Sunday, February 28, 2010

Recent Reading: So Sick of Winter Edition

OMG, I just read the best book!
The Monstrumologist, Rick Yancey
I was nervous about reading this, and almost didn't even though it was a Printz Honor book this year.  I read several reviews that stressed that it was a "real" horror book, packed with gore and whatnot, which is not really my thing at all.
But I started it and got instantly hooked.  Yes, it's horror and possibly the bloodiest, bone-crunchingest book I've ever read, and yes, it's a pretty great piece of literature. After reading Alfred Kropp I can't even believe this is by the same author. 

Also,  the picture for the Kindle version is cracking me up. If that were what the hardcover looked like I would have been less nervous, but also way less interested in picking it up.  It just looks silly, and for some reason has been given a ridiculous subtitle.  And anyway, is that really what the anthropophagi look like?  They seem awfully buff and drooly...

And here's what else I read in the last coupla weeks:
The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, Rick Yancey
I picked this one up at the library because The Monstrumologist wasn't available yet and I wanted to read some Rick Yancey to see what he's all about.  This is the first of a series about a bumbling kid who accidentally steals the sword Excalibur, which had been guarded by descendants of the Knights of the Round Table for centuries.  And then it turns out he's descended from Lancelot himself, the only heir.  Obviously, adventures ensue. Here's what I didn't get: This is the supposed to be the unbeatable weapon, right?  Bad guys all over the world would pay any amount of money and/or kill whoever for it because they'd be unstoppable in battle. But twice Alfred gets it away from a guy by kicking him in the crotch and grabbing it when he stumbles?  Twice!

Black Mirror, Nancy Werlin
The Bermudez Triangle, Maureen Johnson
Heaven, Angela Johnson

Recently: 5
YTD: 17

A little ARC help?

You guys have come through for me before, so I am asking for one more favor, possibly the last ever.  Please can anyone lend me an advance copy of Susan Beth Pfeffer's This World We Live In??  I can't wait until April to find out what happens!  There's some organic homegrown heirloom tomato seeds in it for anyone who can save me...

Monday, February 22, 2010

LA Times Book Prize Finalists!

So here are the just-announced finalists for this years LA Times Book Prize in the  Young Adult Lit category They went heavy on the non-fiction this year:

The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy, James Cross Giblin
The Lost Conspiracy, Frances Hardinge
Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith, Deborah Heiligman
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary, Elizabeth Partridge
Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan

This is the last of the major US YA awards, so now we're one step closer to definitively naming the award-winningest book of the year.  I guess I still have to wait for the winner to be announced on April 23rd though.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Andre Norton Finalists!

The 2009 Andre Norton finalists (for YA sci-fi/fantasy) are out!

Hotel Under the Sand, Kage Baker
Ice, Sarah Beth Durst
Ash, Malinda Lo
Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantche
Zoe’s Tale, John Scalzi
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld

Interesting that When You Reach Me is on there.  I never really noticed it was sci-fi or fantasy as I was reading it (even with all the Wrinkle In Time stuff!); it reads like a coming-of-age/mystery. 

Also, I'm just now reading The Monstrumologist (a recent Printz Honor book) and it's pretty amazing.  So far.  Maybe it completely falls apart by the end and that's why it's not been on any list but the Printz so far.  And yes, I know there're loads of awards yet to be given out, so I'll try to be patient and see what happens.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

2010 BBYA!

You guys, I have a cockroach problem and I need it to go away.  It started a couple weeks ago with one in the kitchen sink rushing out from under a dirty plate.  And now in the last week I've seen four more.  The giant ones that fly and skitter.  I've put out fresh bait traps and have been meticulously tidy in the kitchen, but they're not going away, and I just now tried to squash one with a shoe, but missed and now I can hear it scratching around under my bed. [update: the cat killed it for me!]

But that's neither here nor there.  What I meant to say was that I just realized I had never mentioned the ALA's Best Books for Young Adults list. Here's the top ten:

Demon's Lexicon, Sarah Rees Brennan
The Orange Houses, Paul Griffin
The Great Wide Sea, M.H. Herlong
The Reformed Vampire Support  Group, Catherine Jinks
Alligator Bayou, Donna Jo Napoli
Stitches, David Small
When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
Marcelo in the Real World, Francisco X. Stork
Lips Touch, Laini Taylor
Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland, Sally M. Walker

If you look at the whole list of 90 books though, the description of the second item (Tales of the Madman Underground) uses a quote from the book that includes the word effing, but spelled all the way out, and for some prudish reason that bothers me.  Shouldn't a professional publication like that bleep it with asterisks, (or just paraphrase and avoid the issue altogether)?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Recent Reading: Snow Day Edition

This has been the best day in ages.  I've had such a glum winter, but I think this one day makes it all ok.  It was a snow day, and one that I got to plan in advance for so I had all the best food on hand (mainly pistachios).  And then it snowed.  All day.  The cats gave up by 10 am.  By late afternoon the trees and plants had leaned over from the weight, blocking the sky, and the drifts had climbed the fences, and it all met in the middle and turned my yard into a snow cocoon.

So anyway, you'd think I spent the day inside reading YA novels or something, but no way.  Much better things to do.  Here's the last few things I did read, though:

Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance 1973,  John Barnes
This is one of the recent Printz honor books and definitely deserves a full review, but I bet I won't get around to it. As a lifelong fan of the "problem novel," I love it.  The cheerleader getting molested by her grandfather?  The hot chick who speaks via a stuffed rabbit?  The animal slasher who might turn into a serial killer? The in-denial gay kid who turns tricks on the freeway when his dad's mean to him?  And all the other kids with their variously effed up family lives?  Whatev.  Just like in real life, their stories are a dime a dozen, and the real story is just about day to day life.  No one gets saved. (p.s. It's overly long and gets off-track a bit, but I don't care and you won't either.)

The Eyes of Kid Midas, Neal Shusterman
Yeah.  I'm done with Shusterman after this.  At least until his next book.  I mean, he's great and I've made a pretty thorough go of it, and have read loads of good stuff.  I loved Unwind and Everlost and several of the more recent ones.  But I can tell that I don't necessarily need to read ever single word he's ever written just because everything's being re-released in pretty covers after the success of the more recent stuff.

How to Steal a Car, Pete Hautman
About a girl who steals cars, at first more or less by accident, and then it becomes a bit of a habit.  According to the jacket flap she does this in the same way that cutters cut and anorexics starve themselves—to cope with the horrors of teen life and whatnot.  And also for the thrill.  It's quite a nice story actually, because it mostly isn't about car theft.

And there's something I already returned to the library that I just can't remember.  Hardcover, not too thick, about a girl...

This batch: 4 (yes, I'm counting the unremembered one.  I'll add the title when I figure out what it was)
YTD: 12