BrianL

  1. The Song of Roland

    Song of Roland cover

    I love Paul. I love the black-and-white, curvy casual style in which his stories are illustrated. I would learn to read French if I were to learn that the Paul stories would no longer be translated into English. I've read Rabaliati's other semi-autobiographical stories, and have enjoyed following Paul's life in Canada from his summer job as a camp counselor to moving into his first place with his fiance in the city to his becoming a father. Rabagliati adds a new dimension to Paul's story by focusing on his in-laws, with emphasis on his wife's father, Roland.

  2. The Shadow of the Wind

    The Shadow of the Wind book cover

    In Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, a book seller takes his son Daniel to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where he finds among its labyrinthine stacks a book by Julian Carax called The Shadow of the Wind. It's the best book he's ever read and he wants to learn more about the author and read more of his books, but he discovers that not much is known about the author and that copies of his books are notoriously difficult to find. Daniel isn't satisfied with this and endeavors to learn more.

  3. The Sparrow

    The Sparrow book cover

    I'm finding it difficult to begin a review of this book--this story packed into this little volume is large in scope and dense in detail. The story told is of a group of smart folks coming together as friends and being friends when one member finds evidence of life in Alpha Centauri. Another member, a Jesuit priest named Emilio Sandoz then makes a proposal to the Society of Jesus that this group travel to this other star system, find the planet these other beings live on, and go meet them.

  4. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

    Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore cover

    Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore mixes books and research with romance and friendship to make a fun, light story. Pop culture references make this book feel a bit like Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, but the prevalence of Google and ereaders ground the story in the present.

  5. Plutocrats

    Plutocrats book cover cover

    The short version: This informative book should appeal to supporters of both wealthy job creators and 99%-ers, as well as anyone interested in current events or the way money shapes our world.

  6. Bow Grip

    Bow Grip book cover

    I came to become a fan of Ivan Coyote through seeing videos of her telling stories. My interest in reading her first novel, Bow Grip, comes from feeling connected to her as a person through her stories. You can have this same experience easily as she's got quite a few videos embedded on her site at: http://www.ivanecoyote.com/videos

  7. Bakuman, volume 1

    Bakuman cover

    Volume 1 of Bakuman introduces Moritaka Mashiro, an 8th grade student with decent grades and a habit of drawing in his notebooks during class. His drawing talent is noticed by Akito Takagi, fellow and best student in Mashiro's class. Takagi attempts to persuade Mashiro to join him in creating manga--he'll write and Mashiro can draw. Takagi's a skilled operator and manages to get Mashiro's crush, a classmate named Miho, involved, climaxing with a humorous scene in which Mashiro ultimately agrees to Takagi's plan.

  8. The Diviners

    The Diviners book cover

    Libba Bray's The Diviners mixes mystery and supernatural horror and sets in Prohibition Era New York. The effect is excellent--if I were a wine connoisseur and this book were a wine, I'd note hints of HBO's Carnivale, Stephen King's novels, and a liberal peppering of 1920s slang. I'll hold back from getting cutesy using the slang in this review.

  9. The Sisters Brothers

    The Sisters Brothers

    I really loved this book! One of the blurbs on the back references Charles Portis, and the voice of this story's narrator, Eli Sisters, reminded me very much of the narrator of True Grit. I feel like I got to know Eli better, and liked this story better than True Grit, not that they need to be compared as they are both enjoyable stories. But, if I'm left with only the two books to read and have to choose one to read first, this would be the one.

  10. Pathfinder

    Book cover of Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

    The short version: A science fiction and fantasy adventure featuring excellent characters, intrigue, and deceptions that will grip your attention such that you'll neglect the things you need to do in order to read more.

  11. Why We Broke Up

    Why We Broke Up Book Cover

     

    The short version: The story of a break up from the very beginning of the relationship, starring authentic characters and presented in a unique format--each chapter starts with an object from a box of mementos Min collected and is giving to her ex-boyfriend, Ed. For more details, read on.

  12. Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries

    The short version: This is an excellent collection of articles by the author of The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Psychopath Test that will satisfy fans of those books, as well as those who enjoy off-beat journalism and stories like those that air on This American Life. For more details, read on.

  13. Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

    Maria Semple relates the tale of where Bernadette went and why using emails, letters, reports, articles, and other short pieces created by or relating to the characters. Interspersed are passages of Bernadette's daughter Bee's narration. With all the variation in modes of writing, I was surprised at how smoothly this story read.

