Are you a graphic novel fan? And I don’t mean manga – that is its own thing. Or comics – that’s another separate entity. Comics are usually published in issues, they’re shorter and have an ongoing storyline like a series book (i.e. Superman. Or any other superhero you can think of. Or Calvin & Hobbes). Manga is Japanese comics. Same idea: ongoing storyline, etc. Graphic novels is a name that usually refers to stories told in pictures and words, typically one-off or non-series stories (or sometimes short series like a trilogy), with unique characters (not Batman), etc.
Graphic novels cross audiences: they’re typically realistic or fantasy fiction, so could easily be read by fans of those genres, but they are told visually, so could be read by fans of visual story forms like manga and comics. But it seems to me that neither of these fan groups really find the graphic novels. I’m here to tell you that you are both missing out!
Start with these three new graphic novels that pack a punch:
A sort of semi-fictionalized memoir, this book tells the story of Beyer’s freshman year at an art college. She’s far from home, exploring her art form, making new friends, and learning who she is. And she conveys this story in a completely brilliant way: through lists, drawings, panels of comic-strip-type action, and more. It’s like a scrapbook that tells a wonderful story of some big life moments, something we can all relate to.
You will love Delilah Dirk if you love feisty lady protagonists like Katsa (from Graceling by Kristin Cashore). She’s like Indiana Jones, but a young lady in the early 19th century! Delilah seeks and finds adventure, but that adventure has landed her in prison. When she makes her escape, Delilah decides to take along a lieutenant who is decidedly her opposite. Selim, despite being quite a proper gentleman who prefers staying in to going out, actually makes a great partner for daredevil Delilah as the two gallivant across the world. Action and adventure await!
This is a little like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for those of you in middle and high school who have already grown out of that series. Annie and her friends are not the popular crowd. Not that life is much easier for those people – everyone is a freshman and being a freshman is not always fun. But it is a constant learning experience, and as Annie and her crew learn, that learning extends far outside of the four walls of the classroom. And it is sometimes really awesome.
There are so many books published for adults that have what is called “crossover appeal,” meaning they are recommended for teens, too. It’s hard to find those books, of course, because they are shelved in the adult fiction area and we don’t exactly put shining beacons on them all to let you teens know they’re there! So this week I thought I’d showcase some new-ish books for adults – that also happen to pair well with new-ish YA titles for extra added appeal and ease of entry into the world of books for adults.
Books about growing up
…featuring horses. You’re probably saying, “But I stopped reading horse books when I was 11!” Give these two a shot, though, if you still (secretly) like stories involving animals in some way, but also really love great realistic fiction about growing up in an imperfect world.
In the South during the Great Depression, an elite equestrian boarding school gets a new student: sheltered Thea Atwell is banished from her wealthy family in Florida after her naivete gets her into trouble. Her home-schooled, insular life did not prepare her for what she finds at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp. The Southern belle and debutante students have their own particular social hierarchy into which Thea has trouble understanding at first, but her riding skills allow her to slowly make her way in this new world, coming to terms with who she is and what she needs to learn to grow stronger.
YOUNG ADULT: Catch Rider by Jennifer H. Lyne
Sidney grew up tough, so when she needs to escape her over-protective mother and her mother’s string of abusive boyfriends, she finds a job cleaning stables for a rich woman and drives herself there even though she’s only 14. She loves to ride, so working amongst the horses and riders is thrilling for Sid. The mill town she lives in feels like a dead-end, and probably will be for most of Sid’s classmates and her beloved uncle. But Sid wants so much more from life, and her opportunity to see how the other side lives leads to more opportunities to pursue her dream of riding.
If you’ve seen any of the award-winning TV show The Borgias, you know that this is some fascinating history. When their father rose to power as the pope, the Borgia children had to learn the ropes of the family business: getting even more power for their family and themselves. Cesare is the cold, manipulative one who thinks nothing of killing those who stand in his way – including his sister’s husbands. Lucrezia’s job is to be beautiful and attract those husbands, until she realizes she is a pawn in a game over which she could have some control, too.
