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At USA Today:
I slept horribly after Detective Grant left. I don't remember most of my nightmares, just vague images from the death visions I had of Nate's and Grace's possible ends. I think that the killer is the same person who pushes Grace into her car trunk and makes Nate choke on liquor. I have no actual proof—just a feeling. The odds of two killers in my small town seem impossible. Truthfully, even one seems impossible, but I know there is one. We all know that now. What I don't know—and need to figure out—is what it has to do with me. And why he tried to kill me.
Click on through to USA Today to read the rest!
...have been announced.
The Children's/YA list is:
Better Nate Than Ever, by Tim Federle
Boy In Box, by Christopher R. Michael
Girls I’ve Run Away With, by Rhiannon Argo
If You Could Be Mine, Sara Farizan
Openly Straight, Bill Konigsberg
Rapture Practice, Aaron Hartzler
Secret City, Julia Watts
The Secret Ingredient, Stewart Lewis
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson
Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan
What Makes a Baby, Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
Click on through for the other shortlists!
Even though I wasn't writing here last month, I was still reading—albeit less than usual. (DAMN YOU, GNOMORIA.)
And one of the books that I read was Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman's Why We Broke Up.
So here is my question to you all: WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE SIT ME DOWN AND MAKE ME READ IT SOONER?
Because, HO. LY. COW.
I loved it.
I loved it so much that immediately after finishing it, I jumped online and ordered a copy for myself. In hardback.
As you probably already know, the book itself is about the rise and fall of Min Green and Ed Slaterton's relationship. The entire thing is an epic letter that Min, film buff extraordinaire, writes to Ed, basketball star, after their break-up. Her plan is to toss it into the box that holds all of the objects she has that are related to him, and then to chuck it onto his porch, drive away, and BE DONE WITH HIM FOREVER. Daniel Handler wrote the text, and Maira Kalman painted pictures of each object that is included in the box, and again, I loved this book so much that I can't even.
Min's voice. Her love of old movies comes screaming through in her voice, both in her dialogue and in her writing. She's super-bright, a bit pretentious (and she knows it), she's funny and she's hurting and she's over Ed completely except when she's not. And her RHYTHM. The rhythm, the way that Handler strings the words together... it's just phenomenal, in how they feel totally RIGHT, and how the book just BEGS to be read aloud. (Ask Josh, he'll tell you. I read, like, three-quarters of it aloud to him because I JUST COULDN'T STOP MYSELF.)
Like this bit, about the first note that Ed wrote to her:
And this note was a jittery bomb, ticking beneath my normal life, in my pocket fiercely reread, in my purse all week until I was afraid it would get crushed or snooped, in my drawer between two dull books to escape my mother and then in the box and now thunked back to you. A note, who writes a note like that? Who were you to write one to me? It boomed inside me the whole time, an explosion over and over, the joy of what you wrote to me jumpy shrapnel in my bloodstream. I can't have it near me anymore, I'm grenading it back to you, as soon as I unfold it and read it and cry one more time. Because me too, and fuck you. Even now.
And wow, don't get me started about the section where she describes the endlessness of a school day. Because, even though it's been almost twenty years since I experienced one, those three pages BROUGHT IT ALL RIGHT BACK. Beautifully done.
The friendships. I loved that it was so clear that Al was in love with Min from his very first appearance, but that their romantic arc was only touched on, because as much as I wanted more Al—he was wonderfully well-rounded, in that as much as it was clear that he'd be a better match for Min than Ed, he had plenty of flaws, too—this was Min and Ed's story. And the dynamics between Min and Ed's friends, those between Ed and Min's friends, those between Min and Ed's ex-girlfriends, between Min and Ed's sister, between Ed and Al, within Min's group of friends and within Ed's group of friends... all so fabulously done.
The characters. As I said, Al was wonderfully three-dimensional. And so was everyone else. Ed wasn't just a stereotypical Jerk Jock. That was certainly one of his faces. But he was also good at math, had a close relationship with his sister, was capable of being thoughtful, and, at times, hugely charming. Min is just as flawed as anyone else: some of those flaws are acknowledged by her, and some of them of them are just apparent from her chronicle. She and Ed play off of each other really well, and it's clear from the start why they are attracted to one another. (Beyond physically, I mean.)
