Adios, Nirvana

Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Telly has left a trail of devastation in the wake of his death. That trail is apparently ten times worse for his twin brother than it is for most. Jonathan not only lost his twin, his thickest thick, but he lost a part of himself. And since that moment Jonathan’s world has come to a complete halt, leaving him in a dire state permanent grieving. Former prize student and award-winning poet, Jonathan is nothing more than skin and bones, a walking zombie fueled by NoDoz chased by Red Bull, and moonlit jam sessions with guitar goddess Ruby. Life is nothing but sweet taurine, and even sweeter Ruby.

Straddling the line between the living and the dead, Jonathan knows his thicks are right when they say that he has to accept Telly’s death, move on, and start living once again. He doesn’t know if or how he could do that, until he meets David Cosgrove II. David Cosgrove, journalist and war-time hero, has enlisted the help of Jonathan to write his memoir. Reluctantly Jonathan agrees, mostly because it gives him a free get out of jail free card.

But the more time he spends with David, and the more time he spends at the Delphi, playing for Agnes, fantasizing about Katie in her Beyonce-esque wig, the more life seems to make sense, the more he begins to see and understand his place in the world, or at least this world. And thanks to David Cosgrove II, the man who not only trusted and befriended him, but the man who taught him how to face fears, his own personal demons, and live a full life as best as he knows how – without Telly.

Fused with guitar riffs and raw emotion Conrad Wesselhoeft has created a story that is relatable, honest, and as realistic as realistic fiction could get. Set in grunge drive Seattle, Adios, Nirvana is a book that will fit any music taste. With mentions of famed Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Wesselhoeft does a great job at writing a music driven plot that isn’t solely focused on music.

The writing is strong, and feels as if a longtime friend is simply reminiscing his life story. Full of memorable quotes, Adios, Nirvana will strike a chord with anyone. It’s both funny with laugh out loud moments – when Agnes first tells Jonathan to “float a turd” – and somber moments that make us consider our own thoughts, lives, and fears.

“Respected by all. Not with trumpets and bows, but with straightened posture, a universal twitching awareness of our mortality. Everybody’s wondering, how can I arrange the daisies and dandelions of my life into a better bouquet? The answer is, you can’t. Life is random. Life is absurd. Life is deadly. The bouquet arranges itself. And it doesn’t always bloom or smell good.”

Adios, Nirvana…

Book of the Week: Cinderella Skeleton

Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci

Published: 2004 Sandpiper

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

Even though this fairytale features a different sort of character, the story of Cinderella is clearly present. 
 
The writing is witty, well crafted, and a lot of fun.

The story is told in rhyming poetic verse – I’m a total sucker for that.

It takes (what’s thought of to be) macabre, dark elements and makes it appealing to kids.

It would make a great book to read at story time.

The illustrations are lush and rich. They really make the story come alive (even though the characters are dead).

The alterations that were made to fit this version of Cinderella. For example, instead of losing just her shoe at the ball (which is a Halloween Ball), Cinderella Skeleton loses a part of her foot and a part of her bony leg.

It’s not scary, which is something you want in a children’s Halloween book.

It shows that not all Halloween books are written to scare.

The illustrations are a perfect complement to the writing – fun and whimsical.

For a Skeleton, Cinderella Skeleton is pretty.

It’s a funny retelling.

Favorite passage: “Cinderella Skeleton! The rarest gem the world has seen! Your gleaming skull and burnished bones, Your teeth like polished kidney stones, your dampish silks and dankish hair, There’s nothing like you anywhere! You make each day a Halloween!”

I think it shows that beauty can be found anywhere, and that it truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Bayou

Bayou  by Jeremy Love

“The bayou is a bad place, ain’t nuthin’ good ever happened there … ”

When Lee Wagstaff told her pig-headed friend Lily that, she meant every word of it. But Lily doesn’t understand. She doesn’t know of the … things, monsters that Lee has seen there, she doesn’t understand the bayou is a burial ground for black folk who did nothing wrong, but being black. She doesn’t understand that it’s filled with bodies, and worse, monsters.

But Lee warned Lily, and she didn’t listen. She didn’t listen the first time when she lost her gold locket to the bayou, and she didn’t listen the last time when she was trying to right  her wrong and ended up losing her life to the bayou instead. Lee tried to stop her, but it was too late. Lily was gobbled up by one of the fierce bayou monsters, swallowed whole leaving only a shoe and a memory behind.

Now that Lily’s missing, all fingers – all white fingers that is – point to Lee’s daddy. A hulking sharecropper who rents land from Lily’s mother. There’s no evidence, but that doesn’t matter. Innocent or guilty, Lee’s daddy will hang either way. Unless Lee can prove his innocence and get Lily back.

It’s up to Lee, a pint-sized girl with a heart full of love, to save the only family she really has – her daddy.

Written and illustrated by Jeremy Love, Bayou was once a web comic that has grown into a graphic novel full of rich illustrations, lush colors, and most of all a story that blurs the lines of reality. Well crafted, Bayou tells a heartwrenchingly scary tale, but Love manages to tell it with charisma, Southern charm, and beauty.

 

Bayou is an honest examination of life in the deep South some eighty years ago. It was full of raw racism and rich folklore. Love has managed to weave both into an unforgettable story that will leave readers wanting more. Love has even managed to weave fantasy elements into a story that is as magical as it is scary.

Book of the Week: Wemberly Worried

 
Published: 2010 Greenwillow Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

Wemberly’s a sweet character that you can’t help but love and sympathize with.

Even though she worries – a lot – she doesn’t let that stop her from doing things, like going to school.

Even though we are all different, there are many things that make us alike.

It shows that if you’re worried about something more than likely there is someone else who is just as worried. That’s comforting to know.

I love  her name – Wemberly.

I love that she is emotional, and that she isn’t afraid to express how worried she is.

I like how it’s an example to show children that they things they worry about matter – to them.

It’s an example to show how children can work through their worries.

It’s honest – children worry more than adults think.

Wemberly has a great sense of style!

I loved the names of Wemberly’s  and her friend Jewel’s dolls – Petal and Nibblet

The illustrations are bright and alluring.

The writing is simple, but great. It’s what really drives the story.

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

I’ve taken a bit of a break for two reasons.

One, I wanted readers (hello, are you out there?!) to focus solely on the contest that was recently posted. You know, the contest where you could have won a poster signed by Katherine Paterson (author of Bridge to Terabitha, The Great Gilly Hopkins, etc.).  Since no one entered the contest this time around, I decided to pull it down for the time being (don’t worry, it will be posted sometime in the future).

Two, life’s busy. But no worries, the BookBandit is back with Books of the Week, reviews, and of course more contests.

So stay tuned!