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1. Book Review: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Book: The Lost Girl
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Eva has always known that her life doesn't belong to her. She is an echo. Like the backup of a hard drive, her sole purpose is to absorb all the details of another girl's life, so that if that first girl dies, she's on hand to step in.

But Eva wants her own life, not Amarra's. She wants to create art, she wants adventures that haven't already happened to somebody else, she wants to love the boy she picks and not the one Amarra loves.

Then Amarra dies, and Eva must travel from England to India to take her place. The only people who know she isn't the original Amarra are her new family members, and since echoes are illegal in India, she has to be extra-careful to pass with Amarra's friends and boyfriend.

She's always known that she's not Amarra, but now those differences could mean the end of her.

I feel as if this book could have used another pass through the editing process. The beginning is slow and my interest didn't really kick in until  Eva got to Bangalore. The world building is also somewhat rickety. Everything seems contemporary, but the echo creation process has been (so we are told) in place for 200 years.  Echos are well-known enough to be legislated, but there's only three people in  the world who can create them, Also, Eva spends a lot of time being irritatingly passive, accepting her fate until someone drags her into action. This fits with her life experiences (she's always been told what to do and how to do it), but it doesn't fit with the way other people talk about her as someone bold and daring.  I wish we could have seen more echoes, or at least heard of them, to get a better picture of how echoes actually do fit into the world.

What I did like? Eva's tense, wobbly relationship with Amarra, like a younger sister always in her older sister's shadow, with the older sister resenting that she exists at all. The portrait of the parents' grief, both assuaged and heightened by Eva's presence. There was also the boyfriend's grief, which is a complicated beast, all tangled up with sadness and guilt and interest in Eva. The setting is also a view of India we don't often get, a well-to-do middle-upper-class world with light touches of non-Western detail.

If there's another book about echoes, I'm interested in the premise, but I would want a stronger execution.

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2. Book Review: While We Run by Karen Healey

Book: While We Run
Author: Karen Healey
Published: 2014
Source: ARC from a friend

In 2127, Tegan Oglietti is a symbol of hope for the world. The first girl ever to wake from cryonic suspension, she tours internationally, along with her boyfriend, Djiboutian music sensation Abdi Taalib. They're fundraising for the Ark Project, a spaceship that will take cryonically frozen humanity to the stars.


Except that it's all a lie.

Captured by the government shortly after the events of When We Wake, Tegan and Abdi are held prisoner, subject to brutal physical and psychological torture if they don't do and say exactly what they're told. The Ark Project is a lie. It's stocked with the rich of the world, but it's also stocked with the poorest of refugees, and it's not hard to figure out what the power structure will be on the new planet. That's if anybody besides Tegan can ever be revived successfully in the first place.

When help comes from an unexpected and possibly untrustworthy source, Abdi, Tegan, and the rest of their friends have to go on the run while trying to figure out how to tell the world what they know, without bringing about the end of it.

Healey tells this story from Abdi's point of view, which was the right choice for this twisty, turny, suspenseful story. Abdi is a political thinker. He manipulates people almost automatically, and sometimes it's a struggle for him to be totally honest even with the people he cares most about. This is all tangled up with his own PTSD from captivity (his captor was an especially sociopathic one) and his perspective as a "thirdie" or third-world, outsider in the "firstie" world of Australia. This last forces the reader to think uncomfortably about our own world and how we view the others in it. He's especially conflicted about Tegan. He loves her, but sometimes he hates her too, from their experiences in captivity. It takes a long time for them to start working together again.

I have to mention the diversity in this book, too. Healey just does that right. It's plentifully stocked with characters from many races, backgrounds, and faiths (there's a running thread about Abdi's atheism contrasted with his family's Muslim religion), as well as two lesbian characters, one of whom is also transgender. And they're just that - characters. They don't exist to be diverse, they exist because that's the way our world looks and they are people with flaws and gifts as well as labels.

I feel as if I should have re-read When We Wake, because I know I didn't catch all the subtleties, but as it is, I was held captive by Abdi and Tegan's story. They're trying to do the right thing, but everyone seems to have a different perspective on what the right thing is. It's not black and white in any sense of the word, but dappled in shades of grey, and that's the most interesting pattern if you ask me.

