Friday, January 31, 2014

DARK ANGEL by David Klass

Dark AngelSibling relationships are difficult enough, but when your older brother is serving a life sentence for murder, and then is suddenly released from prison on a technicality, it certainly increases the tension.
It has only been five years since Jeff's brother Troy was shipped off to prison.  As a result, Jeff and his parents were forced to leave their home to escape the aftermath of the trial and the publicity. 

At seventeen Jeff feels like he is finally adjusting to his new home, new school, and new friends.  Jeff is an average student and a member of the soccer team.  He is pretty sure he's in love with his girlfriend Beth.  In the years since Troy has been gone, Jeff has gotten closer to his father, a great guy who devotes his time to taking care of Jeff's mother who was devastated when their older son was found guilty of murdering another teen.  Jeff is shocked to learn that his parents are actually excited about Troy's return and are planning to welcome him with open and forgiving arms.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snowblind by Christopher Golden

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

Christopher Golden's Snowblind is going to blow you away.

It seemed like just another winter night in Coventry. Ella was closing up her restaurant. TJ was playing his guitar - and flirting with Ella. Across town, Allie and her sons, Jake and Isaac, were having a fun movie night at home with Allie's boyfriend, Nico, and his daughter, Miri. Doug had no idea he was about to be fired from his job at the garage.

It seemed like just another winter storm -- but it wasn't. Rookie cop Joe Keenan, a lifelong resident of Coventry, knew that blizzard was worse than anything he'd ever seen before. Different. Dangerous.

Soon, more than half of the town loses power.  Shortly thereafter, the storm begins to claim its victims ruthlessly, stealing the life from those caught in the snow, shattering the lives of the survivors.

Twelve years later, another storm is brewing. Those who lost their loved ones before fear that history is repeating itself. Joe, now a veteran cop, can't stop thinking of the people he couldn't save before. Ella and TJ's sweet young daughter isn't acting like herself. Miri, all grown up and living elsewhere, gets a phone call from her father - who died in the storm when she was a child. If they want to survive this storm, they'll have to make sacrifices they never dreamed of, and find the strength to confront the ghosts that haunt them.

From the first page of flurries and right on through two furious storms, Snowblind is chilling and thrilling. You meet all of the main players right off the bat, setting up their individual stories nicely, and by the time their paths cross in the second blizzard, each character has undergone a huge amount of change - for better or worse. Some have drifted from their dreams while others are trying to make their lives mean something. Burdened by a decade of guilt, fear, and unanswered questions, the citizens of Coventry will go out into the cold night once more to search for redemption - and what they find is something no one expected.

I latched on to many of the characters as soon as they were introduced - "pint-sized Grace," for example, described as "copper-eyed and tiny and always buzzing with positive energy" - and appreciated the diversity of the group. I could see this book on the big screen in an instant. You've got man vs. nature, lost loves, high stakes, cops and criminals, and the supernatural. I was particularly drawn into the brothers' story as well as Joe's journey. With beautiful phrases like "cradled in dreams of summer," Golden makes even the simplest of things stand out. Here's a line I'll never forget: "As if streetlights will save you, he thought, and his heart broke."

And the last chapter? That closing scene? Wowza. The final line of the book sent shivers down my spine. Let me know what you think when you get there - leave your comments below. Pick this book up from your local bookstore, curl up with a cup of cocoa (or coffee, if you prefer), and make sure you have a flashlight at the ready, just in case. You're going to want to stay in tonight.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Red Hourglass by Gordon Grice

As a middle school librarian, former high school English teacher, and now mother of a boy, I've been fortunate enough to gain some insight into what sort of reading material is likely to capture the attention of an average young dude. 

One tried and true boy book bait, in my experience, is gross stuff. 

Oh, and sex. (Age dependent, of course.)

Those two criteria makes Gordon Grice’s The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators a likely candidate. The clear, accessible, and often hilarious writing makes it a shoo-in. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Hi everybody! My name's Sam J. Miller, and I'm super honored to be joining the Guys Lit Wire crew. I love books, and I love talking about the books I love, so, you know, watch out. I'm a community organizer and a writer, mostly focusing on science fiction and fantasy. For more about me, check out my website!

