Posts Tagged ‘lists’

Favorite Books of 2016

ashesAshes by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’ve been waiting for the conclusion of Anderson’s Seeds of America series for so long, and it doesn’t disappoint. The story is so suspenseful I actually relaxed when the characters reached the Battle of Yorktown, because they were safer there than they had been while wandering the countryside and hiding from slave-catchers. Bonus: reading this book will trigger Hamilton songs to play nonstop in your head. You have been warned.

The Best Man by Richard Peck

Only Richard Peck could write a book about social media hysteria, male role models and anti-gay discrimination without it feeling like an “issues” book. And you will laugh helplessly as you read it, especially when you meet the character who’s a snooty parody of every “upstairs” stereotype in Downton Abbey.

Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet

The way to describe this book is to imagine the TV show The Americans taking place in East Berlin, from the perspective of an American kid, with a lot less violence and spying, but with all the paranoia of living under constant surveillance.

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

The fourth book in Lockwood & Co. has all the usual creepy haunted houses, oddly-polite teenage drama, and dry sarcasm. Unlike the previous books, it finally stops stalling and makes great progress on the series arc of the nature of ghosts and the sinister forces that caused The Problem.


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Fall Sequels

whisperingskullNow that it’s October, the sequels/companion books are starting to roll out. Here are just a few I can’t wait to get my hands on:

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis (published Sept 30)

This one takes place 40 years after Elijah of Buxton! Hope it’s as quirky and funny as its predecessor.

The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud (Sept 16)

Looking forward to more madness from the ghost-hunting, teenage underdogs of Lockwood & Co.

Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George (Oct. 7)

ds3_cover_408x630The temperamental, constantly shifting castle in this series is probably Hogwarts’ cousin–and the most interesting character in George’s series. Hoping to get more of the castle’s history in Thursdays.

The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde (April: UK. Oct: US)

“Quark!” said the Quarkbeast. More physics jokes, please.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Oct. 21)

Book 2 ended on a cliffhanger, and given that this one is #3 in the quartet, it probably will too.

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Five Ways to celebrate Kate DiCamillo’s appointment as the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature:

The_Tale_of_Despereaux1. Drink soup when she’s inaugurated on Jan 10th.

2. Vacuum up an errant squirrel and enjoy some holy unanticipated occurrences!

3. Throw a party with egg-salad sandwiches, Dump Punch, pickles, dog pictures, Littmus Lozenges, paper bag lanterns, and crepe paper in the trees.

4. Visit a carnival with your best friend, and don’t skip the fortune teller!

5. Go to the toy store and give an old china rabbit a new life.

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With hours to go until 2014, I’ve decided to look back at some memorable books from 2013. This isn’t meant to be a best-of (or worst-of) list–they’re simply books that were weirdly notable in some way:

UnluckyCharmsThe Long-Awaited Sequel

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer: 11 years is a long time to wait! And I still haven’t read it.

The Sequel I Didn’t Need, But it Was Good Anyway

Son by Lois Lowry: yes, I was very nervous about the Gabe-as-a-teenager thing, but it all worked out.

The Better-Than-Its-Prequel Sequel

Unlucky Charms by Adam Rex: wonderfully timey-wimey, with less character confusion and more irreverence than Cold Cereal.

midwinterbloodMost Unsettling Book

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick: if the title doesn’t creep you out, the cover should. High-quality minimalist horror.

Best Animal and Household Appliance Mashup

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo: finally, a vacuum cleaner I can support, and a well-deserving squirrel hero.

The Masterpiece I Didn’t Understand

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata: I must be the only one who didn’t like this book. I couldn’t even finish it–the writing seemed sloppy, or maybe I just need books with strong, non-meandering plots.

The “Eh” Book I Really Liked

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper: beautiful writing, compelling characters and lots of surprises in the plot. It even made our holiday recommendations list.

Most Anticipated Companion Novel

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, of course.

Most Disappointing Series Conclusion

The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz: needs a heaping dose of subtlety.

mouse question tailDo We Really Need Another Book About a British Mouse?

Yes, if it’s The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck. He somehow makes the well-trod premise wholly original.

Deceptively Simple, Yet Somehow Effective

A tie between The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan and The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech.

The Book(s) with an Interminable Waiting List

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang: it’ll be Christmas 2014 by the time my library request arrives.

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Without considering their oratory skills, we did some wishful thinking and compiled a (by no means comprehensive) list of authors we’d like to follow Neil Gaiman, Jack Gantos, and Lemony Snicket’s example…and narrate the books they wrote.

The Grande Dames:

waitingLois Lowry: Gossamer (sob) and The Giver quartet (double sob)

Susan Cooper: The Dark Is Rising sequence (gritty English accent and fantasy = win)

Katherine Paterson: everything (triple sob)

Patricia MacLachlan: Waiting for the Magic (because she was unexpectedly snarky at The Exquisite Corpse and that would work well for WftM)

The Great Uncles You Wish You Had

Richard Peck: everything but The River Between Us

Michael Morpurgo: War Horse

team human (more…)

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Fall Reading List

The end of summer/early fall always brings a huge list of book releases, and here’s what I’m looking forward to in the next few months:

9780374379940_p0_v1_s260x420The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech (Sept. 3): The premise reminds me of Ruby Holler, one of my favorite Creech books.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (Sept. 2): fingers crossed for the sequel to The Raven Boys, which had wonderful writing.

From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos (Sept. 24): road trip with Miss Volker! This could get even crazier than its prequel.

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Sept. 17): a new series from the creator of Bartimaeus.

slightlyHeroicCover250The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic by Uma Krishnaswami (Aug. 13): I heard about this through Educating Alice. So glad Dini is back, with all the silliness of her favorite Bollywood star and her wacky entourage.

Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow (Oct. 29): I’m a big fan of Plain Kate. I hope the world and character building are just as good in this one.

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet by Tom Angleberger (Aug. 6): I would’ve preferred Jabba the Flat, but oh well. A showdown over the principal’s plan to cancel the arts…gee, I wonder who Jabba is supposed to be.

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi (Sept. 10): worth reading for the title alone.

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There’s a certain type of book, the one that suddenly all the cool kids are reading. Even before it’s published, it generates lots of buzz as an ARC. Then enough stars are heaped upon it to form a major constellation. Maybe it’ll win an award or two. By the time you actually get a copy from the library (and there are 349 requests on the first returned copy and only five copies in circulation), you’re so excited you start reading it on the spot. And you know what, now that you actually have your hands on it, you can’t see what all the fuss is about.

Most recently, I experienced this with Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell. I was all set to like it. A tale of two high school misfits and their down-to-earth progression from dislike to friendship to first love? A shared obsession of comic books? Not a single head-scratching ominous prophecy of epic proportions in sight? A big fat stamp of approval from John Green and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards? And not to be superficial, but a stylized book jacket as sleek as an Apple product? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!


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