YOUNG ADULT: Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub
Love the thrilling real story of the dramatic Borgia family? Methinks the bard did, too. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet takes on Italian family drama, and this novel takes that drama to another level. Still Star-Crossed picks up where Romeo and Juliet leaves off – with the title characters dead. Even though they have died through their love, the Capulets and Montagues are still feuding. A plan to make peace involves another Capulet-Montague match-up, but will it end well this time?
Death & Destruction
ADULT: Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
If you’re a fan of fast-paced thrillers like Michael Crichton or Michael Grant, or literary horror/zombie stories like those of Daniel Kraus and Patrick Ness, then you will love Red Moon. In the world of this book, werewolves are real – they are people disturbingly transformed by a disease – and they are rising up against the rest of humanity. They live in what could be called peace, but an extremist group of lycans is planning deadly attacks on the U.S. (there are major parallels to the 9/11 terrorist attacks), determined to spark a war to end all wars.
YOUNG ADULT: The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer
While not as tensely paced as the book to which this is the sequel, House of the Scorpion (2002), this is another riveting and imaginative look at what our world could be in the future. El Patron is dead, and Matteo must step into his position of power. I paired this with Red Moon because both focus intensely on real-world issues but frame them in an alternate reality.
Earlier this summer I highlighted the blockbuster fall that is upon us: so many big-time movies-from-books and so many big-time books are coming out this fall, it’s really hard to keep track. This week, I’m too excited to stay quiet about some of the upcoming sequels, finales, and stand-alone books that will be hitting the shelves in September and early October.
To make things even more fun: you can already request these books even though they either have yet to be published or have yet to be cataloged by any Milwaukee County libraries. Get your name on the list for these books ASAP if you’re anywhere near as excited as I am!
If you’re a fan of Block from her great magical-realism YA books like the Weetzie Bat series, The Frenzy, Wasteland and others, you will not be disappointed in her newest book. Tackling the post-apocalyptic genre that has swept through YA lit recently, Block puts her own spin on death and destruction. An apocalyptic earthquake and tidal wave that seems to sweep most of the USA off the map leaves Penelope alone in her pink house, without the family and friends she dearly loved. There is something sinister behind the destructive quake, though, something that it seems Penelope – who quickly renames herself Pen – must track down. She meets friends and finds love, and quickly realizes her journey parallels that of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. The magic and mythology of that story are beautifully intertwined with science and technology of the 21st century in a way only Block could pull off.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (September 3)
This is a novelization of a short story originally published in Black’s The Poison Eaters. Everyone knows that escape from Coldtown, effectively a prison for vampires and other demons, is impossible. So when Tana, with the help of a red-eyed stranger named Gavriel, realizes that entering (and then escaping) Coldown is probably the only way to save her town from a plague of vampire attacks, she must steel herself to the task. Tana is a typically brave and bold Black heroine and her thrilling foray into the freaky Coldtown is not to be missed.
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (September 17)
The second book in Stiefvater’s utterly perfect series about magic, mythology, psychics and private school. If you have not read the first one (The Raven Boys), go get it right this second. That is, if you love great stories about teens doing cool things with magic and ley lines and awakening ancient dead Welsh kings. In The Dream Thieves, the boys Adam, Gansey and Ronan are still working with energy-amplifying spikey-haired Blue Sargent, but this time their efforts are diverted somewhat from the search for Glendower. Secretive Ronan may not be able to keep his secrets much longer (the last line from The Raven Boys certainly hints at that development!). Blue may not be able to stop herself from kissing someone thereby fulfilling the awful prophecy that has plagued her life so far. Unlike some “bridge” books – the second in a trilogy – this promises to be an astonishing story that truly furthers the action and the characters’ development.
October releases include such eagerly anticipated books as Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa and a little thing called ALLEGIANT BY VERONICA ROTH (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Get reading!
Summer is drawing to a close. Sure, for those of us who don’t go back to school in the fall, it feels like summer stretches just that little bit longer. But for you readers who are getting your back-to-school shopping done, living in your bathing suit and flip-flops until you’re forced to change into something else, and soaking up those last-minute rays, summer is actually nearing an end. Read some stress-free books and unwind a little before it’s done!
