Friday, April 30, 2010

Top 10 YA Books!

So. Persnickety Snark is busy compiling a list of the Top 100 YA Titles. Anyone can take part--submit your top ten list to the poll and watch as she compiles the results in May. But today's the last day, and I've been procrastinating as usual.
Picking just ten was hard enough, but ranking them was almost impossible. For some reason I wanted to put more than half of them in the number 3 spot—good, really good, but not the best ever. I think if I had done this yesterday or did it tomorrow my answers would be different, but there's no time to dwell on that! These are ten awesome books for various reasons and I'm standing by them:
10. Witch Baby, Francesca Lia BlockI don't feel quite the same about this one when I re-read it now as I did in high school, but I remember exactly how I felt the first time I read it, and it was like I wasn't alone, and I cried and cried.
9. Rats Saw God, Rob Thomas
One of the best, honest stories about relationships from a guy's perspective I've ever read.
8. Celine, Brock Cole
Celine is a weird artist chick with a funny, unapologetic voice, even though she's often wrong.
7. The Canning Season, Polly Horvath
I've read this so many times. I've always been a fan of the misunderstood-kid-goes-to-live-with-the-eccentric-relatives kind of books, and this one does it up right. Am I allowed to say it's better than Roald Dahl?
6. True Believer, Virginia Euwer Wolff
This one just makes me want to be a better person.
5. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, M.T. Anderson
I mean, duh.
4. Skin Hunger, Kathleen Duey
Wow. Gorgeous and meditative and dark. It's about magic on the surface, but not really.
3. Fade, Robert Cormier
Bleak look at what would happen if an ordinary person could be invisible, could see things they weren't supposed to see and do things without consequences.
2. Bloodtide, Melvin Burgess
Best ever futuristic re-imagining of legendary creatures
1. How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
I'm not totally sure about putting this as number one, but one of them had to go here, and this is about as perfect a coming-of-age/war/survival/anorexia/bad parents/forbidden relationship story there is. It throws every single possible YA theme into one book and somehow ends up being much more than the sum of its parts.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recent Reading, and etc.

I've been taking a bit of a break from reading YA lately.  And from this blog too.  Too many adult books to read at the moment.  Actually, among other things, I've been simultaneously reading The Feminine Mystique, Gail Collins' When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present and working my way through season three of Mad Men on DVD.  The combination has been blowing my mind.

But now it's one of those Sunday mornings.  It's raining gently, which means the stupid birds that usually start shrieking outside my windows at the crack of dawn are quiet; I'm wearing ugly sweatpants and drinking coffee; my fatter cat is curled against my hip snoring loudly and the other one is washing her crotch in my lap.  Couldn't be more effing idyllic.  Basically I have nothing better to do than try to remember the few YA-related things I finished in the last several weeks:

The Dead-Tossed Waves (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 2)The Dead-Tossed Waves, Carrie Ryan
The sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth, this one features more zombie fun, plus new additions to the post-apocalyptic world of the first book: zombie-worshipping cults, the possibility of immunity to infection, other towns linked by the forest paths and so on.  Plus romance and running from the law. 

Funny How Things Change, Melissa Wyatt
Sweet story about a West Virginia kid who actually likes his small mining town and doesn't want to "get out" even though everyone's telling him he should.

I Am the Wallpaper, Mark Peter Hughes
This one's for slightly younger readers, and is slightly too silly. This girl decides to become more amazing so everyone will finally notice her and then her cousin starts posting her diary online and also some racy photos of her.  So yeah, people notice.

Audrey, Wait!Audrey, Wait!, Robin Benway
When I saw this in the library I had it mixed up in my head with Love, Aubrey, which I had been hearing good things about.  But Audrey, Wait is fun, though I really doubt that some random girl would get quite so much paparazzi attention without doing anything at all.  If she were some party girl or something, then maybe.

Things Not Seen, Andrew Clements
One of my favorite YA books of all time is Robert Cormier's Fade, so I am always excited to read a new story about invisible teenagers.  Unfortunately, this one's more a relationship story than any kind  of convincing exploration of invisibility. Nothing wrong with that I guess.

