Saturday, December 5, 2009

Recent Reading

So last week I read a stack of books that all involved runaways and/or road trip adventures.  And then this week I ended up reading two more:

Going Bovine, Libba Bray
This one has gotten so much attention recently that anyone reading this surely already knows what it's about.  But just in case, it's about a boy with mad cow disease and the Don Quixote inspired hallucinations his spongifying brain is having wherein he escapes his hospital deathbed to find a scientist in a different dimension who can cure him and also save the universe.  Assorted interconnected adventures ensue. It's like 400 pages of someone telling you about a weird dream they had, and for awhile I was wondering if it would never end, but then I got increasingly caught up in it and didn't want it to.  It's awesome.

Punkzilla is Adam Rapp's latest about a boy who's gone AWOL from military school to live on the streets in Portland, but then has to Greyhound his way to Memphis to see his older brother before he dies of cancer.  Along the way he meets various people, some who are nice and some who are terrible, and he spends his time writing long steam-of-conscious letters to his brother.

This week: 2
YTD: 84

Also: It's snowing!  Well, mostly raining, but some of the drops are definitely solid and white.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blah. Plus some stuff I read

This afternoon I went for a run in the park and it was so sunny that afterward I lay happily in the grass in just my t-shirt.  [Um. I've been notified that I should maybe clarify that I was also wearing running trousers. It was surprisingly warm and sunny for so late in the year was my point.]  I was supposed to be stretching or something, but the sky was too blue.  But meanwhile, the neighbors across from me spent the day decorating a Christmas tree on their deck out back.  Too soon!  At least wait until all the leaves have finished falling! And some nearby dad is playing a very long game with a bunch of kids that involves him growling and roaring while the kids shriek and laugh.  Normally I would be wishing them all dead for making such a racket, but all it's doing is making me feel very home-y and content.  Troubling.

But whatever, here's what I've been reading.  (I am so sick of keeping track by the way, and am boring even myself.  But I started at the beginning of the year and so I can't quit now.)

Three in a row that involve runaway journeys in one way or another:
Solace of the Road, Siobhan Dowd
Dark Dude, Oscar Hijuelos
Unwind, Neal Shusterman

Not to mention:
Runaways, Vol. 1, Brian Vaughan

After, Francine Prose
All about what happens after there's a school shooting in a nearby town.  Crazy new security measures and such, except that it's all more sinister than that.  Parents are being brainwashed via email and kids are disappearing and/or dying.  There's no explanation given for it though, and the conclusion is unsatisfying to say the least.

TTYL, Lauren Myracle
I finally had to read what sounds like the most challenged book around after avoiding it for years due to its format and the potential embarrassment of getting caught with it on the train. (You know what I mean if you've ever seen this book and are older than 14.) I don't quite get the controversy.  At first I was startled that fifteen year olds were discussing shaving their crotches like it was a given right from page 2, but I think that was the most shocking thing that happened.  I assume the other books get more explicit.

And a few others:
Lips Touch: Three Times, Laini Taylor
Everlost, Neal Shusterman
If You Come Softly, Jacqueline Woodson

Last coupla weeks: 9
YTD: 82

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

National Book Awards!

On the one hand, I totally called it for the first time in ages.
On the other, I didn't even get the date right and thought it wasn't happening until tomorrow.

Turns out the National Book Awards were announced this evening, and in the Young People's Literature category the winner was Philip Hoose for Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. I'd put up a pic and a link, but if you scroll down one post it's already there.  Because it was my pick for the win!  I wasn't wrong this year!!  Take that! And it was the only one of the finalists that really inspired me to annoy my friends and coworkers talking about it as I read, so I even feel ok about that now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My cat! (also the NBA's are almost here)

Now that it's getting colder, I haven't been leaving the side window open for the cats to jump in and out of, which means I spend most of my spare time opening and re-opening the back door for them.  And one of them, when she wants to come in, doesn't meow, or scratch at the door, or figure how to turn the knob herself the way I hear clever cats do.  She scales the door with her claws and howls through the window while looking possessed.  Then when I open the door, she holds on and swings inside on it before hopping off.  The first time she did it it was absolutely terrifying.  So tonight, instead of letting her in, I took a really bad picture because I think it's funny.

But. That's not why you come to this blog, I know.  I know you've been dying to know which of the five finalists I think is going to win the National Book Award this very Thursday evening! 

I'm not super passionate about any of the books this year, but I guess I've made my pick.  It's an unusually diverse group this time (2 non-fiction, a graphic novel, a collection of fantasy short stories and a realistic novel).  There haven't been any non-fic finalists since 2004, and the only winner was Parrot in the Oven back in 1996, and that was a memoir.  So, since none of the fiction is blowing me away (except for Stitches, but that better not win because it's amazing, but it's also an adult book and shouldn't even be on the list), my money's on non-fiction, and I think it will be Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.  Phillip Hoose has earned it.

So basically that means one of the others will win.  I'm nearly always wrong about these things.  For instance:
In 2008 I was so into The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks, and also The Spectacular Now (as regular readers well know).
In 2007 I couldn't believe Skin Hunger didn't win.
In 2006 there was no way Octavian Nothing wasn't going to win, so it was hardly worth thinking about
In 2005 I was rooting for Inexcusable, but I wasn't that into it.
In 2004 all the finalists sort of sucked.  I mean, Luna??  It's nice to recognize one of the only transgender-related books out there at the time, but it really is not a particularly good book.
And that takes us to 2003, which is the last time I picked a winner and wholeheartedly agreed with it.  The Canning Season is still one of my fave YA's, and it is perfectly written (it's just too bad about the cover).

Monday, November 9, 2009

PW Best Children's Books of 2009

It's best-of season again—those magical couple of months at the end of every year where billions of lists pop up on the internet, each and every one agreeing that the same handful of books (plus one or two weird choices apiece) are the best of the year. 

Publisher's Weekly starts us off with their Best Children's Books of 2009.  Here's the fiction picks (go to the website for an annotated list plus the other categories):
Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson
Going Bovine, Libba Bray
Fire, Kristin Cashore
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
If I Stay, Gayle Forman
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly 

Purple Heart, Patricia McCormick 
The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness
A Season of Gifts, Richard Peck
When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater
Marcelo in the Real World, Francisco X. Stork
Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan
Lips Touch: Three Times, Laini Taylor

The Uninvited, Tim Wynne-Jones

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

OMG Raccoons!

