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Showing posts from March, 2012

The Finalists

Round Three Winners

My favorite line from Judge Maggie Stiefvater's decision: "But the idea seemed simple. You read two books, and you like one of them better. You explain your thoughts in a coherent way, and then you retreat to your kitchen to make cookie dough." This is pretty much where Maggie and I split ways on this one.

 My favorite line from Judge Ron Koertge's decision: "I like to really know the characters in books. I like to ride around in cars with them, eat dinner with them, sleep in their spare rooms and poke around in their medicine cabinets." I completely agree with this sentiment, but had no desire to do any of those things with the characters to whom he was referring.

The Undead Winner
I didn't vote for Okay For Now, but I almost did. I'm extremely satisfied that it won the Undead.

My Thoughts on the Finals

When the list of books in this year's battle was announced four of my Favorite Reads of 2011 made the list: The Cheshire …

100 Cupboards

Featuring Bit, age 7

We would have been finished with 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson a lot sooner. It was one of those books Bit had me reading 3 chapters a day of and begging to push bedtime back for. Then we went out of town for two weeks and I left it at home. We were at a crucial point near the end too. Bit was unhappy with me. I made up for it by letting her skip piano practice one night this week so we could finish it. (My voice is still recovering.)
The Story
Henry's parents have been kidnapped while on one of their world traveling expeditions for the travel books they write. He has been assured they will be returned safely after being ransomed. In the meantime he is planning on enjoying himself during this unexpected stay with his aunt, uncle, and cousins in Kansas. Henry has lived an extremely sheltered and protected life and is reveling in new experiences such as baseball, climbing, and drinking soda. Then he discovers, hidden behind the plaster on one wall of his attic bed…

The Final Four

Round Two Winners
Between Shades of Gray
I applaud Marc Aronson in his decision from beginning to end. He did a marvelous job analyzing and comparing both books. His is probably my favorite judge's decision to read so far. Even if I would have chosen the other book if I were in his place. Despite my personal preference for Amelia Lost, Between Shades of Gray is an important and heart wrenching book and well deserving of its place in Round Three. My favorite quote from Aronson's decision: "We have fiction whose largest claim is nonfiction, and nonfiction whose power comes from its resemblance to fiction. I feel like a hapless kid in dance class, whose feet keep getting tangled up."
Chime
Oh joyous day. I was becoming concerned that, in a battle where I had so many favorites, none of them were going to make it to the final four. so many people seemed to think Daughter of Smoke and Bone would take this one and I couldn't begin to guess what E. Lockhart would do. I wa…

The Juliet Club

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper is fluffy fun, but intellectual fluffy fun. After all, it is fluffy fun that takes place during a Shakespeare seminar on Romeo and Juliet. It is perfect if you are in the mood to read a lighthearted romance with a little of the Bard thrown in for fun.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Italy . . . Shakespeare . . . but no romance?
Kate Sanderson inherited her good sense from her mother, a disciplined law professor, and her admiration for the Bard from her father, a passionate Shakespeare scholar. When she gets dumped, out of the blue, for the Practically Perfect Ashley Lawson, she vows never to fall in love again. From now on she will control her own destiny, and every decision she makes will be highly reasoned and rational. She thinks Shakespeare would have approved.
So when she is accepted to a summer Shakespeare symposium in Verona, Italy, Kate sees it as the ideal way to get over her heartbreak once and for all. She'll lose herself in her s…

A Little Wanting Song

I read and fell in love with Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (my review) a couple of months ago. I loved it so much I immediately ordered A Little Wanting Song, the only other Crowley book available in the US. I'm happy to say that it is also an excellent book and I really hope to get more from this author in the future.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she's good at it. But she only sings when she's alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus's Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie's mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she's visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She's got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she's not entirely unspectacular.
ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie&…

BoBs Round One Wrap Up, Round Two Picks

The Rest of Round One


Drawing From Memory
So many of my picks making it to the next round this year. So strange. Maybe reading all the books helps! I am excited to see Drawing From Memory joining them. This is a unique and wonderful autobiography. My favorite line from Judge Barbara O'Connor's decision: "And the experience felt personal, intimate, and casual, as if Say might whip out a napkin and draw a sketch while talking, or pull out a few paintings tucked lovingly in a box from long ago." This is exactly what is so appealing about this book.
Inside Out and Back Again
The alphabet made this first round really hard on me. Again, two books I really enjoyed were pitted against each other. This time the books in question weren't favorites though, just two I found a great deal of merit in. I would have liked to see Heart and Soul get some love since Inside Out and Back Again has gotten so much already, but I did enjoy Inside Out and Back Again more so I'm happy …

Peaceweaver

Peaceweaverby Rebecca Barnhouse was not just one of my most anticipated reads of 2012, it was THE MOST anticipated read of 2012. It has been pretty much since the moment I finished reading The Coming of the Dragon(my review) last year. If you read that book you will want to read this one. If you read this book you will want to read that one. It doesn't matter which one you read first. They are companion novels that are really stand alone stories. They overlap at their ends but they are about two different journeys. And Peaceweaver was everything I was hoping it would be. (And really, look at the cover and tell me how could you not want to read this book.)

