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