Friendship is bizarre. What makes two people click? Think of your best friend, and how happy they make you: why them? How did they find their way into your life? Sometimes I look at the people I love and realize how easy it would have been to never meet them. If I hadn't struck up a conversation with someone because I liked their T-shirt - if I had chosen a different college - if it hadn't rained one day - my life would be so different, and so much more empty. Friendship between boys is especially bizarre. Young men are constantly being told they can't express their emotions, can't have conversations about what's going on in their lives, that to truly care about another boy is to risk being called gay.

Benjamin Alire Saenz's Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a book about friendship. It's a book about a lot of things, but first and foremost it's a book about friendship between boys. It's dedicated to "all the boys who've had to learn to play by different rules," and I suspect that's the audience that will connect with this book most intensely: the loners and misfits and individualists who are hungry for life, and want to live it on their own terms.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

How important is access to the internet for you and your family? For Trent McCauley, a.k.a. Cecil B. DeVil, and his family - it means nearly everything.

Cecil is a film maker. Not a traditional film maker using a camera and crew to create his art, but a film maker who uses films already made and remixes them to create his something new. The only problem is, doing so is illegal. As Cecil works at his art, he
gets caught downloading video protected under copyright laws, thus getting his
entire family cut off from the internet for an entire year! As a result, his
dad loses his job, his mom has difficulties getting the medications she needs,
and his sister is unable to use the internet for her school work.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Down the Yukon by Will Hobbs

This book is actually the sequel to Hobbs' Jason's Gold which details the story of Jason Hawthorn's eleven month journey from New York City to Dawson City with his brothers.

One doesn't necessarily have to have read the aforementioned book in order to follow the events. We do know that the main character Jason during his journey to Dawson City had  developed feelings for a young singer named Jaime and she had promised to return and meet him there.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Living by Matt de la Peña

There are so many books in Matt de la Peña’s magnificent new novel The Living that even listing them all makes your head spin. The Living is a contemporary story about class and income inequality. The Living is an adventure novel with fast-paced, breath-taking action set pieces. The Living is the first title in a series that will feature disaster, conspiracies, and cover-ups. The Living even has some romance which, instead of distracting from the other elements, actually adds emotional resonance to the heads-first action. Yes, The Living is all these books and every one is fantastic, gripping, and interesting in its own way and together they’re even greater.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Review: Man of Steel by Greg Cox

Man of Steel: The Offi­cial Movie Nov­el­iza­tion by Greg Cox is exactly what it claims to be, a novel of the sum­mer block­buster. Mr. Cox has writ­ten other nov­el­iza­tion, includ­ing sev­eral in the super­hero genre.

On the doomed planet Kryp­ton a son is born to Jor-El and Lara-El, the boy, named Kal-El is the first Kryp­ton­ian nat­ural birth in cen­turies. Jor-El steals the genetic infor­ma­tion from which Krp­ton­ian babies are “made” of and sends it with his son shortly before the planet explodes. The only Kryp­to­ni­ans to sur­vive, besides Kal-El, are rene­gade sol­diers led by Gen­eral Zod who make it their mis­sion to find the infor­ma­tion Jor-El stole. Thirty-three years later, Clark Kent ( Kal-El) trav­els the world in search of his iden­tity, inten­si­fy­ing the myth of a sav­ing angel wher­ever he goes. In a truck stop he over­hears Cana­dian air­men talk about a UFO found in deep in the ice. Clark goes inves­ti­gat­ing, finds his roots but also sends out a mes­sage into space bring­ing the genet­i­cally engi­neered sol­diers to Earth.

When I saw Man of Steel: The Offi­cial Movie Nov­el­iza­tion by Greg Cox on sale I imme­di­ately grabbed it. I thought the movie was great and wouldn’t mind a quick read of the novel. The oppor­tu­nity to read this book came on Thanks­giv­ing week­end, when I didn’t want to read any­thing heavy or pro­found (and I got the Man of Steel DVD for Chanukah).

I thought the book was very good, a quick read and lots of fun. The book added onto the movie going into more details and into the char­ac­ter heads. For exam­ple, the story cov­ers more thor­oughly the genetic engi­neer­ing of Kryp­to­ni­ans which leads to the con­fronta­tion of Super­man with sol­diers who can feel no empa­thy or remorse.

