Friday, September 21, 2018

Guess Who's Going to be a Cybils Judge?

They've just announced the Cybils judges, and guess who's been tapped to serve as a first round panelist for Young Adult Spec Fic???? (Hint: you're reading her blog.)

This fall, I'll be joining old friends and new pals in reading our way through a stack of books as high as your head to pick out the ones that will go on to the Round Two judges. Can't wait!

The Cybils are a blogger-driven literary award, given to US-and-Canada-published children's and YA books in a whole range of categories, published within the past year (so, October 16, 2017, to October 15, 2018). They've been going since 2006 and the finalist lists are super-handy for all you teachers, librarians, parents, and kidlit-loving readers out there! Seriously, check out the finalist lists from previous years and you'll see some old friends. We've got good taste, y'all.

Nominations start October 1st, and anyone can nominate! That means you! If you've never nominated a book for the Cybils before, only one person may nominate any particular title, so gather up your favorite titles in each category and add a couple of spares in case someone else got there first.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Book Review: Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner

Title: Thick as Thieves
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Published: 2017
Source: Local Library

Summary: Kamet has it pretty good for a slave in the Mede empire. He has a high status within the household and lots of perks. Then everything goes wrong. His master is poisoned and as the slave closest to him, Kamet is almost certain to catch the blame. Offered freedom and escape by a stranger from an enemy country, he takes it, but freedom after a life of slavery is going to take some getting used to. As Kamet and the Attolian journey toward Attolia, encountering friends and foes, he discovers more in himself than he ever thought possible.

First Impressions: This was satisfying as a Queen's Thief book, but I wonder how it would work for someone who doesn't know how sneaky Eugenides is.

Later On: I love the Queen's Thief books, mostly because of the character of Eugenides. Maybe that's why this one doesn't rank as my favorite of the series, because clever, soft-hearted Eugenides barely appears even though his actions have a huge effect on the story.

That said, a not-half-bad Queen's Thief book is still a darn good book. This is a road-trip story, basically - they run into people here and there, and have occasional adventures, but mostly it's about getting Kamet away from the Mede empire and into Attolia, where all will be made clear.
Kamet's life as a slave has ill-prepared him for life outside a certain structure, and for much of the book, (besides trying to figure out why Attolia wants him) he's yearning to return to his old life and scorning the Attolian's friendship and respect. But eventually, he starts to realize that being a big fish in a small and very enclosed pond actually wasn't that great, and that he kind of likes this freedom thing.

If you've read Turner's books before, you know that she's amazing at writing books with a deceptively simple story, and loooooots of things going on beneath the surface. Very often the main character thinks they know exactly what's going on, and seeing things get turned upside down is part of the fun.
However, I was disappointed that a romantic relationship between Kamet and the Attolian was left to be read between the lines. I would have liked to see that made clearer, because it did seem like they were heading that way, and a line at the end of the book could be read to indicate that they were a couple by then. As LGBT stories become more common, such subtlety seems pointless at best.

It's still a satisfying wander through Turner's pseudo-Ancient world, and it's always fun to see Eugenides, even for a little while.

More: The Book Nut
Ms Yingling Reads
Forever Young Adult

Saturday, August 25, 2018

First Impressions: The Emperor's Riddle by Kat Zhang

Title: The Emperor's Riddle
Author: Kat Zhang
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: On a visit to relatives in China, eleven-year-old Mia is having a rough time. Her mom is boring, her brother is getting weird lately, and one day, her beloved Aunt Lin completely disappears! Could the ominous man who visited the apartment the night before be at fault? There's a painting, a map, and a mystery, and even her brother Jake is willing to pitch in and help. Will they find the treasure - and more importantly, will they find Aunt Lin?

First Impressions: Hmf. This was not entirely satisfying. While I loved the detailed setting and the changing relationship between brother and sister, the mystery itself felt mostly like a game with a lot of coincidental discoveries. When I got to the end, I was surprised that this wasn't something cooked up by the aunt to liven up their visit.

Best For: Readers who want a virtual trip to China - not just the tourist destinations, but the everyday life.

More: Ms Yingling Reads

Saturday, August 18, 2018

First Impressions: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: Dimple is always at odds with her traditional Indian family, so she's shocked when they actually allow her to go to a six-week coding convention. But when she arrives, all is made clear, because she meets cute, nerdy Rishi - the guy her parents intend her to marry!

