Get Perks for Supporting Lea Hernandez's NEW Graphic Novel Series- The Garlicks

Lea Hernandez is launching a new series of Graphic Novels called The Garlicks. The series will consist of four volumes and she is actively campaigning for funding on Indiegogo http://www.indiegogo.com/divaleathegarlicks


Pandora Garlick is a teen-aged vampire who has zero vampire abilities. Pandora's little sister Pamila, nick-named Ham, has numerous abilities including shape-shifting. She regularly turns into a flying fish (Fish-bat) which Pandora has to care for. There is a 6 page pilot story up for view at the indiegogo site.

olive & vourdain
Pandora's parents; Olive Garlick (a human/butcher) and Vourdain Garlick (vampire/barista) They own a business called Orange Espresso and Meats

The story will be available for viewing 3 color pages each week over the next 4 months at: www.thegarlicks.net


Lea Hernandez has a well respected and successful history in comics and illustrations. She has worked for Disney, published numerous short stories, maintains two web-comics and has authored 4 Graphic Novels. (click on the tag to read my previous posts about her work).

There are numerous perks available for supporters of the new book starting at $5!

Check out the site right away: http://www.indiegogo.com/divaleathegarlicks Only 65 hours remain in the campaign. PLEASE SHARE WITH FRIENDS and lets make The Garlicks come to light!

See David Levithan & Maggie Stiefvater next Thurs. night in Houston!

Next Thursday night, October 25th, meet authors David Levithan & Maggie Stiefvater at the Chamipons Village Barnes & Noble at 6 PM. They will be reading from the books and there is also time allotted to meet them and have books signed.

(This is pic is from when we saw Davis on his tour for Every You, Every Me -Fall 2011)

I’ve written about David and his work on my blog on numerous occasions, (please follow the tags above to see past entries). He is a prolific and respected author. He describes his first novel Boy Meets Boy, as a “dippy, happy love story”, but it isn’t like anything that you’ve read before. It takes place in a school where the cheerleaders ride Harleys and the star quarterback goes by the name Infinite Darlene. He is also the author of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was turned into a successful motion picture and the moving piece on 9/11 entitled Love is the Higher Law. He co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green. His last three novels have all been boundary pushers. In The Lover’s Dictionary he tells the story of a two year relationship in dictionary entries. In Every You, Every Me, is told with the aid of photographs and his latest book Everyday, challenges readers to transcend our physical beings.

(I had the chance to see Maggie twice this Spring. This pic is from TLA in April 2012).

Maggie Stiefvater introduces herself on her website like this:

“I write books. Some are about homicidal faeries. Some are about werewolf nookie.
Some are about neither.”

Her books are both wildly popular and critically acclaimed. The Shiver trilogy is the werewolf set. Next she wrote the Book of Faieries. The Scorpio Races received a starred review on both Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist and was a Michael L. Printz Award Honor title of 2012. Her latest title The Raven Boys is also receiving rave reviews and has appeared on numerous bestseller lists. I had the opportunity to see Maggie at TeenBookCon earlier this year. Please follow the tags to read more about it.

I hope to see you at Barnes & Noble next Thursday night!

The Upside of The Downside of Being Charlie by Promising New Author Jenny Torres Sanchez

the-downside-of-being-charlieCharlie isn’t your typical YA protagonist. He struggles with his weight, to the point that he develops bulimia. He doesn’t excel socially, in sports or any other way at school until he discovers photography. Charlie’s life is atypical in many ways. He’s an only child with an emotionally damaged Mom who leaves and returns on a whim and a father who is embroiled in an affair. Throughout the novel Charlie is not only tending to his own needs, but he is also trying to predict the mood of his parents and what their needs may be. As dark as the story sounds, I fear that such conditions are a reality for many teens and the rendering of Charlie under the gentle hands of Jenny Torres Sanchez is both gentle and honest. Charlie will not win any awards for being the most loveable character in YA fiction. He has an undying crush on a pathetically shallow girl, he selfishly locks himself away from his Dad and he participates in bullying an easy target at school. I found the complexity of his imperfections refreshing, even if they are painful to read about. Although, like life there are many components to the story it is at its root about Charlie admitting that he has an eating disorder.