I used to read many movie nov­el­iza­tions, mainly since I love films as well as books, but as we all know nov­el­iza­tions are some­times bor­ing, some­times sim­ply bad and mostly never bring any­thing new to the reader. For me, the nov­el­iza­tion helped enhance the movie and some of the aspects which I was unclear about (mainly due to the explosions).

Mr. Cox says that he wrote the book before see­ing the movie, read­ing how well he man­aged to cre­ate the fic­tional scenery and descrip­tions to match the movie is a tes­ta­ment to his skill as an author and observer.

The novel fol­lows the movie very closely, is fast paced and easy to read. If you’re look­ing for a fun and enter­tain­ing book, not too seri­ous and enjoy­able pick up this book.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Transreality by Chris Lackey

Last Fall, I read about this Kickstarter campaign by the cartoonist Chris Lackey to fund his graphic novel about "a 21st Century man thrust into a post-singularity transhuman world." It had been funded back in 2012, and it was available to order. I love science fiction that wrestles with notions of a time of and after singularity (everything from Philip K. Dick to Charles Stross), so I sent off for a copy. I'm glad I did, because the resulting graphic novel, Transreality, hits all the high notes of this kind of SF: questioning what it means to be human, how we understand identity, self, free will, particularly in a day and age where these things are increasingly becoming something it is easy to opt out of. Also, pink gorillas, localized nano-swarms, and earning enough credit for a body.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Broxo by Zack Giallongo

To say that I read Broxo would be misleading. I devoured it. Not only is it beautifully illustrated and chalk-full of characters you want to box up and take home with you to show your friends, the action comes on faster than a machine gun on crank. Did I mention there was a Wampa-esque ice creature and zombies? Oh yes, lots and lots of zombies, and of course the chopping-up of said zombies.

The story opens upon a charred and desolate mountaintop. Giallongo is so effective in depicting the bleakness of his world that you can almost feel the cold seeping from the pages into your fingers. It is here we meet barbarian princess Zora, who has abandoned her family in search of another clan. Why has she left her family to embark on this quest, you ask? None of your business! Sorry, I mean, you’ll simply have to read the book to find out!

What I can tell you is that instead of finding the people she was looking for, she comes across Broxo, an uncouth, smelly boy who lives alone save for the aforementioned faithful ice creature. Broxo introduces Zora to the local culinary delights and attractions which include charred lizard and slicing the noggins off of the hoards of undead that roam the mountainside.

The dialogue between the two teenagers is sharp, funny and endearing. Broxo possesses street smarts, a "when in doubt always use a sword" kind of attitude which is paired effectively with Zora's refined yet guarded approach to life's situations.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

THE SCAR BOYS by Len Vlahos with bonus author interview!

First, a word about The Scar Boys, a debut novel that releases next Tuesday, January 21, 2014: WOW!

It starts out with an assignment (of sorts): an admission's request for a personal essay, with a limit of 250 words. The book itself--essentially that essay-- comes in at under 250 pages, but quite obviously exceeds the college application limit. Part rock narrative (organized with rock and punk songs as chapter titles, complete with attribution to which recording Vlahos means), part confessional, the book tells the story of the improbably named Harbinger Robert Francis Jones, hideously scarred both physically and otherwise as the result of a childhood incident involving bullies and an unfortunately close lightning strike that mixed blunt-force trauma with disfiguring burns. To make things worse (if that's possible), his worst scars are located on his face and head.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin

I believe that Ritchie Sudden, the main character of Sean Beaudoin’s excellent Wise Young Fool, would appreciate that I read of his exploits while waiting three hours in the hospital for a colonoscopy.  Wise Young Fool is written as Sudden’s own cleansing, his account of how his quest for musical stardom and female conquest ended with him in juvenile detention. But it’s not a diary (“Diaries are for girls in pajamas”): It’s a “forced narrative.”

Friday, January 10, 2014

Radio Silence: Literature and Rock & Roll

The first issue of the literary journal Radio Silence came out in 2012 (read some of the pieces from it on their website) and included fiction from F. Scott Fitzgerald and Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) and more, essays by Geoff Dyer, Sam Lipsyte and more and poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay (why not?!). I picked up issue #2 over the summer to read an interview with Bruce Springsteen and Ray Bradbury, a poem by Bradbury and  a short story from Edith Wharton. There are also three poems from WWI poet Siegfried Sassoon, an essay on Woody Guthrie and Rick Moody writing on Sleator-Kinney.

