Friday, November 28, 2014

Dig deep guys—it's time for the Book Fair for Ballou High School!

UPDATED 11/28/2014: Powells Books is running a 20% + free shipping sale through December 1st. We have opened up the Ballou Wish List again so folks might take advantage of this amazing deal and send a book (or 2!) to DC. Just type in "SWEETDEAL" when checking out (the last step, when you type in your credit card info - you will see a place to enter a coupon or gift card code). Your final total will then reflect 20% off all of your purchases (including sale prices) and free shipping.

You can use the code as many times as you want this weekend, so buy some books for Ballou & everyone else on your list (and even you!)

Please see all details for ordering below or jump right to the list!



As our regular readers know, Guys Lit Wire annually teams up with Ballou Senior High School librarian Melissa Jackson to host a book fair for this Washington DC high school. Ballou has some big changes on the horizon—a brand new school will be opening in January. This is long overdue (the original school was built in the 1950s) and we are very excited for the Ballou students, teachers and staff. But...even though we were hoping that with the new school and new library/media center there would be an increased budget for books, (and that's what we thought was happening a few months ago), it turns out that is simply not the case.

So, just like in years past, we all need to work together to help these students get the books they want to read. It's important that we buy from the wish list because we want these teens to be excited about the titles. Here's some hard truths about Ballou from the Washington Post:  

Students tend to arrive at Ballou years behind grade level; by 10th grade, about one in five are proficient in reading and math, according to city tests. Fewer than half of students graduate on time and more than 60 percent are considered chronically truant.

Like far too many kids in America, the students at Ballou have some very real struggles. For them a library full of books is not just a treat and a pleasure but a necessity. It's a refuge in the best sense of the word, and we feel that everything we can do to make it a more empowering place is time & money well spent.

We've got all kinds of great books for Ballou on the Powells Books wish list and we do hope you will send a title or two in their direction or, if you can't, please help us spread the word via twitter, facebook and more about the book fair. All the details are behind the cut and if you have any questions, let us know!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

The remaining members of a royal family are whisked away from their "somewhere" Middle Eastern home by the CIA and relocated to the United States after the King/Dictator/Tyrant/Father/Husband/Brother/Uncle is assassinated. As we read this story and follow Laila's attempts to fit in to her new Western surroundings we find out some of the details of what life was like under her Father's rule back home, and the changes that have taken place since her Uncle has taken over - as Laila finds them out.
I love the way that Carleson tells this story through Laila's eyes. Innocent and unknowing of the atrocities associated with her Father's regime, she seeks out information and learns things about her country and family that are not easy to digest.
In the end, we are left asking the question "How much like are parents are we destined to think and act?"
An intriguing story of family, friendship, war and those that wage it in relation to those around them.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The World of the End by Ofir Touché Gafla

The World of the End by Ofir Touché Gafla is a fan­tasy book trans­lated from Hebrew. This is the author’s first book (עולם הסוף) and he won sev­eral awards.

Ben Mendelssohn wants to be reunited with his belated wife, he will do any­thing to be with her again and on his birth­day he puts a bul­let in his head to accom­plish the task. When Ben enters the Other World he dis­cov­ers that find­ing a per­son among the mil­lions who occupy the realm is not an easy task.

Search­ing huge cities where every per­son that ever died lived, and gar­dens with fam­ily trees which are taken care of by those that were never born is a huge task for the recently deceased Ben, so he hires a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor to help him out. While events in the real world and Other World unfold and are some­how related, Ben dis­cov­ers much about him­self, his wife and the human condition.

The World of the End by Ofir Touché Gafla is a cre­ative and well writ­ten book, which is touch­ing, thought­ful and inter­est­ing. The world, or actu­ally the after world, which the author cre­ates is imag­i­na­tive and thought provoking.

This strange book, with a large cast, alter­nates between a strange after­life world and mod­ern Israel (which, we find, is a place where those in the after­life get sent to for pun­ish­ment). The char­ac­ters in the novel have very strange and unique char­ac­ter flaws which make them inter­est­ing and intrigu­ing as well as mov­ing the sto­ries along.

