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 across a ghost eager to "help" her leave loserdom. It was good, but I felt it didn't really do anything American Born Chinese hadn't already done and done better. My pick is Amelia Lost.
Judge: Matt Phelan
Wednesday, March 14
The Contenders: Between Shades of Gray (my review) vs. Bootleg (my Goodreads review)
My Thoughts: Between Shades of Gray is a well paced engaging narrative about a time in history not widely explored. Bootleg is a well written account of Prohibition, the reasons behind it, and the consequences of it. Both are great representatives of their genres, but if forced to pick I enjoyed Between Shades of Gray more.
Judge: Gayle Forman
Thursday, March 15
The Contenders: The Cheshire Cheese Cat (my review) vs. Chime (my review)
My Thoughts: SOB! I can't tell you how much I curse the laws of the alphabet that put these two amazingly wonderful books up against each other in the first round. Both are a language lovers delight. Both excel at what they are trying to do. Both are among the finest examples of their genres. Neither have received enough recognition for their excellence. Sigh. But only one can win and I want it to be Chime.
Judge: Sy Montgomery
The Contenders: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (my review) vs. Dead End in Norvelt (my review)
My Thoughts: Here we have this year's Newbery winner taking on a paranormal. I am not a fan of paranormals of any kind, but Daughter of Smoke and Bone is so well written it almost, but not quite, made me not care that it was paranormal. Dead End in Norvelt on the other hand didn't impress me much at all. I found it rather long and largely forgettable so I'm going to have to go choose Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
Judge: Sara Zarr
Monday, March 19
The Contenders: Drawing from Memory (my Goodreads review) vs The Grand Plan to Fix Everything (my review)
My Thoughts: An autobiography of a young man in Japan realizing his dream of studying art with his idol against a contemporary fiction about a superfan of a Bollywood star. Another interesting match up. I don't feel strongly about this one. I enjoyed both books but neither of them wowed me. If asked I would choose Drawing from Memory. (Bit, who was sitting next to me as I typed this, disagrees.)
Judge: Barbara O'Connor
Tuesday, March 20
The Contenders: Heart and Soul (my Goodreads review) vs Inside Out and Back Again (my review)
My Thoughts: All of my favorites are pitted against each other in the first round. Highly annoying. I loved both of these books. Heart and Soul is a beautiful book full of the most wonderful illustrations that tell as much of a story as the words that accompany them. Inside Out and Back Again is a blank verse novel that made me love it despite its blank verseness. It paints a picture of a beautiful place torn to pieces by the ugliness of war and one survivor and her family who have to make a new life in a place that doesn't make it easy for them. My favorite here, but only by a smidgeon, is Inside Out and Back Again.
Judge: Sarah Weeks
Wednesday, March 21
The Contenders: Life: An Exploded Diagram (my review) vs A Monster Calls (my review)
My Thoughts: I couldn't make it all the way through Life. My review is a longer explanation of why. Short version: The writing is excellent, but it is long and very definitely not my cup of tea. A Monster Calls was one of my favorite reads of 2011. It has been a long time since a book has had me in a puddle, but this one did. I love everything about it. My pick is most definitely A Monster Calls
Judge: Lauren Myracle
Thursday, March 22
Contenders: Okay for Now (my review) vs Wonderstruck (my review)
My Thoughts: I love what Brian Selznick does combining words and pictures. Wonderstruck was a wonderful read and I have appreciated its impact on my daughter especially. But Doug Swieteck stole my heart and he is not letting it go so I have to choose Okay for Now.
Judge: Jeff Kinney
I am eager to see just how wrong my predictions are (the ones in my head that I'm not sharing with you) and how my favorites do. Expect some