I haven't had anything to say about my little garden in awhile, because nothing's been happening.  The season didn't end particularly successfully.  But the raccoons came around tonight (while I was working on my nanowrimo novel, natch), and suddenly I don't hate them anymore.  Maybe it's because there are no more vegetables for me to worry about defending, or maybe it's just that they've put on enough winter weight that they don't look all hollow and pointy-snouted anymore, but they turned cute!

I heard the dreaded baby-dinosaur squawks and went out to see them climbing through the bamboo.  The more curious one got interested and crept towards me in slow motion, exactly the way the cats crawl across the couch—one foot always paused in the air—when they're trying to sneak into my lap without me noticing.  I went inside for my phone to take a pic, and when I opened the door again, the friendly one was right there sniffing, but jogged away.  Then they both went and sat in my mostly-empty vegetable beds and dug up some dirt while watching me over their shoulders.  It's like I live out in the country or something.  My phone camera doesn't have a flash, so this is all I came up with:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

You guys, I just joined NaNoWriMo! I don't know why, except that all the YA author bloggers keep talking about it and the pressure got to me.  Now I either have to write 50,000 words in the next 30 days (just 1667 per day!), lie to the internet, or be totally humiliated.  Since my current average daily output is zero words, I'm going to have to change my entire lifestyle—and fast!  Also, since my alien hybrid trilogy didn't pan out, I don't even have a plot, so this really should work out well...   Off to the coffee shop with my laptop then, like the pros!

p.s.  Here's what I read this week:
Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, Deborah Heiligman
Skim, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Gabrielle Zevin
After Tupac and D Foster, Jacqueline Woodson

Week's YA total:4
YTD total: 73

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Guardian Book Prize

By the way, Mal Peet won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for Exposure, a re-imagining of Othello where Othello's a South American soccer player and Desdemona's a pop star. I forgot to mention that.

Recent Reading

Here's a boring list of stuff I've read lately, several of which I've posted on separately:

Sacred Scars, Kathleen Duey
Andromeda Klein, Frank Portman
Liar, Justine Larbalestier
Blankets, Craig Thompson

And now that the National Book Award finalists are out, I'm reading those.  More on them when I've finished the other two.
Stitches, David Small
Jumped, Rita Williams-Garcia
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, Phillip Hoose

Recently:  7
YTD: 69

Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey!

Sacred Scars is one of my most eagerly-anticipated books this year.  I loved Skin Hunger so much, as I've said more than once here, and I was so eager to read the next part of the story.  And now I actually finished it awhile ago, but haven't written anything because I'm not quite sure what to say.  It's a terrific book, but not quite a free-standing novel.  It's more like the middle section of what's going to be a single long story once the third volume comes out.

I admit that I had a sinking feeling when the book arrived and I saw how thick it is—more than 500 pages(What's up with all these trilogies/series that start with a regular-size book and then ratchet up the subsequent volumes to ginormous proportions?  I'm getting back trouble from all the lugging about of giant hardbacks).  

But that's neither here nor there.  It takes a lot of pages to slowly and methodically unfold this rich, dark world Duey's creating.  Hahp and the rest have been at the Academy for years and keep surviving their increasingly-advanced lessons; they continue to quietly plot to destroy the Academy. Gerrard's more of a mystery, and is it just me or does time seem to be doing funny things?  Meanwhile, in the past, Sadima realizes Franklin is never going to leave Somiss and the caged boys.  So she leaves, and eventually loses her memory and spends decade after decade magically not aging and quietly selling cheese (this is where the book drags a bit).  Eventually she meets the Eridians, political tensions are at a peak, and you know that things are about to happen and worlds are going to collide, but the pages are running out!  And then it ends abruptly.  Augh!

So.  It seems like the pieces are in place now for everything to come together, for all the accumulated little details to come into play.  I've got a good feeling about the final book.

As an aside, here's something that's really bothering me: I can't find this book in stores!  It came out in August, and I started eagerly looking for it, to no avail.  Months later it's still not there. I haven't checked every store in NYC obviously, but I keep looking at quite a few, both big stores and indies, and they're not stocking it and it's driving me insane!  If being the much-anticipated (I know it's not just me) follow-up to a National Book Award finalist isn't enough to get a book on store shelves, what in the world does it take??

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National Book Awards Finalists!

It's like my one-year blogiversary!
No time to check the exact date, but this all started last year with me writing about National Book Award finalists, and now it's happening all over again.  Here are the finalists for Young People's Literature:

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, Deborah Heiligman
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
, Phillip Hoose
, David Small
Lips Touch: Three Times
, Laini Taylor
, Rita Williams-Garcia

The winners will be announced on November 18th.  I haven't read any of them yet, so off I go!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I've been dying to read Liar for ages, was begging everyone for an advance copy, but it didn't pan out.  In the end I was happy to spend actual money for it the day it came out. I've read tons of reviews, and many of them use the word 'brilliant.'  It's gotten three starred reviews. It'll probably be all over the award winnings this season.  My expectations were high.

I was not expecting to finish it and just feel sort of meh.  It was fun, I read it fast and couldn't put it down, but I kept waiting for something to tie together that never did.

Everyone seems so enthusiastic about the fact that you can't tell if what Micah says is the truth or a lie, cause she's such a compulsive liar that she lies constantly. Did I mention that she tells lies? Because she's a liar? And also that's the title of the book?  This girl is so obsessed with telling you what a liar she is over and over and over that I can only assume she is protesting too much and every word is the absolute truth—even the ones that contradict the other ones.

And that is just one of the many ways you can read the book! Each of which is apparently true. And that's why I didn't love it. Yes, it can be read a number of different ways. Basically you just have to make up rules about what to believe, about what you decide is true and what's a lie. And you can start again and make up a separate set of assumptions and come to a different conclusion, but there's no real basis in the text for any of it. It was definitely a good read and all, but if it's just me making stuff up, what's the point?

But definitely don't take my word for it, because obviously many who've read it would disagree. There's a great thread starting on Justine's blog, where she allows readers who have finished it to discuss the plot, including the top-secret twists we are forbidden to share in public (don't click on that link if you haven't read it and plan to, because I promise you don't want to know.) The readers over there are so enthusiastic and thoughtful, and several of them took what they read and created the book they wanted or needed to read. It's kind of inspiring. They're making me want to read it again, and maybe really get it this time.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Booktrust shortlist

As promised, the Booktrust Teenage Prize shortlist is out:

Auslander, Paul Dowswell 
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Ostrich Boys, Keith Gray 
The Ant Colony, Jenny Valentine
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, Helen Grant
The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness

P.S.  There are tadpoles in a bucket in my yard!  It rained yesterday, and I was outside this morning and saw all these little sperm-like things thrashing about in the standing water.   It's hard to describe how excited I am about this.  I'll have to build a pond now!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman!

