Laura shares this review:
If you asked people what they think of when they hear the term “American mythos” many would undoubtedly call to mind Cowboys and Indians and other aspects of the Wild West, unaware of the vibrant and complex stories and traditions of Southern Folklore. Bayou is a beautifully-rendered Alice in Wonderland-style fairytale set in Mississippi during the Depression. It is a uniquely Southern world, filled with mud and Spanish moss, concurrently embracing and fighting against the legacy of slavery.
The story centers on Lee, a young black girl, who is friends with Lily, the white daughter of the woman who owns the farm where Lee and her father live. Lily is snatched and swallowed by a monster from the bayou, named Cotton-Eyed Joe, and Lee’s father makes a convenient suspect for the local law officers when she is reported missing by her mother. In an effort to get her friend back, and free her father before he gets lynched, Lee follows the monster into the brackish water, and finds herself in an alternate but parallel world. The inhabitants of this world are human-like, but their physical bodies have been replaced by various characters drawn from Southern myths. She meets Bayou, a swamp dweller who, despite his giant stature, is cowed into submission by the Bossman and his lackeys through their brutal enforcement of the law. Despite his fear, Bayou sees the need and determination of Lee to find her friend Lily and decides to help her, although not without trepidation.
Any story that starts with a lynching and exposes the varied responses of people to such brutality isn’t going to pull punches. But what is most chilling about its narrative is that Bayou doesn’t make the humans into caricatures. The people in the normal world are just that: normal. They are all believable products of their time and environments, and that is clearly reflected in the social interactions between the characters. Young and old, black and white, rich and poor, everyone seems to know who is in power and the potential consequences of any action that might upset the current balance. In the parallel world, characters are taken to their extreme with Jim Crows, Golliwogs, and Confederate officer hounds, but it’s the similarities rather than the differences between the two worlds that are most striking.
Bayou’s injections of race, religion, poverty, and the blues contribute to an important and uniquely Southern voice in fantasy and graphic novels. The storyline and imagery can be disturbing and unsettling, but these aspects give meaning and power to the book’s message. Both written and drawn by Jeremy Love, the use of color enhances the atmosphere, bathing the images in deep gold, dusky pink, and brownish-green. Recommended to readers of fantasy, graphic novels, and southern fiction.
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Jessica shares this review:
5 pilasters! 6 pilasters! 25 pilasters! (Shouts from the crowd), 1 Keystone, says Kestrel. 12 keystones! 13 keystones! 15 keystones! 25 keystones! (Shouts from the crowd), 50 keystones, says Kestrel. And so it ends. Kestrel, the General’s daughter, has just made a very public display of wealth, desire and in the eyes of those around her in public square, a sizeable mistake. She has participated in her first slave auction (much to her own surprise) and not to the disinterest of those with questionable stares. And she has purchased her first slave…but at an incredibly high and unexpected cost. Why? Because the auctioneer proclaimed the one thing Kestrel could not ignore; the slave could sing. And there is nothing more in the world Kestrel loves than music, even if it’s one of the things her people dislike most about the population they conquered years ago and enslaved. Kestrel is among the upper-most class of the Valorians, a people known for their rough natures, war fighting skills and commitment to conquering the lands and people that lay beyond but within their reach. But she is distinct, she is different. Kestrel doesn’t long for a prestigious military career like her father, or a marriage to another elite society member like her friends. She yearns only for her piano and the ability to play whenever she wants. And so, with the hope of perhaps finding a kindred spirit, she buys Arin, a Herrani slave. But Arin isn’t what she expected and his distant reserve and hard headedness along with a blatant refusal to sing make Kestrel doubt her already questionable decision. And doubt it she should, for Arin has his own secrets and agendas he brings into the General’s home. As things begin to spiral out of control for both Kestrel and Arin it seems they are also realizing they might have a closer connection than either could have dared imagine…and it could mean the end for both of them.
Check the WRL catalog for The Winner’s Curse.
