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Showing posts from January, 2014

Black Dog

I love that when I pick up a Rachel Neumeier novel I am always surprised at what I end up getting. (In a very good way.) She is such a diverse writer and covers so many different types of fantasy and characters. I went into Black Dog the slightest bit wary because I don't ordinarily enjoy paranormal fantasy, but I trusted her enough to know it would probably be something I ended up liking in the end. I didn't like it, I LOVED it.

(This is a review of an ARC received in exchange for a fair review.)

Synopsis:
Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.
But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtere…

Musings on ALA Midwinter

As I posted on Friday, I attended the ALA Midwinter meeting in Philadelphia over the weekend. It was my first time, not only at Midwinter, but at any ALA event. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and learned so much. The adrenaline high I was on when I came out of the YMAs on Monday morning was unbeatable. I'm going to need to return just for that.

Here are some highlights of my weekend, chronicling the things I enjoyed the most.

The Youth Media Awards:

I watch these on my computer all by myself every year, BUT NOTHING can compare to actually being there for it. The energy and excitement in that room are palpable. Listening to the audience reactions on the webcast is nothing beside actually feeling it as it sweeps through the room. The one drawback is that I was unable to write my usual reaction post right away. And I won't be writing a full one up at all. My short thoughts: I love and adore the Schneider, Corretta Scott King, Belpre, and Caldecott committees to the moon and b…

Spell Robbers (Quantum League #1)

I'm a fan of Matthew Kirby and will read anything he writes, but when I discovered his new book was the beginning of a new series about kids with super-hero type powers I was even more excited than usual. While I've been able to encourage many of my students to read his other books, this is one whose very concept will sell it without me even having to say a word. Spell Robbers doesn't disappoint, delivering a story full of action, intrigue, and twists.

(This is a review of an ARC received in exchange for a fair review.)

Synopsis:
After Ben Warner is recruited to join a “science camp” led by the eccentric quantum physicist Dr. Madeleine Hughes, he quickly realizes it’s no regular science camp. Along with his new friend, Peter, Ben discovers the secret, powerful art of Actuation—the ability to change reality by simply imagining it differently.
When a mysterious group of men invade Dr. Hughes’s laboratory, abducting her and stealing her precious equipment, Ben and Peter are sudde…

Shorter Musings: YA Realistic

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. When these start to pile up, I put them together in one post.

Here are some YA Realistic books I've read recently.

The Boy on the Bridgeby Natalie Standiford 
I really enjoyed this book as a historical fiction on Soviet Russia and as a story of cultural collision. The setting is rendered incredibly well. The story has a true sense of place, and that was my favorite part of the book. I did have a hard time with the characters. I just couldn't trust Aloysha and felt that Laura was being too naive and trusting and I never connected with either as a result. Their relationship felt rushed and superficial even though it developed over the course of a semester.

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare had so many elements that could have been so good: the large loving Italian family, the boy and girl from different worl…

ALA Youth Media Awards

Monday is the day the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and assorted other award will be announced at ALA Midwinter. Usually I sit on the edge of my seat watching the webcast to see who will win. But this year, I WILL BE THERE IN PERSON. Yep, as this posts I'm on my way to Philadelphia for the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association. It's my first time attending and I'm so excited.

There are several lovely books I would like to see win this year. (And a handful I DO NOT, but I won't mention those. Keeping this positive.)  Regard this as a wish list and not predictions. It is what I want to see grab some shiny stickers. 
Newbery Award Hopefuls (In the order I read them): 




If you're thinking, wow she has a lot of fantasy on this list, you would be right. It was a good year for MG Fantasy. I also read all of it because I was a Cybils panelist in that category. I'm seriously lacking in non-fiction and poetry consumption this year. I wasn't really feelin…

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

I will admit it: sometimes I see things on NetGalley and think cute cover, MG fantasy, I want. And don't even read the synopsis. Particularly if the book is from a publisher whose books I typically like. Such was the case with Ophelia and the Marvelous Boyby Karen Foxlee. Then I began reading and discovered it was a retelling of "The Snow Queen". And it was good. 

Synopsis:
Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.
As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more ab…

TTT: Reading Wish List

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's TTT topic: Things on My Reading Wishlist

1. Friendships
I love romance, don't get me wrong. But friendship is an important part of everyone's life too and I love reading stories (such as Code Name Verity or Sorow's Knot) where friendship is the most important element of the story, and romance is not a part of that relationship at all.

2. Sibling Stories
MG books are good at this, but YA books aren't as much. I would like to see more of it in YA.

3. More Family Stories
I love Amy Spalding's books because she writes about families and how every member of a family impacts the others. I wish we had more books like this.

4. FUN Fantasy
like The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas or The Nightmare Dilemma by Mindee Arnett

5. Christian Protagonists
There really aren't a whole lot when you think about it.

6. Failure that Doesn't Lead to Romance
Let a YA protagonist fail and learn to move on with…

Cruel Beauty

"Beauty and the Beast" is my favorite fairy tale and it derives from my favorite myth, the myth of Eros and Psyche. I am drawn irresistibly to any story that plays off either of them in any way. It is why Till We Have Faces is my favorite C.S. Lewis novel (one of the reasons anyway). It is one of the (many) reasons The Queen of Attolia is my favorite book of all time. Yet I have never fallen in love with a full length novel that was a retelling of the fairy tale and not just using elements of it. Until now. Cruel Beautyby Rosamund Hodge is perfect for me as a reader in every way imaginable. 

Synopsis:
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything sh…

Moonkind

It always a bit sad when a trilogy or series I love comes to an end. Even though rereading is certainly an option, it is still a good-bye to the characters I have come to love. This is why I spent a couple days just gazing at the (very pretty) cover of Moonkind by Sarah Prineas before reading it. As sad as it is to say good-bye, Moonkind is a wonderful end to what has been a joyful reading experience since I first opened Winterling two years ago.
Synopsis:
As the Lady of the Summerlands, Fer has vowed to serve her people without the deception of the glamorie and she had trusted other leaders to fulfill the same promise. But not all the Lords and Ladies want to keep their oaths, and they've unleashed the consequences of their betrayal onto the lands. Only Fer, with the help of the puck-boy Rook, can fight the stillness invading the lands. But can she trust Rook? And can she protect her people before it's too late?

What I love most about this trilogy is how much about relationships…

SLJ BoB 2014

In case you missed it, the contenders for the School Library Journal Battle of the Books was posted yesterday. If you have never followed BoB before, it can be great fun. Sixteen books and fifteen author judges deciding between them. Honestly, I have mixed feelings on the process, but I get super invested in it at the same time. I love to root for the books I love, and hope the ones I don't like are eliminated early. Checking the judge's decisions is the first thing I do every day during the month of March, and boy can those be revelations in and of themselves. I have decide to read some authors based on the decisions they have written. And many decisions have left me scratching my head. But overall it is a tons of fun to follow and interact with other people who are as passionate about children's literature as I am.


This year I don't have an all time favorite as the competition begins. I have no idea what I'm going to do about the Undead Poll, but I'll cross t…

WoW: The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


Small towns have rules. One is, you got to stay who you are -- no matter how many murders you solve.
When Miss Lana makes an Accidental Bid at the Tupelo auction and winds up the mortified owner of an old inn, she doesn't realize there's a ghost in the fine print. Naturally, Desperado Detective Agency (aka Mo and Dale) opens a paranormal division to solve the mystery of the ghost's identity. They've got to figure out who the ghost is so they can interview it for their history assignment (extra credit). But Mo and Dale start to realize that the Inn isn't the only haunted place in Tupelo Landing. People can also be haunted by their own past. As Mo and Dale handily track down the truth about the ghost (with some help from the new kid in town), they discover the truth about a great many other people, too.


The Gho…

Roomies

The summer between senior year of high school and freshman year of college is an exhilarating and terrifying time in life. Torn between nostalgia for the past and  excitement for the future, it is a summer where everything is changing and yet a person tries to hold on (to varying degrees depending on the person) to what they are leaving behind. Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando captures this precarious and brief time period beautifully.

Synopsis:
It's time to meet your new roomie.
When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.
As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood frien…

Shorter Musings: MG Contemporary Fiction

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. When these start to pile up, I put them together in one post.