You know what's odd?  All the major online booksellers use the same cheap scan of this book's cover.  What's up with that??  [Erm...on closer inspection that's just what the cover of the book looks like.] So I'll have to use this picture of John Waters reading it instead (as featured on Jersey Beat).

No matter.  Andromeda Klein is the second book by Frank Portman (Dr. Frank of the punk band Mr. T Experience), and it's tons of fun.  I loved his first book, King Dork, so I was excited about this one without knowing a thing about it.  And when I read the first few pages I had that feeling I sometimes get when I start a book where I could tell it was going to be a good time, so I settled in happily and just let it wash over me.

I'm a sucker for books about passionate, hard-working experts of all sorts, from giant-pumpkin-growing teenagers (Joan Bauer's Squashed) to English professors (Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety), and Andromeda is a startlingly well-versed and hard-working teen occultist.  There's an enormous amount of information about tarot and magic[k] and A. E. Waite.  There's amusing wordplay.  And also libraries!   (I am so checking out the 133s next time I'm at the BPL.) Plus her father is a bit of a paranoid anti-government conspiracy guy and I am a fan of that sort of thing as well.  But aside from that, it's really just a smart and funny book about high school culture and about how one "misfit" navigates it.  The plot goes a little wild by the end, but whatev.  It's good.  Read it.

Also, I've discovered that Frank Portman actually recorded a couple of the terrible songs Tom Henderson wrote in King Dork.  They're on the book's amazon page. Take a listen to my favorite,  I Wanna Ramone You"If we won't be chaperoned, and if you wanna get ramoned, come on come on come on...." 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guardian Award 2009 shortlist

The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize shortlist is out: 
Solace of the Road, Siobhan Dowd
Then, Morris Gleitzman
Exposure, Mal Peet
Nation, Terry Pratchett
The winner will be announced on October 8th.  And here's the longlist, if you want to see what was cut.

(And you know, I love Nation as much as anyone, but I am very pleased that the year is almost over and very very soon it will be too old to be eligible for any more awards.  My fingers are tired of typing it's name over and over and over...)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brooklyn Book Festival

Here's another important YA-related-event-in-NYC reminder:  The annual Brooklyn Book Festival is this Sunday, September 13th.  It's all day long at Borough Hall (which means it's very close to the only Housing Works thrift store in Brooklyn, so save some time to make a trip there).

Check out just a few of the awesome authors participating in the various youth panels:  Kate DiCamillo, Matt de la Peña, Coe Booth, M.T. Anderson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Margaret Peterson Haddix.  And lots more.  It'll be a loooong day, and I mean that in a good way.  Full details at the link above, of course.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Recent Reading

Skin Deep, E. M. Crane
It's a "languid read for introspective girls" —sez the SLJ review. 
I read this one because Jacket Whys, a cool blog about YA book covers (really, that's way more interesting than it might sound), mentioned it as a best cover of 2008. I'm not sure I agree with that, but I hadn't even heard of the book before, yet when I saw it at the Strand for a buck fifty I recognized it from the post and snapped it right up.
It's one of those books where a girl with some problems befriends a cool adult (and her dog) who shows her another way to live (see also: Suite Scarlett, by Maureen Johnson).  It's lovely, full of gardening and raku firing and medicinal teas and a small-town art scene. 
I just couldn't get over how little Andrea was paid to be this woman's assistant.  Everyone kept acting like 70 dollars a week was extravagant for a dog walking job, but that's only 10 bucks a day, and she wasn't walking the dog, she was spending hours a day caring for a cancer patient, and then entire days on the weekends doing all kinds of things.  I mean, I'd do it for free, just to get to make the pottery and learn how to make teas that would heal my reproductive woes, but sheesh. 

Finding Lubchenko, Michael Simmons
It's another kid with a lousy home life.  Only more so.  Evan's dad is being held without bail for a murder he probably didn't commit, but Evan unwittingly stole the laptop containing the evidence the police need to clear him.  Handing it over now would mean his own little thieving operation would be revealed, so he goes on an international caper to solve things himself.  Which mostly means he and his friends eat a lot of chinese food in Paris and go to clubs while waiting for clues to fall into their laps.  Features gross overuse of the word "anyway" as a breezy sentence-starter (almost as grating as my own use of "so").

Total this week: 2
Total YTD: 62

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gordon Korman!

So this week here in NYC, on Wednesday the 9th from 6-7:30 pm, it's Teen Author Reading Night at the Jefferson Market branch of NYPL.

There are plenty of teen author related events around town, and normally I wouldn't bother to mention it, but this time Mr. Gordon Korman is one of the featured authors, reading from his new book Pop.  Now Gordon Korman is the guy who is single-handedly responsible for me feeling hopelessly inadequate for most of my life.  Because when he was twelve years old, unlike myself, Gordon Korman was busy writing his first novel,  This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall, which was the start of the "Bruno and Boots" series featuring hilarious boarding school hijinks.   I totally loved them when I was about eight or nine, but I just couldn't compete.  My writing was trite and childish; it was very depressing.

He's written approximately a billion books since then, and lately he just keeps churning out the award-winners.  Jerk!  He didn't even have the decency to peak young and live out his adulthood bitter and washed-up.  But he'll be in town, and he's a funny, talented guy, so go be dazzled!

P.S.  Loads of other terrific authors will be there too:
Justine Larbalestier, Liar
David Levithan, Love is the Higher Law
E. Lockhart, The Treasure Map of Boys (Yay!)
Lauren McLaughlin, Recycler
Bennett Madison, The Blonde of the Joke
Dan Poblocki, The Stone Child
Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Reading Lists and Such

When I started reading YA it was only just because I was tired of wondering what I would read next on the subway.  I wanted a ready-made reading list that would never run out, and at the time I had just re-read a bunch of the Cormier books I had loved as a kid and was amazed at how well they held up.  I wanted to see what was going on in the world of modern YA, so I figured I'd just read all the award winners, and at first it was simple:  the Printz winners and honorees, the National Book Award winners and finalists, the LA Times Book Prize and the BBYA Top Ten. 

Which is approximately 25 books a year, except that there's always a bunch of overlap, so it's more like 15 or 20 depending.  When I started all this maybe four or five years ago, there were a hundred or so books on my list (at first I was only going back to 2000, which is when the Printz began). But then every year more were added of course, and I started paying attention to all kinds of other fun awardsgenre awards and non-US awards and so on.  It's more or less endless.  And so I never did finish  everything on that original list.

