Sunday, June 24, 2012


Telly Kade lives in the 23rd century and spends much of her time in a virtual reality world populated by all kinds of magical and even scary creatures. Although she's never met her two best friends in real life, she feels like she knows them very well. But when she gets a suicide note from her best (virtual reality) friend, Kimmie66, she starts to wonder if she ever knew Kimmie at all.  Then she hears that Kimmie has been spotted in various virtual reality worlds all over the 'net, and Telly starts to wonder if Kimmie is really dead after all. And who is the real Kimmie, anyway? Why would she want to end her life? Others are interested in Kimmie's phantom appearances as well, and the search for answers takes Telly to some very dark places.

I had coincidentally been reading Heir Apparent to my girls when I stumbled across this graphic novel, and I was struck by the similarity of the themes of these two books. This book is admittedly edgier and a bit darker, particularly as it deals with the disturbing subject of suicide, but also with the advantages and disadvantages of spending time in a virtual world. I loved the character of Telly, who is intelligent, loyal and tenacious. This is the kind of graphic novel that can be read on several different levels, so that thoughtful readers who slow down to appreciate the artwork and the subtleties of the story will truly find it a rewarding read - and readers who turn the pages breathlessly just to see what happens next will enjoy it as well. Both my daughters (11 and 13 years old) read and loved this one, and I have Confessions of a Blabbermouth, a graphic novel illustrated by Alexovich, in our library book basket waiting for me right now.  My daughters have both read it already (I always get stuff last these days!), and they enjoyed it, too.

Kimmie66 by Aaron Alexovich (Minx, 2007)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fair Game

I like the Alpha and Omega series, really I do.  But I love the Mercy Thompson series, so that when an Alpha and Omega novel comes out, I can't help feeling disappointed that it's not a Mercy novel. So I suppose it says something about Briggs' storytelling skills that even though I go into it whining that I want more of Mercy, I end up getting sucked into the story and thoroughly enjoying it.

In this third installment of the series, the FBI are investigating a series of murders, and they have requested the pack's help.  Anna is concerned about Charles because his job as the pack's enforcer is getting under his skin in a way that no one seems to notice but her.  Their presence on the investigative scene enables Charles to use his skills in a more constructive way, while giving Anna some insight into the ghosts from Charles's past that are coming between them.

As a mystery story, I found it lacking in the complexity I have come to expect from Briggs' novels.  I pegged the perpetrator pretty much from the moment the character was introduced, and I also found some of the plot elements just a bit contrived.  But I enjoyed the way in which the mystery enabled Anna and Charles to work out some of their own issues, and it worked great as a backdrop for the further exploration of their complicated relationship.

I still prefer the Mercy series, but this one does have its charms.  I will certainly be looking forward to continuing with the series.

Books in the Alpha and Omega series:

3. Fair Game

 Fair Game (#3 in the Alpha and Omega series) by Patricia Briggs (Ace Books, 2012)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The War at Ellsmere

Once a month I work at a different library branch from my usual, smallish one, and I always take a stroll through the larger library's teen graphic novel section (of which I am increasingly envious, because they get such great stuff), and I grab graphic novels that look appealing and bring them home for my kids and me to read.  I've found some great stuff that way, including this gem.

This graphic novel tells the story of Juniper, a scholarship student who has just been accepted to the exclusive private school, Ellsmere.  Yes, this story's been told before in many different ways, so I wasn't sure it would hold my attention, but it certainly did.  Juniper, for one thing, is a very appealing character.  She is prickly and defensive, but she is secure in her intelligence and quick to stand up for others.  I loved that she didn't turn out to be the meek scholarship student who was going to be bullied by the nasty, mean rich girls. I liked that that nasty, mean rich antagonist turned out to be a better rounded character than I expected, which made her that much more interesting.  I enjoyed the developing relationship between Juniper and Cassie, her roommate - who also turned out to have an unexpected side of her character.  And I loved the supernatural elements of the story!

The book reminds me a bit of the fantastic Gunnerkrigg Court series, and I think it would have a huge appeal to fans of those books, and I think that readers who enjoy boarding school stories such as the Gallagher Academy series or The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks would be sure to love this one, too.

This is my first experience with Faith Erin Hicks' work, and I definitely intend to find some more.  Hope Larson writes a lovely introduction to this book, in which she says of Hicks: "Not only is she prolific, professional and capable of drawing at the speed of light, she has the rare knack of crafting stories with realistic female protagonists that are equally enjoyable for everyone."  I'd have to agree.

The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks (SLG Publishing, 2008)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Some Girls Bite

I have been away, and it's taken me a long time to catch up with things since I got back.  I am so pathetically behind in reviews that I am going to make an effort to catch up with a series of short reviews (which are the hardest for me to write, because I have stuff to say, you know?) and post more often.  Here is the first:

Merit is a graduate student, happily immersed in her studies, enjoying a quiet life.  But when she is attacked one night by a rogue vampire - and her life is saved but a different vampire - everything changes.  She was saved at the cost of her life - her old life.  Now Merit is a vampire, whether she wants to be or not (and she doesn't), and she finds herself in a world of crucial alliances and vampire politics.  She's not too keen on the hierarchic vampire system, and she doesn't feel at all comfortable declaring her allegiance to the admittedly handsome but ancient and overbearing vampire who saved her life.    It appears that someone is out to get her, though, and without the backup of that vampires house, Merit may find herself in over her head.

My blogging friend Cat over at Beyond Books has been reviewing books from this series for ages, and each time she posts one, I write a comment that I really need to get to this series, particularly because she's not a huge vampire fan.  So when a series like this holds her attention, it's got to be good.  I enjoyed this, although I didn't find a whole lot to set it apart from other similar books, I understand from her reviews that the books get better and better.  I enjoyed the writing, and I found Merit to be an engaging character that I would be happy to spend some more time with.  There book ends with a fairly satisfying conclusion, but there are lots of open story threads that are sure to be explored in future installments.

Some Girls Bite (#1 in the Chicagoland Vampires series) by Chloe Neill (New American Library, 2009)

Books in the Chicagoland Vampire series:
1. Some Girls Bite
2. Friday Night Bites
3. Twice Bitten
4. Hard Bitten
5. Drink Deep
6. Biting Cold
7. House Rules
8. Biting Bad (2013)