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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

On the Day of the Dead when the Year too Dies (PW List)

I mean, not that Susan Cooper is really relevant here, but it’s almost Halloween and the first best of list for 2017 has dropped, and that says the year is ready to come to a close…

Ok, so that first list, as always, is PW.

Here’s the link to the complete list; jump below the fold to see my scattershot response.

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Haunted Places

haunted placesWe are working on getting through books in the maximally efficient way, which sometimes means more fanciful pairings, and other times means groups that play with each other in interesting ways as we discuss them. Today we have the second option, a trio of books that mingle together in engaging ways as we consider the set. We have three books that are on the young side, and all involve a heavy sense of place, where the characters are as much shaped by their surroundings as they are by their own histories. Hence, haunted places.

(As always, this is not really how RealCommittee approaches their discussions, since they try to talk about each book individually.) [Read more…]

We Need Diverse Books: Romance Edition

We’re in the mood for love today so we’ve got two reviews of YA romance for you. Both books feature couples who aren’t usually seen in mainstream romantic narratives, so regardless of their chances for the Printz (we’ll get to that in the reviews) they’re important contributions to the continuing effort to bring diverse representation to all kinds of stories which makes them worth checking out. But how about those other qualities that the RealCommittee will scrutinize at the table? Will either of these even be in the conversation?

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Strange the Dreamer

Strange the DreamerDo I start with why this is not going to win an award, or with why it should?

Let’s start with the issues: it’s fantasy. It’s the start of a series. We’ve all heard this song before, and I don’t have faith that this is the book that will change the tune – but man, I loved it, and also it’s a sharp piece of writing from an author who just keeps improving – so I’m going to make a case for why it continues to be a travesty that this book (and books like this — quality, serial fantasy) don’t even make the speculation conversation most of the time, because I can’t help thinking this is exactly the kind of fantasy that best exemplifies the genre — no fancy genre-blending or crossover, just full on, gorgeous fantasy — and that we should recognize that even if RealCommittee’s rarely do.

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Double Lives of Artists

Double LifeI’ve been calling this post “double life/art ladies,” which doesn’t quite flow off the tongue as a post title, but does hint at what these two have in common — two intense teenage girls who prefer a hidden or secret life so that they can make their art. And both of these titles have a lot to say about the power of creation, especially for people who might otherwise feel powerless. As luck would have it, though, they’re also pretty different, too — one is magical realism while the other is straight up realistic fiction.
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The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give cover imageIn a fairly rare occurrence, we all three read today’s book BEFORE the scheduled post date, so today’s post has all of us discussing it together, just like a RealCommittee might, if six people were missing.

Sarah: Friends. Friends. Is this the book to beat this year? To be honest, it’s hard to know where to start here. Is it with the critical acclaim? Because SIX STARS! THAT IS THE MOST OF STARS! ONE OF TWO TITLES WITH SO MANY! Or perhaps we should start with the pacey, plotty plot? (Because those types of reads are my favorite.) Is it with the fact that, yes, this book flows and moves, and still takes the time to develop the characters and write the heck out of a first person teen perspective? That voice, voice, voice. It’s immediate, it’s emotional, it’s self aware. It’s possible we could start with the fact that this is absolutely a book about the today and the now, and it’s also filled with universal questions about growing up, about life and death, and about our responsibilities to our communities, to our friends, to our families, and to ourselves.

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Sleepers

Slide1Today I’m talking about two books that are impressive, powerful, skillfully crafted reads. Both have received some minor critical acclaim (1 star for Maresi, 2 for Fire Color One), and both are books no one is talking about or name-checking, which is a damn shame. More similarities: Both are imports and both are unexpectedly short, which is both  refreshing. In this eternal age of doorstoppers, concise writing remains startling and welcome, and a tightly written book that packs as much in as each of these does is even more impressive.

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Intertwined Stories

Here’s a day of intertwined stories — stories told through multiple points of view, offering many perspectives on a single converging plot. Yay! I do love novels with multiple POVs; it can give the read a rhythmic, regular pace through to the end. Here we have straight up realistic, historical fiction and we have a mostly realistic but infused-with-magical-realism title for contrast. One is definitely for younger readers, the other is a read for an older audience. Both novels use the varying perspectives to allow their respective plots to build to their conclusions.  [Read more…]

Nonfiction Roundup Part One

Just as this has been a year of grief and tough topics in fiction, nonfiction has been similarly focused on emotionally draining subject. (Or perhaps it’s my personal exhaustion with the state of the world combined with the difficult reads? Hard to say.) Today Sarah and I are reviewing two very different books about the fight for racial equality. Ann Bausum’s book is a straightforward historical account of a protest that took on a life of its own while Loving Vs Virginia is narrative nonfiction using poetry and primary source material. What are the chances that either of these will turn up as contenders this winter?

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The Not Even Slightly Comprehensive List of Books We’re Looking at This Year

Ok, here it is — the longlist for Someday My Printz Will Come, which is actually the shortlist, or at least a shorter list. For context: currently, our reading list and calendar have us covering more than 90 books between now and late January. We’ll likely revise some books off the list and add some on as we go, but at least 80 titles will get reviewed in some form — that’s the true long list.

This is not that list. We shared the long longlist the first few years of Someday, but then as we read through the books we hadn’t gotten to when the list posted, we found duds and felt like we’d obligated ourselves to read them by putting them on the list and inviting you all to read them too, in order to have a better discussion. And it seems that some of you trust us enough that you were using our list for various reasons, which was CRAZY, because that long longlist is a lot like the kitchen sink of the year’s YA, and it always had some gems (like, you know, the books that eventually went on to win, because usually we’re pretty good about correctly identifying the eventual winners as, you know, books) but also some actually not good at all books. Starting last year, we decided to share a more trimmed down list, and be a little more transparent about the fact that some of it is really just shots in the dark.

The below list comprises books we’ve read already and stand behind pretty strongly as a contender, books we’ve already read and strongly want to discuss, and books we haven’t read yet but for reasons — of author or buzz or gut instinct — we think will be worth a conversation. Since we’re already a few weeks in, I’ve gone ahead and hyperlinked books we’ve already reviewed, and I’ll try to remember to pop back in and add links as we go so that this post can also serve as a partial table of contents.

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