Unseen Companion, Denise Gosliner Orenstein
Lyrical story about racism in a small Alaskan town.

The Lost Conspiracy, Frances Hardinge
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green and David Levithan

Since last time: 8
YTD: 32

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2010 Carnegie Shortlist!

Ok. The 2010 Carnegie Shortlist  is out.  Just in case you don't know, the Carnegie is the UK's big children's lit prize, like the Newbery in the US.  To be eligible for the 2010 award, the books had to be published before August 2009, so it's a slightly older group of books, but quite a good looking bunch:

ChainsChains, Laurie Halse Anderson
The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden: A NovelThe Vanishing of Katharina Linden: A Novel, Helen Grant
 Rowan the Strange, Julie Hearn
The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking)The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness
NationNation, Terry Pratchett
Fever CrumbFever Crumb, Philip Reeve
RevolverRevolver, Marcus Sedgwick

The winner will be announced on June 24th.  And unrelatedly, can I just say that I am exhausted right now?  Gardening is hard work.  Or possibly just carrying 20 pound sacks of topsoil one at a time from the hardware store cause I can't figure out what I did with my roll-y cart.  Things are looking sharp hough.  Tomatoes are now in the ground, peas are up, and so on.  I'm expanding from my two little vegetable beds into a bunch of other containers this year.  And I turned my dead bamboo trees into trellises for the peas.  It's underway!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ramona and Beezus trailer


Will Grayson, Will Grayson

I knew John Green was popular, but I had no idea.  I had just bought a copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the new book co-written by Green and John Levithan, and innocently went to a reading/signing the other day.  It didn't even occur to me to try to get there early.  Oy.  There were hundreds of people there, mostly kids, and mostly the kind of kid I used to be.  Except they were wearing John Green and nerdfighters-themed t-shirts.  I felt old and weird, and also hot and uncomfortable because the collective body heat was out of control. Plus I was standing in the back unable to see anything.  I slunk away before it was over, but was very charmed to see how enthusiastic everyone was. 

So, the book.  I know you already know this, but it's about two guys both named Will Grayson who are each trying to straighten out their own romantic situations when their paths cross one day.  There's enough gay drama in both of their lives that things intertwine a bit.  There's this part in the middle, right as they're meeting, that caused me to have to stifle an actual audible gasp while reading on the subway.  One non-Will-Grayson character has been doing something terribly, terribly egregious to one of the Wills, and it's completely gut-wrenching. (If you know me and have also read the book you know I'd be in the fetal position on the floor forever if such a thing happened to me.)  But the Will Grayson it happens to is a little more resilient, and eventually things work out surprisingly well.  Lessons are learned, friendships grow, love blossoms (for some) and so on.  And there's a musical.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's now my favorite John Green book, and my favorite David Levithan book. I think. (Except there are some mean-spirited fat jokes.  Seriously guys, what's up with that?)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Beverly Clearly!

I was just scrolling through my google reader when I saw this picture of Beverly Cleary and my heart did a panicked little jump.  For a moment I thought it might be the Beverly Clearly article, the final one—she's not exactly a spring chicken after all.  But then I clicked the link and found that in honor of her 94th birthday SLJ interviewed her and got various contemporary writers to send her birthday greetings.

The whole thing is making me tear up a little.  It reminds me of how I once wrote dozens of drafts of a fan letter but in the end couldn't send it to her because it was just so sappy and you-changed-my-lifey that I embarrassed myself, and also realized that she probably get millions of such letters a week and is totally over it.  In any event, I'm grateful she exists.

Monday, April 19, 2010

CLA Young Adult Book Award!

The Canadian Library Association announced (a month and a half ago, urgh...) this year's shortlist for it's YA Book Award:

Poster Boy, Dede Crane
Come, Thou Tortoise. Jessica Grant
Not Suitable for Family Viewing, Vicki Grant
Haunted, Barbara Haworth-Attard
Girl on the Other Side, Deborah Kerbel
Wondrous Strange, Lesley Livingston
The Gryphon Project, Carrie Mac
Dragon Seer, Janet McNaughton
Vanishing Girl, Shane Peacock
The Hunchback Assignments, Arthur Slade

The winner will be announced June 3!