Saturday, June 24, 2017

Quicksand House

Quicksand House is by Carlton Mellick III. OMG! This is the strangest and somehow one of the coolest books I've read in a long time. I'm not even sure how to classify this book; I will probably file it under science fiction, but the book classifies itself as "bizarro fiction," which is probably more accurate. Tick and his sister Polly (who has green hair and antlers growing out of her head) live in a nursery in a huge house. They have never seen their parents, ever, their nanny promises their parents will come for them soon. When the power goes out and all of the machinery in the house stops working, Tick and Polly must brave the world outside the nursery to find their parents, but the world outside the nursery is a dangerous place. No language or sex in this book, but there is science fiction type violence. The idea of what makes a parent, combined with the desire to be a part of a family is both sad and touching. Reluctant readers, both boys and girls, who like creepy stuff will enjoy this book. I didn't know what I would think of it, but I ended up really really liking it.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (violence).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is by Lucy Knisley. A charming graphic memoir about Knisley's childhood and the way her parents instilled in her a love of food and cooking. The art is charming and colorful, and the added recipes are fun and easy to make and relate well to each chapter. This is a charming memoir about family and the role food can play in making family memories. This would be a great way to introduce reluctant readers to nonfiction and memoir.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (brief mature thematic content).

Monday, June 19, 2017

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is by Alison Bechdel. This a memoir in graphic novel form describing Bechdel's childhood and the death of her father, in what the work hints might be a suicide. After his death, Alison, who has recently told her parents she is a lesbian, discovers her father was a closeted homosexual. This memoir is bitingly funny and tragic at the same time. The complexity of Bechdel's feelings for her family, especially her father, are told with brutal honesty. The art is also stellar. This is a memoir worth reading, but it is definitely not for everyone.

Ratings: Adult - 7 of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

The Key

The Key is by Pauline Baird Jones. The first novel in the Project Enterprise series is a rollicking science fiction adventure. The United States is venturing out into a new galaxy "to boldly go where no man has gone before" (sorry couldn't resist the Star Trek reference). As luck would have it, first contact finds us in the middle of an intergalactic civil war. When Sara Donovan, an elite pilot, is shot down she finds herself alone on an inhospitable planet with Fyn, a member of the Ojemba (a resistance group aiding the Gadi against the evil Dusan). All three groups are looking for a mysterious "key" that will give them the power to win the war, and when Sarah appears to be linked to the key she finds herself being fought over by all three groups. While this book is listed as a romance, there are none of the expected steamy sex scenes. This is truly just a fun science fiction adventure, the romance is almost a side effect of the story. This would be a good way to get girls interested in science fiction. The addition of a strong female fighter pilot heroine is also a plus.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - V (violence).

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pobby and Dingan

Pobby and Dingan is by Ben Rice. This charming little novella is set in an opal mining town in Australia. Ashmol Williamson and his sister live with their parents; their dad has a claim where he mines for opals - not very successfully. Ashmol's sister Kellyanne has two invisible friends named Pobby and Dingan. No except Kellyanne believes they exist. One day, to humor her, her father takes Pobby and Dingan to his mine and comes home without them. Kellyanne insists they are lost and that everyone search for them, as her health steadily declines, Ashmol decides to search for the two himself. A touching story of the ability of human beings to believe in things they cannot see, and the love of a brother for his sister. This novella is rated 10th grade only because of the language used in parts of the book. This would be a wonderful little book for parents to read to their children, skipping over the few bad words.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity).

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Bestiary

The Bestiary is edited by Ann VanderMeer. A bestiary is a collection of descriptions of animals, usually fantastical ones. Bestiaries trace their origins to Ancient Greece, but rose to popularity in the Middle Ages. VanderMeer has drawn together quite a collection of authors to create entries for this little volume. The beasts are indeed fantastical, some hilariously so, and the illustrations are beautifully drawn. A wonderful way to fill a couple of hours of your time.

Ratings: 9th grade - 7 out of 10.

A House at the Bottom of a Lake

A House at the Bottom of a Lake is by Josh Malerman. A creepy little novella about two teenagers on their first date who discover a house at the bottom of a lake. There are many creepy things about the house and it does not end the way you would think. I'm still contemplating the ending and what might happen next, and what the ending might mean for the characters. If you like creepy mysteries that aren't filled with gore, this little book might be for you.

Ratings: 11th grade - 8 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content).