Sunday, January 25, 2009

My meager predictions for the ALA Awards.

Though by the time 99% of you read this, you'll already know the answer. I'm not going into deep analysis with this, and I'm only covering the really high profile ones (I really sucked at reading this year, I feel very disconnected).


I'm going to keep mum on the Printz, just because I wouldn't be even a little surprised to see titles from my Cybils list show up there - and I'm pledged to total secrecy on what I think about Cybils titles. But, if Audrey, Wait!, Frankie, I Know It's Over, Jellicoe Road, Sweethearts, Ten Cents a Dance and/or Thaw makes it, I'm counting it as though I called it. Are you cool with that?

However, if we were to branch out into non-Cybils YA finalists, for which I have no Cybils secrecy obligations, I wouldn't be surprised to see Nation. I don't think we'll see Octavian Nothing, Volume II, as I don't think it stands alone well enough. I would love to see The Adoration of Jenna Fox, but I'm not holding my breath. I don't think there's a chance in hell The Hunger Games will make it, despite all the buzz (but really, what do I know?). I would be happy with Graceling, but find that event unlikely. I wouldn't blink at What I Saw And How I Lied. Mostly because my mother assures me it is excellent - and I listen to my mother. Most of the time. I think Impossible has an outside chance, although I'm not as enchanted with it as many are. I feel the same way about Chains, though it's got more than an outside chance. With the Newbery, too, methinks.

While I think that John Green's Paper Towns is actually better than An Abundance of Katherines (I have a review of PT I started back in July that touches this topic - a review I still haven't posted. I'm weird.) I think that there would be open rebellion if John Green got up there again. But you never know. Which is why all this speculation by me is something I'm not getting worked up about. I'm just spouting off. I love this stuff.

Hmm. I didn't keep very mum, did I?


Shooting the Moon. God I loved this book. Seriously one of my favorites this year. So touching, so well balanced.

The Underneath. Everyone I know who's read this one won't shut up about it. Srsly. They have me convinced, but I haven't read it yet. I will.

The Graveyard Book. Can't decide if it should be teen or not. Might be a tad controversial. Don't really care, as I haven't read it, even though I think I have two copies floating about my house. Probably will, eventually, but who knows.

And, as we all know, The Ever Prestigious Newbery Award will do whatever it wishes.


What To Do About Alice? Ok, this might just be my picture book biography bias (did you know I had one?), but it's also deliciously illustrated by Seattleite (whom I've not yet met, but keep meaning to track down & interview) Edwin Fotheringham.

Wabi Sabi. 'Cause it's pretty. And already feels like a classic. I love the texture and depth of the pictures as well as the integration of the words.

I'm setting my alarm tomorrow for 6:45am even though I have the day off. I'm gluing myself to the awards Twitter account. Actually, I think I'll set Twitter up to txt me the ALA tweets, so I don't have to get out of bed. Yes, that sounds like the PERFECT solution! Awesome! I'm excited! And, now that I think about it, the fact that I'm excited makes me feel like a total dork. But whatever. Still excited.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Veronica Mars Movie!

No, really! I'm so there.

Rob Thomas says a Veronica Mars movie his next project (which means it's a long ways off) and that it'll probably take place a few days before her college graduation.

Thomas: '"I've talked to Jason Dohring, I've talked to Enrico Colantoni and I've talked to Kristen, obviously. I know that Kristen wants to do it. I want to do it."

As for funding, Thomas reveals: 'Joel Silver does have a certain pile of money that he can decide on, and he called me asking, ‘Can we do this now?' "

This is the best week Ever!

via Mom. Thanks, Mom!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Year's Blog Resolutions

Ok, so it's practically the middle of the month. But that's about what you'd expect from me, right?


1. Read More
2. Blog More
3. Review More
4. Publicly keep track of the books I read via Google Docs.

So far I'm failing at #1. But not failing too badly at #2.

Shocking, right?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Well, this isn't exactly fair...

since Meridian by Amber Kizer isn't out until, oh, August, but I can't help myself. And I want to pass on my (rare?) ARC (that I got from the author herself, she being relatively local to the Seattle area, after I obviously ogled the cover from a distance) and know I won't until I write about it.

Also, look at that freakin' cover! It's gorgeous! There are skulls! And roses!