No way, not even. Arranged marriages are so last-century! Except that Rishi actually thinks it's a good idea. And Dimple's horrified to find herself kiiiiind of falling for him. What's a modern, forward-thinking Indian girl to do?

First Impressions: What a sweet froth of a book! I love the way both characters are coming at this thing from different angles and how they both have to navigate love and respect for their families and traditions with the things they want out of life.

Best For: Readers who love a rom-com and who might identify with Rishi and Dimple's struggles as they navigate their own identity with the background of a non-White, non-Western culture.

More: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Published: 2017
Source: Local Library

Summary: Starr is in the car when her friend Khalil is pulled over for a broken taillight as he's driving her home from a party. The next thing she knows, Khalil is dying on the street in front of her, shot in the back three times by the policeman who pulled them over.

Starr's heard this story before - Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, and too many others to count. She's always thought she would be front and center, advocating for justice. But when she's in the middle of it, when the complexities of her school life, her family, and her neighborhood are intersecting with the news stories of an innocent boy's death, all her firm resolutions suddenly seem like soap bubbles. What's the right thing to do?

First Impressions: My god this was so good. It's about the murder of Khalil, but it's also about how Starr navigates her identity as a young black woman in several worlds and how she can reconcile those worlds, and how sometimes, they can't be reconciled.

Later On: This draft has been sitting in my Google Docs since June 2017, when I first read this book. Part of the reason it's been so hard to write a review (other than my overall difficulty blogging last year) was that this has gotten so much attention, and it seems like everyone has already said all the things I feel about this book.

What made it such an incredible and affecting book for me was how immersive it is. There are some books that feel like they're being told to you. You're standing at a distance like it's a news report. This is a book that positions you right behind Starr's eyes, and everything that happens and everything she feels about it all feels close enough to touch.

There's the horror of witnessing Khalil's senseless death, and the helplessness you feel along with Starr, knowing it's unlikely that his murderer will answer for the crime.

But there's also Starr at school, and the mask she puts on to fit in among her (mainly) white and well-off classmates. You feel the distance between herself and her friends and boyfriend, who don't understand the devastation she feels because it's not a part of their experience. Some of them are still able to be there for her, and some aren't.

There's Starr existing in her community, the richness and interconnectedness of her life and relationships. She loves her family and her friends and her neighborhood, but also feels conflicted because she wants to leave.

Finally, there's the fear about speaking out, about stepping forward and putting a target on herself, and the courage she has to muster to do it anyway.

I'll be seeing the movie when it comes out.

More: Forever Young Adult
The Brown Bookshelf
Rich in Color
The Book Nut

Saturday, August 11, 2018

First Impressions: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: At seventeen, Molly can claim twenty-six crushes but not one first kiss. When her twin sister Cassie sails confidently into her own first romance with equally cool and confident Mina, Molly feels even more left behind. She's struggling with anxiety and feelings about her weight, and It doesn't help that her friends are trying to push her into romance with cute Will (spoiler: he's not worth it) and away from dorky Reid (spoiler: he is). With their moms finally able to get married, it's going to be a summer of changes.

First Impressions: Gaaaaaaaaaaaah I loved this book with all of my heart. There's so much here about how growing up and falling in love changes all your other relationships, and it's not really good or bad, it just is.

Best for: Readers who want stories about family and sisters, are encountering (or remember well) this bittersweet feeling, and enjoy a romance that is not with the obvious partner.

More: Forever Young Adult
Not Acting My Age

Saturday, August 04, 2018

First Impressions: The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend

Title: The Other F-Word
Author: Natasha Friend
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: Fourteen-year-old Hollis's life is kind of a mess right now. One of her moms died of cancer six years ago, she's entangled in a weird hookup situation with a classmate (and getting nasty texts from his ex), and honestly she can't take one more thing. But then Milo, who was conceived via the same sperm donor as Hollis, reaches out to her and their other half-sibs. Hoping to learn more about their shared father, they all wind up learning a lot more about themselves.

