Coraline: the graphic novel adaptation

Last week I took my students to the library and (as always!) found myself browsing through the titles for something to read during their sustained silent reading. I was chatting up our librarian and she mentioned a few new graphic novels that they had just got in. One of those was the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline. I absolutely LOVE Neil Gaiman, but am sad to say I never did read Coraline. I did, however, see the movie and love it. I figured that the graphic novel adaptation would be a fun and quick read for me. Graphic novels are great for me to read during my classroom sustained silent reading block because they move quickly and I can still focus on my classroom in case students need me during their block.

About the book:
So, if you have been living under a rock... here is a quick synopsis of Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Coraline discovered the door a little after they moved into the house.
When Coraline steps through a door in her family's new house, she finds another house strangely similar to her own (only better). But there's another mother there and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

My thoughts:
I must admit that I was thoroughly impressed with this adaptation. The story is genius to begin with- Neil Gaiman blows my mind. P. Craig Russell is the artist who illustrated this graphic novel. He did a wonderful job bringing Coraline to life.
If you have not read (or watched) Coraline, don't be surprised if you are a bit freaked out while reading this. Gaiman's story is enchanting and terrifying at the same time. I was creeped out and a bit weary of Coraline's "other" world and those who populated it. Russell's artistry brought that creepy factor to life with his illustrations. The Other Mother is quite disturbing looking- especially her hands- and I feel that the illustration is what really brought that to the forefront.
The tale in itself is an odd one- like a subtle nightmare that you wake from. Weirdness aside, there is a solid moral to the story. The concept of "the grass isn't always greener on the other side" really rings true. I love the quote "the grass is greener where you fertilize it" and I think it could apply as the ultimate lesson to take away from Coraline. The Other Mother and the Other Home seem great at first, until Coraline realizes it is all a facade (that grass is fertilized with bullshit!) and recognizes that maybe her home and her real parents aren't so bad. In the end, it comes down to putting your best effort into your life to make it a good one. That means sacrifice and give & take... Coraline had to learn the hard way that the grass isn't always greener on the other side and that she had to put some effort into cultivating a good life with her parents. In the end, this story presents a topic that I think a lot of folks (kids and adults alike) could learn from.
Ultimately, I loved this tale. I would recommend this to fans of Gaiman's work and graphic novels. I have already recommended it to my middle school classroom - where it was promptly picked up and devoured.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Between You & Me

Between You & Me was a novel I picked up because I wanted a "fluff" read after Under the Dome by Stephen King. I know a lot of readers recognize the authors- Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus- but this was my first time reading anything of theirs. I was pleasantly surprised!

About the book:
Atria Books // 6.4.13
Growing up in small-town Oklahoma, cousins Logan and Kelsey Wade were raised like sisters. Rarely separated, they became each other’s lifelines, escaping into the small joys of childhood to survive the increasing chaos in their family. Then one day Logan woke up and Kelsey and her parents were gone.
Years later, Kelsey has been propelled by her relentless parents to mega-stardom, her voice a radio fixture and her face on billboards worldwide. Meanwhile, Logan is trying to carve out her own life in New York City despite the constant reminders of her cousin’s absence. Though she has long since stopped trying to solve the mystery of their last hours together, the inexplicably fractured memories haunt her.
Then on Logan’s twenty-seventh birthday, she gets the call that she’s been longing for—and dreading. Before she can second-guess herself, she’s on a plane to L.A. to reunite with Kelsey and the parents who ripped them apart, but Logan will soon learn that some family secrets are kept hidden for a reason.

My thoughts:
I quite enjoyed this novel. This isn't my typical type of book, but like I said, I was in need of a lighter read. The characters in this novel were bratty, but I liked them (for the most part) anyway. Logan is whiny and Kelsey is spoiled yet kept under her parents thumb. Add the fact that they are all family- Lo included- and then toss in the ridiculousness that is fame, and you've got a fun and engaging read.

