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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

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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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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Haunted by the past

We’ve got two solid contenders up next, both realistic fiction, both with characters haunted by the past. It’s not entirely fair to pair titles up like this, and it’s not really how RC talks about books at the table — they are trying to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each title individually, after all. But we have a blog schedule to keep and a lot of books to cover, so while it’s not exactly legit, this is done in the spirit of “make it work,” and thus we get these two books and two haunted characters, working through past violence and trauma.

And while I keep using this word, haunted, I want to be clear: these are realistic titles and not in any way supernatural. But they both depict people shaped by, tortured by, painful pasts. They’re both first person narration, and they’re both thematically ambitious titles, talking about major social issues through the lens of their protagonists’ experiences. [Read more…]

Unexpected Mysteries

We’ve been calling this post “unexpected mysteries” which is an intriguing title that I quite enjoy. I wonder if it’s more accurately, “slow, detail-laden, explorative mysteries,” though. Mysteries aren’t always the big movers and shakers in YA fiction, although there are quite a few to be found in the middle grade realm. While one of the titles does skew younger for audience, these two titles share main characters living on the fringes of society, and meticulous scrutiny of the past. [Read more…]

The Careful Undressing of Love

The Careful Undressing of Love, cover image

This book. THIS BOOK.

 

Sometimes you pick up a book because you should; it got some stars (or, in this case, failed to get some stars), some people liked the authors other books, you’re sitting around portioning out the books and it’s your turn to take something off the pile. I read a lot of should books — that’s being a youth services librarian, basically — and mostly I am glad, because it makes me better at my job, and mostly the books are good, because lots of books are good, if you give them chance, but mostly they aren’t great.

And then, every now and again, you read a should book and it knocks your socks off. Like, across town lines off. You’ll never see those socks again, and you don’t care, because you’ve just fallen a little bit in love and that’s all that matters.

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A List of Cages

Before I dive into the first review of the year, a few housekeeping notes.

We are, as we have been doing, plan to review in roughly chronological order. So for the next month, we’ll focus on Q1 books, those published between January and March 2017. We’re not going to be super strict about this — sometimes we’ll bump a book up or hold it, for example if we think it goes well with something else, or if we have’t read it and end up circling back to it. But we’re hoping this will make it more likely that people who don’t have amazing ARC/galley access will have read books we discuss by the time we discuss them.

In the past, we’ve always shared a list — more recently, an abbreviated list of 25 titles. It’s always sort of arbitrary (although I could tell you already the 10 books I am pulling for hardest). We’re tempted to skip it this year — but we’ll defer to reader opinion. Let us know.

And of course, as always, we are reviewing specifically for Printz speculation, which means we’re mostly looking for what’s wrong with books — because in the end it’s an elimination game, and being a great book isn’t enough.

Now, on to the first review of the year.

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Anna and the Swallow Man

anna-swallowAnna and the Swallow Man, Gavriel Savit
Knopf, January 2016
Reviewed from ARC

For the first posted coverage of the season, I thought I’d start with one of the earliest publication dates on our list. Anna and the Swallow Man came out in January. It had huge pre-publication push; we received at least 4 copies just to the school Joy and I work at, at least one of which was in a lovely paper slip cover. And it picked up three stars out of the gate (HB, The Bulletin, and PW): not a bad opening to the year. So does it live up to the hype or the buzz?

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