Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Love List #6: Angela Mann

Angela Mann is passionate about books. I know, I know, we throw that adjective around with incautious abandon... But, every time I see Angela, she is practically bursting with enthusiasm for a book she has just read and is besotted with. She organizes the youth events at Kepler's and maintains the BookBind, which is the Kepler's blog about teen literature. If you are ever at a loss for what book to bring home for your young person, particularly if they have a taste for paranormal romance or SF/F, you should keep an eye out for Angela.

(And, please, do not scoff at the thought of paranormal romance or science fiction and fantasy... There are some serious heavy hitters here! Love, magic, and futuristic possibility will always have a place in young hearts. And while we may turn up our noses at certain, unnamed specimens--ahem... am possibly hinting at my own bookish snobberies--there will always be those stunners that make us shut up and read with abashed hunger.)

So, please take a look at Angela's list below. Imagine her coming up to you with them stacked high under her chin and giving you the run-down on why, exactly, you might love them. While they are not all "officially" books for young people, all of these titles will likely be enjoyed by both teens and adults.

This is Angela Mann.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by: Ransom Riggs

Jacob grew up with his grandfather’s stories of monsters and an orphanage that saved him. But when his grandfather dies, Jacob thinks he sees a monster in the woods. With his dying breath, Jacob's grandfather tells him to find the bird, in the loop, get to the island, tell them what happened, and there he will be safe. It turns out a bomb hit the orphanage in 1940 and all that remains is a shell. So how did his grandfather have a letter from them sent 15 years ago? Jacob, of course, has to know, as will you. This is a haunting, thoroughly disturbing read that is also achingly beautiful. And the unforgettable vintage photos work with the text, making this book stand out in a sea of look-alikes.

The House of Silk
by: Anthony Horowitz

A mystery too disturbing to tell preys on Watson’s mind, a mystery he writes, then seals up for a hundred years. A man appears at 221B Baker Street and asks for help. And the game is again afoot. There is a robbery and a murder that lead us into the underworld of opium dens, dastardly deeds, and a creepy conspiracy. Horowitz hits all the right notes--foggy London streets, Hansom cabs, dodgy criminals, corrupt officials, brilliant deductions, Lestrade, Moriarty, and the Baker Street Irregulars. The adventure’s a little more modern, a little darker, with a little more social commentary as befits an older Watson writing from a retirement home. The voice seems authentically Watson’s, with maybe a hint of pathos, and the twists are unforeseen. May it be the first of many.

The Magician King 
by: Lev Grossman

Quentin, Julia, Elliot, and Janet are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but Quentin is listless--he wants more than the perfect, but dull, royal life. He wants an adventure, the chance to be a hero, a quest. Thus a search for a hare leads to him sailing to an island at the edge of the world with Julia, and ultimately trying to stop magic from disappearing. I loved Julia's story the most--how she learned magic, and the people, like her, who want to learn magic but don't get into Brakebills. It's a dark, twisted account and she takes center stage: angry, brilliant, bitter. The Magician King is smart, funny, dark, terrifying, and provocative--a tale of the making of a hero and of magic itself that should not be missed.

Anna Dressed in Blood 
by: Kendare Blake

Cassio Lowood hunts and kills the dead, as his father did before him. Anna should have been no different, and has viciously killed anyone who has tried to step inside her house--except Cas. Why did she spare him?  Will he be able to kill her? I could not put this book down. At times downright scary, this is a tale full of haunting images, witches and curses, and voodoo (oh my!). This is a story to savor--but with the lights on!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone 
by: Laini Taylor

Karou is a blue-haired art student in Prague who fills notebooks with drawings of fantastical creatures. She can pass through hidden doorways to an office where these creatures not only exist, but also brought her up. But after Karou sneaks through a door she shouldn’t have touched and meets a seraph in Marrakesh, handprints appear etched in the doorways. The doors burn down and Karou no longer has a way through. Once in a while, you read a book that stands out, that is different, and that you can’t stop thinking about. I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. It is dark and edgy, powerful and imaginative, unsettling and different. Full of mystery and sizzle, this vivid, beautiful book should not be missed.

Luka and the Fire of Life 
by: Salman Rushdie

When Luka’s father falls into a sleep so deep no one can save him, an insubstantial version of his father, Nobodaddy, tells him he must steal the Fire of Life, something that has never been done before, to save him. With his dog named Bear and his bear named Dog, he doesn’t hesitate, making allies along the way and ultimately living through his father’s stories. Hard to compare, this is an adventure, an ode to inter-generational love, a place where the magical and the real worlds collide. It includes mythological creatures from almost every culture. It touches on truth and freedom, talks of the power of storytelling, the importance of the imagination and of family, the nature of time, and, as you’d expect, it is beautifully written.

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