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December 18, 2014

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Drugged by Love?

Drugged by Love?

Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, September 2014 Reviewed from ARC So, I think I made it pretty clear last year that I really like Alaya Dawn Johnson’s style. She’s smart and she writes books that appeal to me as a reader. But if you dismiss this as just another fangirl [...]

The List, Revisited (and Shorter!), Plus Thoughts on Other Lists

The List, Revisited (and Shorter!), Plus Thoughts on Other Lists

Oh lists, we love you so! And it’s open season for year end lists — PW’s early entry was followed by SLJ, and then Kirkus, NPR, the New York Times, and Horn Book all joined the fray. Plus the Morris and Excellence in Nonfiction finalists were made public. SO MUCH DATA. It’s amazing. So let’s [...]

Books in Brief: Series

Books in Brief: Series

Some time in the next few days I’ll have a lot to say about the year end lists, and we’ll be going back and making some additional edits to our start of season list in light of time crunches and more data. Today, though, I’m taking a moment away from that madness to reflect on [...]

Roundup: Books That Pass the Bechdel Test

Roundup: Books That Pass the Bechdel Test

For years in my teens and early twenties, I read chick-lit like it was going out of style. I didn’t mind the label or the candy colored covers or the many many headless women — I was young, and not in love, and these books filled a hunger. I now scorn the love triangle in [...]

Why We Took the Car

Why We Took the Car

Why We Took the Car, Wolfgang Herrndorf (translated by Tim Mohr) Scholastic, January 2014 Reviewed from finished ebook I initially came across this one on Jen’s fabulous spreadsheet. Two stars doesn’t make it a must read, but I still haven’t quite recovered from The White Bicycle. It’s one thing to not have read a Printz [...]

A Time to Dance

A Time to Dance

A Time to Dance, Padma Venkatraman Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), May 2014 Reviewed from ARC Joy referenced the #weneeddiversebooks movement a few posts back, when she talked about two black ballerinas, one fictional and one actual. In some ways, A Time to Dance could have been included in that post: it’s a book about a [...]

The Gospel of Winter

The Gospel of Winter

The Gospel of Winter, Brendan Kiely Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster), January 2014 Reviewed from ARC It’s so hard when a book is completely admirable and worthy of discussion and yet I just can’t like it. Because now I’m torn between wanting lots of discussion on this and also wanting to move on to [...]

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean

The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, David Almond Candlewick, January 2014 Reviewed from finished ebook David Almond was one of the original Printz court (see my royalty pun there?). Skellig was an honor book in 2000, and then Kit’s Wilderness took the gold in 2001. Almond hasn’t stopped writing; at least in his [...]

Oh! Oh! List Season Has Begun!

Oh! Oh! List Season Has Begun!

I love me some year end lists. Sometimes they affirm, sometimes they challenge and sometimes they bring me totally new books that I would have otherwise missed. And that’s even before we get to the comparing lists stage of things. First up, released this weekend, we have the Publisher’s Weekly lists, which wins for affirming [...]

The Shadow Hero

The Shadow Hero

The Shadow Hero, story by Gene Luen Yang & art by Sonny Liew First Second, July 2014 Reviewed from final copy I don’t review graphic novels here that often, although I read most of them, because I always worry that I don’t know enough about art. But I know enough to know that this is [...]

Belzhar

Belzhar

Belzhar, Meg Wolitzer Dutton, September 2014 Reviewed from ARC There’s always some weird dance of anticipation and dread when an author you respect as an author for adult readers dips into the YA world. Happily, Meg Wolitzer is very clear eyed about YA and about why she writes YA — it’s not to jump on [...]

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling, Lucy Frank Schwartz & Wade, August 2014 Reviewed from final copy I’m old. This year, it has really come home to me that I have been doing this for a while, with the following exchanges: Me: Oooh, a new one from Cecil Castellucci! Joy: You mean the LA Review [...]

Poisoned Apples

Poisoned Apples

Poisoned Apples, Christine Heppermann Greenwillow, October 2014 Reviewed from ARC Gosh, it’s a good year for poetry, at least from a publishing perspective. And unlike Nelson’s gorgeous memoir that I will be hard pressed to sell to actual real live teen readers™, Poisoned Apples has appeal in spades. This was a later addition to our list, [...]

Kirkus Prize Finalists

Kirkus Prize Finalists

In case you missed the news when it was first announced, or the recent news of the finalists, Kirkus Reviews now offers a really excellent writing award — it’s monetary, to the tune of $50,000, which for many authors probably represents a lot more time to write. The nominee list — all the star reviews [...]

The Winner’s Curse

The Winner’s Curse

The Winner’s Curse, Marie Rutkoski Macmillan, March 2014 Reviewed from final copy Not gonna lie. I loved this book. I loved from the pretty dress cover — I know! But I’m a sucker — to the thoroughly unexpected world. I loved the lack of easy answers and the fact that there is more to come. [...]

Zac + Mia

Zac & Mia, A.J. Betts Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 2014 Reviewed from final copy Remember when teens with terminal illnesses were the stuff of Lurlene McDaniels and also the Wakefield twins’ brother’s girlfriend? And not literary fodder. Oh for the days of yore. But the cancer book seems here to stay, and this one puts [...]

NBA Longlist

NBA Longlist

I know, I know, it’s already old news — but it would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the NBA longlist in Young People’s Literature. There are a few surprises, as always, a few “of course” books, and a side of “wait, really?” There’s also a slant towards a type of book. Social conscience [...]

How I Discovered Poetry

How I Discovered Poetry

How I Discovered Poetry, Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Hadley Hooper Dial Books, January 2014 Reviewed from final copy Marilyn Nelson, author of the 2006 Printz honor book A Wreath for Emmett Till, is responsible for what may be this year’s most unique contender, pairing two genres only occasionally spotted in the YA world — memoir [...]

We Were Liars

We were liars

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart Delacorte, May 2014 Reviewed from ARC For the first formal writeup of the season, I thought I’d tackle the first likely contender I read (I read this one in late 2013, so I was early). Also, I know lots of people are itching to talk about it. First, pedigree: this [...]

The (Very Long) List

The (Very Long) List

We’ve got a list. We’ve checked it twice. (I want to make a naughty or nice joke, but really, naughty books just don’t make it on Printz contender speculation lists.) We’ve considered buzz, that strange ephemeral thing that happens on Goodreads and Twitter, we’ve looked at stars (shoutouts, ever and always, to Jen and her [...]