First Impressions: Ugggghhhh this was so good! Hollis's story was so complex and I loved that her hooking up with a classmate wasn't a terrible thing in itself, it was the reasons why. So good. Milo's story was a little less compelling but still very readable.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Book Review: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Title: Breadcrumbs
Author: Anne Ursu
Published: 2011
Source: Local Library

Summary: Hazel and Jack are the best of friends, but she feels things changing as they work their way through fifth grade. When he suddenly shuts her out, she knows something is wrong, and when he disappears completely, she's determined to find him for the sake of their old friendship. Armed only with what she's learned from books, Hazel will have to survive a strange new world and all its dangers if she wants her friend back.

First Impressions: Eeeeeee this booooook. I want to hug it.

Later On: This is billed as a retelling of The Snow Queen - which it is - but that's not the only way that books and stories impact it. Hazel is a reader. She buries herself in books like a lot of the kids (and former kids) reading this very book. She refers to characters as if they are old friends and tries to draw on the things she's learned from their stories. Sometimes it's helpful. Sometimes it's not.

Of course, the best fairy tale retellings aren't just a rote recitation of the story. Ursu uses the idea of the Snow Queen's icy grip to explore ideas of changing friendship, depression, and growing up.
This is a quietly beautiful book that actually becomes more complex as Hazel moves into the fantasy world. With no pat answers (and barely a hint of prepubescent romance, thank you), this book curled right up in my heart and stayed there.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

First Impressions: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: Sal feels like a stranger to himself. He's punched two classmates (in fairness, one called him a pinche gringo, and the other called his father a homophobic slur), his friends' lives are coming apart at the seams, and he has no idea what to write for his college applications. Then he discovered his beloved grandmother is dying. As he makes his way through his senior year trying to work out what it all means, he'll have to come to terms with the messy, happy, sad, confusing, glorious business of living.

First Impressions: Awwwwwwwwwwww this made me cry. No plot but really about coming to terms with death and life and growing up.

More:  Latinos in Kidlit
By Singing Light

Saturday, July 21, 2018

First Impressions: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Title: American Street
Author: Ibi Zoboi
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: Fabiola and her mother are almost out of Haiti for good. But her mother is detained at the airport in New York, and Fabiola has to go on alone to a new life on Detroit's west side with her aunt and cousins. America is very different from Haiti, but Fabiola draws strength from her ancestral vodoun religion, and capably takes the lessons from her first home into her second.

First Impressions: Arrrrrgh I want to clutch this book to my heart. Fabiola is so strong and struggling, and I love that neither Haiti nor Detroit are glorified nor demonized.

More: Waking Brain Cells
Rich in Color

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Book Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: Autumn was looking forward to the holiday weekend, hanging out with her friends at a snowy cabin in the woods, and maybe getting to actual girlfriend status with Jeff. But then the library closes early for the weekend, locking her and Dax Miller in together. No phones, no heat, and nobody's coming to rescue them. Dax is taciturn and mysterious, with a bad reputation, and he clearly isn't any happier with the situation than she is. Will they survive until the library re-opens?

First Impressions: This was very sweet! Not sure why the library didn't have phones but okay. I want to read more about the depiction of anxiety disorder.

Later On: The whole trapped-in-a-library thing required a lot of suspension of disbelief on my part, if only because I know full well how many phones any library has, and there was no mention of a power outage that would have knocked them out. But once I leaped that hurdle, I was able to enjoy the forced proximity of the locked-in trope, as they both let their guards down and learn to enjoy each other. Their newfound closeness chills once they return to the real world, with the pressures and expectations of other people affecting their behavior again.

A little about the portrayal of mental illness in this book: Autumn has anxiety and struggles with that during their involuntary lock-in. She ends up confiding in Dax - the only person she's ever told - and he is sweetly supportive, but she still keeps it a secret from her other friends, until a dramatic moment later in the book. I haven't seen anxiety in books a lot, at least as a named and treatable mental illness. Often what you get is a character portrayed as an uptight control freak. Autumn approaches it as an illness, not a personal flaw, but she's still self-conscious about it, which felt real. And most of all, it was an aspect of her character but not the defining characteristic.

Overall, this was a light, sweet romance with some more serious elements that didn't overwhelm the tone.

More: Disability in Kidlit

Saturday, July 07, 2018

First Impressions: The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle Van Arsdale

Title: The Beast is an Animal
Author: Peternelle Van Arsdale
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: At seven, Alys first encountered the soul eaters, demonic twin spirits who - well, does what it says on the can. That didn't end well for her parents or any of the adults in her village. Alys and all the other children end up unwanted refugees in a neighboring village that uses them for free labor on the wall built to protect against the soul eaters. But as she grows, Alys chafes under mistreatment and feels a call to the forest, the soul eaters, and the Beast who controls them.