"But the truth is, it’s hard to constantly have to admit how screwed up my family is.
It’s hard to constantly need to be saved.”

At the beginning of the book Charlie has just returned from fat camp and although he likes the way that he looks, he is also leery of the new attention that he is receiving due to his new physique. He gets attention from the girl of his dreams, Charlotte and his desire to be appealing to her mixed with the emotional chaos that he experiences over his mother’s condition and his father’s indiscretions push his eating issues into overdrive. He begins a dangerous pattern or binge and purge that accelerates as the story progresses.
I find Charlie’s innocence endearing rather than unrealistic. Not all kids mature at the same rate. For example, he has never been in a girl’s room before. He has no sisters, cousins or friends with sisters and when the first room that he ever sees is the room of his love interest Charlotte VanderKleaton. Charlie has a quirky best friend Ahmed who is obsesses with the Rat Pack and a caring teacher Mr. Killinger who keeps Charlie motivated during difficult times.

Besides the effective narrative there are many hidden layers in the book that can be dug through. This would be an excellent book to write a paper on, is a worthy tool for any teen struggling with an eating disorder and is just a worthwhile read overall. I’m anxious to see what comes next from the promising new writer Jenny Torres Sanchez.


OMG!!! Firefly Reunion on Science Channel - We're Talking About Wild West Spaceships

Firefly fans have been watching and re-watching the perfect 14 episodes of the show for the last ten years wondering… “Will we ever see another episode?” Rumors have constantly circulated that there would be more episodes but as we all sat through countless ridiculous programs waiting and hoping for the return of the smart and thrilling show, our dreams were dashed. Yes, we had the temporary thrill of seeing Serenity, a film based on the pilot episode of Firefly in 2005, but the show died before it’s time. Like most great things- it died, but was not forgotten. At any Con, costume party or sci-fi celebration you are sure to run into a Captain Mal, Kaylee or Wash, some of television’s most memorable characters. You’ve never heard of them? Now is the time to acquaint yourself with the wonder that is Joss Whedon’s series Firefly. Any fan of Whedon’s other work, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Song will be sure bets to love this show. Its quick wit, complex subtext and diverse but relatable characters are endearing and become a part of the story of your own life once you meet them. Captain Mal (Nathan Fillion) has a flawed leadership that holds his ramshackle family together. Zoe is Mal’s war comrade and her husband Wash, who wears Hawaiian shirts and plays with dinosaurs, is the best pilot in the verse. Add Kaylee, a cute and mechanically inclined girl with simple taste and Jayne, the muscle of the ship who names his weapons and you start to see the sweet complexity of the show. Now let me explain the setting, imagine the wild west of America, in outer space with our superhero being Captain Mal, a well-meaning Browncoat (rebel), who smuggles from the government for the good of the people. Of course there is plenty of sexy, this is one of the first shows to feature the voluptuous Christina Hendricks, now known as Joanie from Mad Men and plenty of adventures, they wern't called "Big Damn Heroes" for nothing!

Perhaps you can see how people that loved the show could see the value in rallying behind it. On November 10, 2012, the Science Channel is going to gift us with one precious hour of a Firefly reunion. In the show all of the primary stars reunite and discuss their thoughts about what gave the show such lasting power for its fans, how the show has changed their lives and more. Any show that takes the time to create its own universe, language, culture and history has room to be discussed and digested for years. This is just one tastier morsel for salivating Joss Whedon fans.


