Wednesday, July 1, 2015

THE BOY IN THE WOODEN BOX by Leon Leyson

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...on Schindler's ListI constantly have students asking for books about the Holocaust, and now I have another great one to add to my collection.  THE BOY ON THE WOODEN BOX by Leon Leyson will add an interesting perspective for students searching for more knowledge about that terrible time in the history of our world.

Leon Leyson lived in Krakow, Poland, with his family.  His childhood was filled with family, school, and friends until the Nazis arrived and at the age of ten he was forced to leave school and begin the fight to survive.




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Monday, June 29, 2015

Tin Men by Christopher Golden

Christopher Golden's novel Tin Men has officially hit stores - and it's hitting hard. Without giving too much away, l can tell you, this timely story is going to stay with you. Here's the mini-summary from the publisher:

Brad Thor meets Avatar in this timely military thriller for the drone age, which spins the troubles of today into the apocalypse of tomorrow. A rocket ride of a read packed with high action, cutting-edge technology, and global politics, Tin Men begins with the end of the world as we know it and takes off from there.

I love sci-fi stories that are based in science and technology, stories that present us with possible, plausible situations that stir up society as we know it - I adored the original Twilight Zone and was intrigued by Black Mirror - and Tin Men is right in that category. Christopher Golden's take on technology, society, and responsibility will make you think about very real near-future possibilities. Are all of these advancements in medicine, military, and media doing more harm that good? Fueled by strong characters made stronger through interwoven stories, Tin Men will open your eyes to how the world could be, for better or worse, because of human decisions and indecision, action and inaction.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Bonus points for those willing to discuss the various Cybermen storylines from Doctor Who with me.

Read an excerpt from TIN MEN by Christopher Golden.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills

When we're children, we all believe that we're going to be People of Historical Import. No one plays at being a mid-level bureaucrat on the playground -- we're all royalty, astronauts, spies, heroes.

Gerald Dunwoody was no different -- and, just like the vast majority of actual people, when he grew up he discovered that his imagined life of adventure was just a fairy tale. He grew up believing he'd be a great wizard, and instead, he's reduced to doing safety inspections at wand manufacturing plants, dismissed by coworkers, humiliated by neighbors higher up the wizarding food chain. He is miserable, he is unfulfilled... but he is employed, making a paycheck, paying the rent. Welcome to the real world, Gerald.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

When Sam wakes up all he remembers is the argument. He needs to go and talk to Hayden to see if their friendship is still intact or if the damage is irreparable. When Sam gets to Hayden's house Sam finds him in his bed, dead. Next to Hayden is a thumb drive with a note that lets Sam know it is for him - a playlist Hayden has made to help him understand why he chose to end his own life. As Sam listens to the playlist, he gets more and more confused. He starts to meet some new people and realize that they had connections to Hayden as well, though the more questions he asks, the more questions he has.
Bad things start to happen to the kids Hayden and Sam called the "Bully Trifecta," which includes Hayden's older brother. People look at Sam and wonder if he is the vigilante "taking care of" the bullies.
I found myself seeking out the songs on the playlist to know exactly what Hayden left Sam with for clues to his life and the end of it. A truly beautiful and haunting playlist full of songs of introspection, frustration and a desire to be heard. This book at times pulls at the heart strings and at others gives glimpses of hope for teens today struggling with their own identities and how to be in this crazy world.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

My Neighbor Seki by Takuma Morishige

Yokoi wants to be a good student.

As for Seki, the boy who sits at the desk next to Yokoi, well, he rarely seems to be paying attention in class. Nope, instead Seki is busy creating a Rube Goldberg-esque domino course on his desk, or pulling out any number of unexpected things from his bag or his desk to create elaborate games or otherwise amuse himself, and yet no one except for Yokoi seems to notice this.

Seki's, and mangaka Takuma Morishige's imagination, is something to behold, as Seki's alternately amusing or weird or just stupendously creative ideas take shape on his desk. My Neighbor Seki is a deceptively simple manga. Each chapter follows the same formula: Seki starts working on something, Yokoi tells herself to focus on the teacher's lecture, but still can't help getting caught up in whatever it is Seki is doing. Within this simple framework, however, Morishige writes and draws a very fun and enjoyable comic, and you can't predict what Seki will devise next. Morishige's artwork is on the simpler, understated side compared to other manga I've read, and he makes great use of panels and page turns to depict Yokoi as realizes what Seki is up to. And you can't blame Yokoi for being distracted in class when Seki is so much more interesting.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Book Review: A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel

A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention by Matt Richtel is a fascinating book which conveys much scientific information in an interesting way. There is much scientific information presented in the book, but it is never dry or boring.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese adventures

Post written by Justin Colussy-Estes

Right now, in the US, we're in a golden age of reprints. So many classic comics - from Bud Sagendorf Popeye collections and the Walter Simonson prestige format oversized edition, to comic strip collections like the Complete Far Side boxed set and Leonard Starr's Mary Perkins On Stage - are available, in print, and, for the most part, affordable. But there's notable holes in the material you can get, particularly when it comes to non-manga foreign material. One of the biggest missing pieces in the pantheon of comics greatness, however, is now available. The phenomenal Italian cartoonist Hugo Pratt and his rogue adventurer hero Corto Maltese is now available again in English for the first time in over two decades through gorgeous reprints from IDW.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Alex + Ada #1 by Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn

Robots that come to life is a story that's been around since Asimov wrote about them in the '30s, and before that too, probably, I'm no historian. That doesn't mean that every once in a while a story about androids and their human masters can't come along and take you on a really cool ride. Enter Alex + Ada, a story that demands your attention and keeps it to the very last page.

It's the near future, flying robots make your breakfast and you do all of your shopping, net browsing and socializing via a chip that you have implanted into the side of your head. It's like having Amazon.com as your sub-conscious, fun!


Our titular character Alex is depressed, he's still not over the girl that left him and he's not satisfied in his job. His grandmother wants to cheer him up by purchasing an android for him.

Now, when I say android, I'm not talking about something that looks like Johnny Five, these things are the real deal. They look just like you or I, the only way to tell them apart from humans is the logo they have tattooed on their wrist which they are legally obligated to keep exposed at all times.

Alex refuses his grandmother's offer, and she buys him one anyway. This is where things start to get really interesting.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti

Group think, lust for power, oppression of minority groups and flimsy justifications for war are all themes explored in Richard Kurti's Monkey Wars. If you think that those themes sound like they have been plucked from news headlines over the past decade then you are correct.  The only difference is that these things occur in a monkey society in present day India.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book

Anita Silvey compiled "Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life" for this book.

The notables include many great writers, but also a heart surgeon, a TV film critic, at least one librarian (Yay!), a physics professor, a cancer researcher, a climate scientist, and so on. I'll quote Azar Nafisi's recommendation (She wrote Reading Lolita in Tehran, a wonderful memoir/piece of history, by the way.)

I first heard about The Thousand and One Nights when I was about four, and my father each night would choose to tell me a story from the treasure trove of Persian classical literature. The last time I read it was for a private class I had with seven of my female students in 1995.

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