The design. THE THICK, GLOSSY PAPER. THE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS. THE HEFT OF IT. I swoon.
I just loved it. So much so that I read it, like, a month ago, and I'm still having a hard time letting it migrate out of my Currently Reading pile and onto my shelf.
Book source: ILLed through my library.
...have been announced.
The Older Readers' Prize went to Claire McFall, for Ferryman.
Which I know absolutely nothing about, but judging by the title, I'm going to take a stab in the dark and just assume that it's got something to do with THE AFTERLIFE.
Anyway, click on through for the other category winners!
While I haven't been writing here, my columns at Kirkus have continued.
Here's a list:
- On The True Adventures of Nicolò Zen: "Some will like the throwback feel to more old school children’s adventure stories, while others will miss the immediacy, the passion and the heart of more modern fare."
- Two (count 'em!) round-ups of Valentine's recommendations. (But love stories are great regardless of the time of year.)
- On Liv, Forever: "Mystery-wise, if you’ve seen Reptile Boy from the second season of Buffy, you’ll have figured it all out before you even read the first page. (Well, minus the giant snake thing.)"
- On The Glass Casket: "The storyline was compelling, interesting and jaw-droppingly, gorily surprising—excellent enough to make the book work all on its own, what with nods to Red Riding Hood, chapter headings pulled from Tarot cards, superb atmosphere and a well-argued-on-both-sides debate about folk beliefs versus scientific inquiry—but more importantly (at least in my view), the relationships between the characters were complex, believable and emotionally honest."
- On The Falconer: "She fights alongside an emotionally aloof faery dude who is graced with Otherworldly Beauty, a Deep, Long-Held Sadness and a Bad Attitude, and she can’t decide if she wants to punch him or kiss him. Check! Check! Check! Check! Check!"
- A round-up of books set in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. (Although there is very little actual Mardi Gras action in the books!)
Phew. Looking that over, I guess I did slightly more in February than I was giving myself credit for.
Well, if that's the case, she started working on said fulfillment way back in Book Four, which is when it became pretty clear to me that they were going to end up together.
So really, this isn't something I feel is worth getting all worked up about:
Rowling says that she should have put Hermione and Harry together in the Harry Potter series instead of Hermione and Ron, according to the publication’s headline, which reads, “JK admits Hermione should have wed Harry.”
I mean, I don't doubt that she's being truthful about feeling differently about it now, but short of writing a sequel in which they're all middle-aged divorcees, there's really nothing to be done about it.
(Anyway, I've always LIKED Ron and Hermione together. And it should be noted that Hermione didn't HAVE to end up with anyone!)
SIGGGGGGGGGGGGH. And also GAAAG. I'm not going to go into the whole boy books/girl books/let's please stop assigning genders to books because HOLY COW and also YEESH:
But, as I'm sure you know, it's not all that unusual to find books marketed like that NOW, let alone in the early '90s, so no, that's not the weird aspect of this find.
Here's the back cover:
AND NOW, THE FRONT COVER (AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE AUTHOR REVEAL):
I wonder if this is where his horror career began. I mean, this premise kind of already has him halfway there, right? Just turn Ernie into a soul-sucking demon or make those twins into evil replicants or make the couch carnivorous, and BAM: instant Goosebumps title.
Anyway, I'm fascinated. So I'll take it home and let you know how it goes.
...I wrote about Ruth Warburton's Witch Finder, which apparently, I belatedly discovered, isn't going to be published in the US.
Or at least, there aren't plans currently in the works to publish it here.
Which made me think about two things:
1. I have become REALLY spoiled by how easy it is to track down books.
2. What OTHER books am I missing out on, and how do I easily keep track of their whats and their whens and their wheres?
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Lauren DeStefano's Perfect Ruin is $1.99 today, and as I haven't read it, I snagged it.
DID I MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE?
