Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Learning to Swear in America

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

Well, that Asteroid that is about to hit Earth could possibly be moved; or maybe it will only hit (and annihilate) the entire West Coast.  

And Russia has loaned us Yuri Strelnikov, the seventeen-year-old wonder-kid with a PHD in anti-matter.  

And we have 17 days to figure this out before it hits Earth.  (“The pizzas came in, smelling of oregano and despair.”)  

How do American scientists deal with this?  How does anyone, really, even Yuri?  Wouldn’t you swear?  

But the new girl, Dovie, a slightly pudgie hippie, (her words) won’t teach him.   He’ll just have to continue reciting the Nobel Prize winners, in order, for now.

Romance, impending doom, international intrigue, computer hacking (“Yuri nodded back, thinking that there was remarkably little security around the {Jet Propulsion Laboratory } computers, particularly considering what was at stake… but it had only taken him a cell phone and fifty seconds to hack in- not because he was a genius, but because he was a teenager.”), car chases/crashes, and witty dialog.  This is a movie waiting to happen.  Also not to be missed by science nerds, teenagers, and anyone who likes a great, fast-paced read.

recommended for ages 12 and up

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Girl From Everywhere

The Girl from Everywhere  by Heidi Heilig

I'm one of those readers who always skips over the maps embedded in books.  But to skip the maps in this book would be a big mistake.  The maps aren't just illustrations:  they are part of the story.

Nix was born in Honolulu around 1868 but she has spent her life on board her father's sailing ship Temptation, sailing across the world, across time, and across mythology itself.  She has seen magic and collected mythical artifacts like the caladrius bird that can cure any illness, sky herring from the clouds above legendary Skandia, and a bottomless bag that will carry anything, of any size.  

As long as the captain has a map for it, he can sail the ship to any place or time, real or imagined.

However, the combination of the captain's opium addiction and his obsession with Nix's dead mother are bound to take the Temptation into trouble.  If he succeeds with his goal of revisiting Hawaii before Lin's death, he might even erase Nix's entire life.

With a strong female narrator, a terrific premise, and a fabulous setting ("everywhere!"), this story is sure to be a hit with readers who enjoy a ripping adventure through mythology and history.  With a little less action (and much less blood) than either Bloody Jack (L.A. Meyer) or Pirates (Celia Rees), this book will still appeal to fans of both. There are a few intimate scenes but no body parts on stage--is there Star Trek Sex or not?  If so, it's pretty subtle. The reader will have to decide.

The audiobook, adeptly read by Kim Mai Guest, kept me in the truck and making excuses to drive places so I could listen.

Highly recommended.

Monday, October 3, 2016

WSL First Tuesdays webinar: here's the booklist!

Sex in the Library presented by Mary Jo Heller and Aarene Storms
·       Tuesday, October 4, 2016 from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. PDT
Do you have sex in your library? If not, why not? The authors of Sex in the Library (VOYA, 2013) explain their unique and popular approach to talking to parents, teachers, administrators, and librarians about selection, public and school library missions, censorship, and the power of school and public librarians working together. This interactive webinar features an honest discussion of books and their intended audience. Participants will leave with clear knowledge of books discussed, guidelines for looking at others, and a list of the newest steamy books for teen readers.
First Tuesdays webinars are designed as a continuing-education opportunity for staff of libraries in Washington State. This free web presentation allows attendees to share their skills and successes and learn about new topics. The special-subject presentations, lasting about 60 minutes, are recorded so that others may listen at their own convenience.

Most titles have links to complete book reviews elsewhere on the SITL blog.

Deal With It : a whole new approach to your body, brain and life as a gurl by Esther Drill

George  by Alex Gino

Beauty Queens  by Libba Bray

If You Could Be Mine  by Sara Farizan

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children  by Kirstin Cronn-Miller

It Gets Better: coming out, overcoming bullying, and creating a life worth living  by Dan Savage and Terry Miller

Beyond Magenta: transgender teens speak out by Susan Kuklin

This Book is Gay  by James Dawson

Dime  by E.R. Frank

The Things You Kiss Goodbye  by Leslie Connor

Everything, Everything  by Nicola Yoon

Poisoned Apples: poems for you, my pretty  by Christine Heppermann

All the Truth That's In Me  by Julie Berry

Room: a novel  by Emma Donoghue

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Carry On: a novel  by Rainbow Rowell

All Our Yesterdays  by Cristin Terrill

Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Daughter of Smoke and Bone  by Laini Taylor

Divergent  by Veronica Roth

Learning to Swear in America  by Katie Kennedy

The Serpent King  by Jeff Zentner

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Serpent King

The Serpent King  by Jeff Zentner

Dill has two friends and two problems.

Dill's friends are Travis and Lydia. Travis is big, shy, kind, and so obsessed with his favorite sword-and-sorcery book that he can mostly ignore his lousy home life. Lydia is cute, smart, rich, upwardly mobile, and aimed OUT of the dinky backwater Tennessee town (named for a founding member of the KKK, wahoo!) where they all live.