If you wish you could go on one last hilarious adventure this summer try…
This is a companion to the incomparable The Schwa was Here so you can expect goofiness, antics, a little intrigue (because why not?) and good old Anthony “Antsy” Bonano. When Old Man Crawley turns 80 Antsy’s family is invited to pack up and join him on a cruise. Antsy can’t keep himself out of trouble despite being stuck on a boat floating in the Caribbean Sea, and soon finds himself at the center of an international incident involving illegal immigration. Oops! But Antsy takes it in stride because he’s a Brooklyn kind of guy. If you liked the previous books, or are just looking for a fun, realistic fiction read, pick this one up.
Sneak Peek! “Don’t ask me because I don’t got an opinion. I’m not red, I’m not blue; I’m not an elephant or donkey; I’m not left or right; and I ain’t center either. I’m not even in the ballpark. If it’s a ballpark, then I’m playin’ hockey.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Neal Shusterman)
If you’re wondering what the new school year will mean for your social life try…
A perfect end-of-summer read: Max and Sadie have always been best friends. Max is the steady, serious, shy one, while Sadie is the flighty dreamer. When they go live on a farm with Sadie’s mom for the summer – to get over some bad decision-making during the previous school year – their friendship is quickly tested. Max gets an unexpected opportunity to come out from Sadie’s shadow, and she is left wondering if they really are good for each other. Did they run from their problems just to realize their problem is staring them straight in the face? If you like true-to-life friend books – think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – or even if you just have friends, this book is right for you.
Sneak Peek! “We’ve been sitting on our bags in the middle of nowhere for almost an hour. ‘No one’s coming,’ you say, always the pessimist. You sigh and pull a sweaty clump of hair that’s stuck between your temple and the giant sunglasses you always wear, the ones that cover nearly half your face and make you look like a movie star. ‘I thought Nebraska was supposed to be cold.’ Where you got that idea, I don’t know.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Amy Reed)
If you want just one last lazy weekday afternoon romantic read try…
Travel back to 1982 Russia. This is not a Soviet-era spy novel, though, although because of it’s setting it does have a bit of international intrigue. Laura has decided to come to Russia for a semester to expand her horizons. The freezing winter she arrives to warms suddenly when she meets Alyosha on a bridge. Soon they are deeply in love and Laura is shown a side of Cold War Russia she didn’t know existed where kids read banned books, have parties, and find a way to get around all the rules of their Communist society. Laura and Alyosha’s romance is fast and beautiful, even when they both know it may be destined to end shortly.
Sneak Peek! “Laura and her roommate Karen tramped along the frozen mud road that lead through the university, past a wall with OGNEOPASNO! painted on it in huge red letters. An icy wind blew off the Neva River. It was January in Leningrad.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Natalie Standiford)
This week instead of writing about books that are already on the shelves, waiting for you to pick them up, I though I’d highlight some brand new books that aren’t even ready to be checked out yet (at Shorewood at least).
I am super excited about all of these books. They’re from a few of the best writers writing YA lit. It also just so happens that they all write books with major guy appeal. Ladies will like these reads, too, but if you’re a literarily inclined gentleman you will not want to miss them.
Yes, the real John Green. This is a new and hilarious graphic novel that promises to be one of the most ridiculous things you read this year. The subtitle really says it all: “The angst of being a teen, the thrill of being a boat!” Basically this dude is a sort of a transformer – he morphs into a boat – and a semi-superhero who is really just trying to make it through high school.
His first novel, Silver Linings Playbook, was made into a movie last year, but his second and third novels (Sorta Like a Rockstar and Boy 21) were both YA and were really where he made his name. Like in his other books, Quick takes a deep, dark and unflinching look at mental illness in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.
Another slightly dark, mostly hilarious book from another well-known dude writer. Ritchie Sudden is a teen rocker in juvie with a dead sister. He likes none of these things about himself. Ritchie will tell you all these things in his raw and real, and really funny, story.