First Impressions: This was horror (why do I keep trying to read horror? whyyy?) but it ended well, and it was pretty grabby and readable. However, it also slid right out of my mind after reading, and my vague memory of the plot was that it never completely coalesced by the end.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

First Impressions: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Title: Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: Bailey Rydell has been crushing hard on Alex, a fellow film geek she met online. They were across the country from each other - until now. She moves to her dad's in California, in the same town where Alex lives. She's hoping to run into him by magical movie coincidence and begin their silver-screen-worthy romance. But so far, all she seems able to do is squabble with obnoxious co-worker Porter Roth. When is she going to get her happy ending?

First Impressions: Of course we all know the big twist in the end, so I appreciated that it didn't build that up overmuch. It was really refreshing that Bailey and Porter were in a relationship by midway through and it was about navigating that newness with each other.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

First Impressions: Maid of the King's Court by Lucy Worsley

Title: Maid of the King's Court
Author: Lucy Worsley
Published: 2017
Source: NetGalley

Summary: Eliza Camperdowne is a maid of honor at the court of King Henry VIII, as his marriage to Anne of Cleves is ending and the bold, flirtatious Katherine Howard catches his eye. It's a heady, intoxicating time for a young woman in the highest society in England. But as Eliza and Katherine learn, this is no fairy tale, and women in the King's orbit rarely come out on top.

First Impressions: This really suffered from Eliza being a bystander witness to history. Her own story felt like the B-plot. Mostly she was narrating the affair and then marriage of King Henry VIII and Katherine Howard, with not much change going on in her internally. Still, an interesting glimpse at a much-maligned young queen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

First Impressions: Revenge of the Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Title: Revenge of the Evil Librarian
Author: Michelle Knudsen
Published: 2017
Source: NetGalley

Summary: Cynthia has survived the school year, which isn't as easy as it sounds, considering she had a run-in with a demon librarian who wanted to kidnap her best friend to the Underworld. (Oy. High school.) But she defeated him, and she's looking forward to a fun summer at theater camp with her hot boyfriend. Then she arrives at camp and finds demons there too, and not just metaphorical ones.

First Impressions: As snarky and fun as the first one, but with the same deeply (maybe too deeply?) buried dark notes. While it bounces cheerfully from mortal peril to mortal peril, the rockiness of her relationship with her boyfriend is glossed over, even when she's lying to his face. If you're looking for a breezy, snarky paranormal, read it but don't expect more.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Book Review: Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Ashes
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: 2016
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: In the midst of the Revolutionary War, former slaves Isabel and Curzon are headed for Isabel's sister and freedom, in that order. When she finds Ruth, the adoring baby sister she remembers has been replaced by a cold, resentful stranger, one who doesn't want anything to do with her. And her tentative relationship with Curzon seems to be falling apart as well.

As the Revolutionary War draws to a close and the seeds of a new country begin to sprout, Isabel, Curzon, and Ruth all struggle to find their places in this place called the United States of America.

First Impressions: I really liked how this showed how alone she felt with neither the Patriots nor the Loyalists having her interests at heart. Also the story with Ruth was very sweet.

Later On: Isabel's story (and the American Revolutionary War) wrap up in the third book of this trilogy. Isabel is a fascinating main character. She is angry and prickly a lot of the time, with good reason, but it doesn't do anything to help her relationship with either Curzon or Ruth. Both have to be repaired carefully and slowly, but they get there in the end.

Anderson's story leaves Curzon, Ruth, and Isabel at the precipice of a new moment in history and in their lives.

More: Reads for Keeps
Ms Yingling Reads

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

First Impressions: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

Title: Iron Cast
Author: Destiny Soria
Published: 2016
Source: NetGalley

Summary: In an alternate 1919 Boston, where club owners trade in illegal blood magic and enchantments, Ada Navarra and her best friend Corinne Wells live by their wits, running cons and weaving illusions for the entertainment of the elite under the protection of Johnny Dervish. But things start to go south, and Johnny can't save them anymore. That's okay. They've got each other, and that's more than enough.

