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Showing posts from January, 2015

ALA Midwinter 2015 and the YMAs

Today I am off to Chicago for the fun that is the ALA Midwinter meeting. There is so much I'm looking forward to (not the least of which is getting to meet Maureen in person for the first time). If you follow me on Twitter , you will see many tweets about what I'm experiencing including the hilarity and wisdom that comes from the teen feedback session in the BFYA committee. Of course, what us kidlit enthusiasts are most psyched up for are the announcements of the Youth Media Awards on Monday morning. Here are some of my thoughts on what I hope to see with shiny new stickers on their covers on Monday. The Big Winner: This one should come away with more than one sticker. Let's be honest. We're all going to fall over in shock if it doesn't. It should garner a Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery (I'm betting THE Newbery and not an honor), and could even snag a Printz (though that is less likely). Some other books I would love to see get some Newbery love

The Unnaturalists

The Unnaturalists  by Tiffany Trent is one of those books that sat on my TBR for a long while that I wished I had read sooner. It is a creative look at a parallel world and such a fun story. Vespa Nyx loves working on the exhibits in The Museum of Unnatural History where her father is the curator. Unlike most girls her age, Vespa is not at all concerned about making a good marriage. She wants to be a Pendant and study the world around her and all the Unnaturals she can find. There hasn't been a female Pendant since the first Emporer's daughter, Athena, and she is not remembered well. In addition to being a Pendant she was also a witch. She was executed. When Vespa discovers that she too has powerful magic, her entire world is turned upside down and everything she thought she believed in shattered. In the rail yards on the outskirts of New London, Syrus Reed lives with his family of Tinkers. Closely bound to the magic of the land, the Tinkers are shunned and looked down upon

TTT: Books I'd Want to Read With a Book Club

Top Ten Tuesday  is a Meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish This week's TTT topic: Books with a Book Club (In my case this is an imaginary book club as I'm not in one.) Here are the books I would want to force on everyone else: Books I would want others to choose because I'm not sure if I will make them a big enough priority otherwise (even though I really do want to read them): What books would you want to read in a book club?


I love "Beauty and the Beast" in all its variations and have a difficult time passing up retellings of it. When I discovered Beastkeeper  by Cat Hellisen, I was elated that it was not only a retelling of my favorite fairy tale, but also gender swapped. A girl beast. Family secrets. Magical forest. Creepy castle. Check all my favorite things off right there, and Hellisen does some interesting things with her story. First: Two thumbs way up for the cover designer on this one. It is beautiful. Sarah has spent her entire life moving. Her mother seems to be running away from cold. Her father seems desperate to keep her mother happy. Until one night when her mother stops running with them and runs away from them. There's nothing her father can do to stop it. In the days that follow Sarah notices  her father turning in more and more, becoming a little wild around the edges. Then he takes her to live with the grandparents she never knew she had and Sarah discovers secrets and

Stella by Starlight

Stella by Starlight  by Sharon Draper is an engaging and excellent work of historical fiction that perfectly captures the time prior to the beginning of the Civil Rights movements, but that shows its beginnings. It is more than that too. It is a story about community, family, and one girl who dreams by starlight and yearns to make her world bigger and better. Stella's world is changed one night when her brother wakes her up to show her a scary sight. Across the pond they can see the eerie light of a cross on fire. This can mean only one thing. The Klan is again active in their town of Bumblebee. Fear makes its way across the black community and Stella is questioning all the injustices around her. Why do she and her friends go to a smaller different school? Why do they have less books and older supplies? Why do they all have to live in fear and keep their heads down? But things are changing. The Depression has started and people are longing for a change. Three of the men, includ

Moonpenny Island

Moonpenny Island   by Tricia Springstubb is a book about family and friendship that is perfect for MG readers who enjoy quiet introspective reads. Flor and Sylvie have lived on Moonpenny Island all of their lives and are the best of friends. Living on a small island in the middle of a great lake, the girls are really each other's only option for friends. The summer people come and they go and there are not that many island residences. But they have a deep and strong friendship bonded by more than just convenience. Everything is about to change for the girls as Sylvie is being sent to the mainland to live with her aunt and uncle so she has better opportunities at school. Flor is devastated. Before her world can right itself, Flor's mother then leaves to help take care of her sick mother. But is that just an excuse? Flor knows how bad things are between her parents. They are always fighting. Flor is determined nothing else in her world will change and focuses on keeping her tee

TTT Favorite Series

Top Ten Tuesday  is a Meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish This week's TTT topic: This week's topic is a freebie and I chose Favorite Series (In no particular oder) The Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner Faery Rebels (Including Ivy's Books ) by R.J. Anderson The Chrestomanci Chronicles by Diana Wynne Jones The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander Harry Pottter by J.K. Rowling  Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery The Lion Hunters by Elizabeth Wein Murry Family Books by Madeleine L'Engle What are your favorite series of all time? 

