June 2015

June, June, June… Yet another month to fly by all too quickly this year. This month was all about trying to catch up with life — to fall back in step with the day-to-day. While I made some progress in the Reading Challenge, I was able to squeeze in a few non-challenge books, too. But first… A whoops from last month:

Last month I had reported only reading one book. Well, I forgot that I read this one… Probably because I didn’t find it memorable.

A mystery or thriller: The Girl on The Train, by Paula Hawkins
A mystery or thriller: The Girl on The Train, by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train has been one of those wildly popular bestsellers that we can’t keep on the shelves in the library. I had this on hold for months… everyone raving about it… That should have been a clue. For anyone that is interested in reading it… just read a Wikipedia or Goodreads summary. That’s all you need.

Challenge Books:

A nonfiction book: The Real Wizard of Oz, by Rebecca Loncraine
A nonfiction book: The Real Wizard of Oz, by Rebecca Loncraine
A book at the bottom of your to-read list: City of Ashes, by Cassandra Clare
A book at the bottom of your to-read list: City of Ashes, by Cassandra Clare

A quick love & hate story…
Loved the Baum biography! I may actually read it again some time! Since the history classes I took in school never covered a whole lot of American history, I felt like I stumbled upon this little treasure trove of information — who knew most children barely survived infancy?? I didn’t! This is one that I’ll be passing around to a few people for sure.

The City of Ashes on the other hand… So, I was never too keen on the first book… though I was really excited to read the series! In fact I bought the first three books all at once. Then I read the first one… and it took me a really long time… then the movie came out… and that was atrocious… then I met the author… and after I was finished being star struck, I settled on accepting that the books were popular, and that I found them to be ‘okay.’ Not bad. But… okay. I think I dislike the series because it IS so popular and I’m still trying to chase down the bandwagon to hop on. And I’m no good at running. So I’m a bit spiteful, for no good reason other than me being a little pouty brat. Still, got another one crossed off my list!

A few extras:

George, by Alex Gino
George, by Alex Gino
better nate than ever
Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, by Tim Federle

Both of these books made me tear up. Between the nostalgia I have for Charlotte’s Web and remembering what it was like to be a 13/14-year-old boy — these two books hit me in the soft underbelly. Nice job, authors. ūüôā

Next up:
Anything Could Happen by Will Walton ‚̧ It should have made this month, but I got distracted… But more on that later!

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A Heart Full Of Love

Living on an island is sort of like living in the Midwest, right? One experiences the same feelings of isolation and note the distinct lack of cosmopolitanism… at least I did, especially in middle school. Though, admittedly, I didn’t quite know what I was missing until I left for boarding school and realized how big the world really was. Might I add: my boarding school was next to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Virginia, and I thought THAT was the big, wide world! Had I gone to New York City,¬†I most certainly would have come down with a case of the vapors.

better nate than ever tim federle

 

So I commend our little Nate Foster for not fainting as he stepped off that Greyhound bus, having the wherewithal to navigate the city, and the balls guts to crash an audition. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle is the first (I think) middle-grade book I’ve reviewed for this blog, and if any others are as enjoyable as this (Five, Six, Seven, Nate!) I may find myself branching out to a¬†new audience.

Having met Tim on his Tequila Mockingbird book tour – a book for a very different audience! – middle-grade readers had never crossed my mind, because I’m always overwrought with YA. Maybe it was the boozy (delicious) literary libations that weakened my predisposition, or perhaps Tim’s charm, but I very soon found myself with a copy of his wonderful book. Now… that was over a year ago… but that’s also why I chose it as one of my Must Read books of this year, and devoured it this weekend.

For those seeking an elevator speech for Better Nate Than Ever: it’s about a young boy from a small town in Pennsylvania who is bursting with joie de vivre, and hatches a grand plan with his best friend to somehow make it to New York City and audition for E.T. – The Musical.

For those seeking a bit more: my heart aches with love for this book. Sort of like when your cat does something remarkably sweet like (not puke on the floor) tilt their head and nuzzle your leg… and your heart grows three-sizes bigger, Grinch-style, and you break the wire-meter-x-ray-screen-thing. Not only does Tim capture the energy and essence of what it’s like to be thirteen, his humor and style capture ,and keep me in, the world of Nate Foster’s NYC, but he also ensnares the heart… An untainted, honest, hope-filled love.

“There is such a rush into Port Authority, exiting the bus and then mazing through a series of escalators, that all I have to do is lean just slightly back and the crowd literally surges me along.” ¬†…¬†“Exactly. Good luck kid,” and he leans back and gets swept up in the surge, his head bopping along…”

THAT is New York. I’ve felt the exact same way each time I visit the city, even now in my 20’s. Can’t you just picture it happening? Or what about…

“I’m mumbling through a mouthful of horrible rye toast, toast that tastes like it was baked three years ago and set out in the sun.”

I’m dying. This is why I hate rye bread.

“Sometimes there is no greater act of adulthood than swearing in front of your own mother.”

And how true is that??

Though I’m quite a number of years beyond this book’s intended audience, Tim has so aptly included little nuggets that appeal to older readers. It is so clear to see why Better Nate Than Ever is a book that teachers and librarians are raving about. This is a book that teaches so much. It kills me to hear that some of Tim’s appearances promoting this treasure have been cancelled, especially in his own hometown. (You deserve better!) We need diverse books. It’s 2014, people – time to update your profiles and realize the world is changing, so why don’t you lean back, just slightly, and ride along. Pick up Better Nate Than Ever, you’ll fall in love, and that’s exactly what this world needs.

BEA – Books Everywhere…Ahhh!

Where do I even begin?

The last few days have been incredible — and I know my tendency to blather on about things I find exciting, but I’ll try to keep my gushing to a minimum.

This year, I had the¬†wondrous¬†opportunity to attend BEA – Book Expo America – which, I’m convinced, is where all my dreams come from. My favorite wordsmith, Jane Yolen, along with her daughter, Heidi Stemple, ushered me to the convention as Morpheus and Hypnos would upon a dark steed (or in this case, their black Hyundai), through the perilous nightmares of New York City streets.

36 books, 21.5 miles, 3 car jump starts¬†and 1 sippy cup later (and only one caffeinated beverage!), I’m back home, still reeling from how much was packed into the last three days.

My biggest take-aways from my first BEA:

The hype is real and it’s a lot of fun!¬†¬†Now, here’s what I’m going to tell you… because somehow I missed this in all my preparations…¬†What I failed to gather was an understanding as to just how much time I would spend standing in line.

My first stop was waiting in line for Neil Patrick Harris. Letdown #1: a billion other people thinking the exact same thing. Letdown #2: He might not get to sign for everyone. Letdown #3: Rather than a full galley copy, he was signing a sample. ¬†Whoa, whoa… a sample? What is this?? I stood in line for 45 minutes for someone to hand me a 30 page pamphlet? Why would I want this signed? That’s when reality set in.¬†I ditched the line.

Til I got sucked in again when I saw Anjelica Huston. (At least this time, it was a hardcover copy of the full book!) And again for Marie Lu. And Rainbow Rowell. And Lev Grossman. And Tim Federle. And Ally Condie… Though there were so many I missed! Garth Nix, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, David Levithan, R.L. Stein, Stan Lee, A.S. King, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, Gregory Maguire… and Grumpy Cat ūüė¶

Luck was not on my side when it came to any author in the autographing area. Each attempt was thwarted by a early closed line, or a mile-long line of squatters. Squatters. You know, the folks that decide to sit down because they’ve been waiting in line since the night before the universe was created. That kind of patience extended ell beyond my threshold for this event. Whether I arrived an hour before a signing, or ten minutes before a signing, I¬†never stood¬†a chance. That’s another thing: expect your plans to be changed. All of the authors mentioned above were those I intended on meeting, but then again, I suppose meeting 1/3 of my list isn’t too bad.

Instead, I found my¬†biggest¬†rewards at book drops. That’s where a publisher births about 100¬†ARCs on a tabletop while people rush by and swoop them up. These lines, though also rather long, rush through rather quickly, usually yielding a satisfying three or four ARCs at a time.

What I missed out on the most were the author panels (many took place on Saturday, the day after I left when BEA became open to the public) but also on the conferences and talks. I¬†inadvertently bypassed so¬†many networking opportunities with other bloggers. Though, I should point out, the few that I met while waiting in lines were all lovely! Here’s to hoping I’ll get to attend next year!

In the meantime, I submit this list of acquisitions to my Sickness. These were not purchased! So based on my original rule set, they’re acceptable additions. With all of these new ARCs, I will need to revisit and reformat how to account for them… But until then…:

 

  1. Trial By Fire – Josephine Angelini
  2. Miles to Go – Connie Bailey
  3. Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas – Stephanie Barron
  4. Witch Island – David Bernstein
  5. The Iron Trail – Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
  6. Atlantia (sample) – Ally Condie
  7. The Emissary – Patricia Cori
  8. So We Read On – Maureen Corrigan
  9. Not My Father’s Son – Alan Cumming
  10. Hell to Pay – Garry Disher
  11. Endgame: The Calling – James Grey & Nils Johnson-Shelton
  12. The Magician’s Land – Lev Grossman
  13. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography (sample) – Neil Patrick Harris
  14. Skink– No Surrender – Carl Hiaasen
  15. Bombay Blues – Tanuja Desai Hidier
  16. The Devil’s Intern – Donna Hosie
  17. Flying Shoes – Lisa Howorth
  18. A Story Lately Told – Angelica Huston
  19. Mastering Toby – Jan Irving
  20. Evil Librarian – Michelle Knudsen
  21. Amulet: Escape from Lucien – Kazu Kibuishi
  22. The Young Elites (sample) – Marie Lu
  23. On A Clear Day – Walter Dean Myers
  24. Last Winter We Parted – Fuminori Nakamuri
  25. Young Houdini: The Magician’s Fire – Simon Nicholson
  26. Clariel – Garth Nix
  27. King Dork Approximately – Frank Portman
  28. Mort(e) – Robert Repino
  29. Jackaby – William Ritter
  30. Landline – Rainbow Rowell
  31. Dataclysm – Christian Rudder
  32. I Became Shadow – Joe Shine
  33. Sway – Kat Spears
  34. A Sudden Light – Garth Stein
  35. Sisters – Raina Telgemeier
  36. The Black Butterfly – Shirley Reva Vernick

And the award goes to…!

The 2014 ALA Awards were recently announced and I just had to gush a bit. Thanks to my awesome local bookstore, The Odyssey, in South Hadley, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the award winners when they started on their respective tours some months ago.

First, I want to congratulate all of the nominees and other winners — It is no small feat to be recognized for your work!

But this entry is really about those few authors I have a particular fondness for and that I think deserve some extra special mentioning.

Though I never had the chance to meet Rainbow Rowell, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about her, and I was able to get a hold of a special copy of Eleanor & Park…

Eleanor&Park

As some may remember, this was one of my books of choice for my Young Adult Literature class this past semester. In fact, this book was read by more people in my class than any others — and for such a book to get such a buzz going, I think it is definitely one to take note of.

Eleanor & Park received a Michael L. Printz Award Honoree,  as well as the Odyssey Award for outstanding audiobooks for young adults (which I can attest to! It was wonderful!).

~

Next up: Tim Federle. I actually met Tim at an event for the launch of his book Tequila Mockingbird, but then learned of his book Better Nate Than Ever. This book (which is being followed by Five, Six, Seven, Nate!) is waiting for me on my Kindle (though, I’ve secretly read a bit of it already… I haven’t “officially started” yet). Tim is hilarious, not to mention talented. I never thought I would find myself so excited to read a book aimed at pre-teens, yet it sends a powerful message and is wonderfully written. Better Nate Than Ever is the recipient of the Stonewall Book Award Honor for outstanding LGBTQ titles.

~

Speaking of the Stonewall Book Award, there are two more titles that I want to point out! Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills  and Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo were both winners in this category.

Like Rainbow Rowell, I have not met Kristin Cronn-Mills, but Beautiful Music for Ugly Children was one of the required books for my class last semester and I think everyone was so pleasantly surprised by it! Writing a trans character is not only brave, but can be difficult to grant a strong voice. Kristin brought such life and truth to her cast in this book that I couldn’t help but feel connected. A win well deserved!

~

I’ve spoken about how brave, true and powerful these books are, but one that shines through has to be Fat Angie with a big purple heart. e.E. came to The Odyssey on her At Risk Summer Tour and I was lucky enough to have a chat with her after her reading. Instantly I felt connected — and she must have too, because she asked that I tell her to write to her once I finish reading the book to let her know what I thought… As in to her personal email account! That doesn’t happen every day! Little-e-Big-E wrote this book with such honesty and heart that I felt truly inspired. I am so incredibly pleased to hear that Fat Angie also won the Stonewall book Award.

Fat Angie

~

Last, but certainly not least, I want to congratulate Holly Black for winning a Newbery Honor for Doll Bones. I met Holly for the launch of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown at The Odyssey and I was surprised to discover that she almost became a librarian! Though Doll Bones is another book I have yet to read, it goes without saying that Holly deserves the recognition for her marvelous work.

 

Congratulations, again, to all of the nominees and award winners!
Keep writing!

Battle of the Books

People may think my book choosing methods are strange, but honestly, I just find it amusing. Considering my lack of interest in sports, a book bracket may be as close as I get to some type of Fantasy League. Here’s the breakdown:

I chose two books from eight different categories, yielding sixteen titles total. (Well, six. I doubled up on two categories.)

  • Stephen King Classics: Cujo vs Misery
  • Travel: A Year in Provence vs PTown
  • LGBT fiction:¬†Will Grayson, Will Grayson¬†vs¬†The Brothers Bishop / In The Line of Beauty¬†vs¬†Hero
  • YA series (having 3 or more titles): Insurgent vs Rebel Heart / Beautiful Darkness vs Reached
  • Kindle Books (fiction):¬†Ten vs¬†Better Nate Than Ever
  • Fiction:¬†Little Children¬†vs¬†Dogs of Babel

Once selected, I set the titles against one another in their respective categories and flipped some coins and followed the paths of the bracket tree. The resulting list will govern the order of the books I will read over the course of the next year. With my recent acceleration in reading (like reading 35 books in 14 weeks for class) I imagine this will be a breeze. I may push a title to the front of the list as an audiobook becomes available through OverDrive or my library.

  1. Reached
  2. Insurgent
  3. Cujo
  4. Dogs of Babel
  5. Hero
  6. Ten
  7. The Brothers Bishop
  8. A Year in Provence
  9. Rebel Heart
  10. Beautiful Darkness
  11. Will Grayson, Will Grayson
  12. In The Line of Beauty
  13. Misery
  14. Better Nate Than Ever
  15. PTown
  16. Little Children
Battle of the Books
Battle of the Books

Here we go!