And now, to get back on track and because I keep accidentally picking up such disappointing books lately, I'm resurrecting my list.  I just put what's left of it over in the sidebar there.  There are 34 books on it right now, and hopefully there will be 0 by the end of the year.  Some are from the last couple years and some go back a little farther.  I've been avoiding The Ropemaker for years, for instance, and I'm not even sure why. 

So.  As I do every Saturday morning, I trudged through the park to the library, planning for an extra-long bath later so I can start making a dent.  But the library is closed today.  Eff!!   I forgot about the stupid holiday closing.  It's closed until Tuesday.  Now what'll I read all weekend?? 

Unrelatedly, I think this weekend I'll finally pull up my tomato plants.  They're so diseased, and get sadder looking by the day, but they still have fruit on them and I've been hoping they'd hold on until it all ripened.  But I just picked the last brandywines and gorged myself on tomato slices and fresh mozzarella.  Really, I can't believe how delicious it was.  They were the ones I was most looking forward to, so maybe it's time to put the  plants out of their misery now.  Poor guys.  Next year will be better.  I saved plenty of seeds and am not quite so incompetent anymore.

Booktrust longlist

The new award season is almost here!  I've just started adding a couple of new dates to the calendar in the sidebar, and of course there are many more to come.  While you're waiting for the good stuff, here's Booktrust Teenage Prize's 2009 longlist:

Auslander, Paul Dowswell
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Tales of Terror from the Black Ship Chris Priestley
Numbers Rachel Ward
Ostrich Boys, Keith Gray
Furnace: Lockdown, Alexander Gordon Smith
Three Ways to Snog an Alien, Graham Joyce
The Ant Colony, Jenny Valentine
Bloodchild, Tim Bowler
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, Helen Grant
Solitaire, Bernard Ashley
The Ask and the Answer,  Patrick Ness
Exposure, Mal Peet

Monday, August 31, 2009

This and that

You MUST go visit Scott Westerfeld's blog! He's posted the first chapter from the audiobook of Leviathan, and it's read by Alan Cumming!! It doesn't get cooler than that. Also you can download Uglies for free (though you have to give Simon and Schuster your email address...), which I promptly did in case I ever get around to getting an e-reader.

Also, I had meant to post this ages ago, like back when it happened, but I just found a half-written post about it that I guess I never hit publish on. Nothing big, it's just a article in the NY Times about how the Brooklyn Public Library deals with complaints about books. The cool part is a slideshow of documents from the archive—actual user complaints and the library's responses. They respond thoroughly and respectfully to even the most crackpot of complaints.

You know, summer's about over; the air is (temporarily) crisp, and it's getting dark soo much earlier already. For me that means working five day weeks again. With just two day weekends in between. Barbaric! On the plus side, an extra commute means an extra commute's worth of reading time, and cooler temperatures mean more time spent warming up in the tub with a book. So loads more reading time, hopefully some rad website changes, and an all-new YA awards season is right around the corner. There's much to look forward to after a lazy and change-filled summer. See you there!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

WFMAD--it's not too late!

It's almost September, which is shocking in itself, and which also means that I completely failed in my plan to keep up with Laurie Halse Anderson's WFMAD in August challenge. It's like Maureen Johnson's BEDA all over again, only more so. (I'm not really a writer, but we all need a hobby.)

So I didn't actually write a word, but much like watching exercise videos from the couch, I did read every one of her daily entries, full of inspiring writer-y quotes and prompts for the still-uninspired. Plus lots of news about her garden and Bitch magazine (she's a fan!), so it was like all my favorite things at once.

So the point about September is that it's a whole new month, with 30 new days in it, and all of Laurie's numbered posts still exist, so I'm going to do it then. After 7 and a half solid hours of writing spread out over a month my sci-fi trilogy should be well under way. You should do it too! Start here, and go from there.

CBCA Book of the Year

The Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year has been announced (ages ago). The winner in the Older Readers category is Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan.

I haven't read this; I didn't even know it existed until now, but as soon as I post this and take a shower I am going to head straight to the bookstore to buy it. If it's by Shaun Tan, it must be terrific.

Stuff I Read, vol. whatever

It's that time again—where I try to remember what I've read since the last time I posted a list of what I read!

It hasn't been much actually, because I think I've been a little glum, or at least I've been re-reading and re-reading my little pile of frayed comfort books from way back. Adult titles, though, so they don't count here. Here's the YA, most of which I already wrote about, but didn't tally:

Nicholas Dane, Melvin Burgess
The Ghost Behind the Wall, Melvin Burgess
The Cry of the Wolf, Melvin Burgess
Forever, Judy Blume
Knights of the Hill Country, Tim Tharp
The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton
Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry
Ender in Exile, Orson Scott Card
The Carbon Diaries, 2015, Saci Lloyd
Black Rabbit Summer, Kevin Brooks

Ack! It's useless. If it isn't something I already mentioned here or just finished, I can't remember. I'm sitting here trying to visualize past stacks of library books, but it's not going so well. So:
Total since whenever: 10
Total YTD: 60

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tim Tharp!

Tim Tharp needs more attention! Why isn't he up there with the Chris Crutchers and the John Greens? Is it because of the southern accent?

I loved his National Book Award nominated The Spectacular Now, and I've finally read his earlier Knights of the Hill Country, and it's so great too. There just aren't enough books out there about regular decent boys doing stuff and figuring out their place in their world and having regular complicated feelings about their friends and their families and girls. Hampton's such a good guy, but in the way that real complex guys are good guys, not in a fake lesson-y way. Plus there's football—lots and lots of football. I hear that boy readers like sports, and I also hear that lots of people are very very concerned with boys' lack of interest in reading, so why isn't everyone falling over themselves to get this one into people's hands? I don't understand it.

p.s. Coincidentally, I read this just as Netflix had delivered two discs worth of PBS's "Country Boys" to my house, and they went well together. It turns out the whole show's available online.

Robert Cormier! Melvin Burgess!

I've been a little Burgess-obsessed lately (I keep meaning to post a proper write-up of Nicholas Dane...), so imagine how happy I was to stumble upon this old article on the internet! The original master of dark, complicated, much-banned YA (pictured on the right) and the current one (looking up) talking in the same room at the same time. Awesome.

