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Last Licks, or ALL the Books

Screen-Shot-2018-02-05-at-5.56.39-AMToday, we’re covering all the books! Ok, not all — but the last of the big hitters that we’re covering. Note that as always, we didn’t get to everything. And this year, which has been an astoundingly rich year, that may just mean we didn’t even get to the winner, because there is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF to read. The pile of books we read and didn’t cover is a pile of books that in most years probably would have been contenders; this year they didn’t even rate because there were 50 other books even better. So read on for our last formal coverages of the season — and please, make liberal use of the comments to make the case for anything we skipped that you think has a real shot of being named next week.

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Another Nonfiction Roundup

NonfictionMonday, we got a graphic novel round up. And earlier this year, we had a nonfiction roundup. Now that we’ve reached the end of the year — and seen the Excellence for NF shortlist, and taken a look at all the year-end lists — we’ve got a second round up, taking a look at all the nonfiction titles we’ve been saving. We’ll go through each title alphabetically. [Read more…]


Cover imagesSisters. Parents. Family. Children of immigrants. Starred reviews. National Book Award recognition. These books have quite a bit in common, not least in terms of love and buzz and people talk-talk-talking. Both novels examine generational expectations, both examine daughters who long to be artists, and both novels illustrate how daughters and their parents move around each other in complicated patterns, trying to understand each other. They’re not entirely similar — while Perkins uses different perspectives and voices to tell the story of one family’s experiences, Sánchez focuses on Julia’s voice to give an understanding of her family. Perkins’ You Bring the Distant Near got four stars, and Sánchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter received two stars. With intense focus from the NBA (YBDN made the longlist; IAMYPMD was a finalist), what will RealCommittee have to say about these two titles?

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Previous Winners, Part Two

Lightning image by Flickr user Jan-Joost Verhoef; CC BY 2.0

Lightning image by Flickr user Jan-Joost Verhoef; CC BY 2.0

And here is part two of our previous winners posts!

Again, we’re looking at past winners, honorees, and generally lauded authors who have a new book out this year, and again we’re wondering if lighting can strike twice (or, if you’re Marcus Sedgwick, four times).

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Gay Pride

gay pride

Today we have a two-fer! Are you in the mood for a quick nonfiction read? Or perhaps a fictional take on the Grand Tour? Maybe some history with a side of sass? Perhaps a rogue taking a hedonistic last hurrah before shouldering familial responsibilities? OK, I’m going to stop asking questions and just get on with this introduction. We’ve got a title with two stars, and a title with four. Both of these books have a definitive voice telling the story. Both of these are reads that will entertain you, and keep you thinking.  Do you think one of these books could walk away with a medal? [Read more…]

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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Fish out of water

A lot of young adult literature is about teens in unfamiliar situations and places. Sometimes the differences they experience are socio-economic, sometimes they’re cultural, and sometimes they’re magical. Fish out of water tales are usually easily relatable, regardless of the specificity, because most people can remember how they felt the first time they encountered something that was wholly outside of their lived experience up to that point.

Two February books—American Street and Piecing Me Together—have black teen girls narrating their lives in first person. Both have received lots of critical praise with five and four stars, respectively. More significantly, and the reason why they’re paired together, both books are by black women writing deeply emotional stories that their voices imbue with authenticity and integrity.

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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…]

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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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…]