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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

The Reader

The ReaderThe Reader by Traci Chee
Putnam, August 2016
Reviewed from an ARC

This is a book I’ve been saving the whole season, saving until the end because I knew I’d love it and I wanted to savor it. I’m not alone in loving it — it has four stars, it’s on the SLJ Mothership’s year end list, and it’s fantasy, and there’s action, and there are pirates, and it’s atmospheric and beautiful, and there are magical reading powers, and that cover is so wow, and and AND! What can I say? Sometimes you feel like possibly a book was designed, down to a molecular level, to be a You Book. This is one of those times for me. But now that I’ve actually read it, and sat with it for a bit, I’m going to do my best and try to have a balanced take for our Printzly purposes.

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Scythe

scythe-9781442472426_hrSometimes the world really does save the best for last. Because people? Scythe is amazing. I keep thinking about it. I unabashedly loved reading it in that can’t put it down way, but I also absolutely love it as a contender. It jumped the queue right into my top 5, and as the second to last 2016 YA book I read, that means it jumped a whole lotta books.

Basically, Shusterman took his commercial chops and mashed that with the thoughtful, nuanced writing he displayed so wonderfully with Challenger Deep, and the result is a near perfect combo.

 

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Still Life With Tornado

still-life-with-tornadoOh, A.S. King! Every year, a new novel. Every year, a bold move to expand what we think of as a novel. I’m not sure if I’m a King fan, but I find myself drawn to her books year after year because I trust them to be engrossing reading experiences, even if I have an Alice-in-Wonderland feeling the entire time, unsure of what’s real and what’s hallucinatory, unsure where I stand or how to even approach thinking about what’s in front of me.

This year’s offering is pure King — but it’s also accessible in a way we haven’t seen since Ask the Passengers. And I’d argue it’s better than King’s Printz honor-winning Please Excuse Vera Dietz. In short, this one is a true contender.

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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 pile left.

So here you have our last licks — not counting our three remaining biggies (Still Life with Tornado, The Reader, and Scythe), this post concludes our 2016 pile of books we still have something to say about. Whew! Nearly there.

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Thrillers

descended-rosaPeople, it’s close to midnight and while something may not be lurking in the darkness of my hallway, it is getting late. I want to scream, but my terror of waking the small humans in the apartment takes the sound from me. Yeah…I wanted to write up a hilarious but dark introduction that played with all the conventions of thrillers, but instead all I’ve got is a weak reference to MJ. What can I say, we all pay the price at the end of the year as we try to get all our reviews in.

But all of that does mean that today we get the fun of discussing two thrillers in the YA world — Joy looks at a new take on an old tale (Macbeth), and look at a new take on a less-old tale (The Bad Seed)! [Read more…]

Readers make the case for their faves

reader-review-300x227 copyIf you’re a regular reader, you know that we’re constantly asking for your opinions, picks, and predictions. You’re our weather vane, out in the world bringing us vital information about books that have flown under our radar (or ones that we simply haven’t had the chance to read). And as a mock committee, we’re not too bad at predicting the titles that show up in the winners’ circle on ALA YMA morning.

Karyn, Sarah, and I get to bring our “nominations” to our virtual table every week, so just before Thanksgiving we asked, what would you bring to the nominating table? We know each of you has a favorite contender and we wanted to know more! Many thanks to readers Meghan, Beth, and Soleil who graciously answered our call. We’re happy to share their “nominations” after the jump.

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Historical(ish)

blog2So much fun! History is full of so many unexplored paths! What if you were a child of immigrants who bribed her way into a posh school? What if you were a doomed teenage king? What if you were a doomed teenage queen? What if you survived the San Francisco earthquake? What if you took on racism in your posh school? What if you, I don’t know, SHAPESHIFTED? Just laying out the options here, amiright? OK, OK, we’re sort of smooshing historical fiction and history-tinged fantasy, but it’s the end of the year, we’re trying to get through the books, this is a fun pairing, and I’m happy to bounce between Outrun the Moon and My Lady Jane. Will either of these titles find their way to the table for RealCommittee? [Read more…]

Tales from Mother Russia

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-12-56-45-pmWe’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 stylistic flourishes that point to fairy tales, and the other contemporary fantasy. One is set in Russia and Sweden and England and a few points in between; the other in only a few square blocks of Brooklyn. One stretches over years, even decades when the framing narrative is considered, and the other takes place over three nights — although they are long nights, it’s true.

So what ties these two — Vassa in the Night and Blood Red Snow White — together? They share a mythologized love of Russia. They grow from Russian fairy tales, in one case because the protagonist has written a collection and in the other because everybody’s favorite wicked witch, Baba Yaga, is running a murderous convenience store that entraps our intrepid heroine.

Neither of these is a portrait of the true Russia, but both of them demonstrate the deep love affair people have with Russia, the fabled Mother Country, regardless of actual Russia, the political and geographic entity making front page news.

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Lucy and Linh

 Lucy and Linh, Alice Pung
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, September 2016
4 stars; Reviewed from an ARC

Lucy and Linh, in addition to being a quintessential coming-of-age story, is a novel about power, class, and racial microaggressions. It’s about the hard work of adjusting our sense of self when we land in an unfamiliar environment and it’s about finding peace through that process. Alice Pung delivers these themes in a package of well-paced narrative, lovely descriptive writing, and an earnest (although occasionally sardonic) voice.

If you can’t tell from that intro, Lucy and Linh is one of my favorite books of 2016 and a very strong contender for the Printz.
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A romantic rendezvous

romance-roundupActually, this is a romantic roundup, but rendezvous sounded catchier. In the context of Printz reviewing, romance has actually fared well in recent years with both the RealCommittee and the Pyrite Committee (aka: all of us). I’ll Give You the Sun was the Real and Pyrite winner in 2015, and in 2014 Eleanor & Park was a Real and Pyrite honor.

This context is important because it’s proof that professional readers are recognizing straight-up romances that are also literary. Today, Sarah and I are looking at three books that may (or may not) have what it takes to bring love back to the winner’s circle.

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