Archive | September, 2013

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

19 Sep

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Nate and Charlie have been friends and neighbors since they were kids, but they hang with different crowds – Nate is President of the Science Club and Charlie is the captain of the basketball team. Their worlds collide when Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Holly, the head cheerleader, tries to call dibs on funding that the Science Club was planning to use to make it to a robotics competition. Turns out the cheerleaders need new uniforms for their “evil dance squad” and since the funds weren’t properly earmarked for the Science Club it’s up to the student council to decide who gets to spend the precious funds. But Nate’s got a plan. It’s simple really: run for student council so that he can control the revenue stream from the inside out. It shouldn’t be that hard, seeing as everyone else running is even less popular than he is (in his mind at least). That is until Holly starts running a campaign of her own: to get Charlie elected as student council president and make him do their bidding. Hard core cheerleaders, a committed science geek, lots of embarrassing childhood photos, and two friends competing for the same student council seat – what could possibly go wrong? Nothing?

It’s been a Faith Erin Hicks filled year. Not only did I have the pleasure of meeting Hicks at BEA, but I finally got around to reading the fantastic Friends with Boys, loved loved loved The Adventures of Superhero Girl, started reading the new comic series The Last of Us: American Dreams, even read the middle grade Bigfoot Boy: Into The Woods, and then Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, a collaboration with author Prudence Shen, came along and hit all the right notes. She really can’t seem to do any wrong with me. I loved Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. I can’t give all credit to Faith Erin Hicks of course, though her artwork is hard to beat, because it’s as much the story and character development as it is the visual storytelling that sucked me in. I love the exploration of the friendship between Nate and Charlie, as well as the focus on the Science Team’s robot project.

While Charlie is the character who is most genuinely developed, both Nate and Johanna are solid supporting characters. Nate’s character can be pretty aggravating, but he also has his moments where he shows how much he really cares for Charlie, and these moments give him a little touch of sweetness. Johanna is the only girl on the Science Team and she knows her robots – she’s smart, tough, and hardworking. Her love for The Beast (the robot) is charming too. Even the cheerleaders who mostly come across as stereotypical mean girl cheerleaders, have a few small moments where you can catch a glimpse of their humanity. The only thing that bothered me a little about Charlie’s character development is that he’s apparently this popular kid, but he seems to have no friends except for Nate (at least for most of the story). Perhaps Shen is trying to say something about the image of popularity, that it is an image more than anything, but I’m not sure if that choice was purposeful or accidental. I didn’t mind all too much though, as Charlie’s working through his family issues on his own added some emotional impact, and it was heartwarming to see him find a place with the robotics crew.

Em’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Author: Prudence Shen
Illustrator: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second (May 2013)

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2013 Releases

17 Sep


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature created at the fabulous The Broke and the Bookish, featuring weekly top ten lists on a variety of bookish topics. This Tuesday’s topic is Top Ten Books on my Fall To Read List. I’ll be reading a lot of books for tweens these next few months as I’m taking a class on materials for ages 9-14, but I’m sure I’ll find plenty of time for some 15+ reading too. And luckily there are some fantastic sounding books coming out this fall. Here are the ten that I’m most excited for:

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All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
September 26, 2013

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
October 3, 2013

Battling Boy by Paul Pope
October 8, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
October 22, 2013

Reality Boy by A.S. King
October 22, 2013

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The Trap by Andrew Fukuda
November 5, 2013

Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin
November 12, 2013

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
November 12, 2013

Bandette Volume 1: Presto! By Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
November 19, 2013

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
December 10, 2013

What books are you dying to read this Fall?

TBR: Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin

11 Sep

Loud Awake and Lost
“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that bloggers are eagerly anticipating. This week I wanted to highlight the upcoming Adele Griffin release, Loud Awake and Lost. Griffin’s Picture the Dead and All You Never Wanted were two of my favorite reads of 2012, The Julian Game was a favorite from 2011, and Tighter is on my nightstand just waiting for that perfect free reading moment. Each book is unique and thoroughly engrossing. I can’t wait to see where she takes us next….

LOUD. There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. She suffered back injuries and brain trauma. But she is alive. That’s the only thing left she can cling to.

AWAKE. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. The pieces of her former self no longer fit together. She can’t even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won’t talk about?

LOST. One by one, Ember discovers the answers to these questions, like a twisted game of dominos. And little by little, the person she used to be slips further and further away.

In the wake of her critically praised young adult psychological thrillers, Tighter and All You Never Wanted, National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin has created another triumph. Loud Awake & Lost is an unflinching story of loss and recovery.

I have appreciated every Adele Griffin book that I have read and I imagine this one will be a welcomed addition to that list. Loud Awake and Lost is scheduled for a November 12, 2013 release (Knopf Books for Young Readers). Be sure to add it to your TBR list!

Bake Sale

9 Sep

Bake Sale
Cupcake has a great life. When he’s not working at his bakery, he is making music with his band, or hanging out with his best friend, Eggplant. When Eggplant invites Cupcake to go to Turkey with him to visit Aunt Aubergine and to meet Turkish Delight, the internationally acclaimed pastry chef, Cupcake drops everything and gets creative working bake sales all over town and saving up for the trip to Turkey. When the trip falls through, things quickly go down hill, but in the end Cupcake learns a lesson about what is really important.

Sara Varon has created a world for Bake Sale that is occupied by walking, talking food products. They are adorable, albeit somewhat confusing (I’ve heard some readers of this book question whether or not Cupcake running a bakery might be just a bit cannibalistic). While the issues dealt with are serious – the value of helping a friend, working towards a goal, trying new things, dealing with disappointment, cannibalism (ok, I’m kidding on that last one) – the humor, sweetness, and cute characters help balance the story. Varon’s whimsical artwork is delightful as always and the soft colors she uses are inviting. Bake Sale is heartwarming – a nice mix of adorable characters and scenarios, and real emotions and struggles. While this book didn’t have quite the emotional punch that won me over to Varon’s earlier work, Robot Dreams, Bake Sale is still a favorite that I highly recommend.

The book also includes a section of recipes at the end that correspond with recipes made by Cupcake throughout the story. Yum.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Sara Varon
Publisher: First Second (August 2011)