There's been a burst of internet articles lately/always about how awful and inappropriate for "children" recent YA books are. Like this tiresome piece that all the bloggers but me finished blogging about weeks and weeks ago—"Rape, abortion, incest. Is this what CHILDREN should read?" Boringly predictably, much of the article that's not spent mis-reading Tender Morsels is spent mis-reading Melvin Burgess's entire body of work, which in real life is so gentle and affirming and honest that it feels terribly cheap to just inaccurately sum up the skeleton of his plots and leave it at that. But whatever. He can obviously take it. And the kids who need to read his books seem to find them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Virginia Euwer Wolff Interview Alert

Dave Miller of "Think Out Loud," a show on Oregon public radio, was nice enough to let me know about a very exciting show coming up this Thursday, the 13th: Virginia Euwer Wolff will be on! I think readers of this blog already know how I feel about her books, so you know I'll be there. (Whenever that actually is. I can't seem to figure out what time it's on, but I assume it'll be listenable on the website at some point). So tune in! Yeah, it's up there. Go listen! She's so much more genteel than I was expecting.

Hugo Awards

The Hugo winners were announced over the weekend. It was an exciting year with two of the five nominations for best novel going to books for young readers (and another—Scalzi's Zoe's Tale—can sort of go either way). To no one's surprise, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book won. Like that guy needs another award...

And for those with longish attention spans, here's a video from the 2008 National Book Festival wherein he talks about and reads from The Graveyard Book:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


So I was off reading Forever. It turns out that I had already read it after all (but when??). It wasn't until I got to the part where she's making the Planned Parenthood appointment that I started having vague, vague memories of having read it before. But now I see/remember what the fuss is about. It rivals this blog's namesake for best semi-graphic, awkward-but-sweet loss of virginity scene.

(And the BPL central branch didn't have any English-language copies of The Outsiders this weekend, so that will have to wait. But, really, I'll be chipping away at the YA classics for awhile. It'll have to be an ongoing project.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Must. Read. The classics.

I have a horrible confession to make: I've never read Forever.

I've also never read The Outsiders. It's because I was too busy reading The Girls of Canby Hall series and Caprice brand teen romances when I was thirteen.

Still, I'm tired of living a lie, pretending I'm allowed to type stuff about teen fiction on the internet under the circumstances. I won't be back until I've caught up on my reading.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


The system works!
Now all I've got to do is write it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Green Tomatoes

I really mean to stop posting about my garden. I really do, but the thing is, it's all new to me and it's taking up more of my mental energy than reading YA is and so this is just how it is for a minute.

The thing is, I really effed up my tomatoes. How was I to know that just because all instructions say to plant them 2 feet apart and in cages or sturdily staked that I should plant them two feet apart and sturdily stake them?? Rules are for suckers with space to burn, I thought, and all I've got is this tiny Brooklyn patch and the plants were quite small when I started... So now they're really crammed in there—7 plants in the space 2 should have been, and they're way bigger than I thought they'd get and the bamboo that was supposed to be holding them up isn't as sturdy as I thought and the whole mess was collapsing under its own weight. Branches were snapping off and all light to the rest of the garden was blocked by this dense jungle. Heavy rains the last coupla days were the final straw.

So, I tried to fix things tonight, laboriously untangling all these intertwined branches, trimming fruitless branches and restaking everything slightly more neatly. It's still a mess, but it's better. What happened though is that in the process a bunch of fruit fell off and some stems got broken and also several branches had already snapped off and I didn't even know because they were being held upright in the tangle.

So now I've got myself an unexpected pile of green tomatoes, which is disappointing, but it's still a harvest! I've been googling for good recipes. So far I've decided to make a gratin and some green-tomato-lemon marmalade.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

RITA Award Winners

Oh, and according to my dwindling list of upcoming events over there on the right, the RITA award winners were announced last week. In the young adult category it's Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore.

And one of these days I'm going to get around to updating my little list with some events that are actually in the future. One of these days...

Amelia Bloomer Project

How'd I go this long without knowing about the Amelia Bloomer Project?? I only just found out about it this morning during my bimonthly or so read-all-the-feminist-magazines-for-the-price-of-a-cup-of-coffee at the Barnes and Noble. [Remember when Venus used to be the coolest publication around? sigh...]

So in a sidebar to Ms. magazine's boring article about Twilight in which they recommended more feministy alternatives, they pointed me to the Amelia Bloomer Project website which, as part of the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association's Social Responsibilities Round Table, has put out lists honoring feminist children's writing since 2002.

Here's the YA fiction list for 2009. Check out the site for descriptions of each book, the non-fiction list, and for past years' lists.

A Curse Dark as Gold
Elizabeth C. Bunce
Kristin Cashore
The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
Claire Dean
The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom
Margarita Engle
Girl Overboard
Justina Chen Headley
White Sands, Red Menace
Ellen Klages
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
, E.
The Shadow Speaker
Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
Living Dead Girl
Elizabeth Scott
Big Fat Manifesto
Susan Vaught
Climbing the Stairs
Padma Venkatraman
The Kayla Chronicles,
Sherri Winston

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cover Art

So Justine Larbalestier's upcoming Liar is getting loads of attention of late. I haven't read it yet since, despite my pleas, I haven't gotten my hands on a galley, but apparently the narrator is a short-haired African-American girl who's a compulsive liar. The US cover features a photograph of a long-haired white girl, causing readers to wonder a) if the narrator is lying about everything, including the basics of her identity (apparently not) and/or b) if the publisher just wanted to have a white face on the cover, no matter the content, because people don't buy books with black people on the covers (duh).

There's an article in Publisher's Weekly here, and Larbalestier blogged about it yesterday. Plus there are tons of comments and everyone's got an opinion about race in publishing and authors' lack of control over how their books are represented and bad covers in general. It's all very interesting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Warning! Reading "Baby Be-Bop" May Damage Your Mental Well-Being

Man, this book-banning article is cracking me up for some reason (why are there so many of these lately??):

Ginny Maziarka, 49, said the books in the section of the library aimed at children aged 12 to 18 included homosexual and heterosexual content she thought was inappropriate for youths.

She and her husband also asked the library to obtain books about homosexuality that affirmed heterosexuality, such as titles written by "ex-gays," Maziarka said.

"All the books in the young-adult zone that deal with homosexuality are gay-affirming. That's not balance," she said.

Sounds reasonable! So, does anyone know an anti-gay YA book written by an ex-gay? Just asking... Also, since balance is the goal, can we please legally obligate librarians to also stock up on pro-date rape books? I want to make sure the kids in my life know all sides of the issue.


Outside West Bend, the fight caught the attention of Robert Braun, who, with three other Milwaukee-area men, filed a claim against West Bend calling for one of the library's books to be publicly burned, along with financial damages.

The four plaintiffs -- who describe themselves as "elderly" in their complaint --- claim their "mental and emotional well-being was damaged by [the] book at the library."

