Friday, February 1, 2013

Peanut, by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe by (graphic novel) - allergy joke gone wrong

book cover of Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe, published by Random House
Transferring into a new high school,
Everyone else has been here forever.
How can someone get noticed in such a crowd?

Peanut allergies are certainly no laughing matter, but one casual conversation in a fast-food place sets in motion Sadie's whole new persona to make her unusual enough to stand out at Plainfield Community High School.

Once she makes new friends, she'd like to drop her fake allergy, but doesn't have the courage to do it. And no way is she telling her mom about all this. How long can Sadie keep up her double life?

If you can't find Peanut  at your local library, ask them to order it. Or try an independent bookstore which may have gotten copies on the graphic novel's December publication day.

So, how far would you go to be noticed by "the right people" at your school or workplace?

Book info: Peanut / Ayun Halliday, illustrated by Paul Hoppe. Schwartz & Wade Books (Random House Children's Books), 2012. [author's website]  [illustrator's website]  [publisher site]

My Recommendation: So not fair, having to move during high school! Sadie is sure everyone at PCHS has known each other forever and won’t have time for new friends. When she decides to stand out by pretending that she has a severe allergy to peanuts, there’s no turning back.

The med-alert bracelet ordered in secret is on for school, off at home. Her “about me” essay for homeroom details the life-threatening incident that just a single peanut caused. The school nurse is understandably miffed when she doesn’t have the proper paperwork about her medical condition, but does let Sadie keep the emergency epi-pen in her backpack instead of the office – which is good, since Sadie really doesn’t have the prescription-only device.

She does make friends in Plainfield after all, like Lou, who would also like to cancel PE forever, and Zoo, the cute guy who’s decided that technology doesn’t make life better and forswears computers and cellphones. Zoo’s communications are intricate origami notes, which he delivers to friends’ homes by bike, between trips to the library to consult printed reference books for homework (done with pen and paper, of course). Finding Zoo’s notes in her locker makes Sadie’s day special.

So, Zoo and Sadie are becoming more-than-friends. Why can’t she just come clean about not really being allergic to peanuts? How can he come to her house when Zoo might say something that makes Mom suspicious about all of Sadie’s online research about epi-pens and allergies? Why did she decide on such a radical way to stand out at her new school?

Big bake sale, big muffins, big trouble! What happens next? Read Peanut to find out! Hoppe uses sparing amounts of red to accent his black and white drawings of the Plainfield Community High School crowd as Halliday’s story of trying-too-hard to fit in follows Sadie through her first semester in a new town.(One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January progress on TBR2012 Challenge (reflective) - read lots, recommended more

Faced with overflowing shelves of 2012-dated ARCs (advance reader copies) and published books as the old year wound down, I leaped at the TBR Challenge posted by Evie on her Bookish blog (I'm #251).

So, in January, I've re-read and written recommendations on BooksYALove (and am posting the brief reviews for several titles on for these 2012 books:

Watersmeet,  by Ellen Jensen Abbott

Historical fiction:
A Hundred Flowers,  by Gail Tsukiyama

Every Other Day, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Unnaturalists,  by Tiffany Trent

Realistic fiction - Young Adult:
The Butterfly Clues,  by Kate Ellison
The Difference Between You and Meby Madeleine George
Fish in the Sky,  by Fridrik Erlings
Moonglass,  by Jessi Kirby
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy,  by Bil Wright
What Happens Next,  by Colleen Clayton

Adaptation,  by Malinda Lo
Year Zero, by Rob Reid

As you're hunting up these great books, remember to check with your local library and independent bookstore, since all these titles have been published already. Keeping your book-dollars close to home is good sense and good business, as these singing booksellers remind us!

Yes, I'm making progress on my To-Be-Read stack of new books and 2013 ARCs, while also writing up my To-Be-Recommended books from 2012 (and some from 2011!). Let's see what February brings...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Hundred Flowers, by Gail Tsukiyama (fiction) - Mao's China, family's fracture

book cover of A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama published by St Martins Press
You can see the White Cloud Mountain, if you look hard.
You must climb the spiny kapok tree to get high enough.
Is any tree tall enough to see where Tao's father is?

Chairman Mao asked that "one hundred schools of thought" contend so that "one hundred flowers" would bloom during the Cultural Revolution. But could intellectuals believe that the dictator truly wanted opposing opinions to be voiced in Communist China?

