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Showing posts from March, 2013

SLJ BoB: The Finals

Sigh. No surprises in Lynne Rae Perkins's decision. I can't say I'm pleased, but I'm also not surprised. Those of  us who haven't drunk the John Green Kool Aid can only shake our heads and mutter. Perkins did at least give a decent reason for her choice and I liked how she pointed out faults she found with both books. Fault laments the prospect of oblivion, of living and dying and leaving no trace.  And then concludes that it might not be such a bad thing.  Bomb tells us about individuals who did leave a trace, and how some came to feel deep regret, or at least ambivalence, about having done so.

I enjoyed reading the decision for this written by James Patterson. Which marks the first time I can say I've enjoyed reading something he's written. This seriously made me like him so much more and will think of him far more fondly in the future. Is it too late for us to redefine who we’re calling heroes in this country? Can’t the booksellers, the librarians, …

Jinx

Jinx by Sage Blackwood was meant for me. The cover and synopsis drew me to it hard enough to buy it even though I don't usually buy books by authors whose work I don't already trust. This time it paid off and paid off well.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
In the Urwald, you don’t step off the path. Trolls, werewolves, and butter-churn riding witches lurk amid the clawing branches, eager to swoop up the unwary. Jinx has always feared leaving the path—then he meets the wizard Simon Magnus.
Jinx knows that wizards are evil. But Simon’s kitchen is cozy, and he seems cranky rather than wicked. Staying with him appears to be Jinx’s safest, and perhaps only, option. As Jinx’s curiosity about magic grows, he learns to listen to the trees as closely as he does to Simon’s unusual visitors. The more Jinx discovers, the more determined he becomes to explore beyond the security of well-trod paths. But in the Urwald, a little healthy fear is never out of place, for magic—and magicians—…

The Final Four

Sigh. I wanted Code Name Verity to win this, but I adore Bomb as well and it is nice to see a non-fiction title move on. I have to say though that I was saddened and angered by this decision. Not due to its outcome, but due to the way Donna Jo Napoli wrote it. It wasn't so much a comparison of the strengths or weaknesses of the books as it was two really long summaries with a short apples and oranges paragraph at the end that said nothing significant. (I was really hoping Roger Sutton would cure the judges of that ridiculous analogy.) If one of my students wrote this I would give it back and make them do it over. For two such powerfully moving books to be given such cursory treatment is just wrong. Also, "I won’t say how, because how is what makes this book such a powerful heart-breaker, and if you haven’t yet read it, I won’t spoil it for you." What was that??? Too late by that point.

Martine Leavitt mentions in her decision that she had a hard time feeling Sophie…

A Corner of White

I enjoyed Jaclyn Moriarty's Ashbury/Brookfield series (my thoughts) quite a bit and I was  eager to see what she would do with a fantasy book. What she did is amazing.A Corner of White is absolutely wonderful. It is a combination of contemporary and fantasy that does both well and brings to life a cast of characters that you want to know and love.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).
Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.
As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, the…

SLJ BoB: Round One Wrapped Up, Round Two Hopes

Battle Five Winner:
I was rooting for Jepp, Who Defied the Stars but I truly loved both books and don't think either one has received enough recognition. It is also nice to see a MG pick move on to Round Two. Adam Gidwitz's decision went on and on and on. (I skimmed a lot and found myself wishing he would get to the point sooner rather than later. I have this feeling when reading his books too. His style of writing and my style of reading are just not meant for each other.) Still, gems like this one can be found: So the sentence-level work is very effective. Her chapters, and the stories that interrupt them, are also expertly crafted; Lin manages her pacing and our expectations so that each chapter break makes us smile or sigh.

Battle Six Winner:
Oh so sad. I love Liar & Spy. I still feel Splendors and Glooms is more book than is necessary and would have benefited from being shortened. Still it is a wonderfully Gothic and creepy, with an excellent villain. The best part …

Garden Princess

I am always excited when a new princess tale comes out. I unashamedly love them. Garden Princess by Kristin Kladrup is a lovely new addition to this genre.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Princess Adela is not a typical princess. She’s neither particularly beautiful nor particularly graceful, and she’d rather spend her days digging new plots for her garden than listening to teatime gossip. But when her friend Garth is invited to a garden party hosted by Lady Hortensia — whose beauty is said to be rivaled only by the loveliness of her gardens — Adela can’t resist coming along, even if it means stuffing herself into a too-tight dress and donning impractical shoes. But the moment Adela sets eyes on Hortensia’s garden, she knows something is amiss. Every single flower is in bloom — in the middle of October! Not only that, there is a talking magpie flitting about the garden and stealing the guests’ jewels. Is it possible that Hortensia is a witch and the magpie an enchanted prince? …