The claim, unconnected to the Maziarkas, says the book "Baby Be-bop" -- a fictional piece about a homosexual teenager -- is "explicitly vulgar, racial and anti-Christian."

Baby Be-Bop, of all things! Who knew such a sweet, poetic 80-page book had the power to force fragile adults to read it against their will.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Melvin Burgess and Tomato Blight

Last week I read two Melvin Burgess books I'd not seen before. First, I read his first novel, The Cry of the Wolf, which is not the easiest book to find in the US. If I didn’t know, I would never have guessed it was a Burgess book, or that it was written in 1990 and not, say, 1965. It feels very old-fashioned both in its writing and in the sort of story it is. Even the cover is terribly old-timey (though later editions have incongruously updated designs.)

It’s about the last wild wolves in England, a small population that had survived undiscovered in a remote area until a strangely evil hunter learns of them and sets about killing them, pack by pack, just for the satisfaction of wiping out the species. All is grimly going according to plan, except for one plucky cub who just won't die.

And then I read The Ghost Behind the Wall, where a small-for-his-age boy finds that he can crawl through his building's air ducts and peer into other tenants' apartments through the grates, and/or climb into the apartments and do various petty meannesses. And then he finds out that he's not alone up there...

It's sort of well known among those who know me that one of my biggest fears is of being watched. It's not a very attractive trait, I know, and of course the rational part of my head knows full well that no one actually cares enough about whatever boring thing I'm doing to go out of their way to watch. But obviously the thought of ghosts—which really are just invisible beings hovering about and spying, and possibly also dead relatives judging you—are a special terror for me. Also I live in an apartment. With air ducts. So it was horrifying read, even though it quickly enough turns into a story that's not much about ghosts or mean boys at all.

So, perhaps not his two best efforts ever, but they can't all be Bloodtide. This week I'm looking to read any other of Burgess' books I've not yet read. Nicholas Dane is on it's its [ack!] way to me as we speak!

Additionally, I've got the tomato blight! Check out this pitiful specimen that was looking nowhere near this bad just a week ago. Shoulda kept a closer eye on it.. I had to "rogue" it today (which is what I have to say instead of "pulled it out by the roots" now that I'm pretending to be a horticulturalist.) Fingers crossed that the rest of my little guys didn't catch it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recent Reading

It's 7am. I'm sitting here with the breakfast I made: buttermilk multigrain pancakes (from scratch), facon and fresh strawberries. It's just the sort of before-work morning I always mean to have but then can't get out of bed in time to actually make happen. After this, I'm going to take a bath instead of a rushed shower. It'll be great. But before that I have to post what I read last week:

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
This one's been on the to-do list forever. Most probably already know the premise of this series: Promising children are taken into space and trained to become the next generation of military commanders to lead the war against bug-like aliens that want to destroy and/or colonize earth. Ender's even more promising than the rest.

Lena, Jacqueline Woodson
Two girls hitchhike across the South to escape from their father's sexual abuse.

The Treasure Map of Boys, E. Lockhart
Which I already wrote something about just below this post.

The tally:
This week: 3
YTD: 50

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Treasure Map of Boys

So everyone knows how much I love The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, right? I still haven't gotten over the fact that it didn't win the National Book Award this year, and I haven't gotten over my disappointment that it didn't exist when I was 15. Before I read it I'd sort of avoided E. Lockhart's books because of... well, because of covers that look like this. Yes, I'm shallow, and yes I'm often wrong because of it, and I'm not going to type the phrase "chick lit" out loud, and I wouldn't use it in a derogatory way even if I did. But you know what I mean.

Once I read Disreputable History I quickly read everything else Lockhart's written, and it turns out I was so wrong to snub this stuff. The whole Ruby Oliver series is great; it's smart and funny and true, and Ruby's kind of an endearingly irritating idiot when it comes to boys, but only in the way we're all idiots about that.

I think this third book might be the best one so far. The plot's simple and complicated enough in that high-schooly way: Roo gets fired from her zoo job for defending a pygmy goat, then gets a new job selling Birkenstocks to Dr. Z's fungus-footed boyfriend; she's in charge of a school bake sale and gets sports boys involved baking delicious things instead of the cutesy marshmallow sculptures sold but not eaten at past sales (hence the cover image); she flirts with Noel in chemistry but Nora likes him too, and Jackson's maybe flirting with her again and maybe Finn is too and Gideon's cute and ack what to do! and blah blah blah. It's all the same, but this time she's kind of getting more self-aware as she figures things out, and man does it hit close to home. It's a fun, silly book on the surface that is also pretty smart and right on.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Many of you know that I am a tad obsessed with ranking award-winning YA fiction by assigning values to each award each books wins and adding them up, right? (I have time on my hands...) So obviously I enjoy spending time over at, a wiki that compiles loads of data about literary and other creative awards. (Unfortunately my own database of YA award winners was well underway before I even knew this place existed—and it's a good thing I didn't know or I might not have even bothered starting mine.) But check this out! It's their "honor roll" of the top ten highest ranking "recent fiction," meaning books published in the last three years. And half of them are YA!

I realize that all this means is that there are lots of YA/children's awards going to some great YA books these days. It's not like the youth titles are sweeping the grown-up awards. And it also highlights the problem of awardannal's democratic one-win/one-score ranking process. Who cares! It's still cool, and it means that readers innocently clicking the link looking for a good book to read will see a whole list of terrific stuff they might have otherwise missed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Recent Reading: vol. ??

First, a plea: I really really want to read Liar by Justine Larbalestier right now! I cannot wait until September 29th. Does anyone have an ARC?? Please!? I'd read it quick and return it straightaway, or I've got good stuff I could trade you for it. (It sucks to not be in the biz, showered with more free advance copies than I could possibly read—at least that's what I assume life is like in the publishing world...)

And now, here's what I read this week:

Janes in Love, Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
The sequel to The Plain Janes where the Janes fret about boys and also get an NEA-esque grant and community support that make their public art attacks legit.

Downsiders, Neal Shusterman
This is about people who live beneath Manhattan in elaborate abandoned tunnels and other structures. Then a downside boy meets a topside girl while he's scavenging above-ground for medicine for his little sister (awww!), and it plays out about how you'd expect. Except! The girl does some research and finds out how their community started (they've forgotten themselves, it was so many generations ago), and it's all about imagining what might have happened if Alfred Beach hadn't stopped building his doomed pneumatic subway system in the 1870s. Which is pretty cool; I love that bit of NYC history.