First Impressions: I enjoy a good alternate history, and I love how the friendship between the two girls (one of whom is biracial) is the most important relationship in the book by far. But the ending suffered from Lord of the Rings syndrome, which made it drag as every last little thread and character had to be wrapped up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

First Impressions: Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler

Title: Sass and Serendipity
Author: Jennifer Ziegler
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Summary: Gabby is the sensible sister in the Rivera family, buckling down to her schoolwork and working conscientiously at her job. Daphne is the free spirit, throwing herself into her passions and crushes with abandon. Neither one understands her sister or her way of approaching the world. When multiple crises hit the Rivera family as a whole and both girls on a personal level, they'll each have to learn that a little of their sister's approach to life isn't necessarily a bad thing.

First Impressions: It was really, really hard to like either of these girls at times. Gabby could be nasty and judgemental, Daphne could be so utterly thoughtless that I wanted to reach into the book and shake her. But it also really captured the sister dynamic and evoked the novel that it was based on (Sense and Sensibility, in case you couldn't tell). I think the two love plots got a little shortchanged at the end though.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

First Impressions: Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren Steven

Title: Prisoner of Ice and Snow
Author: Ruth Lauren Steven
Published: 2017
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: Valor is the best shot in the whole kingdom. So when she fails to assassinate the crown prince, only she knows that she missed on purpose. She had to get caught, because that's the only way she's going to the horrific children's prison, Tyur'ma, which is already holding her twin sister. After all, just because nobody's ever escaped it before doesn't mean two sisters can't do it now.

First Impressions: Okay I liked the premise, and the escape plan, but the revelation of what was Actually Going On felt a little thin, and something about this horrific prison for kids (that everyone's just okay with) rubbed me the wrong way.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It's Cybils Day!


Congratulations to the winners of the Cybils, released today!

I have such a long TBR list that I haven't read any of them, but I've heard amazing things about most of them, so there's that to look forward to.

Thank you to the intrepid judges and organizers who put in a mountain of work to make this happen, and don't get paid one red cent. It's amazing and I salute you.

Also there's some other holiday with chocolate and hearts happening today but that's clearly much less important.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

First Impressions: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Published: 2017
Source: Local Library

Summary: Amani needs to get out of her tiny, dead-end town before she becomes her uncle-in-law's next wife. She thinks a shooting contest is her ticket out, but after a series of catastrophes, she ends up running away with a mysterious stranger named Jin. They set off across the desert, headed for the city, but get sidelined along the way and find themselves in the camp of the rebel prince, where revelations about both Jin and Amani await.

First Impressions: Hmmm. Well I really liked the middle east/wild west mashup of the setting, but the character development and love story were both unconvincing.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Book Review: Beast by Brie Spangler

Title: Beast
Author: Brie Spangler
Published: 2016
Source: Local Library

Summary: To put it bluntly, Dylan is a beast. He's too tall, too hairy, too ugly for anybody to love. When he breaks both his legs in a freak accident and his mother starts to get worried that he's suicidal, he finds himself in a teen therapy group. It's there that he meets Jamie - beautiful, intelligent, intoxicating Jamie. And wonder of wonders, she seems to find him just as dazzling as he finds her, even as monstrous as he is.

But Dylan wasn't paying attention on the first day of therapy, when Jamie came out as trans to the group. When he learns this fact, and she learns that he was never as open and accepting as she thought he was, will their fledgling relationship survive?

First Impressions: I enjoyed this a lot but I really felt like she took him back way too fast after their arguments, and I wanted him to examine his transphobic attitudes more deeply.

Later On: While I was reading this, I mostly loved it. Jamie felt realistic, as did Dylan, and I really liked that they got a happy ending together, which is not as common as it should be in books with trans characters.

But my discomfort about Dylan's attitude built as we got nearer to the end and he showed no signs of truly examining where he was coming from in his attitude toward trangender people and how disrespectful it was of Jamie. There are a lot of transphobic "dude in a skirt" type comments, and his mother displays the same attitudes.

Admittedly, a lot of people are unthinkingly transphobic, especially if they've never met a trans person and never been asked to consider the harm that these attitudes inflict. It's not great, but showing a character examining, regretting, and changing their
behavior, as well as making reparations for the harm they've caused, can be a powerful story.

My problem was that Dylan never examined or reframed his attitudes, they just quietly faded away into a happy ending. For all of Dylan's angst about how people saw only the surface of his less-than-cover-model looks, he never quite figured out that it is just as hurtful to reduce Jamie to the genitalia she was born with.

