Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"You see, mon ami, the voices of the little gray cells have begun to sing to Poirot."

I wondered when I read the first novel, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, if there would ever be a time when we got to see her friends. The ones also involved in her accident and trapped in a sort of computer based limbo. I thought that when the book ended, it meant that we wouldn't get to see them at all. That they would just be names that Jenna Fox remembers.

3 years later and we're getting a sequel about Jenna's friends. Finally. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens and how both Locke and Kara will react to what has happened. I remember how much of a struggle Jenna had with her lack of memories and with what she now was so it's safe to assume that Locke and Kara will have an even more intense reaction.

What I really loved about the first novel was that it surprised me. Other novels that involve character memory loss usually keep it to a single night where some tragedy has happened. Jenna Fox didn't even remember what she used to be like. It also entered bioethics (ethics surrounding medical and biological research) territory, which is a subject the world faces today (an example would be stem cell research).

A quick comment about the cover of the book because I just have to say it. The original hardcover of The Adoration of Jenna Fox had a picture of a hand and a butterfly on it. But the paperback version features a girl with puzzle pieces making up her face. The Fox Inheritance also incorporates puzzle pieces. I think the paperback cover was a lot more thought out than the original and I'm glad they used the same design for the sequel novel.

There's a trailer out now for The Fox Inheritance and it rocks shelves like a hurricane on August 30, 2011.

(note: title quote from the TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's Appointment with Death.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

She's probably at Comic Con this weekend as it is the biggest thing happening in comic books, art, television, video games and film this summer. I have friends who spent months planning for these four days and praying that Comic Con would come up with a better way to sell their tickets (one that wouldn't crash within the first hour).

What I love about Comic Con (besides the sheer nerdery that occurs there) is the goods it produces that eventually end up on the internet. Like for instance a first look at The Walking Dead season 2. It's nothing short of a heart stopping preview.

P.s. I can hardly wait for October 31st.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

10 Years is a Long Time to do Time

It's been 10 years since Neil Gaiman's American Gods was first published. I myself only read it two years ago in the form of a thick brick of a paperback. I've loved Neil Gaiman's work ever since I found the first collected volume of his Sandman series wedged in a corner on a bookshelf at the library.I now own 5 of his books including the novel he co-authored with Terry Pratchett Good Omens, which I found at a rummage sale next to a bunch of romance novels about shirtless Dukes and rogues.

But back to the time. 10 years and this novel hasn't been forgotten nor has it stopped being published. On the 20th of last month, the 10th anniversary edition and the author's preferred text was released. Why is this even remotely important news? This new edition has about 12,000 news words since Gaiman had to cut it during the editing phase of the book. I don't know about you but 12,000 words that I haven't read before makes me both nervous and excited. I'll stop my ridiculous and incessant gushing here.

As I've mentioned before, American Gods has been picked up for a television series on HBO and more and more is being revealed about the nature of the adaptation.

The facts are these:

1. The first season of the show will cover the novel.

2. Anansi Boys will not be incorporated into any of the six seasons of American Gods simply because the story is not about Shadow.

3. Gaiman has mentioned the short story about Shadow, Monarch of the Glen, as a possibility for being included in the show.

4. Gaiman also keeps hinting at writing American Gods 2 as if it is something that will definitely happen. I honestly don't know whether he's teasing us all or telling the truth. (Do not get my hopes up, Neil!)

5. Gaiman also says he'd like to introduce Roman and Greek gods since it never really occurred to him to include them in the novel.

6. There will be divergences from the source material.

7. The series after the first season will explore what happens after the events in American Gods.


People who have read American Gods either find themselves loving the novel or completely hating it.

 I personally love it. It took me on an adventure throughout the United States and it taught me a lot about gods I never even knew existed. It's been 10 years, how about you give it a shot?


Sources: ONE and TWO


Update:  All the information introduced in this post and past posts about the show are now irrelevant since HBO parted ways with the show and Starz picked it up.

Here's a link to more information on that: Bryan Fuller Offers Update on Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter: The End But Not Really

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is out in theaters today. I keep hearing the words "end of an era" everywhere and it's hard not to get emotional. The first film came out when I was 13, but my mom bought me my first Harry Potter novel when I was 11.

My mom kinda mixed it up a bit though. She brought home Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban first (And coincidentally, it's my favorite of the series). I remember her coming home from work the very next day with The Philospher's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets.

When people say, "it's the end of an era", I think they're right in the sense that the movies are done. But it is not the end for Harry Potter. Not for those who love him, his friends, his family and the magic of the series. I think we'll keep it alive by rediscovering the series ourselves or with our kids or with our nephews and nieces.

Because I think when something is truly special, it never really ends.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Books to Look Out for in July

I haven't done this in a while. Most of my posts lately have been related to discussing the issues in YA fiction and its community of readers so me just listing off a couple of books has been a rare thing. I'm gonna change that right now because I'm even boring myself. This place needs some excitement.

Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard: At an all boys boarding school, Alex fails to save a friend from drowning in a river and when asked about what transpired at the river, he and another friend named Glenn lie. Plagued by his guilt, Alex writes down what really happened in a journal which he hides in the school library behind a copy of Moby Dick. When Ms. Dovecott, Alex's English teacher, begins to suspect that there's more to what happened at the river than Alex is letting on, Glenn thinks she's out to get them. Alex must then decide to do the right thing or keep on lying.

There's something about this book that reminds me of 'A Separate Peace' by John Knowles but I'm hoping it won't be as depressing as Knowles' novel was. I want justice for the characters but I also want a little bit of hopefulness for them too. I really want to read this book and see if it's as good as I think it might be. I also like the cover since I think it conveys a lot about the novel in a simple and subtle way using the image of a preoccupied school boy.

Paper Covers Rock is out in stores now.

Pearl by Jo Knowles: Bean and Henry are best friends that don't fit in well. They don't even have normal mothers. Henry's mom Sally is a hermit who never leaves the house. Bean's mother Lexie is mostly absent but when she's around she's either hungover or complaining about Bean's grandfather Gus.

But when Gus dies, family secrets are revealed that have the possibility to change just about everything in Bean's life including her relationship with her best friend.

I really enjoy coming of age stories where some event has more than one effect on its characters. It's not just about loss but about something more. It sounds interesting and it's definitely worth a look.

Pearl comes out July 19th 2011. That's next week. Start praying to the spirit that resides in your piggy banks y'all.

The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines: It's 1942 and the world is changing for Iris Anderson. Her dad is back from the war and missing a leg, which is making the physical part of being a detective a little difficult. Iris wants to help her Dad. Especially when she finds out that his latest case involves a boy from her school.

I've been watching a lot of Masterpiece Theatre lately and all they've been playing is adaptations of Agatha Christie novels involving Hercule Poirot. Not that I'm complaining because they're amazing adaptations. What I'm trying to say is that I've been craving murder mysteries and this book seems like a lot of fun especially since it reminds me a bit of Veronica Mars, which was sadly canceled in the midst of its awesome.

The Girl is Murder also comes out on the 19th of July. Piggy bank, oh piggy bank, let me get paid this week.

I think Forever by Maggie Stiefvater is a suggestion that goes without saying. I've mentioned it before on this blog as one of the books I was most looking forward to (I'VE WAITED A YEAR, STIEFVATER) so I won't bother with a description beyond: WEREWOLVES. I really want to read it. It's a series that's worth a read.

It's already available in stores since it came out this week on the 12th. Maggie Stiefvater is also doing a book tour for it so if you can go see her, do so.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Marvel vs. DC Comics

It sounds like something out of a video game. Superheroes from Marvel battling heroes from DC Comics for the attention of the masses. It's been going on since before I was born and 22 years later, the rivalry is stronger than ever. IGN (a website dedicated to video games and all other things relating to nerdery) has taken it upon themselves to find out who is more awesome: Marvel (1939) or DC Comics (1934).

What I like about this is that they'll be hosting a poll, which opens Monday, and providing pages with examples and information about Marvel and DC so that voters can make an informed decision. It'll be interesting to see who wins. I not-so-secretly hope that it's Marvel.

*update: So far? Marvel is winning which I'm kind of surprised to see.

SOURCE: Marvel Versus DC Comics

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A New Generation of Heroes?

I've mentioned before in this blog that I find comic books difficult to get into because so many of them have decades worth of stories (and I haven't the time or the money to catch up). But in the last year I've been determined to find something to get sink my teeth into and I did.

Young Avengers by Allan Heinberg (writer) and Jim Cheung(amazing and outstanding penciller) is what I've spent my time tracking down. I had a lot of trouble at first because I didn't know where to go to find them so I googled and found a blog post of the best comic book stores in my city. Now I own Young Avengers: Ultimate Collection, Young Avengers Presents and single issues of the series Avengers: The Children's Crusade.

The series is a strong one both in story and art and I adore its teenage heroes. In the series, The Avengers have disbanded and teenage heroes Iron Lad, Patriot, Asgardian and Hulkling rise to try and take their place. The small team has to deal with losing friends, an old evil from The Avenger's past and strong disapproval from the heroes they respect.

Young Avengers also features a gay couple. The first I've ever seen or heard of. The series even got a GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book in 2006. A step in the right direction and I'm proud to be a reader of the series.

Young Avengers Reading List:
Volume 1: Sidekicks
Volume 2: Family Matters
Young Avengers Ultimate Collection (contains both Sidekicks and Family Matters)
Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways
Dark Reign: Young Avengers
Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers
Young Avengers Presents
Avengers: The Children's Crusade

*note: Children's Crusade is the current running series that features the Young Avengers and issues 1-6 are out now but there are still 3 more single issues to go.

*I would also like to note here that of all the comic book stores I've been to in this adventure, Dragon Lady Comics has been the kindest and most fruitful.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"We’re called The Midnight Society."