Let's start off with the actual first sentence, as that's a better advertisement than any else I can give it:

"The first creatures to seek me were the insects; my parents cleaned the bassinet free of dead ants the morning after they brought me home from the hospital" p 1.

and then the end of the prologue, a perfect bookend to the first sentence:

"My world was, and is, me and death. It's a lonely place to live, but I thought things were getting better. My name is Meridian Sozu, and I was wrong" p 3.

I WAS WRONG. Holy mackerel! Ok, sold.

Meridian Sozu has been surrounded by death all of her life. As she grows, larger and larger animals seek her out, then die (imagine waking up to the staring eyes of a dead mouse on your pillow). She doesn't know why, and as she gets older, it becomes increasingly difficult to hide and endure - she's ostracized at school and plagued by a mysterious, chronic, illness. And then she turns sixteen. On that day something horrible happens and she is sent, without explanation, off to her great-aunt halfway across the country. That's bad enough, but it's made very clear to her that there is something malevolent out there after her, and she doesn't know who or why.

This is absolutely a book to give your Twilight-lovers, Holly Black & Melissa Marr fans, possibly Devilish fans, and really, any urban fantasy readers. It's not quite as gritty as Black or Marr, but is somewhere in between that and Johnson. Srsly. The prologue and first chapter gave me chills, even as I wished I hadn't tried to read them whilst eating. Dead beasties in bedding are not conducive to soup. I'm just sayin', coulda used some warning there, Amber Kizer. Just a quick, don't start this while eating would have sufficed.

It's a complete page-turner. And I really, really hope it's to be a series or trilogy or something. It was left wide open for one.

I do have a couple spoiler-y issues with it, although they did not take away from my enjoyment of the book:

I'm not kidding here, there will be spoilers, so if you care (and really, I think you do), don't read this next portion until AFTER you've read the book. I promise, I'm not going to say anything that is so important that it can't wait until after you've read the book.


While Meridian definitely grows as a character, and becomes stronger, it just seemed a little too easy, when it came down to the wire, for the Sangre to pop in and take care of the problem. What triggered his arrival? Why then and not before? Why save Meridian, but not countless other Fenestra through the years? Why is she different? If it's simply because of the escalating nature of the whole conflict I really wish there had been some (more) resolution, revelation and explanation on this front.

Tens is also one of those too perfect to really believe boys (coughEdwardcough). I wanted more backstory than we got, more flaws than simply his irritated gruffness in the beginning before I can truly buy into that character.

So, there are my spoiler-y issues, but seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will recommend it right and left, backwards and forwards.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

As I continue to be behind the times...

This is a book about what happens when you go against everyone in your life, knowingly commit social suicide, and stand up for what you believe in. Even if you aren't really, really sure of it yourself.

At least, it is as I remember it. Most of you read Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande ages ago. I, for some reason, have fallen far, far behind the curve. Whatever. I'm just glad I finally picked it up.

Mena has been ostracized by everyone she's ever cared about. She either no longer exists to them, or they are blatantly rude to her. Even her parents are angry at her. And all she did was follow a gut feeling and do the right thing. She's been hoping that things would slowly just fade away and return to normal, but, as school starts again it's about to get a whole lot worse. Why? Because Mena's life has, up to now revolved around an evangelical (fundamentalist? both?) church, and her science teacher just started a unit on evolution, and simultaneously started a feud with Mena's former church. There's open rebellion in biology.

The discussion of Evolution vs. Intelligent Design is less important than the acceptance of self and independent thought. I think that's actually the real strength of the book - that it never devolves into some pedagogical lecture of religion and/or science and instead is peppered with humor and heart.

I'm a sucker for books that shake teens awake and make them actually look around and SEE the world as more than what someone has told them it looks like. Mena has to do that if she doesn't want to become a total hermit - though she has to battle her instinct to just hide until it goes away. Luckily, she has some very awesome supporting characters to help finesse her into herself.

I would have liked to see more... variation in the behaviors of the church members, but the sheer fun of the book totally makes up for the simple good/bad dynamic. Especially since the "good" characters are so incredibly well developed.

And, as the opening quote by Charles Darwin points out, "Nothing is easier to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life," be you beetle, monkey, or teen girl.

