Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This and that - 3 reviews

A little of this and a little of that, as I'm ahead in reading and behind in writing!

(short stories, novel, audiobook)

Kibuishi, Kazu. 2012.  Explorer: The Mystery Boxes. New York: Amulet.

This book is an unexpected little gem, something of a mystery itself. From the cover, I was expecting a graphic novel mystery, a la The Box Car Children infused with a bit of magic.  What I found instead, was a themed, graphic, short story collection.  Mystery Boxes contains seven stories by noted graphic artists including Raina Telgemeier (Smile).  What ties these disparate illustrators and authors together is that each story features a mysterious box, contents unknown.  The stories range from amusing ("Spring Cleaning by Dave Roman and Telgemeier) to profound (Jason Caffoe's, "The Keeper's Treasure") to social commentary on war (Stuart Livingston and Stephanie Ramirez', "The Soldier's Daughter").

Judging from the way  my Advance Reader Copy was scooped up by a child in my book club, I'd guess this will be popular if it can find the right audience.  I'm also assuming that we can look forward to more collections in the Explorer series. I, for one, would like to see more interest in short stories.  They don't seem to be required reading for middle schoolers - a pity.  (Another good short story series, though not in graphic novel format, is Jon Scieszka's Guys Read Library)

Doyle, Roddy. 2012. A Greyhound of a Girl. New York: Amulet.

Advance Reader Copy

I chose to read this one because it features a multi-generational Irish family.  It's hard not to like Ireland - a beautiful country full of "lovely" people.  In fact, you will hear people in Ireland describe nearly anything as "lovely" --friendly people they are in general, but I digress.

This is the first Roddy Doyle book that I've read and I wasn't sure what to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed it once I stopped looking for some artificial contrivance or tricky plot twist and settled in to enjoy a simple yet touching story of 12-year-old Mary O'Hara, and three of her female relatives, one of whom happens to be dead.  A Greyhound of a Girl covers a short span of time in a short book (208 small pages)  about life and death and family. Being of Ireland, of course it is not without humor.

Riordan, Rick. 2011. The Son of Neptune, The Heroes of Olympus Series, Book 2. Read by Joshua Swanson. Listening Library.
12 hours, 27 minutes.

As much as I enjoyed The Lost Hero, I'd be lying if I didn't say that it's good to have Percy back in the story.  Lost no more, but without his memories, Percy finds himself in the midst of the Roman demigod stronghold, Camp Jupiter.  In this installment, the listener learns little of Camp Half-Blood's activities, but is thrust into the militaristic world of the Roman demigods.  Before the story ends on a culture-colliding cliffhanger, a clear picture of the identities of "the seven" is unfolding,

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.
 The narration by Joshua Swanson is beginning to grow on me (but perhaps that's because Leo doesn't appear much in The Son of Neptune).  My favorite new character in the series?  Hands down, it's Bella the Harpy, voiced perfectly by Mr. Swanson.

Sadly, we've got to wait until the fall for The Mark of Athena (book 3).

Enjoy an audio excerpt.

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