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3. Book Review: Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery

Book: Temple Grandin: how the girl who loved cows embraced autism and changed the world
Author: Sy Montgomery
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Temple Grandin was different from every other kid she knew. She could zero in on the tiniest details, but missed the subtleties of body language. Things that didn't faze them caused her intense distress, but she could work all night and day on her out-of-the-box inventions. Her mom and friends knew that she would grow up to be something special - but what?

If you were to ask the average person on the street to give the first name that they associated with autism, odds are most of them would come up with "Temple Grandin." (Unfortunately, some of them might come up with "Jenny McCarthy" but that's a fight for another day.) Grandin is arguably the face of autism for many Americans, and it's because she's made a success out of what most would consider a disability.


As I read the chapters on her childhood, I was struck by how often young Temple came close to being institutionalized or marginalized, and how often a supportive adult or accepting friend was there to let Temple be who she was. Part of this was being autistic in the 50's and 60's when many people still thought it was something that could or should be fixed. Part of that is still around today, which makes me think about the valuable role of people who work with kids.

Though the author spends a lot of time on matter-of-fact explanations of the experience of having autism, that's not all the book is about. Alongside the biographical chapters, the author intersperses chapters on the engineering and animal science that made her famous. Some of the details of the animal slaughtering and the inhumane conditions that Grandin battles might be pretty strong for sensitive kids. Still, for its science, its biographical information, and its message that true success lies in embracing your own abilities, no matter how atypical, this is an invaluable book for any library.

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4. Book Review: The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

Book: The Fire Horse Girl
Author: Kay Honeyman
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

Jade Moon is the unluckiest zodiac combination for a Chinese girl: a Fire Horse. Stubborn, argumentative, hot-tempered, a Fire Horse girl is a curse on her family because she can never conform to the ideals of Chinese womanhood. And nobody in Jade Moon's household or village will ever let her forget it.

When a handsome young man named Sterling Promise offers her and her father the chance to go to America, Jade Moon thinks it's a new chance at a life she never could have lived in China. But a long sea voyage ends in detainment at Angel Island. The promise of freedom seems further away than ever. To get to America, to find a place that will allow her to truly be herself, Jade Moon is going to have to embrace all the things that make her a Fire Horse girl.

So, we've all heard about Ellis Island, which was often no picnic for the European immigrants who funneled through there. Angel Island was a lot worse - Jade Moon is held for long, dull, dehumanizing weeks before she finds her way to San Francisco. The picture of Chinatown, too, isn't pretty. Jade Moon finds herself in the midst of the tong underworld, working as a bullyboy (literally; she disguises herself as a boy) for a Chinese crime boss.

While I liked the different immigration story, and (oh, let's be honest) the love story, what I loved best about this book was Jade Moon herself. She's definitely a Fire Horse girl, and often immature and impulsive along with all her other flaws. It's only when she learns to channel her fiery nature that she's able to control it, and find places and people who will not only accept her, but value her too.

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5. Reading Roundup: June 2014

By the Numbers
Teen: 13
Tween: 7
Children: 0

Sources
Review Copies: 4
Purchased: 1
Library: 12

Standouts
Teen: TIE
While We Run by Karen Healey
The link leads to my 48-HBC entry, which kinda says what needs to be said. Until the full review goes up, anyway.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
When all her old love letters go out to the boys who were never supposed to see them, Lara Jean deals with the consequences. Equally as interesting, at least to me, was the subplot about her trying to step into her older sister's mother-figure shoes and keep the family together.
Tween: Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopez
It's never a good time for your mom to get cancer, but when you're just hitting the tween years might be the absolute worst.
Children: none this month

Because I Want To Awards
Sex is Not Love, TYVM: The Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols
In another book, Tia Cruz would have been labeled as "the slut" and probably brought to see the error of her ways or something. In this one, she's just a girl who likes to fool around but runs away from love at speed. By the end, she still likes to fool around, but she's going to try out that love thing. And guys, I adored that.
Not Really About Bullying: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
I've seen this everywhere as a "bullying" book. While that's an accurate representation of one of the major plot threads, I found it to be a background to the story of a girl and her mother learning to see each other clearly.
Simultaneous Hug and Smack: Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach
Oh, Felton Reinstein. If it weren't for those other two books, yours would have been the standout. I spent most of the book wanting to either smack you or hug you, and often both.
Awwwwww: A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar
I mean, seriously. It's hard not to just awwwwwwwwww your way through this book.

