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"Book reviews, book news, my life and anything else I think is interesting."
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1. The Fun Home debate continues in South Carolina.

Fun homeFrom the NYT:

The College of Charleston, a public university, provided copies of Ms. Bechdel’s memoir to incoming students for the 2013-14 academic year, as part of its annual College Reads! program that tries to encourage campus-wide discussion around a single book each year. The books are not required reading.

But one state representative, Garry Smith, told South Carolina newspapers this winter that he had received a complaint about “Fun Home” from a constituent whose daughter was a freshman at the college. Mr. Smith contacted the college to ask about other options for College Reads!, and said he was told there were none. Mr. Smith then proposed cutting $52,000 – roughly equivalent to the cost of the reading program, he said – from the college’s $20 million appropriation from the state. The budget cut is now moving through the legislature; South Carolina news media coverage indicates some sizable political support for the cut.

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2. Genre debates: "literary" fiction versus SF/F.

I'm really not into having the whole Which One Is Better debate, because I don't have a strong aversion to any genre: if it's a good book, it's a good book, yay books. YAY BOOKS.

Anyway! Despite the title, ultimately, the essay is more about the differences between the two genres, and more especially about the strengths of SF/F:

You absolutely cannot obscure underlying weakness with waffle. Otherwise the emails will arrive, picking up on discrepancies. Not just for the sake of point-scoring or nitpicking but because fans become so engaged with imaginary worlds and so passionate about their characters.

That passion, so easily mocked by laughing at Trekkies and Whovians, is another thing that distinguishes SF and fantasy from literary fiction. Mocking that passion is missing a key aspect of speculative fiction. By drawing readers in large numbers, contemporary fantasy becomes a platform to debate key, current social and political challenges, while science fiction continues to explore the impact of technological developments, for good and ill, before we have to tackle these things in reality.

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3. Kindle Daily Deal: Strange Chemistry title.

Yes, another one!:

When the World was Flat (and we were in love), by Ingrid Jonach

And yes, I bought it, description unseen, even!

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4. Did we already know this, or did I just picture her as I read?

5th waveFrom Screen Daily:

Chloe Grace Moretz will star in the studio’s YA adaptation The 5th Wave that Graham King and Tobey Maguire are producing.

Regardless, this news gives merit to my hypothesis that ChloMor, JLaw, and ShaiWood are currently the only actresses working in YA Hollywood.

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5. A gentle reminder about a fabulous author.

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6. Cheap read(s): Daniel Pinkwater.

Young adults Young adultsFYI: A whole bunch of Daniel Pinkwater ebooks are currently available for the low, low price of $2.99, and they're free to borrow if you're a Prime member.

THE SNARKOUT BOYS. YOUNG ADULT!

I swoon.

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7. The finalists for the 2014 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards...

Sorrow's knot...have been announced.

The middle grade/YA list is:

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, by Teresa Toten

Ultra, by David Carroll

Little Red Lies, by Julie Johnston

Jane, the Fox and Me, by Fanny Britt of Montreal

Sorrow's Knot, by Erin Bow

Click on through for the picture book nominees, and also be sure to take a look at who decides on the winners: pretty cool, huh?

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8. Trailer: If I Stay.

Oh, my. THAT MOVIE IS GOING TO BE A SOBFEST.

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9. Hogwarts Online.

So, am I the last person to realize that there is a fan-created Hogwarts website with actual online classes?

If so, carry on, nothing to see here.

(via Open Culture)

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10. This is How I Find Her -- Sara Polsky

This is how i find herSixteen-year-old Sophie is used to her mother's ups and downs. When she's up, she's vibrant and giddy. She's spontaneous, loves ice cream for breakfast, works tirelessly on her art, throws her cares to the wind.

When she's down, she barely speaks. She barely has the energy to move, let alone get out of bed. 

Sophie has been taking care of things since she was eleven years old. Making sure her mother takes her meds, that she eats regularly, that the bills get paid, that her mother's social worker doesn't see any red flags.

One day, she comes home to find that her mother has attempted suicide. She calls 911, her mother is rushed to the hospital, and Sophie goes to live with her extended family for the duration.

Her ESTRANGED extended family.

