Novel, Audio CD), click here.

Editor’s note: Please use the comment button below to leave any response you may have about the book or the review.

[ add comment ] ( 6484 views )   |  related link

<Back | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | Next> Last>>