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6. Book Review: Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler

Book: Revenge of the Flower Girls
Author: Jennifer Ziegler
Published: 2014
Source: review copy from publisher via NetGalley.com

Triplets Dawn, Delaney, and Darby are shocked to learn that their adored big sister, Lily, is getting married to her dull, allergy-ridden, armadillo-looking boyfriend, Burton. Disaster! Calamity! Unthinkable! They just know that it will be the biggest mistake of Lily's life.

Burton is booooring. His favorite president is Franklin Pierce. He got them sparkly buzzing toy cats meant for six-year-olds. He looks like an armadillo. Worst of all, he doesn't make Lily happy, they just know he doesn't. Not like her old boyfriend, Alex, did.

Somehow they've got to stop this wedding. By hook, by crook, by schemes and plots and plans, inopportune sprinklers and pirated USB sticks and faked phone calls, these redoutable triplets are going to stop this wedding. And when all else fails, they'll bring in the big guns: Alex himself.

Ever had a day where you just needed a book that made you smile? Yeah, so do I, and this book filled that bill,. It's nonstop fun. Not only the crazy schemes they get up to (one involves Darby being held out the window by her ankles, and taking the inevitable tumble), but the narration made me laugh out loud. I also really enjoyed that the girls are obsessed with politics and the US presidents, just as a facet of their characters.

Plotwise, it doesn't hold up particularly well, but this is such a romp of a book, I was mostly able to switch off my nitpicks. If there's one complaint I have, it's that it was awfully hard to tell the difference between Darby, Dawn, and Delaney. Yes, they each had their little quirks (one is the ball of energy, one is super-shy, one is the yakker) but the first-person narration and the focus of the story being on someone other than the narrators made them all blend together. It didn't really detract from the story that much. The effect was mostly of one girl who managed to be everywhere and do everything.

I'll be watching for more of these triplets, and more of Jennifer Ziegler.

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7. Book Review: Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopez

Book: Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel
Author: Diana Lopez
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

Erica is a regular girl dealing with regular problems like annoying siblings, struggling with school, and wondering whether any boy, ever, will notice her. Then her mom drops a bomb on the family: she has breast cancer.

Suddenly, Erica has a whole host of new problems on top of her old ones. She has to step up and take on more responsibility for her younger brother and sister. She's scrambling to fulfill a promesa made to La Virgen - five hundred names on her sponsor list for Race for the Cure. Her friends are all acting different around her and don't seem to understand any of her worries. With all this weight on her shoulders and all the confusing emotions piling up inside of her, even the best mood ring could get confused.

I have to say, this book hit me where I live. Like Erica, I had a mom who got breast cancer. (She's fine now.) I also grew up Latina, with Spanish and English in my ears and Tex-Mex cooking in my home. And of course, no matter what your ethnicity, everybody can relate to the agonizing experience of being a middle-schooler.

Erica is a Latina girl, but not one who emigrated from another country or suffers from prejudice or poverty. Like millions of American girls, her background is simply there, in family traditions like the promesas, the bits of Spanish floating around her house and neighborhood, and even dishes like migas (eggs scrambled with fried tortillas and salsa, nom nom nom!) It's refreshing after many books that are about being Not White.

For a book with a cancer theme, this was surprisingly light and sweet. Even though her mom is in treatment, Erica is still a preteen with all the usual preteen problems. Though her mom's fate is left somewhat up in the air (she's still doing radiation as the book ends), you have the feeling everything is going to be okay.

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8. 48HBC: Finish Line!

Well, I'm done! I'm not as exhausted as I have been in past years, although I could feel myself losing a little steam toward the end of today, particularly as I blogged.

Reading, including audiobook: 19 hrs, 45 min
Blogging: 4 hrs, 7 min
Networking: 1 hr, 9 min

Total: 25 hrs

With 9 books finished, that's at least 90 dollars for my chosen charity. I'll wait until Monday night to total up the comments.

I'm happy with the books I chose. I tried to pick books that weren't explicitly About Diversity, and succeeded with about half of them.The other half had plots dependent on the non-white/non-straight/non-neurotypicalness of their characters, and while I think those are valuable too, it was nice having a book like Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel or While We Run, where the diverse elements are a background note for the characters and not the source of the plot.

How did you do? Share!

