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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
Hyperion, May 2012
Reviewed from ARC

At last! I finally get to write about my one true love of the year, the book I will champion against all others as the be all, end all best book of the year.

(Sorry, Railsea, you rock, but you’re still not number one, Pyrite nomination notwithstanding.)

Oh god, now that the moment is here I feel such pressure to make the case. Because this is, for my money, the runaway best written book of the year. And yes, I loved it, but that’s not actually the point at all. The point is that this is a masterwork of writing, full of literary flourishes, tightly plotted, rich in character, well-grounded in reality, haunting in setting, and just hitting it out of the park on so many levels. It deserves the Printz.

(And look, people, the world has been amazing about keeping mum about some of the intricacies of this plot, because there are twists and reveals and they are super. But after nearly a year of keeping mum unless the other party in the conversation had also read it, I’m going to break my discretion, because I can’t discuss CNV with any level of specificity or textual evidence unless I give it all away. So do us all a favor. If you haven’t read CNV yet, please don’t click through. This is a book that is already fettered by the weight of expectation for some readers; do yourself a favor and read it unspoiled. We’ll wait. You’ll be back.)

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Middle Age Girl Power: Grave Mercy vs The Wicked and the Just

Grave Mercy and The Wicked and the Just are, in so many ways, polar opposites.

But how often do we see YA books set in the Middle Ages? Not very, which makes it almost impossible not to think of these in a compare and contrast essay. So that’s what you get.

Both feature strong female heroines, well defined settings, and a fascinating story. Oh, and divided nations (France/Brittany and England/Wales), strangely fitting since I’m putting the final edits in to the accompaniment of the election results rolling across the TV. But that’s about where the compare part ends, really, because mostly these are very different books.

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Does Never Fall Down Stand Up to the Hype?

Never Fall Down, Patricia McCormick
Balzer + Bray, May 2012
Reviewed from ARC

National Book Award Finalist. Three stars. Patricia McCormick. Never Fall Down is a critical and popular darling, and there is absolutely no question about the emotional impact of the story. You would need to be a stone to stay dry-eyed reading about the atrocities Arn sees and endures under the Khmer Rouge.

So let’s cut to the chase. There’s really only one conversation anyone is having about Never Fall Down, and it’s all about the voice.

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Between Shades of Gray

Karyn’s already talked about historical fiction. And a lot of people have been talking about this book (four starred reviews, nominated for Best Fiction and a big ol’ Newbery discussion at Heavy Medal), especially in light of the Morris shortlist recognition. Karyn’s also already talked about Morris and Printz — where the two awards overlap, and where they don’t.

So that pretty much covers the background. I thought it could be interesting to look at Between Shades of Gray with Printz glasses firmly in place. [Read more…]

Historical Fictions

CC-licensed image by Jessamyn West

Historical fiction is tough.

Too often the fiction takes a back seat to the history, and readers are drowned in detail or left feeling vaguely cheated by secondary characters who flesh out the story but whose experiences seem to cover a laundry list of additional details.

This is not to say that historical fiction can’t make for a darn good read, but the gap between a darn good read for an hour (or five) and a book you want to raise above all others with a shiny sticker is actually a pretty big one.

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