Archive for August, 2010

Witch Baby

[openbook booknumber=”0064470652″][rating:4/5]

Once upon a time in the city of Shangri-L.A., someone left a baby on a doorstep. She had wild, dark hair and purple eyes and looked at the world in a special way.

The family that took her in called her Witch Baby and raised her as their own. But even though she tried to fit in, Witch Baby never felt as though she truly belonged.

So one day she packed her bat-shaped backpack, put her black cowboy-boot roller skates, and went out into the real world to find out who she really was…

In Witch Baby Francesca Lia Block really spreads her wings and finds her pace. Witch Baby is the second book in her Dangerous Angels series and is her sophomore novel. You really need to have read Weetzie Bat for Witch Baby to make any sense.

Witch Baby is my favorite character in the whole crazy Bat family. She is a black sheep, an outsider, a loner. She doesn’t want to stick her head in the sand and forget about the troubles in the world, or pretend they don’t exist. She doesn’t try and use smoke and mirrors in the guise of drugs, alcohol, parties, etc to hide from the ugly truth of the world. She faces it head on. She puts it on display for everyone to see and forces other people to acknowledge the pain and suffering, the poisons and toxins, the ignorance and fear.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 7

[openbook booknumber=”1421504588″][rating:5/5]

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his brother and himself… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Where did Alphonse Elric go during the few short minutes he was wiped from existence, body and soul? From a secret lair in the city of Dublith a group of outcasts kidnaps Alphonse to find the alchemical secrets of his creation! It’s up to Ed (and a certain housewife) to go into the Devil’s Nest and rescue his brother. But the criminals of the Devil’s Nest aren’t exactly human either. Now, Al must fight a homunculus – an artificial human being – and the streets of Dublith will run red with blood…

Despite the horror and goriness of the scenes in previous volumes, especially the ones that depicted what really happened to Ed and Al the night they lost so much, this volume is the most gruesome yet. The scenes in the Devil’s Nest are very bloody and for once I am glad that the manga is in black and white. This definitely is a series for teens, not children!

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Weetzie Bat

[openbook booknumber=”0064470687″][rating:3/5]

In her stunning debut, Francesca Lia Block has created a wild, sophisticated fairy tale. She invites us into a magical world where love really does manage to conquer all.

The first time I read Weetzie Bat was at a very young age, and really too young for the subject matter at hand. The writing might lead you to think otherwise as it is really written at a 6th grade or lower level. Publisher’s Weekly says its perfect for 12 and up, the School Library Journal says 10th grade and up. See the disparity?

Weetzie Bat was Francesca Lia Block’s first novel and the first in her Dangerous Angels series. I wanted to re-read it to capture some of the adventure and sparkle and hope I had gotten the first time around when I read it at the young age of 12. I was an outcast, a loner, a reader and a ridiculously creative dreamer (in the crazy sunshine and rainbows way, though if you are here reading this at my blog you probably already knew that). I still got some of that magic, but now I’m older and not all of it managed to keep its hold. As an adult there were some problems, some hitches, some flaws. Mainly my naivete is gone and with it went a lot of my original enjoyment of the book.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 6

[openbook booknumber=”1421503190″][rating:5/5]

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his brother and himself… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

The origin of the Elric brothers! Once, Edward and Alphonse Elric were willing to do anything to become alchemists. But when they tried to use their newfound skills to resurrect their dead mother, they broke a taboo and encountered something more terrifying than death itself. Now, hardened by years of military training, Edward and Alphonse have returned to the woman who first taught them alchemy… but can she help them, or even forgive them?

The more this series goes on the more complex it gets, in a very good way. Volume 6 continues the flashback from volume 5 covering the history of the boys and how they learned alchemy. The training was almost unbelievable to read about. I could not understand why some of the unspeakable and terrifying things even happened to them in the first place. This was true in the anime as well. But it really sets the tone for just how brutal and dark the rest of the series gets as things progress. They need to be toughened up in their training for what comes after and I understand that more now. But, the first time I read it? I could barely stomach it.

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Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

[openbook booknumber=”9780670021390″][rating:4/5]

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille – the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town – a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when tragedy strikes, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Mix Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who skinny dips in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapon, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut hums with wacky humor and down-home heart. It explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. Above all, it is a book full of feminine wisdom – one to cherish, remember, and share.

Reading about CeeCee’s adventures had me by turns laughing out loud and nearly in tears as her life unfolded over the course of this wacky southern summer.

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