Friday, April 24, 2015

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Review by Lauren

Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: David Smith is giving his life for his art--literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn't making it any easier!

Review: When I was in undergrad, I took a course on Graphic Novels and our textbook of sorts was a book all about comics by Scott McCloud, so I was really excited to finally read a graphic novel by him. In this book, David Smith is desperate to create an extraordinary sculpture. Therefore, he makes a deal with Death (who looks like David's late Uncle Harry) to give up his life in 200 days if he is given the power to sculpt anything he likes with his hands. This means he can take concrete and easily shape it into whatever shape he wishes.

Despite having this gift, it is still difficult for David to truly create an amazing piece. He's not sure what to do and Ollie, his best friend who works in the art world, is hoping that David can find a focus for his gift. Ollie knows David is talented, but he never learns about David's gift and therefore cannot understand the desperate nature of David's work. After all, he will die in 200 days.


As the summary states, David's new life is shaken when he meets and falls in love with a girl named Meg. He wants to spend his entire life with her, but he's not sure how to do that when he knows he will die so soon. He doesn't want to hurt her, so he tries to push her away, but he can't. Meg was very much her own character in this book, and I loved that. She's different from David, but it's obvious that they both need each other.

The Sculptor is a fairly long book for a graphic novel, but at the same time, it goes by fast. The artwork is great, done in shades of black, white, and blue. This is a book that really makes you think about life, love, and art. It's something that should be discussed and thought on during and after one's reading. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Cut Both Ways

Waiting on Wednesday was created by Breaking the Spine

Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

Out: September 1, 2015

Official Summary: Will Caynes never has been good with girls. At seventeen, he’s still waiting for his first kiss. He’s certainly not expecting it to happen in a drunken make-out session with his best friend, Angus. But it does and now Will’s conflicted—he knows he likes girls, but he didn’t exactly hate kissing a guy.

Then Will meets Brandy, a cute and easy-to-talk-to sophomore. He’s totally into her too—which proves, for sure, that he’s not gay. So why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly?

Will knows he can’t keep seeing both of them, but besides his new job in a diner, being with Brandy and Angus are the best parts of his whole messed-up life. His divorced parents just complicate everything. His father, after many half-baked business ventures and endless house renovations, has started drinking again. And his mom is no help—unless loading him up with a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need plus sticking him with his twin half-sisters counts as parenting. He’s been bouncing between both of them for years, and neither one feels like home.

Deciding who to love, who to choose, where to live. Whichever way Will goes, someone will get hurt. Himself, probably the most.

Why I Want to Read: I think this sounds like a really interesting, emotional read. I'm curious what Will ultimately decides will make him happy. Plus, like I've mentioned before, I like LGBT novels or books that have LGBT characters and this sounds like a good one!

Monday, April 20, 2015

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways…until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Review: I'll Give You the Sun is a beautifully written novel. I had to read the 2015 Printz Award winner for my YA Literature course and that ended up being this one. I was very excited as I had heard wonderful things and I knew I wanted to read this book. I'm so glad I had the perfect opportunity to do so as it was well worth it.

When I read the summary, I assumed the first half was Noah and the second half was Jude, since Noah tells the story at 13 and Jude tells it at 16. That's not exactly the case though; there are sections back and forth between the twins, giving the reader a chance to really get to know both of them as well as figure out what happened to push them so far apart in just three years.


At 13, Noah is quiet and wants to desperately attend a local art school. He loves to draw and is desperate to get better. He meets the new kid next door, Brian, and falls in love. As for Jude, she loves to surf and wear bright lipstick and short skirts. She's not entirely sure who she is and she feels very far from her mother, just like Noah feels far from his father.

At 16, Jude is quiet and hides herself in baggy clothes. She's on a ban from boys and she misses her brother. Noah cut his hair, stopped drawing, and hangs out with the 'cool' kids, not telling anyone he is gay.

Both Jude and Noah have secrets. There are things they need to tell each other to truly start to heal and there are aspects of their personalities they need to stop hiding so they can be truly happy.

I'll Give You the Sun is a fantastic book and I would love to have my own copy for the shelves. These characters felt real and I so wanted the story to continue when I came to the end. I know I now need to read Nelson's debut novel!

