Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Mystery/Crime’

Batgirl Year One

Batgirl: Year One
Written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon
Art by Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez
ISBN: 978140120080s
Publisher: DC Comics
Date of Publication: 2004

Reader’s Annotation:
Barbara Gordon’s first year of fighting crime as Batgirl.

Plot Summary:
Barbara Gordon wants to be a detective like her father, Gotham City Police Comissioner Jim Gordon. The problem is that Barbara is having is that no one is taking her dreams seriously. She’s been rejected by the FBI and the Gotham City Police Academy. As Barbara continues to work at the local library, she can’t help but dream for her desired future.

At the Gotham City Police Department’s Masquerade Ball, Barbara’s costume gives her the opportunity to do what she has always wanted to do; fight the bad guys. Now she has a chance to prove her worth to the city and to Batman and Robin. That is if she can survived these first days as Batgirl.

Critical Evaluation:
Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon treats the rise of Batgirl with care. Barbara Gordon’s portrayed as a strong willed woman with legitimate dreams and desires. Her role at the library isn’t shown as a waste of her time and provides the reader reasons why research is a detective’s best asset.

When someone else decides you are unworthy of your goals and dreams, you can either stand up and fight or walk away disappointed. Barbara’s refusal to give up is inspiring and proves to be a great example for young female readers.

The art by Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez is fresh and exciting, providing bright colors without making the book too flashy and girly. Readers looking to enter the comic book medium would be better served picking up this fun story.

Batgirl Martin Lopez

Information about the Authors:
From Chuck Dixon’s Amazon Biography, with over twenty-five years of comic book experience, Dixon has maintained a reputation as a talented writer. He has worked for both big comic publishers, DC and Marvel, as well as independent comic publishers. Dixon is the author of action novels as well.

From Scott Beatty’s Wikipedia page, Beatty has worked in the comic industry since the mid-90s. He has written comic book guides as well as comic book stories.

Information about the Artists:
From Marcos Martin’s Wikipedia page, Martin is a Spanish artist who has worked on projects for both DC and Marvel comics.

Beyond a credit for the book, there is no further information about Alvaro Lopez

Genre:
Superhero, Comics/Graphic Novels

Curriculum Ties:
Self-worth

Booktalking Ideas:
If you could be a superhero, what kind would you be?
Why is research important in detective work?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
15 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
Barbara Gordon is the Patron Saint of librarians. Her story does have a tragic background but her spirit is inspiring. Her intelligence should be admired by teens as something one should achieve.

Reference:
Amazon. (n.d.). Chuck Dixon. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Chuck-Dixon/e/B001HOL26O

Wikipedia. (n.d.) Scott Beatty. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Beatty

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Marcos Martin. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcos_Mart%C3%ADn

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Everybody Sees the Ants

Everybody Sees the Ants
By A.S. King
ISBN: 9780316129282
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Date of Publication: 2011

Reader’s Annotation:

After a bully threatens Lucky Linderman, his mother takes him to Arizona, where he begins to learn what it means to stand up for one’s self.

Plot Summary:
Lucky Linderman is considered a “problem” teen with “social problems”. This assessment stems more from an assignment for his social studies class. Lucky was to create a survey and asses the results in a research paper. The question he presented was what landed him in trouble:

“If you were going to commit suicide, what method would you choose?”

Naturally the school’s administration is up in arms. Lucky vows to never smile again.

Six months pass and Lucky does his best to avoid trouble. This changes dramatically when he helps a young girl find her missing bikini top at the bottom of the pool. Lucky was the only one willing to help the girl as the bully in Lucky’s life refused to help and threatened anyone who did. Now Nader McMillian has Lucky in his sights and won’t be satisfied until Lucky suffers. Unsatisfied with her husband’s response to the situation, Lucky’s mother decides to take him to Arizona to visit her brother and his family.