Going Vintage

I have looked forward to reading Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt since I first heard of it. The concept. The cover. And I really enjoyed Leavitt's previous work, Sean Griswold's Head (my thoughts). I had expectations for this book. Big ones. And it was everything I wanted it to be.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off boys. She also swears off modern technology. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides to "go vintage" and return to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn't cheat on you online). She sets out to complete grandma's list: run for pep club secretary, host a dinner party, sew a homecoming dress, find a steady, do something dangerous. But the list is trickier than it looks. And obviously finding a steady is out . . . no matter how good Oliver (Jeremy's cousin) smells. But with the help of her sister, sh…

Princess for Hire Trilogy

I adore Lindsey Leavitt's YA books. Sean Griswold's Head(my thoughts) is a wonderful story about family, friendship, and just a little bit of romance. Going Vintage has all the same elements plus, and is one of the best books I have read so far this year. (My review for this will post on Monday.) After finishing Going Vintage I decided that I should give Leavitt's fantasy trilogy for younger readers a try. They were so much fun to read.

Desi is a social outcast whose former best friend stole her crush. Added to that she has to spend her summer vacation dressed as a giant rodent for her job. Desi could use a little magic in her life. When she tells a fish at the pet store her troubles she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that Desi has magic and her fish conversation alerts the people who need to know this. Next thing Desi knows she is signing a contract to be a princess substitute, she applies a little magical make-up and transforms into the princess she will …

SLJ BoB: Round One Reactions: Part One

I know I said I was going to wait until the end of Round One and only do one reaction post combined with my Round Two hopes and predictions this year. But then I realized that would be the longest post ever and that  there's a reason I always do two Round One posts. This works better for me.

It is a good thing that BoB usually aligns perfectly with my kids' three week Spring break. That way I don't have to feel guilty about checking it first thing in the morning rather than starting school.

Battle One Winner:
I was counting on Kenneth Oppel to make this decision. I get why people love Wonder and want to get it into the hands of kids. I have done my share of pushing that book-with mixed results. Bomb is an extraordinary work of narrative non-fiction, riveting and informative. As Oppel said in his decision: Intercutting multiple plot lines, Sheinkin tells of the story of the making of the atomic bomb with all the urgency and pacing of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie...Best of al…

Audrey Wait!

Audrey Wait!by Robin Benway came to my attention when Chachic and Heidi read it together and both wrote reviews of it. It sounded like one of those fun stories just perfect for when you had a bad week and need a good unwinding book. It was exactly that and I'm so glad I had it on hand when I had such a week.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
California high school student Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, the lead singer of a little band called The Do-Gooders. Evan writes, “Audrey, Wait!” a break-up song that’s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous!
Now rabid fans are invading her school. People is running articles about her arm-warmers. The lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse. (And the Internet is documenting her every move!) Audrey can't hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi.
Take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, has outrageous amounts of fun, …

Mirage

Sequels are scary things. This is why I approached reading Mirage by Jenn Reese with equal parts excitement and trepidation. I LOVED Above World (my thoughts) so much. I wanted to love this one. I needed to love it because I haven't loved many books yet this year. It fulfilled all of that yearning plus some.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The desert is no place for ocean-dwelling Kampii like Aluna and Hoku, especially now that Aluna has secretly started growing her tail. But the maniacal Karl Strand is out to conquer the Above World, and the horselike Equians are next on his list. Aluna, Hoku, and their friends — winged Calli and Equian exile Dash — race to the desert city of Mirage, intent on warning the Equians. When they arrive, Strand’s clone, Scorch, has gotten there first. Now the Equian leader has vowed to take all his people to war as part of Strand’s army. Any herd that refuses to join him by the time of the desert-wide competition known as the Thunder Trials will be …

2013 BoB: Round One

Battle of the Books begins on Tuesday!!!! My anticipation level at this point is pretty high. I get ridiculously excited about this every year. Usually I have one book that I love and want to see win, and one that I want to see go down quick. That is not the case this year. While I do have a favorite, I also have several other books I love in the battle. And I didn't loathe any of them. I sort of don't know what to do with that.

Here is a quick look at my rating stats for the 16 books in the competition.
5 stars: 5
4 stars: 9
3 stars:  2

That doesn't mean there is still not plenty of angst about favorites happening here. Because I do have definite thoughts about certain match-ups. And while there is no book inspiring the feelings of loathing in me that some in the past have, there is one I would rather not see win.

Anyway here are MY picks for Round One. And this  year I'm going to try my hand at predicting what the judges will pick as well. It should be funny to see …