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9. 48HBC Audiobook: Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier

Time: 5:55:29
Source: Local Library

Mel and Cathy have always been best friends, inseparable. Mel and Cathy, Cathy and Mel, that's just the way it is. Practical and down-to-earth Mel considers it her bounden duty to get and keep the dreamier Cathy out of trouble. So when Cathy goes and falls in love with a vampire, well, it's just business as usual. Even when Cathy decides to become a vampire herself, in order to be with Francis forever, Mel believes that she can rescue Cathy from her own folly. But something Mel fails to consider is that this trouble might be impossible to get Cathy out of, and even if it is, Cathy might not want or need her help.


I picked this as my audiobook because I remembered that Mel is Asian-American. But it's an interesting pick in another way, and that's how Mel finds her own prejudices about a group of people sometimes confirmed, sometimes confounded. She finds Francis thoroughly obnoxious (and frankly so did I) but Kit, the human raised in a vampire shade, challenges her beliefs. So does Camille, his vampire mom who also happens to be a cop and extremely, disconcertingly mom-like.

I can see the seeds of Kami, the intrepid/reckless teen detective from Brennan's Unbroken, in Mel. But Mel is sometimes harder to like, especially when she is explicitly not listening to Cathy. Yes, Mel hates the idea of Cathy becoming a vampire. Yes, it's dangerous, but Mel has to learn that supporting friends and respecting their choices is not the same thing as agreeing with them. Mel is invested in the idea of being Cathy's guardian - it's a central tenet of her identity. She's not sure who she'd be if she lost that, and so she's fighting.

This started life as a send-up of Twilight, and you can really see that in the bones of the story. But at its heart, it's really about lifelong friends pulling away, making different choices from each other, and also about how incredibly uncomfortable it can be to face down your own flaws and prejudices.

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10. 48HBC Book 9: Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antoinette Peacock

Time: 1:03
Source: Local Library

Last book!

Capsule review: "For everything she's been through, Wen has a quiet toughness that can work against her - as when she rejects her new family's overtures - or for her - as when she takes on the impossible task of getting one young teenager out of thousands adopted by somebody."

 I don't have time to read another one, so I'll just listen to my audiobook and run my time out.

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11. 48HBC Book 8: A Certain October by Angela Johnson

Time: 0:42:03
Source: Local Library

Well that book flew by. I had a hard time writing about it, though. Can't quite get a grip on the main character or the plot.

Capsule review: ". . . the jumbled tangle of emotion and uncertainty is awfully close to living inside Scotty's head. It's a quick and often confusing read. I'd give it only to people who are fans of Johnson's other work."

Torn now between picking up a longer book that I might not finish before two hours are up, or a short one and filling in the time with my audiobook and knitting. Hmmm.

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12. 48HBC Book 7: A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar

Time: 1:32
Source: Local Library

Awwwwwwwww. This book is like a puff pastry, sweet and delicious and just what I needed after my last book.

Capsule review: "This is a sweet, funny book with an incredibly sense of place. I want to visit Alex and Bijou's Brooklyn with all its color and variety and energy. It's not all sunny good fun, though. There are some ugly prejudices lurking under the surface. But Farrar keeps those light, brushing the edges of the story without making them the central conflict, and keeping his book light and sweet. Highly recommended for middle-school readers."

Might take some networking and knittting-with-audiobook time before I'm off to peruse the shelves for my next pick.

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13. 48HBC Book 6: While We Run by Karen Healey

Time: 2:12
Source: ARC from a friend

I won't say that I couldn't put this book down, but it came close.

Capsule Review: "I feel as if I should have re-read When We Wake, because I know I didn't catch all the subtleties, but as it is, I was held captive by Abdi and Tegan's story. They're trying to do the right thing, but everyone seems to have a different perspective on what the right thing is. It's not black and white in any sense of the word, but dappled in shades of grey, and that's the most interesting pattern if you ask me."

Lunch and a little break for the eyes before I dive into the next one. I've read several long books, so I think I'll pick up a few short ones now.

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14. 48HBC Book 5: Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery

Time: 0:48
Source: Local Library

Probably my last full book for the night. I'm not dragging as much as I have in other years, I think because I'm interspersing a lot of audiobook time. (I'm over halfway through it . . . yikes!) Anyway, this particular book was a quick, engaging read.