Dough Boy, Peter Marino
Tristan's a fat kid with an insufferable, nutrition-obsessed new stepsister who spends most of the book berating him and her father about their weight and alienating everyone she meets. The first half of the book is pretty much one hundred percent her yelling at him about carbs [no, that's not true, lots of other things happened too; it just felt that way], then in the second half she starts doing other annoying things too, while everyone tries to figure out how to not have to spend time with her. Bonus points for Tristan not magically losing weight by the end.

Like A Thorn, Clara Vidal
A short book about a girl who develops OCD as a way to cope with her unpredictable, emotionally abusive mother. It was translated from French, and I have to assume it reads better in the original.

Unrelatedly, I ate my first garden beans today. I had meant to put them in a salad, but I couldn't wait long enough to get them inside. Just wiped the dirt off and ate them and their sun-warmth. And here's a picture of my favorite young tomato. I can't remember which kind he is—"cherokee purple" maybe? I've got a good feeling about those delicious-looking pleats.

Read this week: 4
YTD total: 47

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Carnegie Medal

The Carnegie Medal was just announced, and it went to Siobhan Dowd for Bog Child! It's the first-ever posthumous Carnegie (Dowd died of cancer shortly after finishing Bog Child in 2007). If you go to the Carnegie website there's a page of videos. The awards ceremony clips aren't all up yet, but I'm sure they'll be there soon,and you can watch the judges talking about the finalists in the meantime. They're up now, and worth watching.

Golden Duck Award

This should have been up here weeks ago, but you know how it is.
The Golden Duck Award for Excellence in Children's Sci-Fi lit was a tie! A good tie, between Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.

You know, I enjoyed reading Little Brother, but I remember writing a post ages ago where I sort of complained about its endless explaining of things. But it turns out that even now, many months later, I still find valuable uses for some of the things I learned. For instance, I learned a simple way to find hidden cameras in rooms, and you know I'm paranoid enough that I tried it out in my new apartment. And now I can undress without fear.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Recent Reading

I've not been reading too much YA lately, cause I've been busy wasting my time with some adult books and other activities.

But. I did manage to read a graphic novel in the tub one morning—The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg.
After Jane nearly gets blown up by a terrorist bomb in a city cafe, her parents freak out and move the family to the suburbs, where Jane joins forces with some other outcasts also named Jane and starts doing guerrilla public art projects. Features one-dimensional stereotypical supporting characters—the mean girl, the drama freak, the science nerd, the token gay jane—but I liked it anyway.

Total books read this week: 1
Total YTD: 44? 45? Must look back at the previous total and add 1... Only 43 Ack!

P.S. I hear that Ohio is about to drastically cut state funding for public libraries—by 50%! This can't happen. I'm not in Ohio myself, but my nieces and nephews are, and all their classmates and families too. Whole branches would close—possibly the one in their neighborhood, for all I know—new books wouldn't be bought. And so on. This is a link to one of those silly online forms that sends a message to the legislators. I hate those things, but it's better than nothing. Better yet, if you're in Ohio, write your own letter or make a real phone call. Save my sister's family's libraries!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Recent Reading

It's been so long since I wrote a post about what I've read—good thing no one cares, eh? But since I've been trying to keep track of what I read this year, I have to try to keep up. So this is what I can remember having read in the last 6 weeks or so, with super brief summaries (for some reason, I decided to put ***'s around ones that I especially like):

***Marcelo in the Real World, Francisco X. Stork***
I'm getting a little tired of hearing this compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time just because they both happen to be about autistic-ish guys who really really don't want to go outside their comfort zones, but do and end up accomplishing things they never thought they could and also solving mysteries (of sorts). I love both books actually, but they have very different tones. Marcelo is just quiet and beautiful, even though his "real world" gets pretty ugly.

***The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan***
An amazing post-apocalyptic zombie book—my two favorite sub-genres in one! It's sort of like The Road, except here you know what destroyed the world, and it's still there—endlessly clawing at the fences and moaning.

***Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld***
I'm so excited about this one! I hate to use sci-fi/fantasy lingo, but nice "world-building," Scott Westerfeld! Very nice indeed. It's an alternate history of the build-up to WWI, where Franz Ferdinand's son pilots a giant walking war machine, and the British have created living airships that are entire ecosystems of genetically-tweaked creatures. Someone really needs to arrange a showdown between the fabricated beasties of this book and the half-men of Melvin Burgess's Bloodtide and Bloodsong.

***Love and Lies, Ellen Wittlinger***
This is the sequel to Hard Love, where Gio goes to college and Marisol takes a year off to hang out in coffee shops and write a novel, a ridiculously earnest idea. And of course they somehow end up in the same adult-ed writing course and try to be friends again and also meet new people to have complicated relationships with.

***Suite Scarlett, Maureen Johnson***
Scarlett's family owns and lives in a once-fancy hotel in Manhattan. An eccentric guest moves in for the summer and stealth theater productions and complicated-but-heartwarming sibling relationships ensue.

Zoe's Tale, John Scalzi
Don't do what I did and try to read this as a freestanding novel just because it's up for a YA sci-fi award, and Scalzi's other books are not. You must read the Last Colony first or, like me, you will have no idea what's happening. This is my own fault, but still: The cover has pictures of some rad-looking space battles, right? This is misleading! It takes about three quarters of the book to get to the action, and then it happens approximately like this: Zoe sees an awesome explosion in the sky and asks her giraffe/spider-like alien bodyguard what just happened, and it's like (I'm paraphrasing), "oh man, we were going to tell you about the plan to destroy the whole fleet, but there wasn't time," and Zoe's all: "well tell me now." And so they spend about two paragraphs summarizing some pretty exciting sounding events from the previous book for idiots like me. The rest of it is mostly teenagers being sarcastic on a planet they're colonizing with their families.

The Sandman, vol. 1, Neil Gaiman (not YA, but whatev)
The Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
Makes no sense to lump these two together, but they're both part of my effort to finally get up to speed on this guy that everyone seems to know way more about than me. The first part of The Anansi Boys was so effortlessly well-written I was sort of in awe. It kept feeling like it was going off track and then would tie back into itself in without missing a beat. And I'm reserving judgement on The Sandman until I read the later stuff.

The Waters & The Wild, Francesca Lia Block
Three high school misfits—a changeling, a reincarnated slave from 1800 and a stuttering boy whose father may be an extraterrestrial—find each other in L.A.

Hush, Jacqueline Woodson
A girl's family struggles with their new identities and lost roots when they enter the witness protection program after her father testifies against white police officers who shot an unarmed black boy.