The authors wrote a fairly convincing story, especially all the aspects of fame and overbearing parents. Kelsey is completely controlled by her parents. McLaughlin & Kraus did a great job drawing out that codependent relationship and really showing the underbelly of dysfunctional (famous) family dynamics. They also played up the mysterious scar that Logan has on her head quite effectively. It was woven in throughout the story, and as we read on we uncover the darkness that lies within the Wade home.
This novel is both easy to read (and something I could categorize as 'fluff') and has some deep undercurrents. It shows the nitty gritty of life as an assistant; as well as a peek into the life of the rich and famous. Between You & Me also highlights the "typical" cornerstones of young, rich, and famous: sex, drugs, and partying.
On a parting note- I was reminded of Britney Spears and her fall from grace when I was reading this. Maybe it is because I grew up around the Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, NSync, Backstreet Boys, and 98 Degrees era, but it seemed almost painfully obvious that they were tearing bits and pieces from those late 90s early 00s pop stars lives.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It was easy and fun to read. It just felt like a summer read. I liked how it was light and airy but at the same time gave me pause. This is definitely a warm weather beach read.

About the authors:
Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus are the New York Times bestselling authors of The Nanny Diaries, Citizen Girl, Dedication, Nanny Returns and their young adult novels The Real Real and Over You. They work together in New York City. For more information visit EmmaandNicola.com

FTC: I received an egalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review
Book information, cover image, and author information provided by Amazon.com

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Shakespeare, meet George Lucas

William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher is one of those books that I hyped up in my mind like crazy. I was so thrilled when it found its way into my mailbox.

About the book:
Quirk Books // avail. 7.2.13
Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.
Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.

Book Trailer:

My thoughts:
I wanted to love this- I *really* did. Unfortunately, it just didn't wow me. Maybe that is because I hyped it up so much in my head. Or, it could be because I haven't read Shakespeare in quite a few years... the last time I really read (and loved) Shakespeare was in college, when I was studying for my degree. After reading William Shakespeare's Star Wars, I have come to the conclusion that Shakespeare isn't much fun to leisurely read. I would much rather read and dissect his work.
I literally squealed with delight when I opened this!
That being said, this book may not have been a personal favorite, but I can step back and still be blown away. Ian Doescher did a fan-freakin-tastic job writing this book. It was incredible in its own right. The writing was SPOT ON -- both Shakespearean and Star Wars. I was incredibly impressed with how well he mashed up the two. The flow of the story was perfect, especially the breaking up of the Acts and Scenes. The stage direction was also super cool. I geeked out on both Star Wars and Shakespeare when I read this. Oh, and the illustrations are badass.
This may not have been a book I fell in love with, but it is a book I can greatly appreciate. It is a book that I will enjoy looking at for years to come. Oh, and who knows... maybe I will find a group of students who are ready to tackle Shakespeare and I can bring this in. Quirk has a pretty boss educator guide (grab the pdf here) for this and I would love using it. Also, I think I would enjoy it a bit more if I used it as a work of study- because like I said earlier, that is just how Shakespeare fits with me.
I would suggest this to my fellow hardcore Star Wars geeks and Shakespeare lovers... both can equally love and appreciate this piece of work! This would be a great addition to a high school English course- maybe on a summer reading list, so this is a must read for HS English teachers... and even college professors- I think this would be a fun addition to the syllabus; I know I would have loved reading this during one of my two semesters of Shakespeare!

About the author:
IAN DOESCHER has loved Shakespeare since eighth grade and was born 45 days after Star Wars Episode IV was released. He has a B.A. in Music from Yale University, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. Ian lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two sons. This is his first book.

Book information & image, book trailer, and author information provided by Quirk Books
FTC: I received this book from the publisher for a fair and honest review

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Jason & the Draconauts

Remember when I swooned over this little project by a colleague of mine? He was writing a YA novel on his blog and posting chapters and artwork.... well, fast forward to now... Paul Smith is officially done with Jason and the Draconauts! I have read the entire book and completely LOVE it. It is an amazing read- seriously. Adventure and fantasy collide to create this prefect new young adult novel.