Here are some MG Contemporary books I've read recently.

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Garbenstein
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library has a large cast of characters all working toward the goal of winning the game and being the first to get out of the library. It is most certainly an engaging and fun read. It is rather clear who the winners will be almost from the beginning, so the fun is in seeing how they win, not if they are going to. And that is a lot of fun. It hinges on one particular child being so utterly irredeemable as to be a caricature of a villain though. Even as someone who loves books, the references and tossed out titles got to be a bit much and I wondered what they were in there for. Is the author trying to highlight books he loves? Books he thinks …

The Latte Rebellion

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson has been on my TBR for years. It's one of those books that I just kept pushing down the list for newer ones as they came out. Then I saw it on display while at the library a couple weeks ago and decided now was the time to read it. I'm glad I did. 

Synopsis:
When high school senior Asha Jamison gets called a "towel head" at a pool party, the racist insult gives Asha and her best friend Carey a great money-making idea for a post-graduation trip. They'll sell T-shirts promoting the Latte Rebellion, a club that raises awareness of mixed-race students.
Seemingly overnight, their "cause" goes viral and the T-shirts become a nationwide fad. As new chapters spring up from coast to coast, Asha realizes that her simple marketing plan has taken on a life of its own-and it's starting to ruin hers. Asha's once-stellar grades begin to slip, threatening her Ivy League dreams, and her friendship with Carey is hanging …

The Forbidden Stone (The Copernicus Legacy)

The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott is the first in a new fantasy adventure series called The Copernicus Legacy. Perfect for lovers of quests, spy stories, and secret societies it is a wild crazy ride around the world.

Synopsis:
It all began when four friends-Wade, Lily, Darrel, and Becca-received a strange, coded email from Wade's uncle Henry shortly before the old man's sudden death. They set off for Germany to attend the funeral with Wade's father, Roald, and discover that Uncle Henry left them yet another baffling message that they suspect is the key to figuring out how and why he died.
The message leads to a clue, and the more clues they discover, the farther they travel down a treacherous path toward an ancient, guarded secret. Soon they are in a breathless race across the globe, running for their lives as a dangerous shadow organization chases them around every corner. Their only hope of saving themselves-and the world that they know-is to find twelve magical relics fro…

Being Sloane Jacobs

I was utterly enchanted by Lauren Morrill's debut novel, Meant to Be(my thoughts). When the synopsis for her second novel, Being Sloane Jacobs, was released I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. It has such an intriguing concept and I knew that if Morrill brought the same magic she brought to Meant to Be, it would be very good indeed. I was excited when I was approved for the book on NetGalley. It is different from Meant to Be in many ways, but completely enjoyable and excellent in its own right.

Synopsis:
Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.
Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played…

Cybils Shortlists

The Cbyils Shortlists can be found here. As I mentioned back in October, I was a First Round Panelist for MG Speculative Fiction so that particular list is special to me. Now I know exactly what goes into this process: the work, the discussions, the compromises. I have to say that despite how time consuming it was it was one of my favorite things to do. I hope I have the opportunity to participate again. It was a great experience and I "met" someone wonderful people.
Here is the shortlist my panel decided upon:

Jinx by Sage Blackwood

Lockwood &Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Rose by Holly Webb

Sidekicked by John David Anderson

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

All of the other lists are wonderful too. (I particularly like the YA Fiction list.) Go check them all out!

Most Anticipated Reads of 2014

A new reading year has begun!!! There are a whole new crop of books to get excited about, and excited I am. Here are some of the books that I'm most eager to get my hands on.

MG Reads:



The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones (Release Date: 2/27)
Horizonby Jenn Reese (Release Date: 4/8)
Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson (Release Date: 4/8)
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier (Release Date: 5/20)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Release Date: 8/26)
YA Reads:


Cress by Marissa Meyer (Releases 2/4)
Death Sworn by Leah Cypess (Releases 3/4)
The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn  Moriarty (Releases 3/24)
The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt (Releases 5/6)
Winterspellby Claire Legrand (Releases 9/2)
And here are two 2014 releases I've already read that you should too:
(They both come out January 7th.)
What 2014 books are you anticipating?