Titles I've read from the Adams Media Fall 2013 catalog:
Poor Little Dead Girls, by Lizzie Friend:
Sadie doesn’t trust people blindly, and she makes a concerted effort to avoid making stupid choices—there are a few conversations about the idiocy horror movie heroines—and Friend works to give even the most two-dimensional of her characters at least SOME depth. (The British twins, granted, don’t get much in the way of fleshing out, but they are REALLY funny, and since they created their public personas as a very deliberate caricature, I gave them a pass.)
Unaccompanied Minor, by Hollis Gillespie:
Things that work: As long as you aren't looking for something SUPER realistic—the bad guys are all mustache-twirlers, for example—almost everything! It's funny, fast-paced, smart, witty, and just totally entertaining across the board. Extra points for the phrase "psychotic Bobbsey Twins".
No Surrender Soldier, by Christine Kohler:
There certainly are aspects of the book to appreciate and admire: most notably the depiction of the Guamanian culture, which combines aspects of the various colonial powers that have controlled the island over the years with the indigenous Chamorro culture that was there originally and is there still. The cast reflects that multicultural heritage—Kiko is Chamorro, as is his crush at school, while his best friend Tomas is of Japanese descent—as does, and often in a stomach-growling inducing way, the food.
Escape from Eden, by Elisa Nader: I read this one and loved it, and then never wrote about it! I'll have to go back and re-read so I can do it justice, because Nader BROUGHT THE CRAZY, and in a TOTALLY EXCELLENT WAY. It's about a cult, and escaping from a cult, and first love. It's action-packed and tension-filled and there are thrills and chills and GAHHHHs galore! Also, HUMAN FREAKING TRAFFICKING. *shudder*
Ahem. Yeah, so I liked that one. A lot.
Titles I want to read from the same catalog:
Twigs, by Alison Ashley Formento: Issues galore, but hopefully in a none issue-y way? I'm mostly intrigued because it's apparently an homage to High Noon.
Deceived, by Julie Anne Lindsey: A thriller about a girl in boarding school who discovers that her father might be a complete stranger to her. I'm always up for a new thriller set in a boarding school.
Anyone But You, by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes: I really liked Exposure, the previous installment in the Twisted Lit series, so I'll definitely be reading this one, which is a re-imagining of Romeo & Juliet in and around Italian restaurants. Suddenly I feel like I should dedicate a week or two to getting caught up on all of the Shakespeare rewrites that I've missed over the last few years. BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT.
At Candlewick Press' Scribd page, they've uploaded lots of chapter samples, activity kits, discussion guides, author interviews, and press releases.
I haven't combed through everything that's there—when I said 'lots', I meant 'LOTS'—but you'd better believe that I clicked the hell out of the follow button.
Yes, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, Jen Calonita's Belles is $2.99 today.
From my review:
Anyway, Belles. There's really not a whole lot to say, as it's very what-you-see-is-what-you-get, with some super-sudsy entertaining soap-opera plot twists and a delightfully, bitchily evil adult antagonist. Fingers crossed that the CW picks it up, because with a good cast, it could be loads and loads of fun. AND OH MY GOD, THEY COULD CAST TAYLOR HANDLEY (BETTER KNOWN AS OLIVER TRASK) AS THE AFOREMENTIONED BITCHILY EVIL ADULT ANTAGONIST.
THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.
A Borrible name has to be earned because that is the only way a Borrible can get one. He has to have an adventure of some sort, and the name comes out of that adventure – stealing, burglary, a journey or a trick played on someone. That was the rule and Knocker was against it; it made it difficult, if not impossible, for a Borrible to join an adventure once he was in possession of a name. The first chance was always given to those who were nameless and this infuriated Knocker for he had a secret ambition to collect more names and have more adventures than any other Borrible alive.
...I wrote about Christine Kohler's No Surrender Soldier, which worked for me really well in some ways and not so much in others, but which ALSO inspired me to start looking for other books in the same vein.
So feel free to help me out with that.