Lizzy shares this review:
“Just a stone’s throw from London lies the manor house of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom and its master, one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria’s faithful servant…and a slip of a twelve-year-old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler, Sebastian, is ever at his side, ready to carry out the young master’s wishes. And whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London’s underbelly, there apparently is nothing Sebastian cannot do. In fact, one might even say Sebastian is too good to be true…or at least, too good to be human…” – from Amazon
I was surprised to find myself reading Manga since it’s a different style than I’m used to. I gave the Manga a shot after I finished watching the Anime. I wanted to compare the two to see what was so different. The setting in Victorian London is the perfect time period for this story. Along with the era, the mansion one of the main characters, Ciel, lives in is amazing. The characters seem to be very relatable, which is a good thing. If the reader cannot relate to a character the reader tends to lose interest. Although they are relatable they always have a tweak or secret about them that the reader is not told about. The plot is very mysterious since it is only the first book and I look forward to future plot twists.
Check the WRL catalog for Black Butler.
Lizzy shares this review:
I started this book thinking it was going to be childish with no true meaning. It turned out to be more than a parody on fairy tales and spins into an amazing tale. The theme of the book is destiny. The Royals all end up with happily ever after’s, while the Rebels are stuck never living happily. Raven, one of the protagonists, doesn’t want to follow her destiny to become the next evil queen. Throughout the book she tries to change that. I enjoyed this theme because it shows you can change your destiny. The characters seemed a bit predictable but it does add to the humor. The daughter of Snow White, who is the Queen, is a selfish princess. One of the sons of Prince Charming, Daring Charming, thinks very fondly of himself as well. The plot surrounds the thoughts of Apple White and Raven Queen as Raven searches for ways to not become more like her mom. Altogether, it was a great book and I am looking forward to the next one.
Check the WRL catalog for Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends.
I saw this YA novel on a list of books being made into movies – and I decided to read it before the movie rocketed it up the “it” list.
The plot synopsis sounds like the saddest story ever. Lennie and her sister Bailey were abandoned by their mother when both were quite young. They live happily with their quirky grandmother and uncle, believing that one day their mom will wander back into their lives.
Lennie is an introvert and band geek who lives in her vibrant sister’s shadow. She likens herself to the companion pony that walks beside the sleek racehorse to keep it calm before a race. And suddenly Bailey dies.
Lennie thought she was happy walking behind Bailey, letting Bailey make decisions on what to do, and now Lennie is floating through each day without that anchor.
That’s the sad part. And believe me, you’ll need to keep some tissues handy. Why put yourself through that? Because you’ll quickly come to realize Lennie is more than just Bailey’s little sister. She has to work through her grief – and reconnect with friends – and fall in love – and forgive herself for feeling happy again. But that discovery is compelling, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Some of it is like watching a train wreck, but it ends in a good place (I promise!).
The coolest thing about this book is the poems and brief memories that Lennie writes on walls, paper cups, homework assignments, books, benches… These memorabilia are described every few chapters, along with where Lennie left them. How cool would it be to find a piece of someone’s life like this? It is so much more honest and revealing than “Lennie was here” or other typical graffiti.
The book is certainly worth waiting on a long hold list for — so if you can’t pick it up right away, keep it in mind once you hear the movie hype.
FYI – the movie option was purchased by Selena Gomez’s production company. The Disney star is set to play the main character, Lennie.
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Jessica shares this review:
Global warming has caused the melting of Antarctica and the rise of sea levels across the globe. The once prosperous, show stopping city of Manhattan now finds itself a series of submerged buildings and canal-lined streets. The city is divided between those who live in the Aeries (enormously tall high-rise buildings) and those forced to live down below, in the Depth, existing on raised sidewalks and dilapidated abodes. The Aeries is home to the wealthy elite, including all those in positions of political power. The Depth is the refuge of mystics, those with supernatural abilities, who once helped to build the incredible city itself. After a “mystic spurred bombing” the mystics were forced out of the Aeries for the protection of those without power. What remains is an uncomfortable and unwelcome balance between those above and those below, each fearful of what the other’s actions could bring.