Hild is the favored niece of the King of Shylfings. She has been given the honor of serving the mead in the Hall to her uncle's men, a position she is hoping will allow her to influence the men toward a peaceful existence that has been all but abandoned since her aunt, the queen, was taken ill. Unfortunately the king is unduly…

Marchetta Madness

This is the week. Over at Chachic's Book Nook it is Marchetta Madness and you will find a delectable range of posts dedicated to the amazing works of Melina Marchetta, including a fine poem dedicated to all her truly wonderful heroes. (Even if Will didn't get the love he oh so deserves in it.) I have tried to give Will a little of that deserved love in my post though which is now up. So go on over there and check out what I have to say about Saving Francesca and read all the other wonderful posts while you are over there. If you haven't yet read a Marchetta book you should probably get on that too.

Why We Broke Up

I was interested in Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, I admit, largely because I wanted to see what the author of The Series of Unfortunate Events could do in the world of contemporary YA. And writing from the PoV of a heartbroken 16 year old girl. Then it went an earned itself a Printz Honor and I became even more interested.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

This is a realistic and heart wrenching portrayal of a girl who has had her heart smashed to pieces, just as much by her own reckless wantings as by the …

The Mighty Miss Malone

A new Christopher Paul Curtis book is always something to get excited about. They are guaranteed kid pleasers as well as being excellent historical fiction. I used both Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 in my classroom. I was thrilled when The Mighty Miss Malone came out in January to have a new Curtis book to add to the others.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
"We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful" is the motto of Deza Malone's family. Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie's beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will…

BoBs 2012 Week One Winners

The first week of Battle of the Books has come to an end. We now know four of the titles that will be moving on to compete in Round 2. Here they are (with my reactions):

Amelia Lost
I am so excited that Amelia Lost is moving on to round two. I can't remember the last time a non-fiction book has excited me so much. I am happy to see it getting some love as it completely deserves it. My favorite quote from Judge Matt Phalen inhis decision: "Now that I think about it, Anya’s Ghost and Amelia Lost have more in common than their striking covers. Both books are constructed with precision, paced perfectly, and designed to lead you through these stories with confidence and invisible skill. Each book has moments of beauty and terror..." He also gets bonus points for the awesome "punk rock research" microfilm comment.

Between Shades of Gray
This is a battle it was hard for me to choose a favorite in, but in the end this is the one I chose and I'm happy to see it m…

Swift

R.J. Anderson's Swift was one of my most anticipated reads of 2012. Anderson is an auto-buy author for me, so much so that if her books (like this one) aren't going to be foreseeably available in the US I order them from the UK. Swift did not disappoint, it exceeded my expectations for it. Anderson brought the story that began in Knife (my review) to a brilliant conclusion with Arrow (my review). Swift takes place in Cornwall and deals with an entirely different group of magical beings, Piskies. While there is a definite overlap between the first trilogy and this book you can read Swift without reading the others. (Though why would you want to? And if you don't read them first you will definitely want to once you have finished this.)

Ivy is a Cornish piskey living with her family and people in an old mine. Ivy is different from the other female piskies. She is smaller and more fail and, most devastating to her, born without wings. Being different hasn't been easy on Ivy…

Marchetta Madness

Chachic is at it again bringing bloggers and fans together to celebrate a wonderful author and her work. This time it is Melina Marchetta, and from March 18-24 you can stop by Chachic's Book Nook and contribute fan posts of your own or, if you haven't yet, discover this amazing author. The event is entitled Marchetta Madness and is sure to be awesome because no one can do an event like this the way Chachic can.

BoBs Round One

Tomorrow, March 13, it begins. 16 books.15 Author Judges. Only 1 winner. The eliminations are about to begin. This would make an awesome reality TV show. (I would watch.) Until that happens you can follow the action here.

Here are my thoughts (I read all the books this year-I have lots of these.) and hopes. I don't do predictions because I'm really bad at the. I will be commenting on the site and tweeting (@brandymuses) daily, but I will only post reactions here on Friday and again next Thursday when Round One ends. Here are the brackets if you haven't seen them.

Tuesday, March 13

The Contenders: Amelia Lost (my Goodreads review)vs. Anya's Ghost (my Goodreads review)
My Thoughts: Amelia Lost is the most well plotted non-fiction book I have ever read. It has excellent characterization and, against all expectations, is suspenseful. It was one of my top reads of 2011. Anya's Ghost is an interesting and engaging graphic novel about a young Russian-American girl who comes…