This YA deal you've probably already seen and barfed over, but just in case you haven't, I'm sharing it:
Bestselling authors James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton's ENDGAME: THE CALLING, the first in a trilogy reported to be about a world in which 12 bloodlines each produce a teen warrior champion and there is a fight to eliminate all the bloodlines except for the winners which will feature an interactive puzzle comprised of clues and riddles throughout the text and a major prize for each book in the series; the deal also includes fifteen original e-book novellas, YouTube videos, search and image results, mapping coordinates, social media, and interactive gaming, to Tara Weikum at Harper Children's in the US and Rachel Denwood at Harper Children's UK in association with Full Fathom Five, and Google's Niantic Labs, to be published October 7, 2014, by Eric Simonoff and Simon Trewin at William Morris Endeavor and David Krintzman of Morris Yorn (World English).
This middle grade deal, meanwhile, SOUNDS FABULOUS:
Jo Whittemore's CONFIDENTIALLY YOURS, about a group of sixth-graders who collaborate on an advice column and resolve all the problems of their school one anonymous letter at a time, to Andrea Martin at Harper Children's, in a six-book deal, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
...have been announced.
The YA list is:
All the Truth That's In Me, by Julie Berry
Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal
Criminal, by Terra Elan McVoy
How to Lead a Life of Crime, by Kirsten Miller
Ketchup Clouds, by Annabel Pitcher
Click on through for the others. (SPOILER: Lockwood & Co. made the Children's list, YAY!)
...I planned on writing about Katherine Longshore's Manor of Secrets, but found it so meh that I made a list of other Downton Abbey-ish books instead.
Please do add more in the comments, either here or at Kirkus: I'd love to find some more good ones!
...I wrote about Elizabeth Scott's Heartbeat, which is a weeper, AND HOW:
Emma knows her mother is dead—she repeats that fact over and over again, both to herself and to other people—but in going to sit with her body in the ICU every day, surrounded by beeping monitors, ventilators and who-all knows what else, it’s nearly impossible to reconcile that flat fact with what she sees. So she has to relearn the news about her mother’s death every single day. She can’t let go, and she can’t grieve. It’s an astoundingly brutally hard situation, and Scott makes us feel every aspect of it. Emma isn’t always fair to those around her, and her interpretation of events won’t always jive with the reader’s, and both of those aspects of her voice make her even more real.
From Brent Hartinger's blog:
Truthfully, I’ve always been kind of reluctant to go too deeply into Russel Middlebrook’s sex life. The books in the Russel Middlebrook Series have more of a sweetly romantic vibe than an outright sexy one. And I’m basically sort of a “fade to black” kind of guy anyway.
But after adding the sex scenes to this short story, I thought: No, this is good! This is part of exactly what I’m trying to do with this project. I want to help make it okay for gay and bi guys to talk more openly about safe sex. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t do that too.
Currently free for the Kindle:
Anne of Green Gables Stories: 12 Books, 142 Short Stories, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne's House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles and More
So, you know: Even if you have the physical copies at home, now you can BRING THEM EVERYWHERE YOU GO WITHOUT THROWING YOUR BACK OUT.
Yes, Adam Kuperstein of NBC Miami, the students are required to read lists of swear words. Not, like, a book that CONTAINS profane language used WITHIN CONTEXT of a LARGER STORY.
Good job on reporting both ACCURATELY and WITHOUT BIAS.
Man, I despise television news.
ANYWAY, as you may have gathered, Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian has been challenged again, and it looks like in this case, the children of the objecting parents were given a different assignment and—for now, anyway—the book won't be taught again during this school year.
No challenge committee or anything like that, just, YOINK:
The school board says the principal worked it out so that the students, whose parents didn't want them to appear on TV, can now read another book to finish their assignment. The board says this assignment for the other students is over and no other kids will be given this book during this school year. The parents are happy about that and the board says it always wants participation from parents.
But, who knows. Maybe the school is planning on revisiting the issue over the summer, on coming up with an official challenge process, and on coming up with a plan for parental permission & alternate reads for potentially problematic books?
I hope so.
More than anything else about the story, though, my issue is with the way that NBC Miami reported it. I mean, SCARE QUOTES MUCH? They're so obvious that you can HEAR THEM in the reporter's inflection. And the whole situation had already been resolved, so the only possible reason I can come up with for the A Current Affair*-style treatment of the story is that NBC Miami, like, wanted to whip its viewers up into a frothy frenzy of righteous fury?
