November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Last Licks

There are so many great books, and every year we’re reading until the 11th hour to get in as many as possible. This year, between last minute reads and beloved books that didn’t seem like true contenders but deserve a shout-out, we find ourselves down to the final days before the YMAs with quite a […]

MOAR Morris

While Morris-Printz crossover isn’t exactly common, it’s happened twice —  in 2012, when Where Things Come Back took the double gold; and again in 2015, with sleeper hit The Carnival at Bray taking double silver. This season, we pretty much flubbed our Morris coverage; the debuts we covered earlier in the season were largely not […]

Pyrite Time

It’s Pyrite time! Did you think we weren’t doing it this year? Nah, we just wanted to wait until we’d covered as much as possible of the year’s best. We’ll be doing out best to adhere to the RealPrintz voting procedures, as follows: Any officially nominated book is eligible; in our case, that means anything […]

These Books Have Nothing in Common

That is, these books have nothing in common except their matching star count. But time is short and the books with positive reviews are many, so here we are, lumping them together. Russo’s If I Was Your Girl was on our list from the very beginning of the year. It’s a love story with a […]

Tales from Mother Russia

We’re back from a few days of rest, travel, and so much family, with yet another double post — always, as the year draws to a close, the double posts, because the good books just keep piling up. Today’s books in many ways have nothing in common — one historical fiction, absolutely realistic despite some […]

The Rest of the Best

I’m a little late to the party, but more lists! More books to read! More surprises, and also more alignment around the standout YA titles of 2016! We’ve already covered PW and SLJ (AKA the Mothership); now let’s look at Kirkus and The Horn Book from the trade side and NPR’s Book Concierge and The […]

The Lie Tree

Oh, The Lie Tree. For so long — since January, in fact, when I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC — I’ve been holding this up as an exemplar of great writing. Along with The Passion of Dolssa this has consistently held top billing in my head. It’s brilliant and unconventional; the writing is excellent; the […]

Railhead

Railhead, Philip Reeve Switch Press, April 2016 Reviewed from ARC Philip Reeve is underappreciated in the US. The Mortal Engines quartet was brilliant science fiction — pacy, philosophical, and heart-breaking. And then it was gone, apparently out of print. The prequel trilogy starring the incomparable Fever Crumb also failed to get as much traction as it […]

The Thin Line

I’m going to cheat a little today, and deviate from our attempts to review in roughly calendar order. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about middle grade and YA and all ages and the fine line between the Newbery and the Printz. We’ve had books on all ends snag awards, yes, but […]

Magical Realism

Magical Realism is hot: It’s the label attached to last year’s Printz winner Bone Gap, and it’s been popping up all over the YA and MG scene for the past few years. This year, again, offers us a handful of books in the genre. I’ve read three so far that deserve to be in the […]

Morris and Turner Contendas

Hello! It’s roundup time, today focused on contendas for awards other than the Printz. One of these awards is a real actual award, the William C. Morris YA Debut Award; the other is imaginary but no less real in my heart. The Morris you all know about, of course, and we’ve been covering several debut/Morris […]

It Begins…

Today, we interrupt our usual 3 review posts per week schedule to do our first list look. Because yes, it’s November, and yes, we’re in the rapid dash to the end of the year, and yes, the Best of lists have begun with PW’s, which landed last week. With only one list to look at, […]

It Begins…

Today, we interrupt our usual 3 review posts per week schedule to do our first list look. Because yes, it’s November, and yes, we’re in the rapid dash to the end of the year, and yes, the Best of lists have begun with PW’s, which landed last week. With only one list to look at, […]

The Passion of Dolssa

The Passion of Dolssa, Julie Berry Viking, April 2016 Reviewed from final copy 2016 has been, by and large, a strong year. Strong enough that I’ll be hard pressed to come up with my top 5 at the end of the season. But my top 2 are already decided, and after rereading The Passion of […]

When Good Authors Go Bad

Ok, I confess: the title of this post is mostly clickbait. I’m too much of a libra (and librarian) to be able to call these books anything as absolute as “bad.” The less clickbait, more classic title could be: In which the reader is disappointed in not one but two four-star books, by authors she […]

Symptoms of Being Human, Take 2

Symptoms of Being Human, Jeff Garvin Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), February 2016 Reviewed from final e-book Despite the title, this is probably more like take 4. This is somehow a hard review to write. I keep slipping away from the book itself and into all the things that surround this book: the importance of representation […]

The Dark Days Club

I’m going to tip my hand right at the outset: this is a fantastic slow burn of a novel that is also the first in a series, so let’s face it: award recognition here probably goes beyond long shot and right into impossible. But sometimes you sit down to write up the book you meant […]

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys Philomel, February 2016 Reviewed from ARC When we compiled our list of 25 contenders, we skipped Salt to the Sea. But not because we hadn’t read it: I read it back in something, and even gave it four stars on Goodreads. However, the longer I get from reading this […]

The Radiant Road

The Radiant Road, Katherine Catmull Dutton, January 2016 Reviewed from final e-book I mentioned last week that each of us has to assess excellence for ourselves, as well as coming to consensus when it comes time to pick a winner (or, for us, Pyrite winner). For me, excellence is deeply tied to language. I was […]

Anna and the Swallow Man

Anna and the Swallow Man, Gavriel Savit Knopf, January 2016 Reviewed from ARC For the first posted coverage of the season, I thought I’d start with one of the earliest publication dates on our list. Anna and the Swallow Man came out in January. It had huge pre-publication push; we received at least 4 copies […]