Saturday, March 28, 2015

The YA/MG Battle is Now Just MG

I can not say that this displeases me. It's funny because this final round could have gone one of three ways based on the four books that went into Round 3: two Aussie YAs duking it out, one Aussie YA and one MG (repeating both versions of round 3), or two MGs. I kind of like the MG books are ruling they day as that is where my heart of hearts is. (And I did have a hand in facilitating that.)

Tune in Monday to fine out the ultimate winner between:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Favorite MG Speculative Fiction Heroines

The Top Ten Tuesday topic from a few weeks ago was Favorite Heroines and I wanted to include so many girls that I decided to keep that post for my absolute top ten favorites and then do a series of lists through out the year that celebrates smart, fierce, independent female characters who EVERYONE should read. Celebrate the girls. That's never seemed more important. While I was working on this the #womeninfiction tag happened on Twitter and it was amazing. Check it out if you haven't yet.

I'm starting with the age category and genre most near and dear to my heart, MG Speculative Fiction.

Kat Stephenson from the Kat Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis: Kat loves her family and is fierce about protecting them all even when they don't appreciate it. 

Fer from Winterling by Sarah Prineas: She is a heroine who saves her people and land. She is a leader who makes some hard mistakes and does the harder work of atoning for them. 

 Ivy from Swift and Nomad by R.J. Anderson: She has the courage to speak out even when it costs her everything and then has the courage to fight to get it back.

Alunna and Callie from Above World by Jenn Reese: Both of these girls are leaders. They have different strengths, but together they make a great team.

 Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander: She is a princess and a warrior and owns both roles in equal measure.

Zita from Zita the Space Girl: She is fierce, smart, and sacrificing.

Neverfell from A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge: Neverfell is trusting and kind and good in every way imaginable. And she's a true hero.

The MG SFF heroines that were in the original post who you can read more about here
Kate Sutton from The Perilous Gard
Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time
Hermione Granger from Harry Potter Series
Millie Chant from the Chrestomanci Chronicles
Aravis Tarkheena from The Horse and His Boy

Do you have any favorite MG Speculative Fiction heroines?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SLJ BoB Round Two Thoughts

Round Two of SLJ's Battle of the Books is over now. Here is what is moving on to Round Three:


This is a really strong Final Four. Even though I'm not a big fan of West of the Moon personally, I see why others do like it so much. I think this may be the first year ever I'm not completely confused by how one of the books made it this far.

But just as the judges have to choose, so will I. The books I want to see go to the final are: El Deafo and The Port Chicago 50.

Of this round I liked Elizabeth Wein's decision the best despite its length, because of her unbridled enthusiasm for the competition and for referencing Roger Sutton's judging of the judges. (And I'm glad she did because I was starting to think he might need to take that up again as a reminder.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

YA/MG Book Battle Round Two Results

These are the books moving on:

Four amazing amazing books. And guess what? I'm the one who has to choose between Saving Francesca and The Perilous Gard. I may have considered leaving the country so Beth would never find me and I wouldn't have to do it. But, alas. I promised. You can see my decision, the one ripping my heart in two, on Thursday here

Monday, March 23, 2015

Black Dove White Raven

I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Wein's books, both her more recent World War II historicals, and the Ancient Ethiopian books so I was so excited to read her latest, Black Dove White Raven, which is sort of a combination of the two.

Emilia and Teo have grown up together as siblings. Their mothers were best friends and flying partners in an act they called Black Dove White Raven. When a horrible freak accident caused a crash that kills Teo's mother, Em's mother works to move all of them to Ethiopia. It was Teo's mother's dream to have her son grow up in a place where the color of his skin would not matter the way it does in the US. But Ethiopia is not exactly a Utopia. There are complicated bonds of service. There is a war on the horizon as Italy seeks to conquer the still independent nation. Em, Teo, and their mother, Rhoda, find themselves caught in the middle of a war that may destroy their last remaining links as a family.

Like all of Wein's books, Black Dove White Raven has characters you feel for, a truly developed sense of place, and packs an emotional punch. Teo and Em have a great sibling bond and friendship that transcends any sort of blood ties. Em is the daring, bold, outgoing one. Teo is calm, reliable, patient. They mirror their mothers in so many ways. They are willing to go to great lengths for one another. Their story is heartbreaking in so many respects. They are so young for the hardships that are placed on them, the things they have to do, and the choices they have to make. I found myself frustrated with Rhoda a lot because, as much as I try not to judge other mothers, she pushed all my maternal buttons. That's probably due to how much I liked the Teo and Em, but man, did I want to throttle her on numerous occasions. Wein has such a talent for making you have feelings for all the characters in her books, and then using those feelings to paint a wide an nuanced picture of people, place, and history.

Ethiopia during the time had its share of problems. They weren't the same problems as the US, but there were plenty of opportunities for exploitation, corruption, and vice to occur. Wein doesn't shy away from depicting this. It is an intensely interesting story rich with detail. It tells a story of a time and place we in the west know little about and does it through the lives of people living ordinary life.

The one part of the book that was difficult for me was its format. The story is told through a packet Em has delivered to the Ethiopian Emperor of essays and flight logs. The story is told through them and as a device it didn't particularly work for me. Not like the journaling worked so well in Rose Under Fire. The details in both Em and Teo's essays and flight logs were just too much, and their voices often sounded too similar despite the very large differences in their personalities. Despite this, I was able to fall into reading it and ended up really enjoying myself. I don't know that any less of a talented author than Wein could have made this work for me on any level.

While not my favorite of Wein's books, it is still excellent and one of the finest books I've read yet this year. Because saying one of her books isn't as favored as the others, still puts it heads and shoulders above most everything else being written.

I read an ARC made available by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, via NetGalley. Black Dove White Raven goes on sale March 31.