Okay, so how many of you have ever written a book and wanted to get published? Hard road to travel, right?.... well, Paul has started a Kickstarter to help him move along in this amazing process. PLEASE help him get there and donate to his Kickstarter. Every $1 helps! Look through his backing offers though- some levels include copies of the book in different formats and even an author visit!  How cool is that??! Let me speak from experience on this one-- Paul read his book aloud (a chapter a week) to my middle school classroom when he was in the early stages of writing Jason and the Draconauts. My students were the lucky kids who got the very first live author visit from Paul himself... and TRUST ME, he is totally awesome to have as a visiting author in the classroom. Enthusiam abounds!
Anyone who knows me, knows I don't back things unless I think they are amazing. This is one of those things. Click the video below and get over to Paul's kickstarter page.

You can also find Paul on FB or on his blog.

ps: you'll notice that as of writing (7.9.13) my name is not on the backer list and there is one (and only one) reason for that... mortgage was due and my paycheck doesn't come until next week. SO, I really hope when I get on next week and finally get to back him at the level I want, I hope to see some of you there as well! Let's get behind a book that YA Lit will love!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The Color of Rain

The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy is a crazy (and I mean that in the best way possible) young adult science fiction thriller. This book was immediately gripping and sucked me right in. The cover itself drew me in with the beauty of Rain and the mystery of the cosmos.

About the book:
If there is one thing that seventeen-year-old Rain knows and knows well, it is survival. Caring for her little brother, Walker, who is "Touched," and losing the rest of her family to the same disease, Rain has long had to fend for herself on the bleak, dangerous streets of Earth City. When she looks to the stars, Rain sees escape and the only possible cure for Walker. And when a darkly handsome and mysterious captain named Johnny offers her passage to the Edge, Rain immediately boards his spaceship. Her only price: her "willingness."
The Void cloaks many secrets, and Rain quickly discovers that Johnny's ship serves as host for an underground slave trade for the Touched . . . and a prostitution ring for Johnny's girls. With hair as red as the bracelet that indicates her status on the ship, the feeling of being a marked target is not helpful in Rain's quest to escape. Even worse, Rain is unsure if she will be able to pay the costs of love, family, hope, and self-preservation.
With intergalactic twists and turns, Cori McCarthy's debut space thriller exists in an orbit of its own.

My thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed this debut YA novel from Cori McCarthy. The Color of Rain is a satisfying science fiction thriller geared towards the older young adult reader (or all of us adults who have recognized the amazing literature out there in the young adult genre!). McCarthy did a beautiful job showcasing character development. I immediately was drawn to Rain and her struggles - I wanted to help her and give her some sage advice; shield her from the scum of earth and the intergalactic airspace. McCarthy also did a stellar job creating Rain's world - Earth City was easily imagined, even though little time was spent there. The majority of the book played out on Johnny's ship while in flight. The layout of the ship wasn't what stuck with me, but the feeling on board did. Seems as though the vibe of the book is what really stayed with me long after I put this down. The Color of Rain was dark, gritty, sexual, and daring. The idea of "anything goes" and Rain's willingness to do whatever it takes to save her brother mixes to create a sex fueled futuristic tale of warning.
This novel is definitely a phenomenal story. It is like nothing that I have read before- which is refreshing. 
I would certainly recommend this to older readers and fans of YA Lit. It is for readers looking for a new author to enjoy and those who like a little futuristic drama. However, it is also a story I wouldn't offer to a young teen... I don't think this fits for readers under 17 -- the sex and prostitution were enough to give me pause when I was deciding whether or not to put this in my class library (I teach 14 - 16 year olds). Ultimately, I have decided this isn't a story to share in my class library, but that isn't to say a parent can't share it with their younger YA reader - I just know better than to rock the boat with sex in a book in my classroom!

About the author:
Cori M. McCarthy has a BA in Creative Writing from Ohio University, a graduate certificate in screenwriting from UCLA, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of the Fine Arts. Born in Guam, (a military kid), she has lived in Ireland and traveled widely around the world, but now lives in Michigan with her husband and baby son.

Book & Author Information provided by Running Press
FTC: I received this book from the publisher for a fair & honest review

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow



For the month of July I will be once again participating in #EstellaGram - a daily bookish photo prompt on InstaGram. Join in the fun and discover new bookish friends, bloggers, books, and overall bookish loveliness!

My day 1 shot:

Check out my IG here (I am ridiculously snaphappy, so be prepared for a LOT of photographs)

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow