My Top Ten Picks for GGNT 2015

by Tessa

Friends, I’m going to post my Top Ten from the nominations list which is posted on the ALA page.

However! After seeing a picture of the committee with their top ten picks, it seems that the ALA list of current nominations was not the final nominations list, because there are books on the official top ten that are NOT on the ALA list. Such as: Trillium, Seconds, In Real Life, Through the Woods, and that book that Thomas is holding that I don’t recognize.

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This is disappointing to me as a lover of order and detail, and as a blogger who wanted to cover all of the nominations. This is how I feel:

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On the other hand, I’m happy that Through the Woods is there, because I was wondering why it hadn’t made the list. It’s definitely one of my top ten books I read last year.

So with my disappointment registered, here are my Top Ten, from the information that I have at hand, which is not complete, in no particular order:

1. Through the Woods, Emily Carroll

2. Beautiful Darkness, Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet

3. El Deafo by Cece Bell

4. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood by Nathan Hale

5. Moonhead and the Music Machine by Andrew Rae

6. Ms. Marvel V.1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

7. This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

8. Tomboy by Liz Prince

9. Above the Dreamless Dead edited by Chris Duffy

10. Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley

 

Overall, I thought that 52 of the 81 listed nominations were “great”, with 40 of those being really great.

 

Keep your eye on the ALA site to see an update on the final list… if they remember to update it.

Looking Forward!

Some Coming-Soon YA Releases I’m Excited For!

Dreams of Gods and Monsters Laini TaylorWe Won't Feel a Thing J.C. LillisPointe Brandy Colbert

by REBECCA, March 27, 2014

There’s so much I’m looking forward to in the next month! Here are but a few. All blurbs from Goodreads.

We Won't Feel a Thing J.C. LillisWe Won’t Feel A Thing, J.C. Lillis (March 31st)

Seventeen-year-old best friends Rachel and Riley are in forbidden love.

Their situation’s . . . complicated. And their timing couldn’t be worse—in just one month, he leaves for California and she starts college in New York. The absolute last thing they need is a reckless secret-love confession mucking up their perfect plans. There’s only one logical option: scientific intervention.

Desperate for a quick fix, they sign up for WAVES, an experimental self-help program led by mysterious scientist David A. Kerning. He swears his Forbidden Love Module can turn passion back to safe platonic friendship in “six easy steps.” But when you arm yourself with an untested program, side effects are unpredictable. And sometimes when you fight love—love fights back.

And here’s the brand spanking new book trailer for We Won’t Feel A Thing, which is pretty much the cutest damned thing I’ve ever seen:

What We Hide Marthe JocelynWhat We Hide, Marthe Jocelyn (April 8th)

Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny’s chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don’t. Brenda won’t tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to hide his mother’s memoir. Percy keeps his famous dad a secret. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself.

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy Kate HattemerThe Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, Kate Hattemer (April 8th)

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art’s Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art’s Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It’s up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they’ll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Claire NorthThe First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Claire North (April 8th)

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’ This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters Laini TaylorDreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3), Laini Taylor (April 8th)

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

Pointe Brandy ColbertPointe, Brandy Colbert (April 10th)

Theo is better now. She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

Prisoner of Night and Fog Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1), Anne Blankman (April 22nd)

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command. Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

The Boundless Kenneth OppelThe Boundless, Kenneth Oppel (April 22nd)

The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life! When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.

In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?

What about you? What are you looking forward to reading in next month?

YA Books With Animal Best Friends

A Book List In Honor of National Love Your Pet Day!

by REBECCA, February 19, 2014

Tomorrow (Feb 20th) is National Love Your Pet Day! Yeah, I know these things aren’t “real” in the strictest sense, but it’s such a perfect opportunity to celebrate my favorite animals of YA. While there are a great number of animals in children’s books—Charlotte’s WebThe Velveteen Rabbit, etc.—and in classic “coming of age fiction”—Where the Red Fern GrowsOld Yeller—there aren’t as many in contemporary YA. Here, then, are some truly delightful instances of loving your pet in YA lit! (All descriptions from Goodreads.)

Meeting Chance Jennifer Lavoie

Meeting Chance, Jennifer Lavoie

Scarred physically and emotionally from a dog attack at age nine, Aaron Cassidy has spent the last seven years breaking out in a cold sweat at the mere sound of a bark in the distance. Days after he receives his driver’s license, he decides to challenge his bone-deep fear once and for all.

Volunteering at the Happy Endings Animal Foundation gives Aaron a new sense of purpose. Here he’ll face his fears and learn to love man’s best friend. When an abused pit bull with scars mirroring his own arrives at the shelter, Aaron cannot even be in the same room without lapsing into his familiar, paralyzing terror. But as he gets to know the wounded animal, and the two learn to trust again, Aaron finds that sometimes all you need is a little . . . Chance.

My full review of Meeting Chance is HERE.

Starting from Here Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Starting From Here, Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Sixteen-year-old Colby Bingham’s heart has been broken too many times. Her mother has been dead for almost two years, her truck driver father is always away, her almost girlfriend just dumped her for a guy, and now she’s failing chemistry.

When a stray dog lands literally at her feet, bleeding and broken on a busy road, it seems like the Universe has it in for Colby. But the incident also knocks a chink in the walls she’s built around her heart. Against her better judgment, she decides to care for the dog. But new connections mean new opportunities for heartbreak. Terrified of another loss, Colby bolts at the first sign of trouble, managing to alienate her best friend, her father, the cute girl pursing her, and even her dog’s vet, who’s taken Colby under her wing. Colby can’t start over, but can she learn how to move on?

My full review of Starting From Here is HERE and our interview with the delightful Lisa Jenn Bigelow is HERE.

Claws Mike and Rachel Grinti

Claws, Mike and Rachel Grinti

In a contemporary fairytale as irresistible as catnip, one girl discovers that some magic cuts deep. Emma’s sister is missing. Her parents have spent all their savings on the search. And now the family has no choice but to live in a ramshackle trailer park on the edge of the forest, next door to down-and-out harpies, hags, and trolls. Emma wonders if she’ll ever see Helena, and if she’ll ever feel happy, again. Then she makes a friend. A smooth-talking, dirty-furred cat named Jack. He’s got a razor-sharp plan to rescue Emma’s sister. He just wants one small favor in return . . .

Tessa’s complete review of Claws is HERE.

Grasshopper Jungle Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle, Andrew Smith

Ok, so Grasshopper Jungle is about animals (bugs) that we do not want to be best friends with, but there is also a dog friend who we do love, and also there’s this picture of my cat with the book that I meant to put in the post where I reviewed Grasshopper Jungle but forgot, and so I must include it. My complete review is HERE.

The Scorpio Races Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

My complete review of the amazing The Scorpio Races is HERE.

Harry Potter J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling

SO many animal best friends here (sometimes literally—Catmione, anyone?)! You’ve got Hedwig, Errol, Crookshanks, and Scabbers, of course, but also Mrs. Norris, Buckbeak, and the rest of Hagrid’s vast menagerie. So, so many.

The Golden Compass Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass, Phillip Pullman

When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies—and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about. Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her—something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights.

Gah, dæmons!

Straydog Kathe Koja

Straydog, Kathe Koja

A female collie mix, so beautiful, all gold and white and dirty; she’s in the last cage on the aisle, curled up quiet, watching everything—but when I get too close she goes completely crazy, biting at the bars, herself, anything in reach, until I back off and away. Her growl’s like ripping metal, jagged, dangerous, and strong . . . Don’t mess with me, that growl says. I may be in a cage but I can still bite.

Rachel is happiest when she’s volunteering at the animal shelter, especially after she meets the feral collie she names Grrl: they’re both angry and alone. When a teacher encourages her to write about the dog, Rachel finds another outlet for her pain and frustration. Writing about Grrl is easy. But teaching Grrl to trust her is a much tougher task. And when Griffin, the new boy in school, devises a plan to bring Grrl home, Rachel finds that the dog isn’t the only one who must learn to trust.

Sabriel Garth Nix

Sabriel, Garth Nix

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

Did I miss your favorite YA animal best friend? Tell me about it in the comments. In the meantime, here’s my cat sticking her tongue out at me while crouched in the special space I left her on the bottom shelf of my one rainbow-organized bookshelf:

Dorian Gray!

 

 

A YA Celebration of the Winter Olympics

A List of Books Featuring Winter Olympic Sports!

Winter Olympics Figure Skating Winter Olympics Women's Ski Jump

by REBECCA, February 17, 2014

The Cutting EdgeThe Winter Olympics have been rife with scandal, from virulent homophobia to athlete-eating bathrooms. But they’ve also been a snowy, icy, delight to watch. I was visiting friends in Arizona last week, and we were transported from the sunny desert to a veritable ice cave of triple Lutzes, Mctwists, hat tricks, and twizzles. Of course, anyone in their right mind who watches the Winter Olympics immediately watches the 1992 classic, The Cutting Edge. But, once you’ve done that, what should you read? Well, in celebration of the good parts of the Olympics (read: snow, ice, women finally being able to compete in the ski jump and being way better at it, and figure skating), here are some YA books about winter sports! All blurbs from Goodreads. Toooooooeeee Piiiiiiiiiiick:

Girl Overboard Justina Chen

Girl Overboard, Justina Chen Headley

Everybody thinks Syrah is the golden girl. After all, her father is Ethan Cheng, billionaire, and she has everything any kid could possibly desire: a waterfront mansion, jet plane, and custom-designed snowboards. But most of what glitters in her life is fool’s gold. Her half-siblings hate her, her best friend’s girlfriend is ruining their friendship, and her own so-called boyfriend is only after her for her father’s name. When her broken heart results in a snowboarding accident that exiles her from the mountains—the one place where she feels free and accepted for who she is, not what she has—can Syrah rehab both her busted-up knee and her broken heart?

Life on the Edge Jennifer ComeauxEdge of the Past Jennifer ComeauxFighting for the Edge Jennifer Comeaux

Life on the Edge (The Edge #1), Jennifer Comeaux

Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream—to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history. Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily’s dreams of gold.

The Ex Games Jennifer Echols

The Ex Games, Jennifer Echols

Hayden and Nick used to be a hot item, but their brief affair ended with a highly publicized breakup. Now the two are “just friends,” excluding the occasional flirtation. When Hayden wins the girls’ division of a local snowboarding competition, Nick is unimpressed, claiming that Hayden wouldn’t have a chance against a guy. Hayden calls Nick’s bluff and challenges him to a head-to-head boarding contest. Their mutual friends quickly take sides, the girls on Hayden’s and the boys on Nick’s, making for an all-out battle of the sexes. This friendly competition is bound to get heated—and they might end up igniting some old flames.

The Hockey Mystery Boxcar Children Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Hockey Mystery (The Boxcar Children #80), Gertrude Chandler Warner

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny used to live alone in a boxcar. Now they have a home with their grandfather and they have become friends with a real pro-hockey player. The Boxcar Children cannot believe it when they meet their favorite hockey star, Kevin Reynolds, while out skating one day. Kevin is coaching a girls’ hockey team and planning to build a huge new skating rink right in Greenfield. Kevin offers Jessie a place on the team and Henry is going to be assistant coach! As soon as practices begin, however, strange things start to happen. Suddenly, equipment is missing and Kevin’s plans for the new rink are almost ruined. Is someone trying to prevent Kevin’s new rink from being finished? The Boxcar Children want to help their new friend and solve this mystery!

Being Sloane Jacobs Lauren Morrill

Being Sloane Jacobs, Lauren Morrill

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

The White Gates Bonnie Ramthun

The White Gates, Bonnie Ramthun

When Torin Sinclair’s mom gets a job as the town doctor in Snow Park, Colorado, Tor can’t wait to learn to snowboard. But on Tor’s first night there, a member of the high school snowboarding team dies. “It’s the curse,” everyone whispers. Tor’s new friends Drake and Raine explain that there’s an old Native American curse on the doctors of the town. Snow Park can never get a doctor to stay. Tor and his friends must piece together a mystery involving an old mine, a Ute curse, the entire snowboarding team—who just might be blood doping in order to win competitions—and an attempt to save the wild river otters of Colorado. But to complete the puzzle, will Tor have to ride the deadly White Gates? And how will he survive the avalanche that follows?

Podium Finish Beth Pond

Podium Finish, Beth Pond

With six months until the Olympic Games, seventeen-year-old Harper’s life is pretty much perfect. She’s fighting for the starting spot on Team USA Women’s Hockey, and for the first time ever, she has a crush on a guy who likes her back. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world, until she runs a risky play at practice and breaks her knee, thereby sentencing herself to six weeks in a cast and possibly ending her Olympic dream before it even starts.

For seventeen-year-old Alex, being anything less than the best is unacceptable. That’s why, after a miserable debut season at the senior level, the former junior national singles champion switches to ice dance. Her skating partner, Ace, is an “all skating all the time” type of guy, which would be fine, if he’d stop keeping secrets about the real reason he and his former partner broke up. Now is not the time for second thoughts, but how can Alex skate her best if she can’t trust her partner . . . or herself?

As the pressure to make the Olympic team builds, the girls must rely on each other, because if there’s one thing they both know, it’s that the only thing harder than skating to the top is staying there.

The Next Competitor K.P. Kincaid

The Next Competitor, K.P. Kincaid

It’s the all-important Olympic season and eighteen-year-old American figure skater Alex Grady is discovering that there are many obstacles along the way on his quest to win a gold medal. For starters, he has to get through endless hours of practice under the watchful eye of his stern and slightly terrifying Russian coach. Then he has to contend with his all-American rival, Tanner Nielsen. Tanner has the talent, looks, poise and picture-perfect girlfriend that make him the ideal poster boy for United States figure skating.

Alex has the talent and his looks aren’t bad, but the filter between his brain and his mouth is missing, and he definitely doesn’t have a girlfriend. He doesn’t have a boyfriend either, although he finds himself thinking far too much about pairs skater Matt Savelli, which is ridiculous, since goody two-shoes Matt is totally not his type. Besides, Alex doesn’t have time to worry about dating, not with the Olympics looming, right? Can he find a way to go for the gold and still remain true to himself?

Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers Andy Schell

Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers, Andy Schell

The only thing sharper than a skater’s blade is her mother. Mei Chen, an elite-level figure skater trying to qualify for the Olympics, is the daughter of an intensely focused Chinese immigrant mother, Ming. Raised in a hot-house environment, Mei’s life is a torturous combination of practice on the ice and the piano bench, as she is required by her mother to not only skate to Rachmaninoff’s Concerto #2 in C Minor, but to play it on the piano as well. When her mother’s zeal causes her to cross the San Francisco Bay and practice at a different ice rink, in the town of Berkeley, a skating rivalry begins.

Norma Gardner is a struggling single mother whose daughter, Tonya, is named after Tonya Harding. Cleaning houses in Berkeley and selling home-baked cookies on the side, Norma is determined to provide her daughter with all she needs to win the national title and fulfill her destiny at the Olympics. But when Norma sees a new skater on the ice at her daughter’s rink, she’s prepared to do anything to protect her daughter’s interests. Told through the eyes of one teenager and one adult, the drama of the white ice and its sparkling sequins is contrasted with its darkly comedic shadows.

Breaking the Ice Melissa LowellThe Ice Princess Melissa LowellSIlver Blades Going for the Gold Melissa Lowell

Breaking the Ice (Silver Blades #1), Melissa Lowell

Nikki, Danielle, Tori, and Jill are four talented skaters who share one special dream: competing in the Olympics someday. And they’re going to try to make it all happen in Silver Blades, the best skating club around!

Ice In My Veins K.M. Sullivan

Ice In My Veins, K.M. Sullivan

When a 16 year old, small town girl, Christine Matthews, from Dryden, Michigan gets a shot at playing semi- professional hockey on a boys hockey team she jumps at the opportunity. Christine wants one thing in her life, hockey. Nothing would ever mean more to her than that. She had worked so hard for it without the support of her friends and family. When she meets Alex her world starts to change.

Face-Off Stacy Juba

Face-Off, Stacy Drumtra-Juba

Brad’s twin brother T.J. has gotten himself out of the fancy prep school his father picked for him and into the public high school Brad attends. Now T.J., the bright light in his father’s eyes, is a shining new star on the hockey team where Brad once held the spotlight. And he’s testing his popularity with Brad’s friends, eyeing Brad’s girl and competing to be captain of the team. The whole school is rooting for a big double-strength win . . . not knowing that their twin hockey stars are heating up the ice for a winner takes all face-off.

Snowboard Twist Jean Craighead George

Snowboard Twist, Jean Craighead George, with illustrations by Wendell Minor

It’s snowboarding season in the Teton Mountains, and the snow at Glory Bowl is fresh. But as Axel and his father, Dag, well know, new snow settling on top of old snow can also mean the risk of an avalanche. While Dag surveys the landscape for signs of danger, Axel and his snowboarding rival, Kelly, rashly begin showing off their moves, until . . . Whoomph! Crack! Bang! A fast-moving snowslide suddenly takes shape. Axel, his dog, Grits, and Kelly must all act very quickly to avoid disaster.

Did I miss your favorite Winter Olympic sports YA read? Tell me about it in the comments!

A Polar Vortex of Winter YA Covers!

Cat In Snow

by REBECCA, January 22, 2014

Friends, it snowed all yesterday and last night here in Philly, and my cat and I watched it pile up with glee. I love, love, love the snow! Here, in snowlidarity, is a big old igloo of snowy YA covers.

The Golden Compass Philip Pullman      Made of Stars Kelley York

The Snow Garden Christopher Rice      The Tragedy Paper Elizabeth La Ban

Winter of Fire Sherryl Jordan      Shiver Maggie Stiefvater

Trapped Michael Northrop      The Death Cure Maze Runner 3 James Dashner

Ice Sarah Beth Durst      Kiss of Frost Jennifer Estep

Winter Town Steve Emond      The Winter Witch Paula Brackston

Winter Damage Natasha Carthew      Winter's Bone Daniel Woodrell

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis      Let it snow John green maureen johnson lauren myracle

STAY WARM OUT THERE!

In Honor of MLK Day, Books About Fighting Oppression

A List of Books With Messages of Fighting For Social Justice

martin luther king jr martin luther king jr

by REBECCA, January 20, 2014

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and in its honor I’ve compiled a list of YA books about fighting injustice and oppression, both the small scale and large.

Proxy Alex London

Proxy (Proxy #1), by Alex London (2013)

As a Patron, Knox has and does anything he wants, as if there were no consequences to his actions. Because there aren’t. Well, not for him. Syd is Knox’s Proxy: any transgression of Knox’s is taken out of Syd’s hide. It’s been this way since they were boys, and Syd has learned to deal with the nerve-spasming pain of shocks, the beatings, and the manual labor. But when Knox kills a friend, Syd’s punishment may as well be a death sentence. But there are things brewing that are larger than Knox and Syd. In this future, where everything has a price, two boys will set out to see if they can take down the system. Great commentary on the crux of class and race in capitalism’s trash-economy with a kick-ass gay protag of color. My full review is HERE and the sequel comes out this Spring.

The Rock and the River Kekla Magoon

The Rock and the River (The Rock and the River #1), by Kekla Magoon

“The Time: 1968. The Place: Chicago. For thirteen-year-old Sam it’s not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older (and best) friend, Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. And then it happens: Sam finds something that changes everything forever. Sam has always had faith in his father, but when he finds literature about the Black Panthers under Stick’s bed, he’s not sure who to believe: his father or his best friend. Suddenly, nothing feels certain anymore. Sam wants to believe that his father is right: You can effect change without using violence. But as time goes on, Sam grows weary of standing by and watching as his friends and family suffer at the hands of racism in their own community. Sam beings to explore the Panthers with Stick, but soon he’s involved in something far more serious—and more dangerous—than he could have ever predicted. Sam is faced with a difficult decision. Will he follow his father or his brother? His mind or his heart? The rock or the river?” (Goodreads).

Shadoweyes Ross Campbell

SHADOWEYES Ross CampbellShadoweyes, vol. 1, by Ross Campbell (2010)

In a dystopian society, humans live on garbage heaps and there isn’t much protection for those who can’t protect themselves. One day, Scout becomes able to turn into a blue superhuman creature with claws and the ability to protect the downtrodden. Along with her best friend, Kyisha, Scout embraces her new form and tries to protect her neighbors from those who would take advantage of them. For Scout, this means everything from stopping muggers to befriending her offbeat classmate Sparkle . . . and rescuing her. Tessa’s full review is HERE, and you can read Shadoweyes on Campbell’s website HERE.

Moxyland Lauren Beukes moxyland Lauren Beukes

Moxyland, by Lauren Beukes (2008)

Moxyland “follows the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program; Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers; Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid; and Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, this story crackles with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, this tale paints anything but a forecasted utopia, satirically undermining the reified idea of progress as society’s white knight.” (Goodreads)

Beautiful Music For Ugly Children

Beautiful Music For Ugly Children, by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (2012)

Shy trans guy Gabe is a huge music fan (Elvis in particular) and an aspiring DJ. The summer after high school, Gabe gets the chance of a lifetime from his musical mentor, John: a chance at his own radio show, “Beautiful Music For Ugly Children.” In high school, Gabe was stuck as Elizabeth, hiding who he really was. On the air, though, Gabe is able to be himself and let his B-side play, inspiring others to do the same. With his newfound attention, though, come threats, and Gabe must decide whether to stand by his message of radical acceptance or go off the air. My full review is HERE.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling (2003)

Possibly my favorite Harry Potter book! At the end of book four, Voldemort returns. Now, in response to those rumors, the Ministry of Magic is threatened by Dumbledore’s power at Hogwarts. In Ron, Harry, and Hermione’s fifth year at Hogwarts, the Ministry sends Delores Umbrage to check Dumbledore’s power. Little by little, she strips away the students’ rights, including the ability to meet in groups or use magic to defend themselves, so the gang forms Dumbledore’s Army to teach themselves. I think this book is such a genius installment in the series, because it takes a brief break from the direct threat of evil overlord Voldemort and turns to the bureaucratic evil that occurs as a result of fear of evil, and can be just as oppressive.

Santa Olivia Jacqueline Carey

Santa Olivia (Santa Olivia #1), by Jacqueline Carey (2009)

“Loup Garron was born and raised in Santa Olivia, an isolated, disenfranchised town next to a US military base inside a DMZ buffer zone between Texas and Mexico. A fugitive ‘Wolf-Man’ who had a love affair with a local woman, Loup’s father was one of a group of men genetically-manipulated and used by the US government as a weapon. Loup, named for and sharing her father’s wolf-like qualities, is marked as an outsider.

After her mother dies, Loup goes to live among the misfit orphans at the parish church, where they seethe from the injustices visited upon the locals by the soldiers. Eventually, the orphans find an outlet for their frustrations: They form a vigilante group to support Loup Garron who, costumed as their patron saint, Santa Olivia, uses her special abilities to avenge the town. Aware that she could lose her freedom, and possibly her life, Loup is determined to fight to redress the wrongs her community has suffered. And like the reincarnation of their patron saint, she will bring hope to all of Santa Olivia.” (Goodreads)

The Chocolate War Robert Cormier

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier (1974)

Cormier’s often-banned book is a classic now, but was rather radical in its time. At Trinity, Jerry’s school, there is an annual fundraiser and all the students sell chocolates. As part of a hazing ritual, Jerry is told to refuse to sell chocolates for ten days. This is bad enough, in the eyes of the Brother Leon, the chocolate-zealot in charge of the sale at Trinity. But, after ten days, even though his hazing is over, Jerry keeps on refusing to sell chocolates. And what started as a silly prank turns into a full-scale civil disobedience. Tessa’s full review is HERE.

Little Brother Cory Doctorow

Little Brother (Little Brother #1), by Cory Doctorow (2008)

Hacker Marcus and his crew are gaming in the wrong place at the wrong time—in San Francisco after a terrorist attack. After being taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security, they’re placed in a secret prison and interrogated mercilessly. After their release, Marcus realizes that the city has become a police state, with limited access to internet resources, surveillance of private citizens, and civil liberties violations up the wazoo. Marcus sets out to free the people (and the information), bending his not inconsiderable skills toward taking down the DHS himself. Awesome example of kids using the resources available to them to change the world. And Doctorow practices the freedom of information he preaches; you can download Little Brother HERE.

Catching Fire Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2), by Suzanne Collins (2009)

While Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) takes the Rebellion as its subject, I’m more interested in the political messages in Catching Fire. [Spoiler alert, in case there’s anyone on the planet who hasn’t read it or seen the movie] Rather than depending on a hero, as in so many YA dystopias, in Catching Fire, the Rebellion recognize the effect that Katniss can have on their efforts and realize that they must preserve her so she can serve as their symbol after the quarter quell is over. Tributes from multiple districts unite against the Capital to do so, risking their own lives to get Katniss out of the arena. Bloody genius.

Inside Out Maria V. Snyder Inside Out Maria V. Snyder

Inside Out (Insider #1), by Maria V. Snyder (2010)

“I’m Trella. I’m a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I’ve got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own . . . until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.”

And, finally, for our little brothers and sisters in struggle:

A is for Activist Innosanto Nagara

A is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara (2012)

A board book for the next generation’s fight for justice.

Let’s keep dreaming a better world into being, my friends.

Happy New Year! YA Books About Starting Over

by REBECCA, January 1, 2014

Friends, it’s New Year’s Day! Today, some people are struggling through the first day of a new year of “giving up caffeine” or “working out” or whatever. Cough *suckers* cough. But why on earth would I do those things when I could read about other people making changes? Here are 10 books about starting over and making changes—may they inspire us all.

Same Difference Siobhan Vivian

1. Same Difference, by Siobhan Vivian

Emily is a girl from suburban Jersey who thinks she has her whole life planned: she’ll spend the summer sipping frappuccinos with her childhood best friend, then they’ll go to the same college. That’s until she attends a summer art program in Philadelphia and meets a whole group of people who share her love of art. She spends the summer learning about herself and realizes that she wants different things than she ever imagined. Check out the complete review HERE! and C&M’s interview with the lovely Siobhan Vivian HERE!

Beauty Queens Libba Bray

2. Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

One contestant represents each state in the Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant. When the Miss Teen Dreamers’ plane crashes, stranding them on a desert island with nothing but the contents of their makeup bags and their wits, some rise to the occasion and some, well, friends, some sink. Throw in a global conspiracy, young love, the sun, and several tons of hair removal product, and Beauty Queens is one explosive read.

King of the Screwups K.L. Going

3. King of the Screwups, by K.L. Going

Liam has made it, as far as high school life goes: he’s handsome, stylish, popular, good at sports, and fun. But everything he does disappoints and infuriates his businessman father. When his father kicks him out of the house, Liam goes to live with his uncle, Pete. In a new school, Liam decides that maybe he can reinvent himself into someone his father could respect . . . an unpopular kid. But it turns out that being unpopular isn’t as easy as Liam hopes—in fact, it’s just one more thing for him to screw up. Full review is HERE.

The Truth About Forever Sarah Dessen

4. The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen

After her father died, Macy was at sea and used her relationship with her über-practical boyfriend to feel safe. The Truth About Forever takes place over a summer in which Macy decides to stop playing it safe and start taking risks to be herself. Macy gets a new job at the chaotic catering company and enjoys late-night truth-telling sessions with Wes and lazy evenings with her new friends. Wes shows Macy that sometimes you have to learn to tell the truth to someone else to be able to see it yourself.

The Secret Circle L.J. Smith The Secret Circle L.J. Smith The Secret Circle L.J. Smith

5. The Secret Circle series, by L.J. Smith

When Cassie is forced to leave sunny California for the island of New Salem the summer before her junior year she thinks her biggest challenge will be to overcome her shyness and make new friends at a new school. Little does she know she will be caught up in something she doesn’t understand and end up fighting for her very life, bwah-hah-hah. Also, P.S., she’s a witch. HERE’s why you should read it!

If I Stay Gayle Forman Where She Went Gayle Forman

6. If I Stay & Where She Went, by Gayle Forman

After a car accident kills her parents and brother, Mia is in a coma with only her boyfriend, Adam, and her ipod connecting her to the world. As Adam plays her the music that means so much to her, we learn about the life Mia might be leaving and the choice that was in front of her: follow her passion to Julliard across the country, or stay with Adam on the West coast?

Teeth Hannah Moskowitz

7. Teeth, by Hannah Moskowitz

When sixteen-year-old Rudy leaves everything he knows to move to an island whose magic fish might be able to cure his brother’s cystic fibrosis he knows things will never be the same. What he can’t know is that he’ll meet someone who changes everything he knows about himself . . . and presents him with a life and death dilemma. How will Rudy choose between two people he loves? My full review is HERE.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Kirstin Cronn-Mills

8. Beautiful Music For Ugly Children, by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Shy trans guy Gabe is a huge music fan (Elvis in particular) and an aspiring DJ. The summer after high school, Gabe gets the chance of a lifetime from his musical mentor, John: a chance at his own radio show, “Beautiful Music For Ugly Children.” Whereas in high school, Gabe was stuck as Elizabeth, hiding who he really was. On the air, though, Gabe is able to be himself and let his B-side play, inspiring others to do the same. Will Gabe have a new life as a DJ, or will haters get him down? My full review is HERE.

How I Live Now Meg Rosoff

9. How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff

Daisy’s family in Manhattan is falling apart, so she goes to stay with cousins in a ramshackle farm outside of London for the summer. Just as withdrawn, neurotic Daisy starts to warm to her cousins, London is attacked and war breaks out. Without any adults around, and with no power on the farm, Daisy and her cousins develop an extremely close relationship. But nothing this perfect could last forever, and as the war creeps ever closer, Daisy and her cousins’ lives will never be the same.

Openly Straight Bill Konigsberg

10. Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg

Rafe has been out since 8th grade, and it’s never been much of a problem for him. Except, he kind of always feels like people see him as “the gay guy”—even his friends. So, when he transfers to an all-boys school, Rafe decides not to mention that he’s gay. It’s not that he wants to go back into the closet or anything, just that he wants to feel like a normal guy. It’s a whole new life. But when he starts getting close to Ben, he realizes that starting over isn’t as easy as he thought it might be.

So, friends, I wish you a wonderful New Year, whether you’re starting over or only want to read about it!

How To Have A Happy YA Xmas

. . . Even If You Don’t Celebrate It

Nightmare before christmas

by REBECCA, December 25, 2013

I don’t celebrate Christmas and, really, I could do without 95% of the crass commercialism and 100% of anything to do with chipmunks singing carols. That does not mean, though, that I’m immune to the delightful goshdarned cheer of a great Christmas scene. (I missed doing a Chanukah reading list this year since Chanukah began on Thanksgiving, so this year, I am being a traitor to my people and only doing a Christmas post. So be it.) So, here are five of my favorite Xmas scenes in YA books, tv, and movies! Happy, Merry, Cheery reading.

my-so-called-life-so-called-angels

My So-Called Life, “So-Called Angels”

One of the best Xmas episodes EVER! Rickie has left home and is wandering the streets; Rayanne and Sharon are bonding over working a holiday teen helpline, which Brian Krakow calls; and Angela meets a haunting musician who shows her how lucky she is to be alive. Spoiler Alert/The Title: the musician is an angel! Also, she’s played by Juliana Hatfield. My sister and some friends and I watched this episode the other day and I was shocked at how much like Breakfast Club-era Ally Sheedy Juliana Hatfield looked. Omg, here’s a video with her, Jared Leto, and Kennedy (remember Kennedy!?) chatting in a diner HERE. Sidebar: I just googled Juliana Hatfield to make sure I was spelling her name right, and Wikipedia tells me that her father claims to be descended from the Hatfields of Hatfield-McCoy feuding fame. Yowza.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Harry’s First Christmas at Hogwarts

Every holiday at Hogwarts is freaking awesome, but nothing compares with Harry’s first ever happy Christmas. He wakes in his four-poster on Christmas morning and, for the first time, has real presents, including an infamous Weasley sweater and the invisibility cloak, and an amazing dinner:

Harry had never in all his life had such a Christmas dinner. A hundred fat, roast turkeys, mountains of roast and boiled potatoes, platters of fat chipolatas, tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce—and stacks of wizard crackers every few feet along the table. . . . Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. . . . Harry and the Weasleys spent a happy afternoon having a furious snowball fight on the grounds. Then, cold, wet, and gasping for breath, they returned to the fire in the Gryffindor common room, where Harry broke in his new chess set by losing spectacularly to Ron. . . . It had been Harry’s best Christmas day ever.”

Nightmare before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A combination of Christmas and Halloween? I mean, it’s so smart that I can’t believe no one thought of it before 1993. Trust Tim Burton to be the one to see how easily the garish cheer of a holiday to which we all know the rules can shade into total gothic terror when approached by someone who doesn’t. The scene where Jack Skellington does his mad scientist routine to figure out the equation that will produce Christmas is one of the best things ever. Eureka!

Little Women

Little Women: Christmas Morning

I love Little Women in general, but the March family Christmas is particularly good, whether it’s the book version or any of the movie adaptations. From trying to figure out how to buy each other Christmas presents with nearly no money to singing carols as a family, Little Women is probably the best of Xmas: family, togetherness, and sharing. Ok, so involvement with the Hummels doesn’t turn out to well in the long run (cough *Beth* cough), giving them their Christmas breakfast probably taught a new generation of children about generosity each time a new movie adaptation came out (I can still picture Kirsten Dunst’s reluctant dimpled sacrifice). Bonus points for two appearances of Claire Danes on this list!

The Dark Is Rising Susan Cooper

The Dark Is Rising: Dark Is Rising #2

Will Stanton’s solstice slash Christmas slash eleventh birthday are chock-a-block with family, snow, and weird happenings. The first quarter of the book—the Christmasy part—is dark and wintry and eerie and grim and delightful. As the blurb puts it, Will “discovers he is the last of immortal Old Ones dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark.” NO BIG DEAL AND A MERRY BLOODY CHRISTMAS TO YOU, TOO, WILL!

Let it Snow John Green

Finally, has anyone read Let It Snow, the collection of three interconnected Christmas tales by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle? It looks rather charming.

Well, friends, I hope you all have/have had/will have lovely, cheer-drenched holidays with your assorted families, friends, and pets! Allow me to leave you with a picture of my cat, as you are thus assured at least some cheer. Dorian Gray:

the cutest cat in the world

Morsels: Delightful little things I’ve recently read.

by Tessa

There are few things more miraculous to me than a really good picture book. It must be economical in prose and relatively bold in picture, but immediately suggest a whole world and character, or cast of characters. It has to have details that mark it as a unique thing, but carry a universal message so it can be quickly resonant to its readers. Comfort and novelty in a well-designed, beautiful package.

I just read a slew of good, short books. Some are picture books, some are books with  pictures. But they all share a talent for attention-catching. Here are my morsels:

1. Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

hermanandrosie

I was tipped off to this title by super-librarian Betsy Bird’s Fuse No. 8 review on SLJ. As usual, her review covers all the bases illuminatingly, but I’ll add my personal likes.  The basic plot is that Herman and Rosie love similar things (Herman: “potted plants, playing the oboe, wild boysenberry yogurt, the smell of hot dogs in the winter, and watching films about the ocean” Rosie: “pancakes, listening to old jazz records, the summertime subway breeze, toffees that stuck to her teeth, singing on the fire escape. . . and watching films about the ocean.”), and live near each other. They both are sustained by their music and their routines despite feeling sort of lonely. . .until things fall apart. Will they find each other?

I’m not a NYC-fetishiser, but I do enjoy a city-in-the-winter, lonely-in-a-crowd vibe, and this captures it. Gordon’s palette ranges from bright blue piercingly sunny winter days to muted brown snowy nights. Nothing’s ever too bright; he brings the duality of neon and worn down floorboards of ajazz club to the picture book. He plays around with the page, repeating formats occasionally, but not over and over. Because the story is about 2 characters who are experiencing similar life journeys (and who obviously must meet by the book’s end!) there’s a lot of mirroring going on, in a seamless fashion. The art itself is full of collage and faux-scribbly elements, with a base of watercolory wash.

2. Fata Morgana by Jon Vermilyea

fatamorgana

Koyama Press and I both described this as “a feast for the eyes” . . . independently! Actually, I said “visual feast” and they said “feast for the eyes and mind”. Potato potahto. The day after I read this I looked up what Fata Morgana means, and listen to this: according to the Oxford Dictionary of Weather, 2nd ed. (by STORM DUNLOP!!), Fata morgana is a specific type of mirage, “in which the image of the actual surface appears in the form of a wall. The effect occurs when the temperature profile has an inflection, but is also relatively gentle. The atmosphere exhibits lensing properties but these are astigmatic, resulting in a redistribution of brightness within the image, often creating the effect of light and dark arches, and distant buildings.” and, according ot the Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 2nd ed., comes from “a mirage seen in the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily and attributed to Morgan le Fey, whose legend and reputation were carried to Sicily by Norman settlers.” And if you don’t know, now you know.

Jon Vermilyea‘s Fata Morgana is a wordless, mostly plotless book of not-quite-psychadelic fever dreamscapes. So I’d say the title is apropos. Vermilyea’s cartooning suggests the weight of its characters. It has a real density to it, and he covers every landscape with intertwining details that push to the forefront of the page, forming a wall of round, drippy lines forming trunks and faces and bridges and who knows what. The coloring is bright, mixing pastels with bold, almost neon tones. It’s disorienting at times, and my only wish is that it were a series of fold-out posters so the gutter hadn’t gotten in the way.

3. The Bramble by Lee Nordling & Bruce Zick

thebramble

Fun fact: It turns out that Lee Nordling was the comic strip editor for Nickelodeon’s Rugrats comic. It’s not apparent right away, but after knowing that, I can see the influence of the Rugrats in the human characters of The Bramble. But the kids in this story skew more towards older picture books. They could exist anywhere from the 70s to now, and that’s what I like about them, with their skinny limbs, bulbous noses, and giant heads.

The Bramble is printed in blues and browns, and concerns a boy, Cameron, who bravely tries to make friends by crashing a game of tag, but is obliquely muscled out of his notions of friendship by the other boys refusing to play along with him. Instead, they just shout “You’re It!” over and over. Dehumanizing, no? Funnily enough, there’s a giant bramble patch right at the edge of the park. A creature is spying on the failed tag game, and Cameron catches a peek of it. In its haste to hide itself, it leaves its necklace behind. So Cameron follows it into the Bramble to return the necklace.

Thus follows a not-so-vaguely Wild Things type adventure. Cameron ends up defeating a weird sentient blob/tongue/wave thing by using the same bullying Tag tactics that were used by him, which endears the creatures of the Bramble to him and makes him more confident and able to leave the Bramble and befriend the bullies.

Clearly I have issues with that part of the story. What resonated with me was the wordless sequences where Cameron opened himself up to rejection, was rejected, entered a new, strange situation, and this time found acceptance. The emotional tone was spot on there, and it’s worth taking a look at the book just for that. I’m excited to see more picture books take a darker tone at times, since the shelves can sometimes feel glutted with pastel bunny love fests (they have their place, for sure,  but shouldn’t be the only thing out there.)

4. The Hole by Øyvind Torseter

thehole

“The Hole has simple, expressive drawings created by pen and computer, and there’s a hole punched right through the book, so it exists in real life, even if it can’t be explained.” – Enchanted Lion Books description

So, apparently Enchanted Lion Books has been around since 2003 and I’m just learning about it via The Hole. Now I have a whole backlist to discover!

The guy in The Hole has moved into an apartment. It has a hole, and the hole keeps moving. Of course, the hole is not moving, the drawings are moving. But the drawings are reality, if the reader accepts it, so the hole is moving. We see the dude realize what’s happening, call someone about it, capture the hole, and take it somewhere (I won’t spoil it, ha ha.) The one simple conceit is magical in and of itself, and Torseter’s simple lines and open spaces make it more charming, like you’re watching someone drawing the story for you (very Harold and the Purple Crayon!) There are some good photos of the art at the Brain Pickings review.

5. Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson

hildandthetroll

Hilda’s been around a while. This is the Flying Eye Books edition of Nobrow’s Hildafolk. Luke Pearson also wrote and illustrated Hilda and the Bird Parade and Hilda and the Midnight Giant, the former I’ve read and really liked, the latter of which I am looking forward to reading. He says that The Midnight Giant is “a follow up to Hildafolk, my 24-pager of one year ago, but it’s more of a reboot than a sequel and is hopefully the first of a series of albums exploring the same world.”

I had no trouble reading them out of “order” – Hilda is a self-assured girl and goes about her world so matter of factly that I couldn’t help but folow with a sympathetic attitude. (As in, my brain tuned into her vibes or something).

In this adventure, Hilda goes out to draw rocks, finds a troll rock (a troll that is in rock form), puts a bell on its nose for safety, and falls asleep instead of getting back to her house. The troll wakes up, and Hilda has to find her way home and also find a way to make things right with the troll. Trolls hate bells and she has set it up for eternal torment, because its arms can’t reach the bell on its nose to remove it.

The magical Scandinavian world here is a delight. It’s our modern world, but a more tuned into things like trolls and horned foxes and tree men. I love Hilda -she’s serious about her self and her interests, and still realistically a kid. She learns to see a bit more about her assumptions in this book, and her carelessness, and in the Bird Parade this learning continues. And she knows the value of being cosy in a rainy tent:

hil5

I hope all of you have something nice to read while sitting on a couch or in a tent, watching the snow fall or the rain drizzle or the breeze blow things around.

Snow Day! A List of Snowy YA Reads

Blizzard

by REBECCA, December 17, 2013

It’s winter! I know to a lot of people that means shivering and schlepping, but I love the winter. It’s so magical and cozy, and I like nothing better than to curl up in my half-busted reclining chair by the window and reading as the snow falls. The last two winters in Philadelphia have been unseasonally warm with no snow at all, much to my disappointment. I grew up in Michigan, and as a kid I adored playing in the snow; later, in middle and high school, every time there was a big snow storm, I would listen to the radio, hoping for a snow day.

So, in celebration of winter, and in an attempt to conjure some snow, here is a list of young adult books sure to bring about a snow day! All blurbs are from Goodreads.

Made of Stars Kelley York

Made of Stars, Kelley York

“When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister, Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is—at first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely.

The reason they’ve never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance’s quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness—are now warning signs that something is seriously off. Then Chance’s mom turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his dad. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent . . . they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?”

My full review of the deliciously snowy Made of Stars is HERE.

The Tragedy Paper Elizabeth LaBan

The Tragedy Paper, Elizabeth LaBan

“Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is ‘Enter here to be and find a friend.’ A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential ‘t’ girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.”

My full review of The Tragedy Paper is HERE.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt

“1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.”

My full review of Tell the Wolves I’m Home is HERE, and my interview with the lovely author, Carol Rifka Brunt, is HERE.

Shiver Wolves of Mercy Falls Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), Maggie Stiefvater

“For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.”

Harry Potter J.K. Rowling Harry Potter J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling

The winters at Hogwarts are so magical!

His Dark Materials Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1), Philip Pullman

“Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her.

In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being.”

Winter of Fire Sherryl Jordan

Winter of Fire, Sherryl Jordan

“Elsha is one of the Quelled: a branded people, doomed always to mine coal to warm the ruling class, the Chosen. But Elsha has strange visions that set her apart—and a strong spirit that condemns her to death. Her life is saved when she is called to be Handmaiden to the Firelord, the most powerful being on the planet. Elsha is the first of her kind ever to be so honored—and both the Chosen and her fellow Quelled are stunned. But her powers and visions grow ever stronger, even in the face of extreme prejudice. Yet Elsha must learn the hard way that you can’t play with fire without getting burned.”

Trapped Michael Northrop

Trapped, Michael Northrop

“The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive.

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision. . .”

Enjoy the snow!

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