This is the world in which Aria Rose exists. The daughter of one of the most powerful and richest businessmen in the Aeries, Aria has grown up in the lap of luxury. Now, on the dawn of one of the most important elections in the city’s history, Aria finds herself engaged to Thomas, the son of the only family in the Aeries whose wealth and power rivals her own. Once they’re married, their families will be united and control all of the Aeries. But from the first page, all is not as it appears. Aria has suffered memory loss after overdosing on a drug called “Stic,” a drug she does not remember buying or taking. She also can’t remember a single moment spent with Thomas, not to mention falling in love with him. But she can remember almost everything else. The story itself takes turn after turn after turn as Aria begins to learn more about the people who inhabit the Depth below, her family’s lust for nothing but power, and the strange but gorgeous rebel-mystic, Hunter. Reminiscent of a three-way Romeo and Juliet tale set in a futuristic dystopian world on the brink of rebellion, Mystic City is sure to appeal to a variety of readers.
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I was looking for something easy to listen to and picked up the YA book Rot & Ruin without really knowing what it was about — except that it was about zombies. I was expecting a pretty typical “run from the monsters” plot and was completely surprised by the sympathy the author evoked for the zombies. Don’t get me wrong, there’s action, plenty of “uh-oh the monsters might catch me” suspense, but I was surprised at who was the real monster.
The world has been changed by a cataclysm – some sort of medical or environmental disaster that caused some people, including Benny’s parents, to turn into zombies. And as people turned to zombies, they infected others until their sheer numbers overran cities large and small…
Groups of survivors gathered in outposts with fences and patrols to keep the zombies out. Most people don’t venture into the “great Rot & Ruin” – the zombie- infested expanse separating the outposts from each other.
That’s the post-apocalyptic world Benny Imura has grown up in. And he hates zombies with a white hot passion. His older brother, Tom, is a zombie hunter, supposedly one of the best. But Benny doubts it. His earliest memory is of Tom running away when his parents were turned to zombies. Benny hasn’t forgiven Tom for not staying to fight.
Benny goes to school and hangs out with friends. But some of Benny’s favorite times are when the “real” zombie hunters like Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer tell stories of how they fought zoms in the Rot & Ruin. It sounds so cool when they tell the stories.
In the fall after Benny turns 15 he has to find a job or face having his rations cut. When he runs out of options, he reluctantly approaches his brother about going into the family business. But hunting zombies is not what Benny thought it would be.
There’s depth to this story, as well as lots of nail-biting tension and some really heart-wrenching revelations. Rot & Ruin is the first in a series. I can’t wait to see what happens next to Benny and his friends!
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Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook of Rot & Ruin
Jessica shares this review:
Fans of Will Hill’s first book, Department 19, will not be disappointed by The Rising. In this exciting and fast-paced sequel, the Operators of Department 19 are tested beyond measure when their director, Admiral Seward, reveals that the world’s oldest and most powerful vampire, Dracula, has risen once again. As the disturbing news sparks more vampire attacks and a higher level of secrecy between department members, Jamie, Kate and Larissa all struggle to keep their bond intact. Subplots abound throughout Hill’s 600-page novel, and familiar characters such as Frankenstein and the Rusmanov brothers reappear at center stage. But there are plenty of new mysteries to be solved with the introduction of a seemingly friendly, genius scientist and a wandering desert man who knows all about vampires and the inter-workings of Department 19. Readers will find many of the aspects they loved from the first book here as well, including technological super weapons, intense battle scenes, a good level of descriptive gore and moral dilemmas that call human nature into question. The Rising is written in an almost movie script-like fashion that allows the reader to visualize the story in exceptional detail. There is no doubt that Hill is once again able to captivate readers and leave them begging for more.
Check the WRL catalog for The Rising