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Someday My Printz Will Come
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Long Way Down

Long Way Down coverThere’s a weird kind of bookending happening this year; we opened with the biggest buzz for early 2017 books belonging to The Hate U Give and we’re closing 2017 with the biggest buzz for the end of the year going to Long Way Down, two books that look at violence in largely black, urban communities from different directions. While The Hate U Give was about the violence perpetrated on young black men by the system, specifically police, Long Way Down tackles the violence perpetrated on young black men by young black men — which, ok, is still the fault of the system, because systemic racism has a long and ugly reach, but centers the story in a very different place. Bookends. So does that mean that Long Way Down is due for an award of its own? [Read more…]

We’re Making a List, Checking it Twice…

A list of lists, in fact! Because we’re almost halfway through December, which means that only Booklist’s year-end list is still to come. So today we’re checking in on Horn Book’s Fanfare and the Kirkus Best Teen Books list, which both dropped about two weeks ago, and as a bonus glancing at the NYT teen section AND giving you a link to a list of every list ever, so if you, like me, love looking through the lists and seeing whether you agree or disagree — well, this list of lists will have you covered for weeks of that kind of web browsing.

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Fantasy You Don’t Want to Miss, a Two-fer

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 9.55.31 PMLet’s talk about heart books. Because today I want to call your attention to two books that are long shots at best, but which I loved them dearly as a reader. More than that, despite the flaws that I predict will ultimately sink them, these are strong books that deserve close attention. Both are contemporary fantasy, one in the magic realism vein and the other in the send up all the tropes and take no prisoners vein. (Ok, that’s a pretty niche vein, but still.) Other than genre, their bisexual protagonists (something I didn’t put together until halfway through this review), and their likely distance from medal territory these don’t have much in common – but that’s ok, because every book deserves to be considered on its own.

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Midnight

Midnight at the ElectricI’ve been dragging my feet with this one. I have plenty of excuses: the holiday weekend, my son’s (minor) surgery, major new unit coming up at school that I need to plan for. But those are just hot air; I have managed to write up books under far less ideal circumstances. Really it was that the posts where I point out flaws in widely acclaimed books are my least favorite to write.

And yet I keep doing it! So once more into the fray, my friends.

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The Pearl Thief

The Pearl ThiefI’ve been avoiding this review like the plague. I scrubbed my bathtub this afternoon in an attempt to not write this post, in fact, and I don’t know what my hang up is, really, except that this is not Code Name Verity but it is about Julie and so I have many feelings that have nothing to do with the book in front of me or with literary excellence and have only to do with the fact that I’m a little in love with a brash, fearless, fictional girl who died too young. So, baggage. On the upside, I’ve read The Pearl Thief twice now, and for me at least, it improves upon acquaintance. I think the first time it was the baggage at work; I wasn’t entirely reading The Pearl Thief so much as I was mining it for Julie. The second time, I read it for exactly what it was — a fascinating set piece, a tidy little mystery, a crafty study of class and race* and gender. And the formation of a young woman who, ok, is someday soon going to be the astounding protagonist of Code Name Verity but who is actually a fantastic character before that, and who can carry a book even for a reader who didn’t know what was coming down the pike.

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Funny Girls

Covers

Today is going to be one of those ALL THE BOOKS posts, loosely linked by being by and about women and featuring humor. Which is a pretty loose thread, but let’s roll with it. As is often the case with these roundups, we don’t think any of these are books that are likely to go the distance — but all are books we could see someone else championing, and that could easily be on the table for the RealCommittee, which means the conversation is open and a strong advocate might be all that’s needed. Perhaps one of you will champion one of these in the comments and be that advocate? We’re getting close to Pyrite nomination time, so now is definitely the moment to make a case.

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Thick as Thieves

Thick as ThievesSo, today’s post was scheduled to be about two new books in familiar worlds with thieves in them. But after rereading Thick as Thieves I decided to split them up — because really, both books (the other is Wein’s The Pearl Thief, of course) deserve full posts to themselves. Thick as Thieves delighted me when I read it for the first time, back in February, but I wanted to love it so much that I wondered if maybe I had loved it despite issues. After rereading it, I’m convinced I didn’t love it enough the first time around, because once I was past that first read to find out what was going to happen, I was able to sit back and really be blown away by Turner’s writing, which is frankly genius.

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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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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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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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