After Twilight Comic Book Series Ends In Delectable Chaos! Book 6 Available Now -NOT About Vampires

“For me After Twilight has been a labor of love, a story that has been a
part of my life for more than a decade – a story that is neither anti-Christian nor anti-faith
but is an exploration of the folly of extremism and violence.
Seeing that story finally manifest itself in physical form has been tremendously fulfilling.”

from the Final Word at the end of Issue 6 by author Gary Watson.

AT6 Cover

It was no mystery that the storyline would appeal to me; a rebel librarian named Jennifer living in Houston, fights against the religious authoritarian government in an attempt to reinstate freedom to society. Although there were a few bumps along the way, the overall story arch of the 6 issues of the comic book series After Twilight successfully portrayed a terrifying dystopian future in which religion has become so infused with law that most individual’s civil liberties are stripped. This is a society in which all areas from sexual activity to literature are monitored and anyone who goes outside of the prescribed lines is swept away to a re-education camp called “Camp Purity”.

Throughout the books we join Jen as she struggles to escape from the bereft and militant Sgt. Streetman and the police. She finds a group of renegades headed by the leader Jesse and with them she attempts to save the life of her sister Zoe and to get word out to society about the evil violence that is at the center of the authorities and the torture that occurs at Camp Purity.


The use of Houston as a setting was highlighted beautifully in the first couple of books. Landmarks could be distinguished, there was a character wearing what looks like a
James Avery bracelet, (a company based in Texas), and the language and dress of the characters had a Texas twang. There is stark stiff quality to the drawings that lends itself well to the story which although set in current day has echoes of our past and gives us a pause to reflect on the current political climate. The drawings therefore become almost timeless. Please follow the tag above for After Twilight to read more specific thoughts on each individual issue.

The series ends on a high note with issue 6 which doesn’t waste a frame. Page one begins with a brutal beating and before the final frame there is computer hacking, a jail break and the beginning of liberation from The Ministry of the Word. There is a fabulous final line to the book that I won’t share for fear of spoiling the thrill of reading it on your own.

This is a thoughtful, engaging series for older teens and adult readers. It attempts to open dialog and thoughts about pedagogy and politics and how the dogma of religion can squeak into policy and take over if it goes unchecked. It is a satisfying read that utilizes images to share in the storytelling in the manner of great comics. The books are available at Bedrock City Comics, 8th Dimension Comics and can be ordered directly from the After Twilight website.


We're Not in Kansas Anymore ATBF Recap- Who will SURVIVE? Did You Know That These Books Were Banned?

At this weekend's Austin Teen Book Fest Sarah Rees Brennan led a rousing panel: We're Not in Kansas Anymore, and the stakes were high. The panelist with the least amount of applause and laughter from the audience was going to be taken outside and murdered! She compiled false histories for each of the panelists to lighten the audience's sympathies but as all of the authors were visible at the signing at the end of the day, I now believe that the threat was a rouse. ; )

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(Moderator Sarah Rees Brennan is introducing Libba Bray (flashing gang signs in hopes to survive) and Leigh Bardugo)

Rae Carson shared that she knew that she would write high fantasy after seeing Star Wars as a four year old. "...I knew that the force was with me, I knew that George Lucas and I were destined to be together and I knew that I wanted more stories about fantasy." Rae explained that Tattoine (a planet from Star Wars), was part of the inspiration for a desert location in her books and she said that they also have Spanish and Arabic influences including caves and bullfights. She was safe from certain death when she shared with the audience the story of how she came to the idea for the The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, she was having her naval pierced and thought that an amulet in the naval would make for an incredible story.

