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Showing posts from November, 2012

Characters Who Captured My Heart in 2012

As I have said many many many times: I love characters. Characters are why I love to read. As we arrive at the time of year when lists of the best books start to come, I like to take time to focus on the characters I fell in love with. I did this last year and it was a nice way to look back over the year's reading. Some of these books won't end up making my Best Reads of 2012 list, and yet I still feel the need to recognize them for making me love the characters whose stories they told. Links are to my reviews. Fer and Rook There is so much to love about Winterling , but Fer and Rook make up the best part of that love for me. Particularly Rook. I always love characters who are heroic and angry about being heroic at the same time. Good stuff. Julie and Maddie Just typing their names made me tear up. Again. Code Name Verity is just the most beautiful story of friendship, heroism, courage, and humanity that has been written in a long time. There is a definite need to av

Waiting on Wednesday: Going Vintage

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine , that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. I am so so so excited about this book, Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt. 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, she’ll get it done. Somehow. ( from Author's Website ) Oh so many things about this have me excit

Meant to Be

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill is a book I discovered via Bookshelvers Anonymous when she did a Cover Love post on it. (The cover is certainly deserving of love.) Then I read the synopsis and knew there was no way I was going to miss out on on reading it. Julia is on a junior class trip over spring break to London. London! This is the city where her parents honeymooned. The country that gave birth to three of her favorite things: The Beatles, Jane Austen, and Shakespeare. Julia's is excited and ready to take in every piece of knowledge and experience that could be enriching. She is prepared. Julia is always prepared. She is a planner and even knows who her MTB (meant-to-be) is, Mark the boy she shared a backyard wedding with when she was in Kindergarten.  She is the sort of girl who memorizes her itinerary, never goes anywhere without a book, always has sharpened pencils (and a pencil sharpener-just in case), and carries a pocket Shakespeare with her. She is ready for anything.

Capture the Flag

Fans of National Treasure type mysteries will love Capture the Flag by Kate Messner. It is a fun read that will probably make most MG readers happy indeed. Synopsis (from Goodreads): Three kids get caught up in an adventure of historic proportions! Anna, José, and Henry are complete strangers with more in common than they realize. Snowed in together at a chaotic Washington D.C. airport, they encounter a mysterious tattooed man, a flamboyant politician, and a rambunctious poodle named for an ancient king. Even stranger, news stations everywhere have announced that the famous flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" has been stolen! Anna, certain that the culprits must be snowed in too, recruits Henry and José to help catch the thieves and bring them to justice. But when accusations start flying, they soon realize there's more than justice at stake. As the snow starts clearing, Anna, José, and Henry find themselves in a race against time (and the weat

What Type of Reader are You?

There has been a lot of discussion revolving around gender and books lately. A lot a lot a lot. I'm most certainly one who doesn't like it when books are divided into "girl" books and "boy" books. It drives me a little crazy actually, but many others more eloquent than I have written about why. I bring it up simply because it was a post on Heavy Medal entitled Girls vs. Boys that sent me down the road to writing this post. In the comments of the post there was an attempt to come with a different labels for what was being referred to besides "girl" and "boy". "Emotion" and "adrenaline" seem to have won the day. As Nina points out in the comments though, these are generalizations too and they don't entirely work either. My favorite books have plenty of both. I mention in one of the comments there that I am a fantasy reader. Again a generalization. And as Nina again pointed out-one that doesn't always work. And

Waiting on Wednesday: Mirage by Jenn Reese

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Back in July I read and fell in love (in a big way) with Jenn Reese's Above World ( my thoughts ). I loved the world building and the themes. Most importantly I loved the characters. All of them. But I have to admit Dash wormed his way into my heart a little deeper than the others. (That snarky charisma thing-it is my weakness.) I am sure he is going to play a prominent role in sequel as it takes place in the land he was exiled from. A couple of weeks ago Jenn revealed the cover and synopsis and I nearly swooned. As if I wasn't excited enough already: 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, Hok

The Boneshaker

I read The Broken Lands ( my thoughts ) by Kate Milford a couple months ago and loved it. Loved it so much I nominated it for the Cybils . Loved it so  much I immediately bought a copy of The Boneshaker , Milford's previous novel to which The Broken Lands is a prequel. Despite being a companion novel to The Broken Lands and having some of the same characters it is a very different book. And just as awesome. Synopsis (from Goodreads): Thirteen year-old Natalie Minks loves machines, particularly automata—self operating mechanical devices, usually powered by clockwork. When Jake Limberleg and his traveling medicine show arrive in her small Missouri town with a mysterious vehicle under a tarp and an uncanny ability to make Natalie’s half-built automaton move, she feels in her gut that something about this caravan of healers is a bit off. Her uneasiness leads her to investigate the intricate maze of the medicine show, where she discovers a horrible truth, and realizes that o

2012 Recommended Lists

Every year I start getting requests around the beginning of November from friends, relatives, parents of students asking me what new books are out there that would make good Christmas gifts. So last year I made a master list with Picture Books, MG Books and YA books. This year I made the master list AND boards on Pinterest for each category. Also, this time I compiled it as I read throughout the year rather than waiting until the day I needed it. Go me! So today I'm sharing it with the world in the hopes that it will be beneficial to someone somewhere. In order to make the lists I had to give the book at least 3 stars on Goodreads. I have made note of my favorites in each category though. I obviously haven't read all the books that came out this year and I still have some I'm waiting to get to. I will continue to update the lists as I read more books. The Pinterest boards will probably be updated more regularly as they are easier. Picture Book Pinterest Board MG Book

Starry River of the Sky

Starry River of the Sky   is the companion novel to Grace Lin's Newbery Honor winning Where the Mountain Meets the Moon . Just like its predecessor the book is a work of visual art, and this time I think the narrative is even more well done. Synopsis (from Goodreads): The moon is missing from the remote Village of Clear Sky, but only a young boy named Rendi seems to notice! Rendi has run away from home and is now working as a chore boy at the village inn. He can't help but notice the village's peculiar inhabitants and their problems-where has the innkeeper's son gone? Why are Master Chao and Widow Yan always arguing? What is the crying sound Rendi keeps hearing? And how can crazy, old Mr. Shan not know if his pet is a toad or a rabbit? But one day, a mysterious lady arrives at the Inn with the gift of storytelling, and slowly transforms the villagers and Rendi himself. As she tells more stories and the days pass in the Village of Clear Sky, Rendi begins t


Enchanted by Alathea Kontis is a fairy tale reworking combining several fairy tales, most notably "The Frog Prince". And "Cinderella". And "Sleeping Beauty". And "Jack and the Beanstalk".  Yes, all of them. And that is only the beginning. Synopsis (from Goodreads): It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true. When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises. The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. Bu

Favorite Picture Books of 2012

November is Picture Book Month ! This is the one time of year I do anything about picture books on this blog. The MG/YA scene is more my thing. Still I read a lot of picture books every year too and this is the perfect time to share my favorites. I said last year and I'll say again, the only criteria used for this list is that I and my test subjects thoroughly enjoy the books. My test subjects (at Boo in the Zoo): And Then It's Sprin g by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead This is a story of the changing of the seasons and the cycle of life-and the patience and waiting involved in both-as seen through the eyes of a young child. Fogliano's prose are spare and to the point and Stead's art is a perfect match down to every detail. Chopsticks by Amy Krause Rosentha , illustrated by Scott Magoon This one is a big hit, I and the kids all prefer it to Spoon . (And we like Spoon quite a lot.) It is "Not exactly a sequel to Spoon. More like a chan