Monday, January 05, 2009

By now it's ancient info, but I'd be remiss not to mention it:

Yanked directly from the Cybils:
2008 Cybils Young Adult Fiction Finalists

Audrey, Wait!
written by Robin Benway
Penguin USA

Audrey started it by breaking up with Evan, but when he releases a hit song about her things quickly spiral out of control in this fresh, funny novel by Robin Benway. Audrey's distinct, snarky voice and her passion for music immediately sucked me in to the story. Lots of musical details and a cast of well-developed supporting characters flesh out the book. This is a fun read, but it also takes a look at the flip side of being a celebrity - maybe being famous isn't all it's cracked up to be!
--Abby Johnson, Abby (the) Librarian

Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The
written by E Lockhart

The summer before her sophomore year, Frankie Landau-Banks blossomed. Upon her return to prep school, she finds that she is suddenly one of the most sought-after girls on campus. E. Lockhart has written a novel that is an utter joy to read. Not only is her prose delicious, playful, and lovely, but she created a completely irresistible character and a completely irresistible storyline, complete with a secret society, first love, and the discovery of the delights to be found in the novels of P.G. Wodehouse. Viva La Frankie!
--Leila Roy, Bookshelves of Doom

I know It's Over
written by C. K. Kelly Martin
Random House Children's Books

Nick is sixteen and still in love with Sasha when she tells him she thinks they need a break, still in love with her weeks later when she tells him she's pregnant. In her debut novel, C. K. Kelly Martin writes with precision and honesty about an emotional subject: first love. I Know It's Over traces the arc of Nick's relationship with Sasha from the beginning through the end. But this is not just another story about a guy in love or teen pregnancy; it's a novel in which every detail feels so real and true that you could swear that Nick, Sasha, their family, and friends all actually exist.
--Trisha Murakami, The YA YA YAs

Jellicoe Road
written by Melina Marchetta

My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted. It happened on the Jellicoe Road." Thus begins the beautiful and haunting novel, Jellicoe Road, by Australian author Melina Marchetta. The narrative hooked me with the prologue and while I'll be the first to admit that the novel had its challenging moments--it's not a straightforward novel; it weaves two stories together--I never once considered abandoning it. It's intricately and exquisitely written. It's bittersweet, tragic, beautiful, and redemptive. A true must-read in my opinion.
--Becky Laney, Becky's Book Reviews

written by Sara Zarr
Little, Brown

Jenna has left behind a painful childhood. With her mother's remarriage and subsequent move, she's reinvented herself. Then her grade-school friend, who Jenna thought was dead, shows up at her high school. This novel's crisp focus on the relationship between Jenna and the ghost from her past gives this story heart and soul. It will have readers wondering how the traumas of their young childhoods affect who they are today--and how much any of us are capable of helping the people who have touched our lives the most.
--Kate Fall, Author 2 Author

Ten Cents a Dance
written by Christine Fletcher
Bloomsbury USA

In this beautifully crafted piece of historical fiction about a Chicago taxi dancer in the 1940s, Christine Fletcher brings to life the shady world of a girl who is paid to dance with lonely strangers. Getting to know spirited Ruby was a pleasure, and the gorgeous use of language and 1940s slang in Ruby's authentic voice made this book truly captivating. The experience of being immersed in the vividly captured setting, accompanied by characters that feel like real people, is one that shouldn't be missed.
--Jocelyn Pearce, Teen Book Review

written by Monica Roe
Boyds Mills Press

Temporarily paralyzed by Guillain-Barre Syndrome, popular jock Dane is sent to a rehabilitation center in Florida, where he's forced to change his icy exterior while breaking down physical and emotional walls. Though instantly filled with dislike for this exasperating main character, the incredibly powerful themes of love, patience, and honesty had me hooked from the very beginning, both on the plot and on Dane.
--Amanda Snow, A Patchwork of Books


The rest of the finalists in all eight other categories.

Now, even though I've been in this up to my elbows as YA Coordinator, I'm walking in up to my neck now as I take on the role of one of the judges, along with Little Willow, Sarah, Lili, & Casey. I'm eager to read (and reread) the nominees. To this point, I've read all but Thaw & Jellicoe Road, which I'm in the midst of. However, I'm going back to all of them and will have read all at least twice before we pick our winner. Gotta find that balance of Quality & Appeal!

Please don't hate me if I don't pick your favorite. I'm a little scared at the responsibility of it all. Good thing I've got 4 other people to blame if it all goes horribly awry. Kidding. It's all my fault. Sigh.