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(Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl fighting for survival and Rae Carson being adorable)

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl are the authors of the Beautiful Creatures (soon to be a major motion picture) series. Margaret worked hard to engage the audience and made sure that the moderator, Sarah, heard all of the audience interaction. She did not want to see her head on the chopping block. At one point Margaret explained the benefit of having a collaborator: "It makes it a little less intimidating. You feel less crazy because you are both hearing the same voices." One thing that the authors realized after having their book sold in over 48 countries is that teenagers are terrified in every country. "They feel that they have no say and are not able to decide anything for themselves."

          unspoken      crownofembers     beautifulcreatures

Leigh Bardugo, whom according to Sarah Rees Brennan may or may not have committed a murder gangster style, chose to set her book Shadow and Bone in Russia because she grew up fascinated by the country and the story of Anastasia. "We have very disparate images of the country, brutality vs. beauty and these extremes work well for fantasy." She went on to explain how it was crucial to her to set up a distinct set of rules for the world that she was writing about. If they aren't rules then there is no reason that other worldly instruments can be brought into the story. "I remember reading Harry Potter and thinking, why doesn't somebody just shoot Voldermort? Let's muggle up and get this done."


Libba Bray secured her survival almost immediately by complimenting Sarah. She was not gonna die, not that day. Libba's new book The Diviners is set in America in the 1920's and there were many reasons why. "The 1920's feels like a film set. There is a unique language with slang and this is when youth culture really starts." She went on to talk about how our knowledge, or lack there of, changes society in dramatic ways, "...radiation was considered a health tool. Radium was sold and called "Perpetual sunshine in a bottle.'" She got a big holler of cheers further securing her survival when she said "When the going gets tough the tough get a librarian."

This week is Banned Books Week. It's a time for librarians, teachers and book lovers to spread awareness of attempts to limit what others have the opportunity to read. Each year the ALA (American Library Association) publishes a list of the most frequently challenged books and there are always surprises on the list. Each day this week I'll post two of the most challenged titles of 2011, (in descending order), as well as the reasons stated for the ban. Read a banned book today!

                    absolutely   Agony-of-Alice

5) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

6) Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint


Review of the NEW Graphic Novel Broxo and Most Challenged Books of 2011 - Banned Books Week

broxoBroxo is the debut fantasy graphic novel by Zack Giallongo and it is released today October 2, 2012. Although it is beautifully illustrated and does have brief moments of intensity and story clarity, there are too many confusing frames and sub-stories for me to fully recommend this title.

Broxo is the lone survivor of his village which was slain by their own ancestors who had become zombies because they didn’t blow on the Wylern to summon the Stag who would lead them to the underworld. Confused? I’m pretty sure that the projected teen and pre-teen intended audience will be too.

Broxo is visited by princess Zora who was sent to find the Perytons, the villagers who have been slain, in hopes that their villages could work and trade with each other. The adventure scenes are exciting and fabulously drawn, unfortunately when combined with the Norse, Neanderthal, Athenian, Lord of the Rings stew of mythologies they are complicated to follow. This is a beautiful book with a good sense of humor and will be appreciated by mid to late teen readers of deep fantasy but it’s too incoherent for the average graphic novel fan. Follow this link to see more of the book: http://us.macmillan.com/broxo/ZackGiallongo

My GoodReads rating: 3 stars

This week is Banned Books Week. It's a time for librarians, teachers and book lovers to spread awareness of attempts to limit what others have the opportunity to read. Each year the ALA (American Library Association) publishes a list of the most frequently challenged books and there are always surprises on the list. Each day this week I'll post two of the most challenged titles of 2011, (in descending order), as well as the reasons stated for the ban. Read a banned book today!
7) Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

8) What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit


Highlights from The Thrill of the Chase Panel at Austin Teen Book Fest and Banned Books Week

Jennifer Lynn Barnes kept a swift and engaging discussion on this weekend’s The Thrill of the Chase Panel at Austin Teen Book Fest.

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(Moderator Jennifer Lynn Barnes and author Will Richter)

Ally Carter is known for her popular Gallagher Girl series (for which there will be a 6th book released), which mix lots of comedy with the thrilling storytelling. When asked how she balances the high stakes with the humor she responded, “You pick your moments. Funny often comes from the supporting cast.” She got huge laughs from the audience as she went into several examples of times not to add a joke.