Capsule review: "As I read the chapters on her childhood, I was struck by how often young Temple came close to being institutionalized or marginalized, and how often a supportive adult or accepting friend was there to let Temple be who she was. Part of this was being autistic in the 50's and 60's when many people still thought it was something that could or should be fixed. Part of that is still around today, which makes me think about the valuable role of people who work with kids."

My next book will be Karen Healey's While We Run, an ARC that generated an "EEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" from me when I got my hot little hands on it.

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15. 48HBC Book 4: The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

Time: 2:15
Source: Local Library

This one I liked much better.

Capsule review: "While I liked the different immigration story, and (oh, let's be honest) the love story, what I loved best about this book was Jade Moon herself. She's definitely a Fire Horse girl, and often immature and impulsive along with all her other flaws. It's only when she learns to channel her fiery nature that she's able to control it, and find places and people who will not only accept her, but value her too."

I'll take a walk and listen to my audiobook for a little while before picking up my next book.

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16. 48HBC Book 3: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Time: 2:20
Source: Local Library

I wasn't entirely thrilled with my third pick. I hoped it would be a tight, thrilling story but it dragged quite a bit for me. It did have some interesting themes of identity and the right to live, however.

Capsule review: "What I did like? Eva's tense, wobbly relationship with Amarra, like a younger sister always in her older sister's shadow, with the older sister resenting that she exists at all. The portrait of the parents' grief, both assuaged and heightened by Eva's presence. There was also the boyfriend's grief, which is a complicated beast, all tangled up with sadness and guilt and interest in Eva. The setting is also a view of India we don't often get, a well-to-do middle-upper-class world with light touches of non-Western detail."

Time for some networking!

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17. 48HBC Book 2: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Time: 1:27
Source: Local Library

I finished this one last night just before going to sleep, and got up to write the review before going to work.

Capsule review: "One of the things I liked best about this book was the slowness of the process. Gabe comes out to his parents, to close friends, and then painfully, to the world, in baby steps like asking a radio station to change the name on his entry form from Liz to Gabe, and telling his new boss that though his W-2 says one name, it's really another. Each outing is its own different brand of scary, and some go better than others."

Now off to work for a few hours! Excitement: I'm going to be on local radio today talking about teen books for summer reading. If there's a podcast, I'll link it here.

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18. 48HBC Book 1: Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopez

Time: 1:29
Source: Local Library

My first book is down, refreshingly fast! I picked this one because I felt like I was going to identify strongly with the main character. I was right.

Capsule review: "I have to say, this book hit me where I live. Like Erica, I had a mom who got breast cancer. (She's fine now.) I also grew up Latina, with Spanish and English in my ears and Tex-Mex cooking in my home. And of course, no matter what your ethnicity, everybody can relate to the agonizing experience of being a middle-schooler."

Since the sun has gone down, the temperature has cooled off to something less than the surface of Mercury, so I'm going to take a walk and cue up my audiobook for a little while before I start my next book.

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19. Book Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Book: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 4. 2014
Source: ARC from a friend

In the Herrani city conquered and occupied by the forces of the Valorian empire, everything and everybody has their place. Kestrel knows what's expected of her, as General Trajan's daughter. She will either join the military or she will marry. Either way, she will take a predetermined place in the adult world by her twentieth birthday.

Unfortunately, at seventeen she's miserably unsuited for either. In spite of her clever strategic mind, she's only okay at actual combat with actual weapons after years of training. And she can't think of a single Valorian man she's willing to marry. The only thing she truly loves is music, and making music is not a suitable pastime for a Valorian lady. It is the business of slaves.

It's music that prompts her to purchase Arin, a Herrani slave. But he refuses to sing. In spite of that, the conquerer's daughter and the conquered man find themselves drawing closer to each other. And it's getting noticed, by Herrani slaves and Valorian high society alike.

But Arin is embroiled in a plot to rescue his homeland from the iron grip of the Valorian empire. When the revolution explodes, the only safety for the conquerer's daughter is with the man who betrayed her country.

And maybe not even there.

Before I delve into this book, I'd like you to have a look at that cover. Go ahead. Study it hard. That girl in a pretty dress, swooning, clutching onto the lettering for dear life, letting a dagger slip from her fingers. Is that Kestrel? To me, it wasn't, and thus I spent most of this book in a quiet simmer of WTF over that cover, while enjoying what was beneath it very much.

