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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Round One: Kings v Countdown

MatchA Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (my review) v Countdown by Deborah Wiles (my review).

Judge: Dana Reinhardt

I know it was you, Dana. You broke my heart. You broke my heart.

With that out of the way, yay for Dana Reinhardt for having an opinion and owning it. If yesterday’s takeaway for bloggers was a terrific list to use while writing a blog post, today’s lesson is “own your words.”

Reinhardt’s decision is hers; it is her opinion; it is subjective. And that is exactly what this tournament is about — discovering the different ways people view books. What they like, what they don’t.

And isn’t that what blogs are about, too? What people like, and what they don’t? And that both responses are valid, honest responses.

That said…..

Dana, you broke my heart. Even though the book you selected? I LOVED it. So, I should not be too upset by your decision. And I have recommended that book to many people who really enjoyed it.

Anyway: while I disagree with the outcome, I am totally Team Dana Reinhardt for owning her decision.

Here’s to the Undead Poll bringing back my personal, subjective, favorite!

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. I am so with you with the broken heart!

    And it’s worse for me: I liked the story in COUNTDOWN, but the documentary material didn’t do it for me.

    And I’m such a fan of Eugenides, I’m currently listening to the audiobook of A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, after having read the book twice.

    But like you say, I did enjoy Dana Reinhardt’s unabashed explanation of her decision. This definitely puts perspective on the fact that different people enjoy different books.

  2. I fully expect Conspiracy to be the Undead book. So much that I’m hardly sad for it even though it was one of my very favorite reads last year. (That said I went and voted for Tale Dark and Grimm, fully expecting everyone else to vote for Conspiracy, so hopefully everyone else wasn’t thinking the same as me).

    (Funny, Sondy, I loved the documentary parts of Countdown– and the general effect of how it all tied together– but the STORY didn’t do so much for me!)

  3. Sondy, I liked the mix of photos and quotes and story. I lent a copy to my mother, who loved it, and who passed it around to her friends — people who this would have been their childhood or teen years. They all loved it, plus — when they found it from her it was a children’s book — insisted, “no, it’s not.”

    rockinlibrarian, if Conspiracy loses by one vote, you’ll have to live with it!

  4. What really knocked me out of the story with the documentary material were the pages about Khruschev and JFK. They were formatted like maybe a child’s school report? But they were not explained. And the JFK one told about his assassination. I think the Khruschev one mentioned the outcome of the missile crisis. So they COULD not have been written during the time the story took place. There was no notation to indicate those parts were documentary material (written in the 60s) at all, so they must have been written by the author? But they really pulled me out of the story, since how can you be in suspense about the missile crisis when it’s just been mentioned that the country came through it?

    Still, I was reading it in the context of the Heavy Medal blog and whether it was a Newbery contender. So that’s probably why that bothered me so much. I was really looking at the craft and how it was carried out. I admit I did like the photos and quotes, and thought they added.

    As a book to just enjoy, I did like it — but I LOVED Conspiracy of Kings.

  5. Sondy, one thing that intrigued me about the documentary material is it went into a few things that occurred after the events in the book. I read it as not pretending that we were at that time, in that place just because that is when the book was set but knowing that the reader was in the present reading about the past. I wonder, would any reader have real cuban missile crisis suspense? At most, any reader would know that missiles were not fired, right? It’s close enough to our past that I’m not sure there is real suspense possible. And now you have my thinking about historical fiction and suspense. Sometimes, I read HF and tell myself “well that is 1000 years ago so they are all dead now anyway.” And sometimes I enjoy books about lesser known events because they can have that suspense.