Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Kurosagi corpse delivery service

By Eigi Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki.

Imagine hearing a door knock as you open it you are greeted by students carrying a black body back. Then tell you that the corpse they are carrying wants a proper burial so the soul can pass on.

That it's the job of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. Fine students at a Buddhist school find a job fitting for them, but not among the living that is! Each having a special ability of their own  that helps them along the way to complete the job.

Whatever the dead cause you can count on them carrying your lifeless body wherever it needs to go, find your final resting place and free your soul.

This book contains a lot of graphic images, violence. The art itself it's pretty good, and if you love the occult/paranormal this is definitely a recommendation for you. That's not all there is a good balance of comic relief so it's not all gloomy.

Veronique by Victoria Christopher Murray

This is one of five short novels about a quartet of  gospel singing girls who call themselves The Divine Divas.  They are joined by back up dancers who call themselves the Three Y's Men.  The girls recently won a local competition and therefore a trip to New York.  Their church congregation is more than willing to support them financially and to provide escort.  The Y's men were chosen by the girls' coach to add more to their act and increase their chances of winning the New York City Competition.

Veronique has other dreams besides competing in the quartet.  She hopes to meet her biological father who is said to live in New York.  She is using her knowledge of the Internet to search for him.  Vee connects with someone who claims to be a parent finder and she willingly gives the person much personal information to help in hopes of finding him. Even when to person becomes kind of creepy she continues to communicate eventually arranging a meeting in New York. She is fortunate that her friends follow when she tries to slip out of the hotel against the escorts' rules.  Things don't turn out as she had hoped, in fact the police get involved.

Vee has a second dream of winning the competition and using the money to get her mother and half-brothers into a better home.  She wants all of them to get away from her mom's creepy and maybe abusive boyfriend.  The story ends just as the competition is beginning but all is well for now.

It would help to read all the books in the series to get the whole story and find out if the team wins.
The characters are likable and not perfect.  There is a bit of romance in the group, the Y's men each pick one of the girls to date, leaving one without a boyfriend.  Teens looking for a gentle, romantic series could do a lot worse than this.  We recommend it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti

Frenenqer is the daughter of a very rigid, controlling man. He has crafted a set of rules for who and what she is allowed to be. Being imperfect, as we all are, and having a desire to fly free of his control, Nener often fails him. His punishments are as severe as his control. Her escapes are school where she has a solitary friend and is a good student and her room at home that is loaded with books, until he takes most of them away in anger. Nener's mother spends most of her time hiding in the kitchen, when she appears it is only to treat her harshly as well. They live in an Oasis community somewhere in the Arabic desert. I think that Nener must feel like the girls from many of the girls in the Arab nations, who have few rights. On a surprise rare occasion, father decides Nener and her mother must accompany him to the souk (outdoor market) keeping the proper distance, speed, posture and silence. While father is bargaining at one souk, Nener notices a stack of small cages with animals inside that look to be suffering from the heat. A cat in one cage appears to be near death. When Nener points it out to the vendor, he grabs the cat from the cage and tosses it on a garbage heap. Nener rescues it, against father's wishes with the promise to find it a permanent home once she has nursed it to health. Back in her bedroom, Nener dribbles water into its mouth and gives it a cool place to sleep. During the night she is awakened by a noise and sees her window open and what appears to be someone leaving. Later, when the cat comes back, she discovers she has rescued a free being, shape changer. In talking with it, she shares her longing to fly free. It changes shape several times to find the exact right one and take Nener flying. They visit first, the place her parents met, the many countries Nener has lived in then places he sees as the most beautiful in the world, including a wadi filled with cool water where no human has ever lived and an island in the sky. He shortens her name to Nener, she names him Sangris for he had no name. They travel during the school day, they escape at night. He takes on a shape that is human with wings, Nener's borrowed wings. On the island they meet another free being. Sangris becomes angry. He takes her home and does not return for several days. He cannot live without her nor she without him. When he returns and declares his love, Nener cannot. She is too closed off from living in a home where love is a dirty word. Nener will lose him if she cannot break free of her father's control. Anju, her school friend provides her with a way to do it if she can just find the courage. This is a beautiful, slowly developing romance and true love. The language is lush, painting vivid pictures in one's mind, the setting is exotic. I want to believe there are teens out there who can appreciate this story. It is no beach read. There are no contemporary clothing, makeup. media references. There are no mean girl cliques. Those things I have come so accustomed to seeing in teen lit. JDW2/25

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Road Trip by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen

As a person who prefers cats over dogs, I was a little hesitant about how I would feel about a book centered around a dog. Dog or cat lover aside, this is a cute and quirky book about learning to let go and enjoy the ride.