Honestly, I was so put off by this cover (I'm really really over the swoony girls in opulent dresses thing, guys) that it was only a cover blurb from Kristen Cashore that got me to try it. I'm so glad I did. It's a love story, true, but it's also about power and politics and rebellion and strategy.
It starts small and intimate (here's a girl, out of place; here's the boy who sees her real self) and grows into a story that concerns itself with the fate of not only countries, but empires. And yet never loses sight of the small and intimate. That's quite a trick.

The love story at the center is also more than your usual love-at-first-sight. In spite of surface differences, Arin and Kestrel are very much alike. Besides music, they both have brilliantly strategic minds, watching the world and people from the outside and seeing game pieces that can be played. They are also both terribly lonely. More than anything else, this loneliness pulls them toward each other.

As they grow closer, they play emotional chess with each other and with themselves, examining their own behavior and each other's at every turn. In this book, love does not switch off the strategic mind. It becomes another game piece, another lever, another way to twist the world into your control or to see how and why it's twisting out of it.

This is (of course) the first of a trilogy. But it's a trilogy that's going on my auto-read list, especially after the end of this book. I just hope the next two covers are better.

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20. Reading Roundup: March 2014

By the Numbers
Teen: 10
Tween: 2
Children: 1

Sources
Review Copies: 5
Purchased: 1
Library: 6

Standouts
Teen: Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
Sometimes Felton was astonishingly wise and perceptive, sometimes he had the emotional intelligence of a mummified hamster. A very realistic fifteen-year-old, in other words.
Tween: Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air by Stewart Ross, illustrated by Stephen Biesty
Although parts were problematic (they entirely left out the treatment of native peoples during the Age of Exploration, for instance), it was really interesting to see how people have set off to explore our world and what they used to do it. With fold-out diagrams!
Children: Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh
If you can count, you know this is the only children's book I read this month. That being said, if I'd read ten, I probably still would have mentioned this. It brings a fascinating artist to life and made me hit the web for more of his work.

Because I Want To Awards
Another Cracking Main Character: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Sol is impulsive, prickly, and often thoroughly exasperating. Naturally, I loved her.
Oooh, I Get It Now: Everything by A.S. King
For some reason I was never on the A.S. King train, but all of a sudden I've added all her books to my reading list and am tearing through them.

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21. Reading Roundup: April 2014

By the Numbers
Teen: 9
Tween: 3
Children: 3

Sources
Review Copies: 7
Purchased: 1
Library: 5

Standouts
Teen: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I can't even explain what this book is about without spoiling it. Argh. Just read it, would you?
Tween: The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger
One tumultuous summer changes all the things eleven-year-old Nola has always taken for granted. Some better, some worse, some just different. I've loved Keplinger's work for teens, and she displays the same deft touch with people and relationships in her first book for younger readers.
Children: The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey
Secret-agent librarians who defend free speech through space and time! Special guest appearances by Hypatia, Casanova, and Cyrano de Bergerac! Also, sword-fighting and a mongoose on the loose. Overall, a rattling good adventure.

Because I Want To Awards
Most Interesting Format: In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim diBartolo
White wrote a text-only story, di Bartolo a pictures-only story. With the two stories running in parallel, it takes most of the book to work out how they're connected, but that kept me reading. The ending made me awwwwwww.
Is There a Sequel, Please?: Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephert
There were a lot of things to like about this book (a realistic look at disillusionment and the reassembling of a family, as well as an almost-sort-of-nascent romance), but now I really want to read the story of Nikki, Olivia's ex-best friend.
Most Deeply Flawed Characters: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
And I mean that in a good way. Everywhere you turn in this book, there are awful, broken people, and the two worst are the two main characters. Mostly you find yourself loving the flaws.

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22. The 48-HBC is Nigh! and a Sobering Realization

MotherReader just announced her annual 48-Hour Book Challenge, fondly known around the interwebs as the 48HBC. It's quite simple - you pick 48 consecutive hours somewhere in the weekend of June 6-8 and read for as many of those hours as you humanly can. You also blog what you've read, chat on Twitter, and visit each other's blogs.

This year, because it's always (unfortunately) a Topic of Concern amongst the kidliterati, the focus is on diversity. WeNeedDiverseBooks is a hashtag that's been going around the Twitters and the Tumblrs and I don't know what else these kids are using these days, get off my lawn.

By the way, it's 2014. Why is this still a thing? Why is it still so hard to find these books about kids that are other than white, straight, neurotypical, and able-bodied? Agh.

