Every reader has his or her guilty pleasures. One of mine is young adult novels.
Or should I say young adult novels as audio books to listen to while I’m working out (in this case, running). In many cases, young adult novels serve as a solid distraction as the miles go by without demanding that I hang on every word and stop paying attention to my pace or things coming up ahead like mud, vehicles, fellow runners or roaming animals.*
So imagine my surprise when I downloaded the audio version of Saving Zoe to my iPod and the novel not only toyed with my expectations but actually exceeded them. It was entertaining enough that not only did I listen while exercising, but I worked in other times to listen to the story, hooked in by the narrator and the story itself.
As the story begins, Echo fully admits that she’s stuck in the stages of grief because of what happened to her older sister, Zoe, a year before. As her family tries to pick up the pieces of their lives with Zoe gone, Echo isn’t sure how to relate to anyone anymore, her mother is on “happy pills” and her father is burying his grief by working too much. Entering high school should be a new and exciting time for Echo, but the specter of her older sister hangs above everything and everyone that Echo comes into contact with.
The latest collection from the long run of The Amazing Spider-Man is a trip down memory lane.
Long before I knew about the existence of stores exclusively devoted to comic books and in the years before I was given mail subscriptions to my favorite books, I was at the mercy of which issues of my favorite books were at the local grocery store or drug store when I got to visit with parents or grandparents. The fact that I managed to collect a solid run of many of the issues featured in this book is a testament to the patience of all those people, who put up with my looking through the racks for the latest issue or that one I’d miss so I could have a complete story.
This run of issues is helped by the fact that it has a consistent creative team churning out the stories. I’m not sure how the comic book community as a whole feels about Roger Stern’s run at writing Spider-Man, but I’ve got to admit it holds up pretty well. Stern did a nice job with creating story arcs that lasted just long enough to sustain reader interest and tell a good story without feeling like he was extended things out to sell more issues (I’m looking at your modern comic books writers). Stern also clearly follows the model of Stan Lee, who said that you should treat every issue as if it’s someone’s first. Each issues offers a well integrated recap of what’s going on in the story and Spidey’s life without it necessarily feeling like an info-dump.
Ever since Stieg Larson’s Millenium trilogy hit it big, it seems like the mystery shelves have been flooded with a ton of imported mysteries and thrillers, all attempting to capture lighting in a bottle for a second time.
Of the translated thrillers I’ve read over the past couple of years, it’s Snow White Must Die that not only captured me and wouldn’t let go but also left me hoping that the rest of this series will get translated and published in America ASAP. Simply put, Snow White is one of the most entertaining and enthralling mystery novels I’ve read in a long time.
Over a decade ago, two girls with a romantic connection to Tobias Satorius went missing. Suspicion centered on Tobias, who experience a 24-hour blackout around the time of the disappearances, leading to Tobias’ conviction and ten year jail sentence. As he’s released from prison, Tobias returns home to find his parents estranged, his father’s business in ruin and the town unwilling to forget the crimes of which he was convicted.
While Pixar is still the gold standard for computer animated films, Dreamworks Animation has slowly but assuredly been closing the gap with offerings like Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. And while their latest offering The Croods isn’t quite as much fun as How To Train Your Dragon, it’s still a solid, entertaining, fun animated movie that the the kids will adore and that adults won’t feel like their being forced to sit through.
In pre-historic times, the Crood family has stayed alive thanks to Grug’s (a well voice-cast Nicholas Cage) philosophy that they should fear everything and that danger lurks around every corner. The family spends much of their time hiding out in their cave, venturing out only to find food every once in a while. For the most part, the family is willing to go along with Grug, since many of the stories he relates about the outside world end up with various parties dying. That is, except for his teenage daughter Eep (voiced by Emma Stone), who believes there’s more to the world than hiding in the cave and barely getting by.
One night, Eep sneaks out of the family cave and meets Guy, a boy who has the secret of fire and warns her that the world as they know it is coming to an end. Eventually Guy is forced to take not only Eep but the entire Crood family with him on a trek to find higher ground and survive. Of course, this sets up an inevitable conflict of leadership styles between Guy and Grug, most of which are effectively played for genuine laughs.