Ben's dad surprises him early in the morning with the idea of a road trip in order to pick up a border collie from a rescue shelter. It's a spur of the moment excursion that leaves Ben uneasy, especially when he learns that his dad quit his job in order to flip houses. Angry with his dad because this new career path affects whether nor or not Ben will be able to go to hockey camp, Ben invites his friend Theo along for the ride because he knows his dad doesn't like Theo. The three of them are now on this journey, along with the family dog Atticus. Before long, a number experiences happen that end with them traveling in a bus along with a mechanic named Gus and a waitress named Mia, all on the road to rescue a border collie and have a little adventure, which involves cars on fire, drag racing cops, and one or two other interesting experiences.

This book is definitely out there. Most of what happens probably would not happen in reality, but it's a fun experience. This novel is a quick read - it's only 114 pages long - but is filled with lessons about having faith in people, letting go and having fun, and realizing life isn't always going to be what you expected.

If you want something light and fun, pick up this book.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Department 19: The Rising - Will Hill

Department 19 was created to hunt down and kill vampires after Count Dracula was defeated in 1891.  Ever since the events at Lindisfarne three months ago the teams have been told not to kill vampires, but bring them in alive.  Each time the teams capture vampires the words "He Rises" keep appearing.  It is revealed by Admiral Steward to the operatives that Dracula's remains have been missing for the last three months.  It is assumed Valeri Rusmanov, one of Dracula's servants, is the one who is nursing Dracula back to full strength.  When a 999 call comes in about vampire activity at a nursing home Jamie, Larissa, and Kate are sent to investigate.  They capture a few vampires and see the familiar He Rises wording on the walls.  The one thing they don't expect was Valentin Rusmanov to freely give himself over to Department 19.  Valentin does not want Dracula to come to power again, and he claims he has information to help Department 19 defeat Dracula.  As preparations are made for Valentin's interrogation, Jamie is told about a top secret project called Lazarus.  Lazarus is the search for a cure for vampirism.  Jamie hopes that a cure can be found.  If there is one then his mom and Larissa can be changed back into humans.  In the midst of Valentin's interrogation and Project Lazarus word comes in that Frankenstein might still be alive in Paris.  Frankenstein was last seen three months ago at Lindisfarne fighting a werewolf and falling off a cliff. Jamie convinces Admiral Steward to let him take a team to Paris and bring Frankenstein back home if he's alive.

I enjoyed this book as much as Department 19, the first book in the series.  When they started explaining what Project Lazarus was about I had a feeling that it was about a cure for vampirism.  On The Vampire Diaries television show they are also looking for a cure for vampirism.  In their case they are using an ancient hunters mark as a map for finding the cure, not scientific research.  I can't wait for the third book to come out.  It is titled Department 19: Battle Lines.  It will be released in the United Kingdom in March of 2013 and in the United States in August of 2013.


Friday, February 01, 2013

I am here! Vol1 by Ema Toyama

Imagine playing hide and seek. You wait and wait to be found only to discover that the other kids have forgotten about you.  Sad isn't it?

Well this happens to Hikage. A middle school girl who is shy, and often gets left behind in about everything. She gets ignored and often she is not able to voice her opinion due to not under confidence and used to be ignore by others who don't seem to be able to see that she's been there the whole time. Her only company are two online friends who often visit her blog.

Once entering middle school she vows to herself that everything will change and that she will make friends and not being ignored. Her luck does take  a turn for the better as two of the most popular boys in her school start talking to her. But is not as lucky as she thought will be, this event makes her the target of bullies and jealous girls. She finally gathers the courage to stand up for herself and as a result gains friendliness from the rest of her classmates.

Things start changing as one of her online friends suddenly says their good byes and is never heard from. Now she is in a quest to find out what happened to them. What other changes will Hikage go through? Will she find one of the only friends she have for the longest time?