  14. The Age of Miracles

    Book cover: The Age of Miracles

    The Age of Miracles is the story of Julia as she comes of age in suburban California, featuring bullies, young love, cliques, loneliness, parental troubles, bra shopping, soccer practice, grandpa, and reading in the library during lunch at school.

  15. The Dog Stars

    Dog Stars book cover

    The short version: You like doing things outdoors--hiking, hunting, cross country skiing, etc.--and read up on those hobbies. You've had a close relationship with a pet. You don't mind reading about the end of the world as we know it. If that's you, you'll like this story.

  16. Morning Glories, Vol. 1

    Morning Glories book cover

    The short version: This collection of the compelling first 12 issues of the mystery-horror comic book series set in a twisted boarding school is a satisfying hook that will make fans of readers who enjoy grim graphic stories with a dash of the fantastic, like The Walking Dead or The Unwritten. Enticed? Read on.

    Nick Spencer's Morning Glories is one of those comics that keeps you in the dark about what's going on. I'd say it keeps you guessing, but it would be a rare success for any reader to guess the what's happening in an issue/chapter. And this is fun--an excellent hook.

  17. The Other Normals

    Other Normals book cover

    Ned Vizzini's The Other Normals tells the story of Perry Eckert, a young math whiz whose divorced parents' lawyers agree that it would be cheaper to send him to summer camp than to feed him at home, and since he got kicked off the summer math team, there's no reason to keep him around. Also, socializing with other kids at camp could be good for him--his parents and brother think he spends too much time alone creating characters and reading rulebooks for the role-playing game Creatures & Caverns.

  18. The Last Dragonslayer

    Image: Last Dragonslayer book cover

    The quick version: The most fun fantasy story--perhaps the most fun novel--that I've read all year, and despite it's "young adult" label, it doesn't feel like a YA novel. Keep reading for the detailed review.

    Why is this series not simultaneously published in the US?

  19. Between Gears

    Between Gears book cover

    Review in brief: A comic book enthusiast and artist documents her senior year in college a page a day. Strongest recommendation to students interested in becoming artists themselves, but recommended generally to those between the ages of 14 and 35. The full review starts now.

    I don't think there's any way for me to describe Natalie Nourigat's Between Gears in a way that conveys how much I enjoyed it.

  20. Paper Towns

    Image: Paper Towns book cover

    John Green’s Paper Towns imagines a unique high school queen bee named Margo Roth Spiegelman and the mystery of finding her. Quentin Jacobsen narrates the story, beginning with a childhood memory of finding a dead body in the neighborhood park with Margo. While Quentin and Margo grew apart over the years, he holds a flame for her and she holds the high school’s ruling class back from bullying Quentin too much.

  21. Bunny Drop

    Every so often, I'll try a manga. As the young adult librarian, I feel like that's something I should do. I'll hear from teen patrons that they love a title more than life itself and give it a try. Then, often, I'll miss whatever it was that made the manga so great--it's okay, I'm at a different place in life than the teens I work with, but I'd prefer to relate to them through shared love of a story.

  22. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

    Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend Book Cover

    Budo is six years old, but he looks like an adult. To the people who can see him, that is--he is an imaginary friend, visible only to his human imaginer Max and to other imaginary friends. Imaginary friends are born from people's, pimarily chilrden's, minds and come out looking like pretty much anything--a fully formed person like Budo, a spot on a wall, a robot, whatever. One day, they're imagined and exist, knowing what their humans think they know.

  23. Going Bovine

    Going Bovine book cover

    When Cameron is diagnosed with Mad Cow disease his life changes drastically. No longer is he the social pariah shunned by his twin sister, nor is he an embarrassment to his parents. The school he hates puts on a pep rally especially for him that he gets to watch on his living room television, just before he passes out and is taken to the hospital. 

  24. There Is No Dog

    There Is No Dog

    I liked Meg Rosoff's There is No Dog. It's a funny, somewhat scattered, odd little story that I wasn't expecting. I think when you read the blurb on a book that tells you God is a stereotypical teen boy, you get some expectations--like seeing a preview for a Will Farrel movie. I expected much more zaniness than this story brought, and I appreciate that the humor was more understated.

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