More: Kirkus
Stuff You Missed in History Class - this is one of Dylan's favorite podcasts and gets mentioned here and there in connection with his ambition to become a history professor. I was thrilled because this has been on my listening list for years. If only he'd taken a listen to some of the transgender-focused episodes of their sister podcast, Stuff Mom Never Told You.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

First Impressions: Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: Fiendish
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: 2015
Source: Local Library

Summary: Trapped underground by magic for ten years after the town turned on her family, Clementine finds herself set free when a boy named Fisher stumbles on her prison. Now she has to reconnect with the remaining family and friends she remembers, and more than that, she's going to find out what happened on that night ten years ago.

First Impressions: Wow, the atmosphere in this! I don't think it would stand up to a lot of close scrutiny plot-wise, but Clementine is very tough and really knows herself for a girl trapped underground for 10 years.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

First Impression: El Deafo by Cece Bell

Title: El Deafo
Author: Cece Bell
Published: 2014
Source: Local Library

Summary: Deaf* since a childhood bout with meningitis, Cece tries to navigate friendships, school, and her own identity, all of which are complicated by her large and cumbersome hearing aids.

First Impressions: This was a nice graphic memoir, much more slice of life than plot-based. Interesting to see the older technology (late 70s-early 80s), and I like the way she visualized her sonic experience of the world, with blank speech bubbles and fading words.

*This is the term the author uses in biographical materials.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

First Impression: The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati

Title: The Weight of Zero
Author: Karen Fortunati
Published: 2016
Source: Local Library

Summary: Cath knows in her heart that she won't survive another brush with Zero, which is what she calls the depressive episodes of her bipolar disorder. With that in mind, she creates a bucket list for herself, including having sex. But to accomplish that, she needs someone to have sex with. Enter Michael. She thinks he'll be perfect for the job - nice, sweet, forgettable. Certainly nobody she'll ever fall in love with or be sad to leave behind when she dies. Or maybe he is?

First Impressions: For something with such a dramatic topic, this was a very quiet book, but I liked the slow, realistic progression of her path back to life.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

First Impression: Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood

Title: Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood
Author: Varsha Bajaj
Published: 2015
Source: Local Library
Summary: Abby has never known her father. Although her white mom and grandparents are awesome and amazing, the other side of her heritage - the Indian side - has always been a blank slate. But when she finally finds out who he is, it's something right out of a Bollywood drama. Maybe because her father is right out of a Bollywood drama - namely, one of the biggest stars in Bollywood. Whisked off to Mumbai for the summer, she learns about her father and herself, and starts to fill in some of that blank slate.
First Impressions: This was incredibly sweet, and actually kind of low-conflict. Much more of a tween book.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The Cybils Are Out!

One of the things I flaked on doing in 2017 was volunteering for the Cybils. Blogging can be a lonely business, but the Cybils are one of those community events that reminds me that there are others just like me out there, who love kids' and teen books and love to talk about them and think about them.

But I didn't start this post just to talk about how  wonderful the Cybils are - even though they are wonderful, and the people who did volunteer are total superheroes.

What I really wanted to share was that they released their finalist shortlists on January 1! These are the books that made it through the first round (and let me tell you, that's a lot of nominated books) and will go on to be read, discussed, pulled apart, put back together again, and finally one will be chosen for each category and announced on February 14.

Share these lists with parents, teachers, librarians, and of course (always) with young and not-so-young readers.




Monday, January 01, 2018

It's Me Again

2017 was a bad year.

I don't know anybody for whom it was a particularly good year, overall. Good things happened, but the consensus seems to be, "2017, boy it's been a shitty one, hasn't it?"

For me, the whole middle chunk of the year was sort of grey and dreary and everything felt like swimming uphill. I let a lot of things go that used to make me happy and now just felt like a pointless effort. One of those was blogging. I kept reading, slowly, and I did have thoughts about what I read, but every time I even considered sitting down and writing them out in a longer format than a couple of sentences, I went, ". . . I'll do it later."

It's later.

I don't know how well I'll do, picking this up again. I do actually have some posts that I managed to write out at some point, but never got around to putting up, because of all the effort involved. So I'll start with those, and see where I go.

Happy 2018, everybody, and let's hope it's a better one.