30 Dec
2011

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

*Marlie's Pick!*

Ladies - this is a great summer read, you won’t be able to put it down! It’s the story of a young girl, Lily, who leaves her abusive father and sets off on her own searching for answers about her deceased mother. She is taken in by a family of three black sisters living in the deep south during a time of serious racial unrest. Lily is put to work in their honey house for the summer and begins a wonderful journey of self discovery in women, family, love and trust. I swear you can actually smell the honey from the bees and feel the sweltering heat of the south in summer! I ran out and got The Mermaid Chair (by Sue Monk Kidd) the very day I finished this - I couldn’t get enough! The Mermaid Chair was great, but not as affective and haunting as The Secret Life of Bees… LOVED IT!

30 Dec
2011

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

*Kristen's Pick!*

The first line is: “I was born singing. Most babies cry, I sang an aria”. Yeah, this book had me at hello. I liked Levine’s other books, (Ella Enchanted and Two Princesses of Bamarre) but I loved this! This lyrical re-imagining of Snow White spoke volumes to me about the spell beauty can weave and the use (and misuse) of power. Besides, I was born to live in Ayortha, a land where conversations are most often sung and then spoken. This book should take its place as a modern classic.

30 Dec
2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

*Blair's Pick!*

“If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re broken”

If you’re not already sold just by picking up and flipping through this visually stunning book, then you are boring. This is a beautiful story that blends film and magic and childlike wonder to create Hugo Cabret, a boy who tends to the clocks at a train station in Paris, where he also lives. At the heart of the story lies a mystery: an automaton with a message. This message not only changes Hugo’s life, but also someone unexpected. Like the small parts that make each clock work, the characters in this story realize they too are parts of a vast machinery where each piece matters, be it a dreamer, adventurer, magician or clockmaker.

30 Dec
2011

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

* Jessi’s Pick*

Imagine a poem that kills anyone who heard it. Now imagine if that same poem somehow ended up in a children’s book that parents read to their kids. What would you do? Carl Streator, a newspaper journalist, makes it his mission to find and destroy all copies of this deadly poem. Author of Fight Club and famous for subversive twists, Chuck Palahniuk does not fail to impress with Lullaby. This book was my first introduction into the world of Palahniuk and is still by far my favorite!

30 Dec
2011

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford

*Mya's Pick!*

A wonderful trip through space and time, complete with time-traveling Dads, Edward Rochester (of Jane Eyre fame) and the world’s third most wanted criminal. The Eyre affair introduces agent Thursday Next, an agent with the secretive Special Operations Network, Literary Detective Division. It’s all business as usual for Thursday until someone starts kidnapping character from works of literature. When Jane Eyre goes missing, it’s up to Thursday to enter the world of books and track down the villain. A friend suggested, more like forced this book on me. Full of literary puns and allusions, this brilliantly outlandish caper kept me laughing from startto finish. I enjoyed it so much that the moment I finished I went right and bought the rest of the series. A book that makes all those grueling hours in AP English worth it!

30 Dec
2011

Watchmen by Alan Moore

*Chris's Pick!*

We've come a long way since the forties and the creation of the superhero, and there is no better example of just how far comics have progressed as an art than Alan Moore's Watchmen. Dave Gibbons brilliant illustrations create a living world, packing in as much detail as possible, forcing a slow examination of every panel, flipping back through pages to find similarly framed panels.
Watchmen delivers on every front: superheroes who aren’t super, a murder-mystery detective story, an alternate reality where Richard Nixon is still president and we never lost in Vietnam, philosophical reflections on the human condition, a detached blue scientist with God-like powers who refuses to wear clothing, a morally grey world where anyone could be the hero or the villain, and pirates.
That sounds like a lot, but it’s never cumbersome, it’s tied together through beautiful prose, like a tapestry made from the tattered old remains of Superman’s cape. Moore asks hard questions, and he asks them earnestly, and without restraint. There’s an answer in there somewhere, hidden in the illustrations, in the multiple narratives, the overlapping time-periods, hidden in the beauty. But above all,there’s a real human story about what happens when average people decide that average isn’t enough anymore.

30 Dec
2011

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

*Blair's Pick!*

“What do you do when you find out your heart is the wrong kind?” says the supervillain of this story, Dr. Impossible. This comic book turned literary fiction answers this question through the alternating perspectives of super villain and superhero. I am so excited about this book I can’t stand it, I am in full nerd mode already searching out the author online hoping he will be my friend. The development of each character is stunning not only in substance but also timing; the unbelievably rich origin stories of each hero/villain unfold themselves suddenly and unexpectedly-and they’re AWESOME! One minute you’re immersed in an epic battle and the next you’re learning about what Dr Impossible was like in highschool, that his name was Jonathan, that you knew a guy like him, and that maybe things would have been different if he got the girl. But now, he’s fighting off a potbelly and living in a motel, planning his next scheme to conquer the world…his 12th attempt. It’s got other dimensions, time travel, aliens, armies of algae and fungus…what else could you possibly ask for?

30 Dec
2011

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

*Marlie's Pick*

Marlie thinks this anonymous review says it best:

It reads like the old fashioned storytelling- the kind which boys and girls sit cross-legged and rapt around an old man who, despite his calm demeanor and soft tones, fiercely commands the room's attention. In this case the story he tells is mysterious and wondrous. It is unlike anything anyone has ever heard. And so the children's parents linger around the outside of the circle, noting the teller's words and sensing that something is percolating deep beneath the characters and the action, something that, with a knowing glint and a rare hint, the storyteller suggests but doesn't let on entirely, some moral or truth, or maybe some insight into the human condition.
And so a story- a truly sensational and dramatic story based on a boy trapped in a small lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for 277 days with a Bengal Tiger, an often- bloody struggle for life and death- arrives in a voice that is even measured, paced, scaled. And this voice opens the doors for everything else that is packed in: the vivid aquatic scenes, the reflections on religion, human need and vice, the range and importance of zoological understanding.
Faced with all this, the boys and girls and mothers and fathers learn and wonder, and perhaps some of them become aware that this man is not just a storyteller, but truly also a teacher, and that everything he describes- every quandary, every explanation, every detail, every revelation- everything serves to teach something more than the story of a boy and a tiger... -Anonymous