During his time in Arizona, Lucky begins to find strength and confidence, pushing out of the comfort zone he had struggled to maintain. His uncle teaches him about body building and he meets an eccentric girl who is a hair model. While Lucky begins to understand how to stand up for himself, he continues to have dreams where he talks to his grandfather, a Vietnam POW that was missing in action. As the dream conversations continue, Lucky begins to understand the different meanings of strength and that life has a way of healing old wounds, depute age or time.

Critical Evaluation:
Using magical realism and fantasy as a means of exploring Lucky’s reactions and emotions, A.S. King provides readers with a stirring tale of a broken family struggling to heal itself. The pacing of the story was at first confusing as King moves from flashback to dream sequence to reality quite quickly. The rhythm is found soon enough and the reader adapts swiftly enough.

While the story does focus on the bullying aspect between Lucky and Nader, the larger story is how a family becomes broken before it’s even created. King shows readers that family dynamics are created through our experiences and upbringing. What affected a father in his youth, affects his son in the present. Families have generational patterns, for better or worse. It’s up to each member to recognize those patterns and evolve for emotional survival. King’s skill as a writer is highlighted here with this family dynamic. It’s hard to read at time because you want the characters to have larger reactions. Yet, you can’t help but want to read the book because it means the characters have stayed true to themselves.

The dynamics between Lucky and his young grandfather are heartbreaking in that you can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if Lucky had his grandfather when he was younger. Yet, Lucky does eventually realize that he wouldn’t have become the person he was now. The same could be said with the relationship between Lucky’s father, as the grandfather’s absence plays a large part on how Lucky’s father reacts or, in most cases, doesn’t react.

The book succeeds because of King’s writing talent and her imagination. Between Lucky’s conversations with imaginary ants or watching as a group of militant young high school girls perform The Vagina Monologues, Everybody Sees the Ants will provide readers with both humor and thought-provoking ideas.

Information about the Author:
From A.S. King’s Webpage, Amy Sarig King was born in Pennyslvania, where she currently lives with her husband and children. While she has always desired to be a writer, King has a degree in Photography from the Art Institute of Philadephia. King has written four books with a fifth to be published in the Fall of 2013. King is a public speaker for libraries and schools and has worked in writing workshops to assist other writers with their skills.

King’s Webpage provides resources for educators and teens in regards to her books.

A.S. King on Twitter

A.S. King on Facebook

Genre:
Realistic Fiction, Magical Realism, Mystery/Crime

Curriculum Ties:
Death and Dying, Family Relationships

Booktalking Ideas:
What types of conversations do we have when we are alone?
How important is communication? With friends? With family?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews recommends a reading age of 14-18.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would be bullying and violence.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
Having been impressed with A.S. King’s Please Ignore Vera Dietz, I was excited to see she had written more titles. Everybody Sees the Ants was an engrossing read and timely as well. As the issue of bullying continues to gain recognition, I thought this would be a great book to recommend for those who have suffered bullying in the past.

Reference:
King, A.S. (n.d.). Author. as-king.com Retrieved from http://www.as-king.com/html/author.php

Kirkus Review. (2010). Please Ignore Vera Dietz. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/as-king/please-ignore-vera-dietz/

Read Full Post »

The Girl is Murder
By Kathryn Miller Haines
ISBN: 9781250006394
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Date of Publication: 2011

Reader’s Annotation:
While attempting to secretly asset her father in one of his cases, Iris Anderson finds she’s over her head.

Plot Summary:
The year is 1942 and America is at war. Iris Anderson, fifteen, is abut to start a new school n New York’s Lower East Side. Still reeling from her mother’s suicide, Iris is trying to make the best of her new situation. Her former school was an all-girls private school in New York’s richer Upper East Side. The differences are striking on Iris’s first day at PS 110 and she feels lucky to even have even survived.

At home, life is different as well. Iris’s father is a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, though he lost his leg due to the conflict. He has set up a private detective agency in the home that have rented from a lovely Polish woman, Mrs. Mrozenski whose own son is serving in the Marines. Iris is only just beginning to have a relationship with her father as he was away in the Navy. He retired after the attack and took Iris away from her Aunt and Uncle to live on their own. Iris’s father is a proud man and is trying to make a success of the business though it’s hard with his fake leg.