I know that at this point, most people probably have no expectations in regards to the objectivity of television "journalists", but GOOD LORD IT IS OCCASIONALLY MADDENING.
*Known throughout my childhood as "The Triangle Show".
Even though they were published years apart, Love & Lies is set only a few months after the events of Hard Love. Wittlinger strongly downplays the zine aspect of the first book, though, which makes it feel less like historical fiction and more like a timeless contemporary.
Marisol has deferred college, and is working at a semi-down-and-out coffee shop in Harvard Square, sharing an apartment with Birdie—who is driving her bananas, as he keeps bring home stray animals, and recently, a stray PERSON—and working on a novel.
She enrolls in an Adult Ed course to help her write said novel, and lo and behold, Gio Galardi is in the same class. Also, the instructor is brilliant and fascinating and DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS. And it isn't long before Marisol is head-over-heels in love.
As a sequel. Sequels are difficult things, and sequels to much-adored, groundbreaking stories that are considered part of the bedrock of YA As We Know It are even more difficult. (Obviously.) As a standalone, Love & Lies is a decent book: the character development is good, the arc of the plotting works, the dialogue and interplay between the characters is believable and, for the most part, emotionally compelling.
As a sequel, though, it doesn't entirely stand up to the amazingness that is Hard Love. Hard Love is more layered, has more depth, is more about John/Gio's process of re-entering and re-connecting with the world (and himself) after a long absence, while Love & Lies relies more simply on A-to-B-to-C plot, in that it's more about Marisol's experience in dating a [SPOILER] sociopath. Yes, her experiences lead to growth, and we get to know her far better than we did in Hard Love—for one thing, she's not nearly as confident and pulled together as she likes people to think—but comparatively, there was just... something missing here.
Lee. On one hand, I loved that Marisol and Lee's relationship followed the same arc as hers and Gio's in Hard Love. Marisol makes almost exactly the same mistakes (the main one being that she knows her friend has feelings for her, but she pretends that she doesn't, and it eventually All Goes Wrong), and that's so realistic—so often in life, it takes a few tries to learn a lesson, and I don't see that in fiction a whole lot.
I also liked how Marisol and Lee paralleled Olivia and Marisol: in both cases, one of them was much more experienced, had much more power, and was adored by the other without reciprocating. The difference, though, is that Lee steps up and comes into her own, and by the end of the story, is well on her way to being on equal footing with Marisol. My problem? Is that I never really get to KNOW Lee. And so [SPOILER] Marisol's change of heart about her at the end lacked emotional resonance: it felt more like her interest in Lee was about her Not Being Olivia than it was about her Being Lee. If that makes sense.
Marisol's continued self-discovery. One of things that I thought was especially realistic-yet-maddening about Marisol in Hard Love was her insistence on defining herself almost entirely—at least outwardly, verbally—by her sexuality. Because of course, we are all so many different things. But it made sense in context of the story, in context of who she was at that time in her life, and in context of the issues she was interested in and wanted other people to be interested in.
In Love & Lies, she starts—sparked by conversations with Lee and Birdie—thinking about the idea that you can't define who you are by one factor alone. Also! I loved seeing Marisol's struggle with lying—and, in another parallel, get accused of doing pretty much the same sort of stuff that she told Gio off for doing in Hard Love—and her journey towards seeing the world, seeing human interactions, in shades of gray rather than in black-and-white.
Birdie and Gio and Diana, Marisol's parents. I loved seeing Birdie and Gio, especially, do a bit of bonding. And the dinner scene at Marisol's house was priceless.
TL;DR: Is it comparable to Hard Love? No. Of course it isn't. But it's a solid book nonetheless, and despite my ambivalence towards her, I'd welcome another sequel about Lee—I'd like to get to know her better.
Book source: Bought.
...have been announced.
GET READING, ALL!
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...have been announced.
The Children's/YA winner is:
The War Within These Walls, by Aline Sax
and the honor books are:
Shanghai Escape, by Kathy Kacer
The Extra, by Kathryn Lasky
Click on through for the other categories!