Gallagher Girls

Will Richter compares his book Dark Eyes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He discussed how family (whether it’s a traditional one or a constructed one), is the most critical component in young adult’s lives. He also shared advice in writing saying, “If you target what you’re writing next by what’s already out and popular, you’ll always be two or three years behind.” He went on to explain that after a book is written there is a long lag time before it is actually on the shelves and therefore chasing trends is useless.

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                                                                                                           (Eliot Schrefer and Ally Carter)

Eliot Schrefer’s book Endangered doesn’t fit easily into any genre. Sophie begrudgingly visits her mother in the Congo and falls in love with an infant bonobo. Simultaneously unrest in the nation is building and they become embroiled in the revolution. Schrefer fell in love with bonobo when he discovered their peace loving and matriarchal nature. He was influenced by the memoirs of Jane Goodall and the creatures’ similarities to humans. Bonobos share a whopping 98.7% of the same DNA as humans. Eliot shares that a theme in all of his books is that they are about outsiders trying to fit in and his advice to new writers is, “Be very kind to yourself while you’re creating.”

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Lex Thomas (the writing duo Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies) discuss the dark nature of their book Quarantine. When asked how they knew if they were taking things too far they responded “Someone has their nose bitten off in the first sentence so…” to which the audience erupted in laughter. Hrabe then shared “We have a benefit that there are two of us. It’s a great way to know what works.” Both authors agreed that it’s crucial for a thriller to have high stakes. In Quarantine two brothers are struggling to survive. “You have to know what you’re fighting for.”

This week is Banned Books Week. It's a time for librarians, teachers and book lovers to spread awareness of attempts to limit what others have the opportunity to read. Each year the ALA (American Library Association) publishes a list of the most frequently challenged books and there are always surprises on the list. Each day this week I'll post two of the most challenged titles of 2011, (in descending order), as well as the reasons stated for the ban. Read a banned book today!


9) Gossip Girl
(series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

10) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language; racism



Drama the NEW Graphic Novel by Raina Telgemeier Takes Behind the Scenes of Theater!

Drama by Raina Telgemeier is a funny and relevant graphic novel with warm, inviting illustrations that present us with realistic caricatures that could be found in any school USA. My only problem with the book is that throughout, I felt like I was reading about high school students rather than junior high school students and knowing that the kids were supposed to be in junior high took me out of the magic spell of the story.

Callie is smart, has a unique sense of style, (including pink and purple hair that no schools around here allow), and a drive to excel in what she loves, theater tech. Her friends aren’t the cloying, predictable cogs who often feel forced into stories written for this age group. Her friend Liz for example is there to listen to Callie about her experiences but is also quick to remind her that she has a lot of her own things going on. Two of Callie's new friends are the adorable brothers Jesse and Justin. The boys are both questioning their sexuality and although it is handled with respect, humor and honesty it is yet another plot that feels more authentic to a high school story.


Callie's technical department of her school’s theater department is more sophisticated then any I've seen. Not only have I never seen a junior high with the equipment, I’ve never heard of a program that would allow students of that age level the amount of responsibility and authority that Callie and her friends are allowed. It would be a rarity for a high school program to provide students with such opportunities let alone a junior high program. At one point Callie's friend Liz is redesigning dozens of Civil War era costumes all by herself and simultaneously Callie is creating a cannon that shoots off confetti.

That said, to see a play’s birth from the time that it is chosen and cast, through the rehearsals and design all the way to it’s production is a particular joy and Telgemeier does a great job of letting us peek at the process as she shares the passion and energy of theater with her readers. The book touches on friendships, romances, and questions what the results will be when the two intersect all in the time that it takes for one show to be produced. 

Drama is an an excellent choice for junior high and high school readers. Especially if they have interest in theater and/or graphic novels. Although there is nothing blatantly offensive, like theater everyone has a different definition of what is appropriate and I would be reluctant to share this title with younger readers do to some of the mature content.