One afternoon, Iris overhears a client complaining to her father about the lack of results for a case. Iris decides to secretly help out as her little family needs the money. As Iris begins her life as a girl detective she starts to realize how much hard work can go into a case. And that every mystery is filled with a little danger.

Critical Evaluation:
Drawing on her love of the 1940s, Haines attempts to create a girl detective series falls a bit short. The story is still engaging and the characters are fun, but sometimes Haines relies too much on the language of the times. The characters speak in cliches and catchphrases.

Beyond the issues with the character’s language, Haines presents a story that truly does reflect the period. While it is not a main theme of the book, Iris’s background might raise a few eyebrows. Issues such as anti-semitism and racism fit into the story nicely, and at times help move the story along.

Haines also succeeds in discussing social classes, a subject that continues to be relevant in today’s ever changing economy. As Iris adjusts to life in the Lower East Side, her perspective shifts and she sees how the two world she now knows conflict with each other.

Overall, Haines does provide for an entertaining read, despite my earlier concerns of cliches. The mystery is an interesting one and has an unexpected ending. As this is the first in a potential series of books, one hopes that Haines is merely setting the foundation for what could be a very engaging series.

Audio Evaluation:
Rachel Botchan is the narrator of this book. The manner in which she narrates the book is striking in that she has a higher pitched tone that matches the cliches of the era. Her voice fluctuates from high class to street trash with each different characterizations. While the material does have its problems, Botchan’s attempts in keeping with the spirit of the material should be applauded. It enhances the story and allows the listening an opportunity to go back into time and experience the 40s.

Information about the Author:
From Kathryn Miller Haines’s Webpage, Haines is a graduate of Trinity University where she double majored in English and Theatre. She possess a MFA in English from the University of Pittsburgh. Haines first dipped her foot into the mystery genre with the publication of the Rosie Winter Mysteries, which highlights her love of the World War II time period.

Her most recent mystery series has been geared towards a young adult audience. Haines has recently published a sequel to The Girl is Murder called The Girl is Trouble. She lives in the Pennsylvania area with her family.

Kathryn Miller Haines on Twitter

Kathryn Miller Haines Blog

Genre:
Mystery/Crime

Curriculum Ties:
World War II History, Racial Inequality, Noir Mystery

Booktalking Ideas:
What does a detective really do?
How often are we perceived to be “different” because of the way we dress?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests an age rage of 12-18.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
Having been a fan of the Veronica Mars television show, I was excited to hear about a book that used the same idea but set in World War II. Despite some of the problems that I had with the story, I still found it engaging. It’s not on par with Veronica Mars but still worth suggesting.

Reference:
Haines, K.M. (n.d.). About the author. Retrieved from http://www.kathrynmillerhaines.com/author.htm

Kirkus Reviews. (2011). The Girl is Murder. Retrieved from http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kathryn-miller-haines/girl-murder/

Deanna Durbin

Read Full Post »

Kimmie66
By Aaron Alexovich
ISBN:9781401203733
Publisher: Minx, DC Comics
Date of Publication: 2007

Reader’s Annotation:
Telly Kade has just received a suicide note from her best friend, Kimmie66, to which Telly must discover if it’s fake or real.

Plot Summary:
Telly Kade, a Seattle resident, lives like any other teen in the 23rd century. She lives with her brother and her overworked father. When she’s not stuck with the dishes or the many chores of the house, Telly escapes into her Virtural Reality world where she spends time with her friends Kimmie66 and Nekokat.

One day Telly receives a letter from Kimmie66. The letter is a suicide note, though Telly hears no news about the act. Telly is confused and decides to find the truth behind Kimmie66’s note.

But there have been problems with the VR and Telly can’t help but wonder if Kimmie66 has become a ghost in the machine.