Friday, April 17, 2015

3 Picture Book Review + Giveaway

I'm here today to share with you three different picture books that are all sorts of adorable and focus on being yourself. Definitely a message you want to share with the little ones in your life. I want to thank Sourcebooks for allowing me to review these items and share a copy of each book with one lucky winner!

You by Sandra Magsamen

This is a really cute book with bright, kid-friendly drawings. Each page reads like a quote that you'd want to put up on the wall and repeat to yourself everyday. One example would be:

Look at life from different points of view. Turn things upside down if it suits you.

This would be a great book for older kids that might be struggling on being themselves, being creative, and having fun. It's also a good, rhyming book for a younger crowd too.

Just One You by Lillian Jaine

This is a really cute Sesame Street novel. It would be perfect for kids graduating from kindergarten or moving up a level at school, since it's that time of the year. It's all about being yourself and enjoying the new adventures that will come your way. It also notes that you might not be at home, but you still have friends that will be there for you if you need them. Can't you see why it's great for graduation?

My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess by Heath McKenzie

This is so adorable! Like the other two books, this one is about being your true self and having fun. What I really liked about the book is that the little girl who wants to be a princess is shown what rules to follow by a "true" princess, except in the end, she learns to follow her own rules. It's a really great message for a slightly older reader, but a younger child would still enjoy the illustrations and overall fun story. My mom read this out loud to my niece, who really enjoyed it. She even wanted my mom to read it again as soon as she finished...which she did!

Now, would you like a copy of each of these books? One winner will get all three!

*U.S. and Canada entrants only
*Giveaway ends Friday, April 24 at 11:59 p.m.
*Copies of the book are coming from Sourcebooks, so once I pass your information along, I have no control over the prize.
*Enter only if you are 13 and older (with parent permission if underage)

To Enter: Answer the question in the comments below- What talent or hobby makes you special?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Fans of the Impossible Life

Waiting on Wednesday comes from Breaking the Spine

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Out: September 8th, 2015

Summary: This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them.

Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over as a new student at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to act like a normal, functioning human this time around, not a girl who sometimes can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with a mischievous glint in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and secret road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

Why I Want to Read: I like books that have LGBT characters, and the first line of this summary immediately grabbed my attention. Is this boy in love with them both as in friends-love, or love-love? That's my first question. Besides that, I just think this looks like a really thoughtful, character-driven novel.

Monday, April 13, 2015

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he's the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny's life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable. American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax.

Review: Reading the above summary and seeing this book stated as a fable, American Born Chinese makes a little more sense to me. I do have to admit though, that I finished this book mostly thinking "what?" I liked Jin Wang and how it's tough for him to be the only Chinese-American student at his school. I was even okay with the Monkey King because I've read other books by Gene Luen Yang, and it seems like a normal aspect of his work. Overall though, this book was a bit too strange for my liking. There is a twist at the end that was interesting...but I'm not entirely sure I could reconcile the twist with the rest of the book. It just didn't really make sense to me.

I read this book for my YA Literature Course - we had to choose a Printz Award winning book and I'd been curious about this graphic novel, so I thought I'd try it out! In the end, I'm happy to have given this a chance but I'll stick to other works by this author.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Review by Lauren

Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Review: I've heard many great things about this book for years now, and I've been wanting to read it for just as long. It wasn't until my YA Literature course this semester that I finally sat down and did just that. This was a book my professor assigned for everyone to read during our Historical Fiction section. Many of you have probably read this book or heard a lot about it already, so I won't make this a terribly long review. What you really need to know is that this was a beautifully written novel, full of fascinating characters and narrated by an equally intriguing character: Death.

Death as the narrator is the aspect of the book that I always thought about when this book was mentioned. I wasn't sure how it would work, but it was pulled off very well. This is the only book I've read by Zusak, but it won't be the last. He's a fantastic writer. This book is full of quotes and moments that leave you breathless and thoughtful.


The Book Thief is something you want to read again - and share with others in the hopes that they will love it too, or at least find it fascinating enough to discuss with you.