Seriously, how could I pass it up?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Soldier's Heart: A Novel of the Civil War

Gary Paulsen based Soldier's Heart on the war-time experiences of Charley Goddard, who enlisted in the First Minnesota Volunteers when he was 15, lying about his age. He fought through almost the entire war. His letters home left a record that Paulsen put to good use,in this, what Paulsen calls "partly a work of fiction."

After one battle...

"You're hit." A corporal stood in front of Charley.
"No. I'm all right."
"You're hit there, in the shoulder."
Charley looked down. He was covered in blood, his arm and chest and pants wet with it...
"The surgeon's tent is back there a half mile..."

(Charley slogs over to the tent.)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Reader's Disillusionment

I am a big Dan Simmons fan. Or, I was, anyway. His Hyperion Cantos series is one of the greatest sci-fi epics of the nineties. More recently, I have been blown away by Drood an historical fantasy based on the final days of Charles Dickens. All of his books are rich and smart and literary. I recommend them to my friends all the time. As a devoted fan, then, I was excited when, while browsing the library stacks, I stumbled across Flashback, a newer sci-fi work of Simmons that I had somehow missed. I took it home, naively eager to devour it.

Flashback is a near future dystopian novel which describes a devastated United States. Most of the population is addicted to a drug called flashback which allows its users to fully re-experience moments from their past. The economy is completely ruined and the country has mostly handed administrative control over to Japanese "advisors." Both Texas and the city of Boulder, CO have seceded from the union and function as separate nations. New Mexico is mostly a wasteland patrolled by criminals. Terrorists set off bombs wherever they can. All is chaos. Nick Bottom, a former Denver police officer and current flashback addict is called in to help solve the grisly murder of a Japanese advisor's son. Nick agrees to take the job but only for the money. He needs to buy more flashback so he can spend time with his deceased wife, the tragic victim of a car wreck. But Nick slowly gets drawn into the case as he discovers it may be related to his wife's death.

Like all of Simmons' novels, the story is well put together. Nick is a classic noir detective who must not only solve the crime but also come to understand his client's interest in him. He is a deeply flawed creature who grows more likeable with each passing page. The sci-fi elements are cleverly woven in. By the end, the book's manipulation of reality rivals that in the best Philip K. Dick novels.

Still, about a quarter of the way in to the novel, I started to have an uneasy feeling as an agenda revealed itself.

Thank you!

We've gotten an excellent response to the invitation to join the site - please hold off on contacting us now as we consider all the fine folks who have applied!

Thank you....

Monday, January 6, 2014

Guys Lit Wire Would Like You To Join Our Crew

We here at Guys Lit Wire have been churning out reviews for all kinds of books that appeal (hopefully) to a ton of guys and girls for the past five (nearly SIX!) years. We have managed wishlists at Powells Books in Portland that have resulted in several thousand (yes, THOUSAND) books purchased for worthy schools and literary organizations for teens. For the past couple of years we have been dedicated to helping the wonderful Melissa Jackson and her library at Ballout Senior High School in Washington DC to get many lovely titles from Powells through the generosity of our readers.

It's been a blast, y'all, every single second.

The problem is that we have had such great posters here that they keep getting published and moving on to bigger and better things and right now we have way too many openings. (I'm not kidding - we are kind of the Midas Touch when it comes to publishing.) We need at least eight new contributors as soon as possible. All you have to do is publish one post a month, reviewing any kind of book that you think would appeal to teen boys. (We are delighted if girls love our books as well but we are trying to aim first at the guys.) You can copy the post to your own blogs as well, or post it wherever else you please. We just need you to show up here once a month and give us all a book we can't wait to hear about.

If you're interested, please send me an email (colleenATchasingrayDOTcom). And if this isn't something you can do, we'd really appreciate it if you help spread the word via your own blogs or twitter or facebook or tumblr or wherever the heck you spend your time online.

We're a low key bunch just trying to make the world a more literary place. Give us a shot and I promise you won't regret it.

UPDATED 1/08: We have gotten a great response - please hold off as on contacting us we consider all the new applicants.