Critical Evaluation:
Alexovich’s tale of technology gone awry is actually a bright story where many fictional technology stories are more bleak. There still is sadness in Kimmie66’s tale and you can’t help but feel sympathy with Telly’s search and discovery. But overall, the future that Alexovich paints is far more hopeful than many other futuristic teens stories currently on the market.

The art has a fun balance with whimsical and gothic tones. The black and white shadowing adds to the stories mystery. Alexovich’s uses of blocking gives the story a more added mysterious flare that supports Telly’s journey.
kimmie 66 art

Information about the Author:

From Aaron Alexovich’s Facebook page: Graduated from the California Institute of Arts with a focus on Character Animation. Alexovich has worked on comic books through DC Comics and SLG Publishing as well as animation on the Invader Zim cartoon.

Aaron Alexovich on Twitter

Aaron Alexovich’s Web Page and Comic
Genre:
Science Fiction, Mystery/Crime

Curriculum Ties:
Virtual Reality

Booktalking Ideas:
How are online friendships different than real life friendships?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Ages 15 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would include violent situations and horrific elements.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
Having feel in love with Aaron Alexovich’s art in Confessions of a Blabbermouth, I was excited when he published his own work. The story is fun and unique and would appeal to young science fiction fans.

References:
Alexovich, A. (n.d). About. Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/aalexovich/infoAlexovich

 

Read Full Post »

Anya’s Ghost
By Vera Brosgol
ISBN: 9781596435520
Publisher: First Second Books
Date of Publication: 2011
Reader’s Annotation:
When Anya meets a real ghost at the bottom of an old well, her already confusing life begins to morph into something uncertain and potentially dangerous.

Plot Summary:
Anya isn’t having the best day. Her mother doesn’t understand why Anya doesn’t want to eat all the time. She has a crush on a boy that doesn’t know she even exists. Her only friend is mad that Anya doesn’t want to share her cigarettes. And if her day wasn’t complicated enough, Anya has accidentally fallen down into an abandoned well with no chance of an immediate rescue.

But this accident proves to be interesting as at the bottom of the well lives a lonely ghost who now wants to be Anya’s friend. Eventually, Anya is rescued but she discovers that the ghost, Emily, has followed Anya out of the well. Now Anya and Emily have formed an unlikely alliance, with Emily helping Anya in her class work and gaining the attention of Anya’s crush. But Anya soon discovers that a friendship with a ghost is a different experience, especially when Anya begins to investigate how Emily became a ghost in the first place.

Critical Evaluation:
Author and artist Vera Brosgol was once herself a Russian immigrant. Using her own experiences with cultural emergence and immigrant parental confusion, Brosgol succeeds in creating a believable character in Anya. Brosgol’s art is delightful in that it is accessible to both teen and adult readers. The colors are not primarily black and white but a mixture of both with a lighter dark purple contrast. The results provides a suitable background for the horror elements of the story.

In regards to the writing, Brosgol uses a simple ghost story to highlight the trials and tribulations of the teen experience, quite similar to the analogy of terror that Writer/Director Joss Whedon used in his Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. The high school experience is horrific in that the boundaries of childhood and adulthood are riffed with confusion and heartache. Anya wants to fit in but she knows she never will. She’s an immigrant, an outsider to a different world. This is served to highlight that it’s okay to be different and that sometimes these differences can change everything.

Brosgol succeeds in creating a relatable story while still using horror elements to enhance the story. The art is wonderful and would be a great book for anyone looking to explore the graphic novel medium.

Information about the author:
Born in Moscow, Russia, Vera Brosgol currently lives in Portland, Oregon. A graduate from Sheridan College, Brosgol’s focus was in animation, a skill she has used in her illustration work for various comic book anthologies. Brosgol began honing her animation talent early in her life.

“As for comics, I started drawing comics for fun when I was in high school. I’d actually been drawing them even earlier as a little kid, but I didn’t know to put the drawings into boxes so they were just sequential drawings floating on a page.  I guess that’s how my brain works” (Brosgol, 2011)

Anya’s Ghost is her first graphic novel. Brosgol has also worked on the recent animated film, Paranorman.