Huge, Sasha Paley
Two roommates at fat camp are there for very different reasons and at first can't stand each other. Eventually they come together to get revenge on the jock who scorned them both.

Friction, E. R. Frank
A new girl at an alternative middle school with a possibly too-sophisticated knowledge of sex makes the other students question the teacher's behavior.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Age 13 3/4, Sue Townsend
Adrian Mole: The Lost Years, Sue Townsend
I found The Lost Years on my bookshelves the other day; I think I had once bought it in a thrift store and forgotten about it. So then I had to go back and read the original Adrian Mole. Ridiculous and amusing.

In the beginning of the year I was counting up the books I read. So:
Since April 19th: 14
YTD total: 42

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Look at my yard!! (part II)

Anyone dying to know what my little Brooklyn garden (pictured here about six weeks ago) looks like now? I can't believe I was so impressed at how lush and green it was back then! That innocent baby fern I posted? Those things get three feet wide! So the perennials have just been off doing their thing—and how!—but my real project is the vegetable garden I planted in the raised beds. One of which now looks like this.

The tomatoes have only been in about a month and they're up to my waist almost, and there are lots of blossoms and a few teensy baby tomatoes. That's cauliflower and broccoli in front, plus some bell peppers and green beans off to the side. And loads of other things not pictured. Blah blah blah! Very boring, I know, so here's a picture of my cat sniffing the romaine, and then I'm done.

(Next time I post, it'll be about YA books. I've been reading some good ones lately.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award

And the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Young Adult Literature 2009 shortlist was announced last week. Full details are here.

Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone, Carol Berg
Pandemonium, Daryl Gregory
Lavinia, Ursula K. Le Guin
The Bell at Sealey Head, Patricia A. McKillip
An Evil Guest, Gene Wolfe

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards

The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were announced today!

In the Fiction and Poetry category:
Nation, Terry Pratchett — winner
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves, M.T. Anderson — honor book
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman — honor book

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Canadian Young Adult Book Award

Why is this so confusing?? I have been waiting and waiting for the results of the Canadian Book Awards, and supposedly the awards ceremony was Saturday, so I came online this morning eagerly looking for the results. Nothing is yet posted on the award page itself, but googling leads to this press release from April. I guess the winners were announced ages ago with little fanfare, and Saturday's shindig was just the presentation of the already-announced awards? I feel like I've let this blog down with my lack of up-to-the-minute results, but really I try. So, the winners:

Chanda’s Wars, by Allan Stratton won. And Would You by Marthe Jocelyn and The Apprentice’s Masterpiece by Melanie Little are honor books. I'm glad that's cleared up!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lambda Literary Awards

The 2009 winners of the Lambda Literary Awards (for, of course, LGBT lit) were announced last night. In the children's/young adult category it went to Out of the Pocket, by Bill Konigsberg!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Canadian Young Adult Book Award

You know what I forgot to do way back in March? Post the shortlist for the Canadian Young Adult Book Award. Duh! Here it is, and just in time because the winner will be announced on May 30. So read 'em fast:

The Lit Report, Sarah N. Harvey
Sister Wife, Shelley Hrdlitschka
Would You, Marthe Jocelyn
The Apprentice's Masterpiece, Melanie Little
Storm, Carrie Mac
War Brothers, Sharon E. McKay
After River, Donna Milner
Egghead, Caroline Pignat
Chanda’s Wars, Allan Stratton
Skim, Mariko Tamaki

Friday, May 1, 2009

Edgar Awards

The winnings just keep rolling in this week, but I'm not sure if there's much point in posting this one. Everyone who might possibly be interested in this blog must also read John Green's blog and/or his twitter feed, right? I hear he's very very popular on the internets. So you all already knew about this hours ago, but Paper Towns won the Edgar for best young adult mystery.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Garden of Eden of literature

So check out this great article by Margo Rabb about the blurred lines between YA and adult books, and about the stigma that's still attached to being published as YA: I'm Y.A., and I'm O.K. (It was in the New York Times last year, but I was only just alerted to it.)

Like many, I find myself frequently defending my own interest in the genre, especially since I really seem to have no excuse—I'm not a teacher, or a librarian, or a writer, or a publisher, or a parent of teens. I'm just a fan! A while back I actually decided that I'd better try my hand at writing a YA book myself mainly so people would stop looking at me strangely when I talked about my little hobby (it didn't go well..) But some people just don't know what they're missing—it's not all Sweet Valley High and and problem novels (not that there's anything wrong with that), and it's cool to have gotten in on the ground floor of what's become about the hottest category in publishing.

Thanks for the heads up, Rebecca! (Who found a post about it on

Monday, April 27, 2009

Carnegie Shortlist

And the Carnegie shortlist:
Cosmic, Frank Cottrell Boyce
Black Rabbit Summer, Kevin Brooks
Airman, Eoin Colfer
Bog Child, Siobhan Dowd
Ostrich Boys, Keith Gray
The Knife of Never Letting Go,Patrick Ness
Creature of the Night, Kate Thompson

Locus Finalists

More sci-fi award news! The Locus finalists were announced, and here's the YA novel category:

Little Brother, Cory Doctorow
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan
Nation, Terry Pratchett
Zoe's Tale, John Scalzi

All very familiar names, except for the last one. I started tuning in to John Scalzi's blog only a few months ago after others kept linking to it, but I've never read any of his books, and now Zoe's Tale (which isn't really marketed YA, but apparently is teen-friendly) is getting enough attention than I'm getting excited about reading it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Andre Norton (Nebula) Award

Also, because it's an exciting two-award weekend, the Nebula Award winners were announced. The winner of the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy is:
Flora's Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) by Ysabeau S. Wilce

And, this year two of the nominees in the general novel category were also YA books, and one of them won: Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin. Score! Full nominee list here.

LA Times Book Prize

Alright, so my parents had been visiting from California from Wednesday until a couple hours ago, and thus I'm super late in posting the winners of the Los Angeles Time Book Prize that were awarded on Friday. But now that I've finally heard who won in the YA category, I couldn't be more pleased!

It's Nation by Terry Pratchett, a book that's so deservedly well-liked, well-reviewed and awards-showered that back in February I predicted that it would end up the award-winningest book of 2008 (according to my own slightly nerdy and highly scientific tabulating system.) The LA Times Book Prize was the last of the major awards to be announced, so the deal might just be sealed. Final numbers and ranks to follow someday if I ever get around to finishing the number-crunching scripts in my little database.

The other finalists in the YA Lit category:
The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, Candace Fleming
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
Dark Dude, Oscar Hijuelos
Swallow Me Whole, Nate Powell