If that seems like an intriguing and magical title, it’s because all three new books I want to share are just that: intriguing and magical. There’s lots of fantasy written for young adults, but lately it seems there has been more magical realism or supernatural realism than before. These books are somewhat fantastical – in that there are sometimes other worlds, creatures other than humans, with magic and mythology abounding – but they take place in world that we recognize as our own. Think of books by Maggie Stiefvater or Margo Lanagan that re-tell and re-imagine mythological and fairy stories. If you like those writers, you will definitely like these three new books.
When Noah and his sister Lo make their way to the island where their grandmother lives for the summer, they don’t plan for mystery or adventure. Noah is headed to an important internship with a noted marine biologist, and Lo is just along for the change of scenery which she hopes will inspire her art and help her heal from an eating disorder. Soon, however, both notice strange things are afoot on the isolated island. Noah meets Mara when he tries to rescue her from drowning. She is unlike any girl Noah or Lo has known, but something holds her back from getting close to them. What is her secret? And will finding it out put Noah and Lo in harm’s way?
Sneak Peek! “‘No one is happy in the inbetween,’ said Gemm. ‘Not even selkies.’” (Text copyright © 2013 by Betsy Cornwell)
Another novel with a mystery from the sea at its heart – this time it’s mermaids, not selkies, although the two are closely related. Sam and his father and brother are still reeling from the sudden loss of their mother. She up and left months ago, and now that summer has arrived Sam’s dad takes them all to a sleepy seaside town for a chance to recover. Sam and his brother see this as a real chance to let go, and soon find themselves in the midst of friends and parties and the fun of summer in a beach town. But they also notice that all the girls are blonde and bewitching – which wouldn’t be a problem except that they are all a little strange, too. Sam falls for DeeDee – although all the girls chase him – and soon comes to learn who these strange, ephemeral looking girls are. And that he may hold the secret to unlocking the curse they are under. Bonus: Sam’s voice is completely approachable by anyone. Don’t be put off by the kissing cover!
Sneak Peek! “The summer following the winter that my mother took off into something called Women’s Land for waht I could only guess would be all eternity, my father decided that there was no choice but for him to quit his despised job and take me and my brother to the beach for at least the entire summer and possibly longer.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Bennett Madison)
Canny Mochrie has always been able to see something Extra – bits of magic on the edges of things, a feeling that pervades. She has always felt different, not only because of the Extra but because she seems too distant from people, too brown compared to others on her Pacific island, Southland, and a little strange. When she accompanies her step-brother on a research trip to the Zarene Valley – site of a coal mining disaster that her brother is researching – she instantly knows there is some connection between herself and the Zarenes. The Valley abounds with magic, she can see the Extra everywhere. She is drawn to Ghislain Zarene, one of the children of the Valley who can perform magic, but is trapped there by the magic, too. Canny finds connection in the Valley – although she is torn between it and her island home – for reasons she will come to understand run deep within her.
Sneak Peek! “Canny and her teammates stood on platform nine of Castlereagh Station and watched everything they’d seen the night before in Founderston play again in reverse. ” (Text copyright 2013 © by Elizabeth Knox)
On Monday, August 5 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Village Center Meeting Room, the Shorewood School District is holding a community forum about youth mental health and suicide. These are important, huge subjects that deserve our close attention. I hope you can make it to this community forum!
Authors know this – maybe those authors who write for teens in particular – and that is why it’s actually pretty easy to find a lot of amazing fictional books about mental health issues facing young people. Fiction helps us to better-understand big issues like depression, teen suicide, and bullying, by letting us explore the issues through a comfortable distance while simultaneously pushing us to examine them more closely. Fiction can also help to normalize – and thus reduce the stigma of – mental illness. When we can openly talk about mental illness, we can help ourselves and help others instead of persecuting, ignoring or shaming someone for their illness.
