Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reading Roundup: December 2014

By the Numbers
Teen: 11
Tween: 0
Children: 0
And Cybils reading is done!

Library: 6
Review Copies: 5

Teen: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
This sci-fi coming-of-age story takes Ava from a safe, ordered existence within a patriarchal polygamous spaceship to a scary, uncertain life on her own, in futuristic India. I can't even explain how much I fell in love with Ava and her world.

Because I Want to Awards:
Better Than Expected: Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy
This was a very difficult reading experience, partly because the main character’s outlook was so different than mine, and also because the nightmare scenario of a United States imploding, starting with Idaho, felt like it could happen all too easily in my own home state of Arizona. But I cared about Danny and his friends and family, caught in the middle of something far bigger and scarier than they ever bargained for.
Yaaaaaay Serial Killers!: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Um, so to explain that. This was the first realistic book I read in three months, having been neck-deep in fantasy and sci-fi for the Cybils. So this book’s firm roots in the real world was a refreshing change, no matter how you feel about teenage prodigy profilers for the FBI. Aside that palate cleansing aspect, I did enjoy this tense and twisty thriller.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cybils Wrap-Up and Statistics

Well, round 1 is done. We've picked a shortlist, we've sent in our blurbs, and now all the round 1 panelists wait to hear the announcement, simultaneously grinning over our secret knowledge and anxious to hear from the other categories.

With all that, I thought I'd type up a few thoughts and numbers. Because I like numbers.

Books nominated in YASF - 205
Books I read before the nomination period - 21
Books I finished during the nomination period - 34
Books I didn’t finish during the nomination period - 41
Books I didn’t read but am keeping on my TBR list - 43

See, this is why we have more than one person on the judging panels.

One of the adventures of the Cybils is reading books I would otherwise never pick up. Maybe the premise didn't appeal to me. Maybe I'd overlooked them. Maybe I wasn't a fan of the author's other work so had planned on giving them a miss. For the Cybils, I read them, and stretched myself. Some of them were stellar. Some . . . were not. That's okay. I'll talk a little bit more about the stellar ones after the announcement. 

Thanks to Sheila Ruth and all my fellow Round 1 judges for the past three months. It's hard, hard work but it's also a lot of fun with people as opinionated as you guys to debate the books with. For me, talking about the books is just as much fun as reading them. In some cases, more.

Check out on January 1 and see the fruits of our labor. And thanks. The Cybils are a community effort, and everything that you do to support it, like nominating books, cheering us on, talking up the shortlists, and even retweeting each other, makes these prizes what they are.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review: The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

Book: The Drowned Cities
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

In the future, America has been knocked from leader of the free world to a war-torn wasteland, torn to shreds by guerrilla civil war and abandoned even by the Chinese peacekeepers. In this world, four different people struggle to survive.

Mahlia and Mouse have already lived through the worst and are keeping their heads down in a backwoods village. Tool is a genetically modified man-beast, created to serve warlords and wage war. He’s decided to strike out on his own, serving no master. Ocho is a guerrilla soldier, sergeant of the squadron that hunts Tool and invades the village.

When Mahlia takes the risky step of saving Tool’s life and helping hide him from the soldiers, she sets off a chain of events that will take all four from the relative safety of the backwoods into the Drowned Cities and the heart of the never-ending war. None of them expect that they’re going to live to a ripe old age. They’ll settle for living to see tomorrow.

I told a colleague that if I’d known that this was about child soldiers and guerrilla warfare, I probably wouldn’t have read it. (Upon hearing that description, of course, he was all over it.) If I’d skipped it, I would have missed one hell of a book.

At every turn, the characters (minor and major) must make the decision about whether to see to their own safety or honor their connection to another person. Intriguingly, Bacigalupi doesn’t always prioritize one over the other. Sometimes you have to save your own skin. Sometimes, you have to save your soul instead.

A harrowing, powerful, and complex story about the things we do to save ourselves and others.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Bibliovore is in Your Ears!

Or I will be.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is one of my very favorite non-kidlit book blogs, and I am a devoted listener to their weekly podcast as well. Awhile ago, blogger/host Sarah Wendell put out a call for kidlit recommendations. Not only was I all over that, much of her audience was as well. She was reading kidlit booklists for months.

When she asked for possible interviews, I put my name out to her, and to my great excitement, she said yes! We talk about everything from picture books up to YA, and everything in between.

You can hear the podcast, which is almost an hour long, at the Smart Bitches Trashy Books website or you can download it from iTunes under "DBSA romance fiction podcast," episode 120.


Monday, December 01, 2014

Reading Roundup: November 2014

By the Numbers
Teen: 11
Tween: 1
Children: 1
(Still reading for the Cybils! A note about my numbers: this is books finished, not books half-read and set down.)

Review Copies: 4
Library: 8

Teen: Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
With a title like that, I gotta love it. I also loved the snarky narration, the musical-theater subplot (turned out demons love the show Sweeney Todd) and the fact that Cynthia gets her crush's attention and he turns out to be capital-A Awesome.
Tween/Children: Pack of Dorks by Beth Vrabel
Okay, this was the only book this month that I marked tween or children's (I think it straddles the line). But I still might have picked it out even if I'd read others. What I loved best was how much Lucy loves her baby sister, born with Downs Syndrome, without hesitation or reservation. It's also worth noting that very few of Lucy's problems stem from her sister's differences, even when adults think they do.

Because I Want To Awards
Finally, a Girl Who Knows Her Worth: Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier
Natividad is a special magical girl that all the werewolves want, and does she ever know it. With clear-eyed unsentimentality, she uses her value to wangle safe haven for herself and her brothers, and her powers to fight for the pack once they've accepted her. Girlfriend, I want to take you out for a drink. Yanno, once you're done saving the world.