This Side of Home

What attracted me to This Side of Home by Renee Watson was the cover. The story hooked my interest. The characters made me fall in love. Maya has lived her entire life in the same neighborhood in Portland hanging out with the same group of friends: her twin sister Nikki, their best friend Essence, and Ronnie, Malachi, and Devin-three boys her father mentors. They have plans for the future that involve each other: prom, college, life. But things in their neighborhood are changing. People are moving in and starting new businesses. Property values are going up as a result. In addition to change, this is also causing trouble. Essence has to move out of her  house when the owner decides he can make more money selling it than renting it. The racial demographics of the school, which has been mostly African American, is shifting. This presents new challenges and choices for Maya and her friends. It brings new people into their lives at the same time. Maya has to figure out how-and if-she wa

All the Answers

Whether or not I would read All the Answers  wasn't even up for debate. It's a new Kate Messner MG and those are always a popular commodity among the kids I work with. I always enjoy them myself too. Ava has a math test and needs a pencil. Grabbing one old blue one from a junk drawer, she is on her way and can focus on worrying about how she always forgets what she needs when taking a test no matter how much she studies. But a strange thing happens when she takes the test. She writes down a question and a voice answers. Soon Ava realizes the voice is coming from the pencil itself, but only the person holding the pencil can hear it. With her best friend Sophie, Ava begins to explore exactly what the pencil knows and what it can do. The girls decide to use the pencils powers to help others like the people who live with Ava's grandfather at the nursing home. Ava's worries about her family soon begin to consume her and she uses the pencil as a way to address them and soon

TTT: 2014 Releases I Meant to Read But Didn't Get To

Top Ten Tuesday  is a Meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish This week's TTT topic: 2014 Releases I Meant to Read But Didn't Get To Some fiction, some non-fiction, some MG, some YA: These are the seven books from 2014 still high on my priority list.

Love, Lucy

Love, Lucy  by April Lindner is a book I was equal parts nervous and excited about reading. I heard good things about Lindner's first two novel retellings (though I never read them as I don't like the original novels). Love, Lucy  however, is a retelling of a novel I do like, A Room with a View . While I always am excited about reworkings of old favorites, I'm also wary because reworking a classic into a modern tale is not as easy as it sounds. It isn't just about transferring a story into the present. I think Love, Lucy  does the reworking part well. It may fall short in some areas for readers who have never read A Room with a View  though. Note on cover: Who is that girl???? That is not how Lucy is described in the book. Lucy Sommersworth is on a backpacking tour of Europe following her senior year of high school. This is the trip she got from her father for her agreement to give up acting and major in business. The part of the trip Lucy is most excited about is I

Perfect Couple

Last year's Biggest Flirts  was the book that introduced me to Jennifer Echols. I've read a lot of her books this year and have come to the conclusion that she doesn't get nearly enough credit for how good she is. I've been continuously struck book after book by her characters' diverse voices and their genuine teen experiences that are as diverse as they are. Perfect Couple , the first of two 2015 releases by Echols and the second book in her Superlatives series, is actually my favorite yet. Harper is her yearbook's photographer. With dreams of going to art school and maybe being a photojournalist someday, she is focused on her future but has always given careful attention to her artistic side as well. She designs and makes her own clothes to fit a retro style she came up with all on her own. Her boyfriend is the kind of guy who fits her image. He is also artsy, enjoys indie films, and talks about social consciousness a lot. There is no great chemistry or ro


Early evidence indicates that 2015 will be a good year for realistic MG. I'm hoping. Honey  by Sarah Weeks is certainly an excellent indication of things to come. Melody is fairly happy with her life the way it is. She has security and knows her father loves her. Melody's mother died in childbirth, and the one things she wishes she could add to her family is a mom for her and a wife for her dad. She has wished it on too many birthdays to count. When her dad begins singing, smiling secretly to himself, and becomes more absent minded than normal, Melody knows something is up. Then she overhears him call someone "honey" on the phone and realizes he must be in love. Melody is thrilled until she starts to think about all the reasons her father has kept this from her. Is it because he's fallen for someone he knows she won't like? Someone like her awful hateful teacher? Melody and her best friend embark on an investigation that leads to more discoveries than Melody

Cybils Shortlists and The Ones That Got Away

The Cybils Finalists were announced yesterday bringing Round One to an end. Now it's all in the hands of the Round Two panelists. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as Round One panelist for a second year. Being involved in this process and such a great award is a true privilege. I was a panelist for  MG Speculative Fiction and am rather proud of the finalists  we ended with:   Here are some of the books that were nominated that I really enjoyed (and some of them I LOVE), but which didn't make in on the final list for various reasons.