While tragedies hap­pen all around, this is a strangely roman­tic book with a fan­tas­tic end­ing. The pro­tag­o­nist of the book is an “epi­l­o­gist”, a new word for me which means that he writes end­ings, appro­pri­ately enough.

While The World of the End might be cat­e­go­rized under the fan­tasy genre, it does not accu­rately describe the book. Cer­tainly not for every­one, I enjoyed this book very much espe­cially due to the com­plex and flawed char­ac­ters. The trans­la­tion to Eng­lish is fan­tas­tic and keeps all the dif­fi­cult puns and humor in the original.

Originally posted on

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dead Body Road by Justin Jordan, Matt Scalera and Moreno Disinio

This is a story of revenge, pure and simple. Gage's wife has been murdered, and the people that have murdered her are going to die, and they are going to die hard.

An ex-cop, Gage has a warehouse full of demons that are slowly revealed over six tightly packed issues.

Along his vengeful journey Gage teams up with a girl and his ex-partner. To say that they have issues is like saying that Vatican City has "religious leanings."

The twist is that we don't know who killed Gage's wife until the very end, which is the way it should be - but man, while we wait to find out, the bodies pile up faster than empty Coors Lights at the Indy 500.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bike Thief by Rita Feutl

Bike Thief If there is anything to learn from Bike Thief it is that you must be careful of the friends you keep and that one bad decision can lead to a snowball effect and serious trouble. Nick and his sister Katie  live in foster care and because of past transgressions they are determined to be n their best behavior for fear that they will be split up, something they don't want to see happen at all. When Katie breaks a tv set in the house, afraid of what will happen when his foster parents find out Nick talks to his friend who tells him that he knows how to make easy money. Before long Nick finds himself deeper and deeper in debt and is forced to pull more jobs together with a group of "runts" (younger kids) who don't quite understand what they are getting into.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Big THANK YOU for all the love & books sent to Ballou Sr High School!

We here at Guys Lit Wire want to thank everyone who bought a book for Ballou off their wish list at Powells Books. By last count 75 books made their way to Washington DC to be enjoyed by the students at this most deserving school library.

Things got a bit quiet around here about the book fair in recent days as your truly was on vacation (in very sunny Florida!!), but we are delighted that folks kept buying away and so many great books—especially hardcovers—were purchased.

We are going to leave the list open through the next month, just in case any of you folks might want to send an extra gift during the holiday season. Melissa Jackson, Ballou's librarian, will be delighted to shelve any of the wish list titles that come her way and I know that so many of her students will love reading these books (which were, of course, approved by the library crew!)

You guys rock, as always. You really make a huge difference with your support of this book fair and we couldn't do it without each and every one of you buying and helping us spread the word.


Friday, November 14, 2014

NIL by Lynne Matson

Nil (Nil, #1)
NIL is a story of survival and self-discovery. When Charley is mysteriously transported to the unmapped island of Nil she must learn the rules and survive a year of deadly animals, gate-hunting, and new romance. Nil is a beautiful island paradise, haunted by the ghosts of those who have gone before and the howls of whatever dangerous beasts have been dropped in by gates. Charley is taken into Nil City by Thad, the current Leader, and initiated into the tribe of teenagers Searching for their personal gates out of there.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Art of Space

Growing up, most of my impressions of what space looked like came from the art on the cover of sci-fi paperbacks. This was the work of illustrators, individuals whose job it was to interpret the concepts presented inside. Movies tried to do the same but very few could capture the imagination the way one good interplanetary landscape could; the mystery of multiple suns and moons, space stations the size of continents, and colonies of people living in universes that seemed to defy gravity. 

This is what The Art of Space is all about.

Let's take a look, shall we? This is from Ron Miller himself:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Shining by Stephen King

Just the other day I got around to reading Rolling Stone's interview with Stephen King. Two things jumped out at me that seemed worth discussing here on Guys Lit Wire. First, King states that he sees no separation between YA books and books for adults, and that he considers all of his work suitable for teen readers. In his early days as an author, he had more teen readers, and his response to questions about whether he has fewer now struck me.