As I do every year, I went wading through my TBR list to see what I wanted to read. These things have to be ordered, you understand. There has to be planning. I generally read about 9 books during the 48-HBC challenge. To give myself choices, I decided to pick about 12 or so books out of my list. I also decided to be as broad as possible. Anything where the main character didn't fit that "default" setting stated above would qualify.

I went in going, "This should be easy. These are the kind of books that catch my eye." Several pages later, I was still scrolling, muttering, "Really? Out of all these books, it's taking me this long to find the ones I would call diverse?" I did finally pull together several books, but I was dismayed by how long it took.

So . . . that was sobering.

In my defense, I just read two books that would qualify under my terms, Varian Johnson's The Great Greene Heist, whose incredibly multicultural cast started this leg of the ongoing diversity conversation, and Wendelin Van Draanen's The Running Dream, about a runner who has to adjust to life with a leg amputated below the knee. Also in my own defense, I was going off titles, authors, and a fuzzy memory of why I'd put certain books on my list. But still, I should have more choice. I should be putting more of these on my list, and I should have more available to put on my list in the first place.

If you know of a book I should read for the challenge, please leave it in the comments. Also, it should be the main character, not a supporting cast member. Yes, inclusivity in the characters surrounding the main character is nice and I like it. But nobody is a sidekick in their own life.

Are you going to join in? What are you going to read? Share!

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23. Reading Roundup: May 2014

By the Numbers
Teen: 5
Tween: 5
Children: 5

Sources
Review Copies: 6
Library: 6

Standouts
Teen: Sunrise by Mike Mullins
As the human race is pulling itself out of the Dark Ages, Alex rises to the occasion. Less action-packed than the first two, more community-building, but I appreciated seeing this kid make some hard choices in his new world.
Tween: The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
Can I explain how much I love a con story? I love the twists and the turns and the con man's brain that figures out twelve angles at once and how to make them work to his advantage, and what actually manages to surprise him in the end. This book fed that love.
Children: Revenge of the Flower Girls by Jennifer Ziegler
A fluffy ball of cute, this book. Although the girls seriously blurred together, to the point where I had to think of them as one girl who managed to be everywhere and do everything.

Because I Want To Awards
The When-Harry-Met-Sally Award: Played by Liz Fichera
Not like THAT. Geez, you guys. Insta-love is rampant in teen romance, as is longtime friends-to-lovers, but this is the first time I've seen two teens genuinely becoming friends before falling in love. Sam and Riley baffle each other as often as they get each other, but their love story has a firm basis in honest liking, and I appreciated that.

The Quirk Factor is Through the Roof: Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger
With numerous asides and slyly hilarious details, it was just like one of my other favorite hoot-and-a-half series, M.T. Anderson's Pals in Peril!

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24. The Starting Line!

As I type these words, it is 6:00 pm Mountain time, so it's time for me to start my 48-HBC for this year! I've got my audiobook (Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier) and my first book (Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopez). Like last year, I'll be posting short capsule reviews and saving the longer-form reviews for later in the summer.

For the charity portion of it, I'll be donating to local charity Make Way for Books, with 10 dollars for each book finished and one dollar for each comment posted between now and Monday night.

Follow me on Twitter @mosylu or comment here if you have suggestions for my next book, want to tell me what you think of what I'm reading, or just want to let me know you're doing it too, so I can cheer you on!

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25. Are You Ready for the 48-HBC?

Did you clear your schedule?

Did you order pizza and caffeinated beverages?

Do you have your Twitter feed ready to go?

Do you have MotherReader's blog bookmarked?

Did you stack up your books in an orderly fashion? (Or a disorderly one, whatever.)

Did you pick your audiobook?

If the answer to any of these is "Bwuh?" there's still time to get in on the action. You can start your 48HBC anytime between Friday, June 6, at 7 am and Saturday, June 7, at 7 am. You finish it exactly 48 hours after starting. Hop over to MotherReader's blog to find out what it's all about.

I'll be starting after work on Friday, and reading until Sunday night. My audiobook is Team Human and my stack of books is mighty and tall. I'll be writing capsule reviews for the challenge itself, and saving up the longer reviews to post later in the summer.

Join in! Follow me at mosylu and keep an eye on this blog. Let me know if you're joining in or just cheerleading.

And don't forget to have fun!

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