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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Sort of historical

I have just realized that we’ve reviewed a lot of historical fiction this year. Karyn was talking about a strong year for fantasy, but I’m over here impressed by historical fiction in 2015. Or our sort-of-historicals, as is the case for one of these.

This week, we’ve got two past winners, and both authors provide an important, engaging look at history. Both have no problem examining some of the, let’s be polite and say “less savory” aspects of US history. One, though, focuses on a real-life person, and the other works in elements of history to a fantasy/horror filled world. One book is short, one is very long. So similar, and yet so different! [Read more…]

Dark Horses

Some dark horses for your viewing entertainment.

For our final review of the season, squashed in at the 11th hour, we bring you a quick and dirty final roundup to shed a little bit of love on some books that we never got to discuss at length but that we still think deserve a little attention.

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Mary Poppins Books

Almost three years ago, I talked about Mary Poppins books (practically perfect in every way).

These are books that deserve stars and commercial acclaim and critical praise. They are in the top of the crop for the year, but they’re… a little thin. Like Mary Poppins, they appear and have their moment and then off they go; unlike Mary Poppins, they don’t leave too much behind (she, after all, wrought change. Also earworms).

[Read more…]

Mortal Fire: Bright but Lacking Heat?

Mortal Fire, Elizabeth Knox
Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, June 2013
Reviewed from final copy

I love this book so very very much. I put it on our initial long list based on one read, and I knew there were some flaws in the pacing, but there was so much good — the world, the utterly unusual heroine, even the messed up but utterly inevitable romance.

(I don’t even like most romance these days — too many bad literary love triangles — but Canny and Ghislain made so much sense in the weird and wonderful context of the book that my anti-love bias was put to rest.)

I really really want to spend the rest of the post telling you all the reasons why this one deserves a Printz…

But I can’t.

[Read more…]

Wild Awake

Wild Awake, Hilary T. Smith
Katherine Tegen Books, May 2013
Reviewed from ARC

Nominate in haste, repent at leisure?

Well, not quite. But… I’m not entirely surprised no one, in effect, seconded this one.

Wild Awake is a debut, and while I don’t have a full sense of the year’s debut slate, from what I’ve read and from what I’ve passed over reading (there are so very many latest-hot-craze books among the debut titles), it’s a strong debut.

In fact, there are aspects that are outstanding. And then there are some aspects that strive, but don’t quite stick the landing.

[Read more…]

The Different Girl

The Different Girl, Gordon Dahlquist
Dutton Children’s, Feb 2013
Reviewed from ARC

Let’s talk about voice (bay-bee), because this book features one of the strongest I’ve come across.

(And before you hit the jump, please remember that we do spoilers here. All the time. So if you are reading on and you haven’t read the book yet, I don’t think I’ll ruin it but I will spoil some parts. Caveat emptor.)

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A New Kind of Fairy Tale: Dust Girl

Dust Girl, Sarah Zettel
Random House, June 2012
Reviewed from ARC

Welcome to the Dust Bowl as you’ve never seen it before, peopled by lots more than, well, people, in a new series that covers some of the same territory as American Gods or The Flight of Michael McBride (sadly out of print, but a crossover treasure if you can find it). I don’t think anyone has done this sort of story in YA before, where the nearest readalike would probably be the not-actually-anything-like-this Far West trilogy by Patricia Wrede. Or possibly O Brother Where Art Thou, with its vague magic realism, and which I found myself thinking of as I read Dust Girl; it’s neither a book nor YA, but does seem to be familiar to lots of teen readers.

So we’re definitely talking original. Original in concept, original in execution, and (although it’s a funny word to use given the Dust Bowl setting) altogether fresh.

It’s also first in a trilogy, and if we know anything about series books, it’s that first books that make no bones about being first (as opposed to books that turn out to be first but weren’t apparently conceived, pitched, and/or branded as such) don’t tend to fare terribly well. Also, it’s (obviously) fantasy, which, statistically speaking, is another award black mark, although not a death knell.

But it’s pretty damn awesome. Does it stand a chance?

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More than Paint by Numbers

Graffiti Moon, Cath Crowley
Knopf, February 2012
Reviewed from ARC

I [redacted but it starts with F and is something Ed might say] love this book.

I actually started this post once before, and I had nice things to say, but I was being a bit dismissive. It’s “sweet and light,” I said. Ah, the perils of only reading a book once.

Then I started rereading, and realized that this is a quiet treasure.

[Read more…]