In the Stacks: A Blog Straight from the Mind of Steve
It is that time yet again dear readers. I have just run out of time finishing the YALSA Hub Reading Challenge for this year. And once again… I must wave the white flag of defeat and inform you that I did not finish the 25 book goal. I started out in February with high hopes thinking that I could finish those 25 in no time at all. Well… the spirit died out fast I’m afraid. However! I am still quite happy with myself that I was able to read some of the most fascinating and entertaining stories that I have EVER READ!
Now of course, I did start out this challenge with the same strategy as last year, which was to read as many graphic novels on the list as possible. Dogs of War, War Brothers, and Boxers and Saints were absolutely the top picks in that regard.
Dogs of War is split into three main stories about the service dogs in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam. Each story becomes more intense with the type of exposure each animal had while assisting Allied troops overseas. Now I don’t want to spoil too much here… but each story does seem to find its way into a hopeful and happy ending.
War Brothers is a fictional account of teenage boys in Africa that become enslaved and forced into a life of guerilla warfare by a tyrannical warlord. A close group of friends are faced with the constant reminder that if they do not fit into this savage new way of life, they are surely expected to lose their own.
And last but not least was Boxers and Saints. There are two intertwining stories revolving around the Boxer Rebellion in China around the turn of the twentieth century. The images are quite captivating, and the stories very easy to become hooked on. Yet the most interesting thing about both of them was that though they reflect a serious subject matter, they still show moments of true teenage innocence. Each story is told through the eyes of a young boy and young woman who through their different life paths, become engrossed in the bitter struggle of Chinese citizens who sought a way to rid their homeland of foreign oppression. Can you guys tell I am drawn to graphic novels involving combat???
Now I shall move along to the fiction books. My top pick starting off is non-other than Scowler by Daniel Kraus. It is described as a literary Stephen King/Dean Koontz lovechild. I can now say that I definitely understand where they are coming from with that description. A surreal tale of a boy coming face to face with his inner and outer fears revolving around his terrifying father in the wake of a comet that, how shall I say this, hits a little too close to home. hehehe Ok, I’ll stop that silliness. It is a captivating story. The details and graphic desciptions of violence I must say at times seemed just a bit over the top of any YA book I’ve ever read. I was almost creeped out and disturbed when I read them, and I have read Stephen King horror fiction!
Next up I must mention Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. The title alone was reason enough to have me requesting this book ASAP. However, I was soon blown aback almost to the point of tears and nightmares with all of the horrific encounters the main character in this book has throughout the story. It is definitely a true to life type of story that goes hand in hand with anything any school administrator of role model every told you about bullying.
Did you ever have a time in your life whether in or out of school where you were constantly being picked on or threatened by someone you really didn’t even know and had absolutely no clue why? Well this main character does, and in the worst of ways. It is empowering the decisions this character makes to face any and all consequences for standing up for her very own right to live her life. I’m just saying ladies and gentlemen… bring the tissues.
I will finish this blog on a lighter note. I feel there has been plenty of death, and drama, and warfare to last a lifetime or two at this point. I finish with one final review of a more furry variety so to speak. I am of course referring to How to Speak Dog. It is a lovely, charming nonfiction book that features so many interesting facts about every type of dog and their very much universal “language”.
As a dog owner myself, it was truly fascinating to read. I definitely walked away with a whole new perspective about dogs and the reasons for their everyday behavior. And I simply must applaud the author Gary Weitzman who has been a long time vet and pet owner, and has truly been somewhat of a dog advocate in his personal life and medical practice. I thank him for providing his readers with a very entertaining yet insightful method of descriptive writing.
Alright, I think that is enough writing for now. This summer is about reading after all, and there are plenty better words to read in the books scattered all around your local library than in the silly content of my blog (even though my blog comes with cute, adorable photos of reading dogs). So get to folks! And until next time dear readers… stay classy… stay reading.
And in case any of you guys were interested… here is a list of all that I read for the Challenge.
Star Wars: Jedi Academy – Jeffery Brown
Will & Whit – Laura Lee Gulledge
The Adventures of Superhero Girl – Faith Erin Hicks
Dogs of War – Sheila Kennan& Nathan Fox
Scowler – Daniel Kraus
Vietnam #4: Casualties of War – Chris Lynch
War Brothers: The Graphic Novel – Sharon McKay& Daniel Lafrance
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass –Meg Medina
How To Speak Dog – Aline Alexander Newman& Gary Weitzman
Boxers and Saints – Gene Luen Yang
I Am the Messenger – Markus Zusak