I'm seen as somebody who writes for adults because I'm an older man myself. Some of them find me, and a lot of them don't. But I came along at a fortunate time, in that I was a paperback success before I was a hardcover success. That's because paperbacks were cheap, so a lot of readers that I had were younger people.
And another thing that I found vastly entertaining was his discussion of the movie version of The Shining, which has become a bit of a cult classic. King isn't a fan of the film version, and here's what he said about Stanley Kubrick's film of The Shining, and the depiction of the main character, Jack Torrance, and his wife:

The book is hot, and the movie is cold; the book ends in fire, and the movie in ice. In the book, there's an actual arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to be good, and little by little he moves over to this place where he's crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene. I had to keep my mouth shut at the time. It was a screening, and Nicholson was there. But I'm thinking to myself the minute he's on the screen, "Oh, I know this guy. I've seen him in five motorcycle movies, where Jack Nicholson played the same part." And it's so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag. But that's just me, that's the way I am.

All this together is why I'm here today to talk about the book, The Shining.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

One of the more popular electives at my high school is Sociology, and a great deal of that popularity stems from one unit in particular: Serial Killers. But these teens are not alone in their fascination with the subject. From John Wayne Gacy to Jeffrey Dahmer, the lurid crimes and deviant minds of serial killers fascinate our society as a whole, as we seek to understand whether such serial killers are born evil or whether their evil was created by their upbringing. Inherent evil is scary enough, but the thought that American society somehow creates such evil leads us to wonder what might be wrong with all of us.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lies in the Dust: A Tale of Remorse from the Salem Witch Trials

One of the standard stories of American history taught in every single elementary school since time began is the Salem Witch Trials. Right up there with the American Revolution and arrival of the Pilgrims, the trials are a quintessential part of our national identity.

Their story is also the first mean girls story ever written.

As we all know, in 1692 and 1693 a small group of girls pointed the finger at several of the residents of Salem, Massachusetts and declared them witches. A fever soon gripped the community whereby the girls would claim they were being made ill or manipulated by someone, the person would claim innocence and be subjected to all manner of impossible physical tests to prove that innocence and then the accused was executed and everybody moved on to the next victim.

It all stopped when the crazy just got out of hand and way too many people were being accused (including folks of increasingly powerful positions), but by then twenty people were put to death, four others died in prison and many other lives were ruined. And then a couple of years later, the voices of reason felt confident enough to come forward and by 1700 the first of many petitions were being filed demanding that the convictions be reversed.

The big question though, is what happened to the accusers and that is where Jakob Crain and Tim Decker's graphic novel, Lies in the Dust, offers some answers.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New Space Opera, but Don't Throw Out the Old

Peter F. Hamilton first explored the Void, an area at the center of the galaxy that defies typical laws of both physics and metaphysics, in his Dreaming Void trilogy. Hamilton's characters return to the Void in his new work, The Abyss Beyond Dreams, bringing with them a fresh perspective and a different range of ideas.

Nigel Sheldon, one of the founders of the technologically advanced human Commonwealth, is asked by the even more technologically advanced alien species, the Raiel, to infiltrate the Void to keep it from threatening the entire galaxy.

As far as anyone knows, nothing that enters the Void can leave it, though Nigel, equipped with massive enhancements to his human body and a few extra copies of psyche that he can load into computers or androids or clones of himself, hopes to find out otherwise.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

WELCOME TO DARK HOUSE by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Welcome to the Dark HouseNightmare Elf's e-Newsletter reads "NIGHTMARES BE GONE CONTEST."  According to the rules, if you write about your worst nightmare (one thousand words or less), you just might win a chance to meet a famous movie director and get a sneak peek at his latest horror film. 

That's the contest eighteen year old Ivy Jensen entered.  She wants to win the awesome prize, not to meet the famous director, but because of the promise associated with the contest - the promise that your terrible nightmare would disappear.  Ivy hasn't even seen a Justin Blake movie, but she has a nightmare that plagues her sleep and even haunts her every waking moment.  When she learns about the contest, she enters hoping that winning will free her from the horror she experienced back when she was twelve.