Pros:

  • Everything. I'm not being lazy! I really loved it, full stop. It's a sensitive, empathetic look at how bipolar disorder can affect a family; about the realities of living with depression; about how sometimes people cause more damage by trying to protect one another than by just being honest. It's about how a lack of communication and a difficulty in asking for help can make a hard situation that much harder; about misunderstandings, isolation, and about that moment of catharsis that comes when feelings that have been hidden for far too long are finally verbalized. It's about abandonment, and about how abandonment by a friend can just as painful as abandonment by family. It's about how you can intellectually understand why a person acts the way she does, but still get frustrated and angry, and about the guilt that comes out of that.

Cons:

  • I've got nothing. It's a solid read across the board.

Nutshell:

It made me cry, but in a good way. If you like contemporaries that deal with meaty issues without being trite, didactic, or manipulative, here you go. I've added Sara Polsky to my list of Must Read Authors.

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Source: ILLed through my library.

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Amazon.

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11. THINGS I NEED TO DO.

1. Make homemade Peeps.

2. Eat homemade Peeps until I'm sick.

3. Rest.

4. Repeat.

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12. The ballot for the 2014 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards...

March book one...has been released.

The YA contenders are:

Battling Boy, by Paul Pope
Bluffton: My Summers with Buster, by Matt Phelan
Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen Yang
Dogs of War, by Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox
March (Book One), by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
Templar, by Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, and Alex Puviland

Click on through for the other categories!

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13. A brief review of the Ender's Game movie, via the FB.

I'm just going to go ahead and let Jeremy speak for himself:

Jeremy hates ender's game A LOT

Well, then. Glad to know I wasn't missing anything!

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14. Just in case you still haven't figured out my love of Vin Diesel.

From an interview about Chronicles of Riddick:

I was literally playing Dungeons and Dragons with Judi Dench and Karl Urban at nights after shooting. I will tell you that I was showing her Dungeons and Dragons books and showing her the different properties of Elementals.

Picturing that scene is just so adorable that I can't even.

Speaking of Karl Urban, WHAT THE HELL, FOX, WHY WON'T YOU JUST RENEW ALMOST HUMAN ALREADY??

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15. The Phantom of the Maine State Library.

Since I was super-popular in high school*, I spent a lot of time hanging out at the Maine State Library.

I did a lot of browsing and reading and so on, but because of this story—which broke when I was a freshman—I also spent a good amount of time just staring at the ceiling:

In the fall of 1991, employees at the Maine State Library in Augusta wondered if there was a ghost among the aisles.  Odd things, like flashlights, extension cords, and food from the break room refrigerator (mainly pudding cups), were disappearing on a daily basis. At first, security thought the culprits could be some of the workers hired to remove asbestos from the building. But their suspicions changed when, overnight, two refrigerators and a candy machine were nearly cleaned out, and a handwritten note of apology was left behind. As the thefts continued without any signs of a break-in, it became clear that someone was living in the library. 

It's so appealing to the Claudia Kincaid in me.

_________________________________

*AHAHAHAHAHAHA, just kidding.

 

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16. Kindle Daily Deal: Strange Chemistry title.

I love this press, and I make a point of buying their stuff whenever it's on sale.

SO HERE YOU GO, AMAZON. TAKE MY $1.99 AND GIMME MY COPY OF ROSIE BEST'S SKULK.

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17. Diversity in YA: A round-up of links and some thoughts on the silence surrounding the discussion.

At Book Riot:

It’s hard not to wonder why some of the largest voices in the YA world and kid lit world more broadly aren’t speaking up and out in visible ways. They have far less at stake than any author of color (and most women, white or not) would have doing the same thing, in part because their privileged position affords them them their platform. They do not succeed simply because they work harder; they have more advantages. This isn’t just pointed at authors with power. It’s pointed equally toward librarians, toward booksellers, toward major media outlets, and to anyone with a position to say something.

There’s no expectation for anyone to talk about everything. That would be impossible. But in a week where an announcement of an all-male, all-white panel coincides with a wealth of well-written, thought-provoking, and important conversations about diversity and there’s nothing but silence?

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18. Clip: The Fault in Our Stars.

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19. Challenged in VA: Two Boys Kissing.

Two boys kissingFrom Fauquier.com:

Fauquier County Public Schools has received a request from a parent to withdraw from student use the book “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan which is a part of the high schools’ library collections. A school committee at Fauquier High School decided to retain the book in its library collection, and the parent is appealing the decision to the superintendent.

Related links:

Fauquier County Public Schools website

Fauquier.com: Venue changes for public hearing on ‘Two Boys Kissing’

Advocate.com: Op-ed: Banning Books, Risking Lives

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20. Today @KirkusReviews...

The-vigilante-poets-of-selwyn-academy-kate-hattemer...I wrote about The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, and OMG I LOVE LOVE LOVED IT:

I laughed SO MUCH while reading it. Laughed and laughed and laughed. If Ethan wasn’t “stewing in the Crock-Pot of betrayal,” he was taking a “dumbwaiter ride to hell,” or becoming part of a “tornado of justice.” I loved the scenes with his triplet sisters; Ethan’s ongoing willingness to play with language (the past tense of high five is apparently “high fove”); and the many, many literary references (“...we were kicking it old-school, searching his files in the grand tradition of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”)

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21. More footage from The Giver has been released...

...and yes, some of it is in black and white:

I'm still feeling EXTREMELY skeptical. It just looks way... flashier than I ever pictured the book.

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22. The 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winners...

Boxers and saints...have been announced.

The YA winner is: Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang.

Click on through for the other winners and finalists.

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23. PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN.

Olivia kidneyFrom Reuters:

Moonbot Studios announced today that it will acquire film rights to the Olivia Kidney trilogy of young adult books by award-winning author Ellen Potter. The series is published by Philomel (a division of Penguin/Putnam). Moonbot plans to develop Olivia’s Alice in Wonderland-like adventures as a live action film with significant animation sequences. The film rights deal was handled by David Lipman and Michael Siegel for Moonbot and for Ellen Potter by Alice Tasman and Jennifer Weltz of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

If the movie happens, hopefully the books will finally get the attention that they deserve. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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24. The 2014 Oklahoma Book Awards...

Mojo...have been announced.

The YA prize went to MOJO, by Tim Tharp.

Which, YAAAAAAAAAAAY!

Click on through for the other winners!

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25. Twelve Minutes to Midnight -- Christopher Edge

Twelve minutes to midnightI love this cover art. Very Gorey-esque, no?

London, 1899.

Bedlam Hospital has a disturbing problem: every night, at precisely Twelve Minutes to Midnight, the inmates begin feverishly writing gibberish—on paper, on the walls, on themselves; in pencil, in ink, in blood. In the morning, none of the inmates have any memory of their actions, and every night, the madness spreads further. Having exhausted every medical avenue*, the authorities turn to Montgomery Flinch, an author who has recently taken England by storm with his macabre tales of terror published in the Penny Dreadful.

Little do they know, Montgomery Flinch doesn't exist. The stories are actually written by thirteen-year-old Penelope Treadwell, the orphaned heiress who owns the Penny Dreadful.

But Penelope isn't going to let a trifling detail like THAT prevent her from investigating...

Pros:

  • Loads of atmosphere, action, and tense moments.
  • Details like the secret door leading to the SPOILER, and the mysterious, beautiful widow are nice nods to the genre and suggest a real affection for it.
  • Edge doesn't condescend to his audience: he doesn't over-explain plot points, and he never actually spills the beans about the specific events the prisoners are writing about. Deciphering those texts isn't necessary to enjoy the story, but they'll make a nice Easter Egg for any readers with a basic knowledge of twentieth-century history.

Cons:

  • I got the impression that Edge was shooting for Late Nineteenth-Century Verbose and Flowery, but there's a distinct lack of rhythm in the prose. For example: "Behind him, Alfie failed to hide the smirk on his face as he took a sip from one of Monty's discarded glasses before grimacing in sudden disgust." In other words, much of the book feels like one big run-on sentence.
  • There's nothing in the way of character arc or growth: at the end of the story, the main characters are exactly who they were at the beginning. (I suppose that could be chalked up as a nod to the conventions of the genre, but as always, I don't like that as an argument, as it suggests that genre fiction is somehow 'lesser' than 'literary' fiction. Anyway.)
  • For a smart girl, Penelope is amazingly slow to put two and two together. Also, three-quarters of the way in, a plot point requires her to suddenly possess Crazy Science Skills which she explains away by saying that she's 'always' had a strong interest in science. It was so out of left field that I wrote NANCY DREW MOMENT in my notes.

Nutshell: Plenty of atmosphere and action, but no character development or emotional depth.

_____________________________

*I think? Hopefully this wasn't their first choice of solution?

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Book source: ILLed through my library.

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