Listen to the beginning of the story here, courtesy of Macmillan Audio, publishers of the audiobook version of A Hundred Flowers,  narrated by Audie Award winner, Simon Vance.

Get to know Tao's family and this intriguing, difficult time in China's history today at your local library or independent bookstore.

Should Tao's mother have told him the truth about his father's political imprisonment, or was she right in allowing her young son to believe that papa would soon return to them?

Book info: A Hundred Flowers / Gail Tsukiyama. St. Martin's Press, 2012. [author's website] [publisher site] [author video interview]

My Recommendation:
Perhaps Tao can see where his father has gone if he climbs the tallest tree in their Guangzhou courtyard. Instead his fall breaks his leg, but doesn’t break the Communist Party’s iron grip on his homeland, doesn’t bring Father home, doesn’t stop schoolmates from taunting that Father is a traitor.

If Chairman Mao’s call “let a hundred schools of thought contend” to be believed, then intellectuals like his papa Sheng and grandfather Wei would be safe to express their opinions, even if contrary to Communist doctrines. But a letter from their courtyard house to the Chairman results in papa’s departure, and mama won’t tell seven-year-old Tao where he has gone.

As Tao’s badly broken leg heals, he is often visited by Auntie Song who lives downstairs, by his grandfather who tells stories of olden times, and always by his mother, whose herbal remedies are renowned throughout the city. Into the courtyard house, Mother invites a lost teenage girl, a pregnant runaway grateful for small kindness and an empty corner.

Visits to the police to explain that Sheng must come home after his son’s terrible accident were useless; letters arrive from the re-education center rarely. Why did the Party think that making a teacher work in a dangerous stone quarry would change anything?

Finally grandfather Wei decides that he must take the grueling train journey north alone to see for himself that Sheng is still alive and try to convince the officials to let him come home.

A fascinating cross-generational tale, told through the voices of the residents of Tao’s courtyard house during the Cultural Revolution which crushed China’s artistic and intellectual communities, rippling like an undercurrent in its society even today. [Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.]

Monday, January 28, 2013

Every Other Day, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (fiction) - hunt the supernatural, survive high school

book cover of Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes published by Egmont
High school kid, demon hunter,
High school kid, werewolf killer,
Repeat, repeat, repeat...

Kali has enough trouble spending alternating days as a supernatural clean-up gal, but when someone may have injected the cheerleaders at her high school with bloodsucking parasites...

A classmate marked for supernatural harvest, answers producing even more questions, high-level conspiracy - how did Kali wind up in all this? How much does she have in common with the Hindu goddess Kali, slayer of demons?
Find Every Other Day  now in hardback at your local library or visit your independent bookstore for its January 22nd paperback release; both covers are the same haunting hourglass dripping blood...

How far should you go to protect your friends while risking your very life?

Book info: Every Other Day / Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Egmont USA, hardcover 2011, paperback 2013. [author's website] [publisher site] [fan-created book trailer][author interview]

My Recommendation: If that ouroboros on Bethany’s back is not a tattoo, then the cheerleader will be dead today, just when Kali is merely human, instead of a supernatural hunter like she will be tomorrow. Flip-flopping capabilities every 24 hours is more than annoying now – it’s liable to be deadly.

Good thing that her supernatural phase includes rapid healing powers, as the werewolves and hellhounds who battle against her during extermination runs always seemed to slash and bite Kali viciously. And who wants to show up at high school the next morning looking like that?

When Dad decided that she needed to go to public school for ‘social interaction’ Kali was sure it was just because his new boss at the university labs was sending his daughter there. Now, with a chupacabra stalking the cheerleading squad, maybe her presence at Heritage High can keep her classmates safe.

Luring the spirit from Bethany’s ouroboros into her own blood was the fastest way for Kali to save her life on this human-phase day. But now Kali has to survive many more hours with an aware parasite coursing through her veins and whispering in her brain before she turns supernatural hunter again.

How will she get the parasite out of her body to kill it?
Why does Bethany think that the cheerleaders were purposely injected with the parasite?
What’s in the lab under Bethany’s house?

If the zombies don’t get the teens, maybe Kali will get some answers – and live long enough to get into her hunter phase and strike back.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.