Reading well-written fiction about people like ourselves or very different from ourselves – clever, thoughtful, otherwise okay teens who suffer from depression, or popular, happy teens who find themselves having to come to terms with the suicide of a friend, or marginalized, queer/questioning teens who overcome bullies by finding solace in friends, family and caring adults – helps us better understand all of us.
Here are a few (pretty) new titles that explore mental illness in teens:
Emmy and Justin are both sent to Heartland, a treatment center boarding school where they are supposed to come to terms with the mental illness that got them there. Emmy threatened a racist bully and got expelled from school and Justin feels strongly that his suicide attempt wasn’t serious; both teens think they are mostly fine. As they get to know each other and their classmates/therapy group-mates, they begin to delve deeper into their illnesses – and to come to terms with the fact that they have been ignoring their illnesses and won’t recover until they face them. Like some other notable books about teen mental illness (for example, It’s Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini), Cook lets her characters be hilarious, inappropriate, sarcastic while dealing with serious mental illness – and thus Emmy, Justin and the whole Heartland bunch come across as very real.
On the surface, this is not a book about being depressed or suicidal – but it is a book about sliding between stable mental states, struggling against violence in a violent society, and coming to terms with oneself. James is desperate to prove himself to his older brother, Louis, and does the only thing he knows how: gets involved in Louis’ drug dealing. When a deal goes awry, Louis abandons James to the consequences. James is incarcerated at a juvenile detention center where bad goes to worse: every inmate is a bully, every situation is wrought with violence and fear and James does not know how he will hang on to himself – or who he even is. At the heart of James’s story is a message of survival when the odds are against you.
This is another story that treats a serious mental illness – schizophreniform disorder, a kind of temporary schizophrenia – with both humor and tender tact. It’s not a kind of disease that we talk about much, so Cameron’s situation is unique and enlightening. Cameron decides not to take his meds in an effort to maintain some control over his life. But this means that it is not long before he hears voices in his head which begin to compete for his attention. On top of that, Cameron convinces Nina, a clinically depressed classmate, to drop her meds, too. Only Nina’s decision may have more serious consequences than Cameron’s. Author Averett is a clinical psychologist and does an amazing job of showing us who a teen with schizophreniform disorder is.
Creepy books! They are not for everyone, that’s for sure. But if you like your fantasy or re-told, re-imagined fairy tales with a little bit of a creep factor – think Libba Bray, Melissa Marr, Kenneth Oppel, etc. – then check these new books out!
This is a new and creeptastic take on the story of Snow White. Camille is an orphan, found abandoned in the snow, who has been raised in the lap of luxury as the ward of the godfather of the Seven. The Seven are the powerful families that rule their magic-infused world of New Haven. Only Camille is not magical – she is mortal, with a past that remains a mystery until she meets Tor. Part fairy tale, part paranormal steampunk.
Sneak Peek! “Of all the cars in New Haven to fall before, I chose Enrico Vultusino’s long black limousine. The Dead Harvest had been dry for once, but Mithrus Eve had brought a cargo of snow, a white Mithrusmas for New Haven after all.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Lili St. Crow)
This is the third book in the Bones of Faerie trilogy, and of course promises much of the same fantastical faerie magic as you saw in the first two books. It’s part postapocalytpic mayhem and all dark fantasy. Liza’s world in Faerie is suddenly disintegrating, seemingly struck by a sickness that is causing living creatures to turn to dust. Liza realizes the fate of her world is linked to that of the human world, and she must risk bridging the two to save both.
Sneak Peek! “He came to me in the rain, as the first maple leaves were surrendering their green. Beyond the path where I waited, their veins burned orange and red beneath a steel-gray sky, and their branches hissed restlessly as they reached for falling water.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Janni Lee Simner)
Mackenzie is a Keeper with the heavy job of ensuring Histories – like ghosts, only more…complex – return to the Archive where Librarians store their knowledge and stories. As Keeper, Mackenzie must ensure that wayward Histories don’t escape into the real world to cause havoc. Soon after her family relocates to a creepy new home in an old hotel, Mac meets a fellow Keeper and their previously quiet world begins to fall apart. Histories are on a rampage – and they may be getting help from inside the Archive. Not to be read in the dark if you’re easily scared!