Vera Brosgol on Twitter
Vera Brosgol on Flickr

Genre:
Horror/Thriller, Mystery/Crime

Curriculum Ties:
Family Relationships, Ghost Stories, Second Generation Immigrants

Booktalking Ideas:
Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
Have you ever felt self-conscious about your family?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests a reading age of 12-18.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential issues would include violence and horror elements.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I had read this book for a course on Graphic Novels and Comic Books. I found the art to be enjoyable and the story engrossing. As the protagonist deals with ghosts and alienation, I thought this would be a great choice for those looking for an alternative to the mainstream paranormal titles.

Reference page:
Brosgol, V. (2011). Frequently Asked Questions. Verabee.com. Retrieved from verabee.com/2011/12/frequently-asked-questions/

Kirkus Reviews. (2011). Anya’s Ghost. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/vera-brosgol/anyas-ghost/

Read Full Post »

Bad Girls Don’t Die
By Katie Alender
ISBN: 978-1423108771
Publisher: Hyperion
Date of Publication: 2010

Reader’s Annotation:
Alexis Warren discovers that her sister might be working with something supernatural, something that wants revenge.

Plot Summary:
Alexis Warren isn’t known for fitting in at her high school. Alexis would rather be behind her camera than be part of school activities, such as decorating the gym for the Homecoming Banquet. But Alexis is used to being the outcast. When her best friend, Beth, was publicly humiliated, thanks to some mean-spirited cheerleaders, Alexis struck back with the intention of protecting Beth and her reputation. Beth eventually moved away, leaving Alexis to fend for herself.

Nowadays, Alexis reluctantly spends more time with her younger sister, Kasey. Lately, Kasey has been acting strange. First there’s the “accident” where Kasey’s friend breaks her arm. Then there’s the voices that seem to linger in the middle of the night and the strange lights in the attic. Alexis wakes up in the middle of the night to find her arms are scattered with little cuts.

Alexis fears that something is controlling Kasey. It’s up to Alexis to find the truth and save her family from the danger inside the house.

Critical Evaluation:
While it’s obvious from the book’s title this novel is about something undead, the mystery behind the supernatural encounter is still gripping and terrifying. Alender succeeds in creating characters that showcase both positive and negative qualities. Alexis is not perfect and is willing to admit she’s made mistakes in the past. The supporting cast of characters that help Alexis in this mystery are well-written additions to the story and don’t detract from Alexis’s search for answers.

There are some cliches scattered through the book that will induce some eye rolls, especially from hardcore horror fans. An example of this would be with Alexis and Kasey’s parents, who never seem to listen or be around when they are needed.

Alender has created a very scary book, despite those little cliches. As the bigger mystery begins to emerge, Alender succeeds in building great tension towards the climax of the book. Readers will find the story moves fast and is well paced. A great suggestion for those looking for stories outside of the paranormal romance genre.

Information about the author:
From Katie Alender’s Webpage, Alender is a graduate of Florida State Univeristy Film School. She currently lives with her husband in Los Angeles. Alender has worked in televisions, specifically with the Animal Planet channel. She is now a full-time writer.

Katie Alender on Twitter

Katie Alender on Facebook

Genre:
Horror/Thriller, Mystery/Crime

Curriculum Ties:
Ghost Stories

Booktalking Ideas:
Have you ever heard voices in your home that don’t sound familiar?
How can the past affect future generations?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests an age range of 13-18.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I was looking to expand my genre knowledge and picked this book up on a whim. Beyond paranormal romance books, I’ve noticed that there aren’t too many modern ghost stories. At least since I’ve been a teen myself. I enjoyed the story and thought this would be a fun recommendation.

Reference:
Alender, K. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from  http://katiealender.com/?page_id=378

Kirkus Reviews. (2010). Bad Girls Don’t Die. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/katie-alender/bad-girls-dont-die/

Bonus Features!

Mini Review!

Bad Girls Don’t Die Series

(more…)

Read Full Post »