Dill's problems are his name and his future. His name is Dillard Early, Jr, and he was named for his father, Dillard Early, Sr., (known locally as the Pervert Preacher), and for his papaw, (known locally as the Serpent King).  His future looks a lot like his present day, and that's not good.

Then something happens to make Dill's life unbearable.  The reader knows that something is going to change.  But...what?

If you think you know what will happen to the preacher's kid from "one of those crazy snake churches,"  you are probably wrong.  The journey is not predictable, and yet, it all makes sense. Extra stars for religious extremists who are deeper than the paper on which they are written, and for religious questioning without obvious answers.

You may see this book compared to the works of John Green, and while I understand the comparison, I also don't think this reads like a JG book.  It has some excellent (and some dreadful) parent characters, it has super-tough situations, there is kissing on the page.  But JG rarely touches religion, and I don't know if he could handle (pun intended) a snake church.

And if there's sex, I missed it.  It might have happened off-page.  In fact, I kind of hope it did.

Rivoting read; recommended for readers ages 12 to adult, and it definitely needs to be a movie!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Amazing Fantastic Incredible

Amazing Fantastic Incredible: a MARVELous memoir   by Stan Lee and Peter David and Colleen Doran

Of course Stan Lee's memoir is told in comic format.  

Mere print could never capture the exuberance, the ego, and the buoyant zest of the most legendary name in the history of comic books.  Stan Lee not only co-created many of Marvel Comics' most popular superhero characters like Spiderman, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and the Uncanny X-men, he spent his long and prolific career writing, editing, promoting and publishing comic books and the comic book industry.  

Stan Lee narrates his own life story with the same bouncy, conversational narrative style that he uses when talking to groups at comic book conventions:  big gestures, big ideas, and lots and lots of enthusiasm for the fun life he has had.  He doesn't skip over the sad stuff or the hard stuff, but he doesn't dwell there, either.  There are lots of little anecdotes from his life and plenty of unexpected stories too, like the time he worked on a WWII US Army campaign to combat venereal disease (give yourself a giggle and do a Google Image search for "VD Not Me" to see some of the vintage posters created by the campaign).

The narrative reads like a brag sheet splashed with copious amounts of super-radioactive slime:  it's not great literature, but it is great fun.  There are mentions of sex and sexual situations, references to comic book violence, and plenty of scantily-clad female superheros pictured.  Plus a few epic superheros who turn green or burst into flame periodically.

Highly recommended.  

Monday, August 29, 2016

If You Could Be Mine

If You Could Be Mine  by Sara Farizan

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has shared kisses and romantic dreams of the future with her best friend Nasrin since they were little girls.  But modern Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love.  The punishment for homosexuality might be a beating, or it might be death by hanging.  So far, their love has stayed secret...but when Nasrin's family arranges a marriage for her, Sahar feels she must act.

Although homosexuality is a crime in Iran, transsexuality is not.  In fact, the government will pay for sexual reassignment.  Sahar knows she isn't really a man in a woman's body.  But, what if this is the only way she can ever be with Nasrin?

This absorbing peek into another culture features a wide cast of well-written characters:  Sahar, who loves Nasrin.  Nasrin, who loves candy, and Bollywood movies, and pretty clothes, and being the center of attention...and probably also loves Sahar.  Sahar's father, who still mourns for his wife and refuses to move forward with his life.  Sahar's cousin Ali, a gay man trying to find his place. Ali's friend Parveen, who tries to help Sahar sort things out.  And Reza, the doctor engaged to marry Nasrin, who is not as simple and two-dimensional as Sahar might wish.

Kissing, mild cussing, sexual decisionmaking and sexual situations.  Recommended for ages 14 to adult.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Guy in Real Life

Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

Lesh does not have romance on his mind as he staggers home drunk at 2:30am after a heavy metal concert in downtown Saint Paul.  He is thinking about his head, his guts, and the sidewalk, and how soon those three things are going to connect in vivid, pukey Technicolor.

That's why Lesh isn't watching where he's walking...and he walks right into Svetlana,

Svetlana isn't thinking about romance either.  She's riding her bicycle, thinking about her friends, and contemplating the amazing artwork she has created for the upcoming Gaming Club campaign...until Lesh wobbles into her path and sends them both sprawling into a puddle.

The collision of Lesh and Svetlana starts a series of events that might be reminiscent of a modern reboot of a 1970's television sitcom...until the plot takes a sudden twist and everything changes.

Lesh is so fascinated by Svetlana that he secretly creates a online MMO  character that looks just like her.  He even names his character "Svvetlana" (with two V's), and campaigns her up to level fifty, gaining power, virtual gold, and lots of magical online loot.

Lesh enjoys spending time with Svetlana (one V) in real life, but he also enjoys being Svvetlana (two V's) in the game.

What could possibly go wrong?

In alternating narrative voices (Lesh and Svetlana, and also the virtual warrior orc Kugnar and the virtual elf priestess Svvetlana), the story gradually stumbles and reels to an unexpected--and sort of wonderful--final chapter.

Recommended for readers ages 14 to adult.  Lesh is verbally misogynistic (calling girls "skanks" etc.) which is somewhat disturbing, especially considering his own gender questions.