Sneak Peek! “There is nothing fresh about this start. I lean back against the car and stare up at the Coronado, the hotel-turned-apartment building that my mother and father find ‘so charming.’ It stares back, wide-eyed, gaunt.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Victoria Schwab)
The last few posts about our new books here at Shorewood Library have been all about summer reads – which is to say, fiction of all sorts. This week there are some fantastic and awesome new non-fiction titles chilling on the shelves. Pick one up and cool on down.
Ever wanted to know how to do a lot of stuff? Need to be the one to fix something when it breaks or have the answer to the question? This book is for you. From finding your way around the kitchen, to finding your way around a minor emergency, this book has helpful tips and pro instructions galore!
I know what you’re thinking: 600 years of social networking?! But Facebook has not been around for that long! Even MySpace isn’t 600 years old. Well, author DiPiazza takes you back, way back. Back when social networking meant what happened when people talked face to face or communicated via telegram or whatever. Yep, people are social creatures, so social networking is pretty old! This is a really fascinating look at how people communicated before IM, made friends before “Friend” was a verb, and built networks before we were all networked with the Internet. Of course, it also looks at how we do all these things now!
Admit it: before reading this title you had no idea there even were 26 women aviators! There are and they are all amazing to read about. This book basically gives you a mini-bio of each, showcasing what they did to change the course of flight history and women’s history, too. If you loved Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, this book will take you into the real lives of women like Maddie and Queenie who did real, daring things.
It’s important to have the right kind of reading material when you’re going to the beach in the summer. You need something you won’t get so into that you can’t put it down and play a little volleyball or frisbee, or go for a quick swim. So here are three awesome brand new titles that I recommend for perfect beach reading. Bonus: two of them actually have a beach on the cover.
Cricket Thompson has big plans to spend the summer near her major crush Jay by staying with her bestie at their home on Nantucket Island. But when her best friend’s mother dies, things start to fall apart. Cricket is no longer invited to Nantucket – actually it seems like Cricket is no longer Jules’s best friend – so she has to scheme to find a way to make her summer as close to perfect as she was hoping it would be. Her friendship may be crumbling, her crush may be less crushworthy than she supposed, and her plans, and she herself, change unexpectedly…but possibly for the best.
Sneak Peek! “Even without Holly Howard and Dori Archer, who’d been suspended for drinking on campus, we were supposed to win the game. The sun was high and white, and the breeze carried the scent of sweaty, shampooed girls and a whiff of the fresh asphalt from the school’s newly paved driveway.” (Text copyright 2013 by Leila Howland)
Rafe is gay. Luckily for Rafe, this is not a problem in his Colorado town/ The problem is that he’s a lot of other things along with being gay and no one really knows about all those cool things he does or likes or is because they focus on his gayness. He’s visits schools to talk about tolerance, he’s well-respected and not teased, but he really just wants to be Rafe, not the gay guy. So when he transfers to a new school, Rafe sees it as his chance to shift the focus from his sexuality to his personality. At his new all-boys school he fits in well until he finds love with someone who doesn’t even fathom its existence.
Sneak Peek! “If it were up to my dad, my entire life would be on video. Anything I do, he grabs his phone. ‘Opal,’ he’ll yell to my mother, ‘Rafe is eating cornflakes. We gotta get this on film.’” (Text copyright 2013 by Bill Konigsberg)
Told in the alternative narrative style Colasanti is known for. From the perspective of both Seth and Skye, their meeting at a beach party is big. They both feel strongly about each other, but they both have a past that haunts them. When Seth leaves for college before Skye can get his contact information, she worries that she has lost the one forever. But even when they find each other, can they make it work with the multiple complications of distance, space, time, and different backgrounds?
Sneak Peek! “‘Something’s going to happen tonight,’ Adrienne says, ‘I can feel it.’ It would be awesome if she was right. We’ve been coming to this beach party for seven years. Nothing ever happens.” (Text copyright 2013 by Susane Colasanti)