Meghan Cox Gurdon just won't quit. This is probably old news as her last article, My 'Reprehensible' Take on Teen Literature , was posted on June 28th but I haven't had the time to actually read through it properly and pick it apart until now. If anything this article is worse than the first because it reads more like a personal journal entry filled with sarcasm and spite. It reads like every diary entry I ever wrote about high school and those jerks who made fun of me. Correct me if I'm wrong in my belief that an article written by a journalist shouldn't sound like that.

"By focusing on the dark currents in the genre, I was of course no more damning all young-adult literature than a person writing about reality TV is damning all television, but from the frenzied reaction you would have thought I had called for the torching of libraries."

Gurdon may not have called for the torching of libraries but she wrote an article that was highly inflammatory. In a world where books are banned, people may cite it as evidence and take it up as proof to support their ideas about what teenagers should be allowed to read. She made things sound a lot worse than they actually are and then didn't support her claims with evidence or statistics.

"There are real-world reasons for caution. For years, federal researchers could not understand why drug- and tobacco-prevention programs seemed to be associated with greater drug and tobacco use. It turned out that children, while grasping the idea that drugs were bad, also absorbed the meta-message that adults expected teens to take drugs."

My father smoked cigarettes and now my brother smokes, do I smoke? No, I don't because I don't want to. I've never even tried it. I never got any meta-message that my parents expected me to fall into the habit of smoking cigarettes or getting into drugs. Not ever. This is someone's research findings? I can hardly believe it because it sounds like something I'd hear in a bad science fiction film on the Space channel.

"I also don't believe that the vast majority of American teenagers live in anything like hell. Adolescence can be a turbulent time, but it doesn't last forever and often—leaving aside the saddest cases—it feels more dramatic at the time than it will in retrospect. It is surely worth our taking into account whether we do young people a disservice by seeming to endorse the worst that life has to offer."

Hell is what we make it. Adolescence is a turbulent time and the things that happen there can affect us later in life. These dark themed novels tell the story of just a few. It's not saying that every teen does these things nor does it in any way try to normalize them. They're trying to make people aware. They're not being overly dramatic with these stories, they're being honest.

I think Gurdon needs to move on from this subject. I think she should have done this some time ago instead of writing this article.

I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed.

(note: title quote from the TV show Are You Afraid of the Dark?)

"Young Hearts Run Free."

So Pride Week just wrapped up in my city yesterday with the annual Pride Parade and I was finally able to go. I had an amazing time and I never even noticed that I'd been standing in the same spot for two hours and a half in the sun (good lord, did I ever feel that later). So I thought why not celebrate Pride for just a little while longer?

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez: Lance is gay and has only been in one relationship that ended badly. Sergio is bisexual and only ever had a serious relationship with a girl. Lance doesn't understand bisexuality and thinks it doesn't exist but when he meets Sergio, who he likes and wants to date, things get complicated.

Kimiko is a lesbian and finding that she doesn't want to just be friends with her new friend Allie. Allie has a boyfriend but she can't stop thinking about Kimiko and what it would be like to kiss her.

So this book was a bit problematic for me because I only half liked it. It's not Sanchez's best novel. I'll start with the good things first and then saunter vaguely downwards.

First, I really liked that the novel addressed bisexuality. It's not often addressed in LGBTQ fiction. Nothing is as black and white as being just gay or straight, there is that grey area of bisexuality. 

The second thing I really liked is that the novel featured both male and female relationships. This is the first time that I've encountered a book of this kind, and I hope to see more of it. 

The third thing I enjoyed was the struggle between the main characters and their families. Some had it easy and others didn't and I think it's important to show that because coming out to your family can go either way. It takes guts to be who you are and not everyone is going to agree with it.

My favorite couple of the book had to be Kimiko and Allie. I thought their story was a lot more compelling than the one of Lance and Sergio, which took a turn for the mildly ridiculous towards the end. I suppose I have a thing for self-discovery narratives.

Now to talk about the things I didn't like:

1. Generalizations about relationships with women. Sergio at one point in the book said that girls have less of a need to be right. Ummmm have you met me or any girl for that matter? Because that is not true for all women. I even mentioned this to my friends and they were shocked at how wrong that was. 

2. The Lance and Sergio situation. So much about it made me uncomfortable. Sergio's expectations of Lance contradicted so much of what he supposedly wanted and Lance's inability to understand what being bisexual meant annoyed me. I wanted to sit that kid down and open a dictionary for him. 

3. Overuse of the exclamation mark. That's more a nitpick than anything else but goodness gracious was it overused. Characters can be excited about something. Excitement is natural in a person but a lot of the dialog carried an exclamation mark.

Overall the book is okay but that's just my opinion and I ask you to form your own and read the novel if you're interested in something new.

Also check out the Rainbow Boys series by Alex Sanchez since they were the first young adult fiction novels about homosexuality that I noticed and read at my library. The trilogy follows Jason, Kyle and Nelson as they deal with their respective relationships both romantic and familial, the threat of HIV, coming out and growing up.  A really important series and I think it's Sanchez's best work.

(note: title quote from the Candi Staton song Young Hearts Run Free.)