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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Yellowcake

yellowcake YellowcakeYellowcake, Margo Lanagan
Knopf Books for Young Readers, May 2013
Reviewed from Final Copy

Short stories aren’t always my favorite – collections can be so uneven sometimes; I’d rather spend time in a big long novel. But Margo Lanagan seems to be trying to convince me that I – even I! – can love a collection of short stories. Yellowcake is everything you’d expect – a generally strong collection of stories full of beautiful writing; disturbing images; colliding, twining themes. It’s s strong contender, although I’m not totally convinced it will take a medal in the end.

Let’s talk about what’s good here first. The language, of course (“Styx water is sharp and bites inside your nose.”): effective, unexpected, powerful. Her carefully crafted dialogue provides clues and insights into her characters (Gallantine’s very few, studiedly casual, deceptively mild lines gave me chills, for instance). Lanagan is an amazing writer, and she does her usual awesome job here, too. [Read more...]

The Kingdom of Little Wounds

little wounds The Kingdom of Little Wounds

The Kingdom of Little Wounds, Susann Cokal
Candlewick Press, October 2013
Reviewed from ARC

I wanted to like this.

I mean, it’s huge, it’s about my favorite general period in history, it uses a fairy tale motif throughout, it’s got a stunning package, and people whose opinions I respect say this is an it book when it comes to literary books this year.

I really really wanted to like this.

But…

[Read more...]

Roundup: Girls in Crisis

Double feature crisis show!

Today we’ve got not one but two — TWO! — reviews for the price of one click. Really, these two books — Fat Angie and 17 & Gone — have very little in common, but they are both March pubs and have some thematic overlap, dealing as they do with girls in distress. Not damsels in distress, but the kind of deep-seated internal anguish that is too often intrinsic to teen girls, saddled as they are with expectations and beliefs and the need to always be aware.

[Read more...]

Paper Valentine

papervalentine Paper ValentinePaper Valentine, Brenna Yovanoff
Razorbill, January 2013
Reviewed from final copy

Rereading Paper Valentine, I saw a lot of Printz-worthy elements.

In fact, there’s a serious contender here.

Except for one small problem: it’s two stories jammed into one book, and only one of those two is contender material.

[Read more...]

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

13477676 Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, Matthew Quick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, August 2013
Reviewed from ARC

True confession: I had never heard of Matthew Quick until Silver Linings Playbook became an Oscar contender last fall, but then Sophie reviewed Boy 21 for the blog, and then in true Baader-Meinhof fashion, the ARC for Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock showed up on Karyn’s desk. This was probably less a case of Baader-Meinhof and more that Matthew Quick really was (and continues to be) having a moment. Which means I approached Leonard Peacock with a mixture of curiosity and tempered expectations because I’m always skeptical of anyone who’s “having a moment.”

Well, there is a lot of Printz-worthy stuff going on here. Thematically rich, ambitious in voice and style, this novel absolutely deserves to be a contender. But does it hold up to a close reading?

[Read more...]

Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan
Alfred A. Knopf. August 2013
Reviewed from ARC

Sometimes a book packs such an emotional whammy that every other aspect becomes irrelevant to 99.9% of the readers.

Two Boys Kissing is seriously packing. [Read more...]

All the Books!

Ok, not all the books, but a whole cluster of the titles that we wanted to cover and hadn’t gotten to yet, tidily rounded up in one post for your perusal.

In the last two weeks, I’ve read two more from the original contenda list (Pinned and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), one Morris shortlist title (Love & Other Perishable Items) and two dark horse candidates that were brought to our attention by readers (In Darkness and Various Positions).

Sarah will be sharing a few more titles tomorrow, but sadly, neither of us managed to read Andrew Smith’s Passenger, a late addition auto-contender. It is, however, beyond a long shot for the RealPrintz — book 2 of a series, and, based on the first chapter and some student feedback, impenetrable without having read the first book.

(But if you never read the first book, The Marbury Lens, and want a really disturbing, stark, and very well-written book to read next, pick it up, because it really is a powerful read.)

We’re also sad to say that two buzz titles recommended by readers never made it onto either of our piles — Monument 14, recommended by Jen Hubert of Reading Rants, and The Opposite of Hallelujah, recommended by Kelly of Stacked. These are two well-read critics, and Jen definitely has a nose for Printz winners, so do check out their respective reviews. Whether or not either of these titles are named on Monday, they are definitely worth seeking out.

Okay, enough housekeeping! Onto the last of my 2012 reading.

[Read more...]

Boy21: Feeeeeeeelings, a Whole Lot More Than Feeeeeelings

Boy21 Boy21: Feeeeeeeelings, a Whole Lot More Than FeeeeeelingsBoy21, Matthew Quick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, March 2012
Reviewed from Final Copy

So, I should start this post by disclosing that I have a personal connection with this book and its author. I want to acknowledge my personal baggage (a topic that has been addressed particularly well in the comments to the most recent post about The Fault in Our Stars), which is:

  • I know Matthew Quick, and have followed his career with interest, because he was my sister’s favorite and most influential high school teacher,
  • I’ve had coffee and exchanged some tweets with him,
  • And he signed a copy of his first YA title, Sorta Like a Rock Star for my high school library’s collection.

All of which is to say, I have a great deal of affection for Quick, and for his books, and now that I’ve said all that, I think I can set it aside for the purposes of this review, in which I’ll make the case that his most recent YA title, Boy21, is a possible contender for a Printz Honor.

[Read more...]

December Blahs

One of the things I find frustrating about this blogging thing is the December blahs.

At this point in the game, I have a sense of what the year has brought us. I’m not a seer, so I don’t know what books will take the RealPrintz (and judging by last year, don’t listen even if I pretend I DO know), but I know what the top of the pile looks like.

But we’re still reading, and we’re still covering books we listed back in September as contenders. And some days, what we’re tasked with is coming up with a thousand or so words about a book that was quite good, and that doesn’t deserve to be dissected into shards, but that just isn’t a serious contender.

And yes, I acknowledge that sometimes, I say “not a contender” and what I really mean is, “here’s my argument against this one, but your mileage may vary.” This time, I really just mean they’re not contenders.

[Read more...]

More Roundup (Debut Style!)

Amelia Anne 198x300 More Roundup (Debut Style!)Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone, Kat Rosenfield
Dutton, May 2012
Reviewed from ARC

Buzz and anticipation, impressive writing, and a whole that ends up not quite hitting it out of the park — haven’t we heard this story before?

Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone has some really magnificent sentence level writing. Some of the best out there this year, even, although on occasion it’s almost too much. It’s yet another potential Morris contender, too, and — as with so many of the books that have crossover eligibility for the Morris — it probably has a better chance there, because it’s a great debut.

[Read more...]