Genrefluent 2.0

Feb 10

Book of the Week - A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

This fictional memoir of Isabella, Lady Trent, a woman of Scirland, which seems to bear a good resemblance to 19th century England tells of her earliest adventures. As a young girl she was fascinated by sparklings, the insect like creatures that looked like tiny dragons and a book her father had purchased, A Natural History of Dragons but science was not really an appropriate hobby for a young woman of her social class. When her brother takes her on a visit to the King’s menagerie she finally sees real dragons in the flesh, albeit stunted runt sized dragons, and meets one of suitors who had been on her parents’ list of suitable young men. With their common interest in natural science Isabella is soon wedded to Jacob Camherst. They jump at the chance to go on a scientific expedition led by Lord Hilford to the mountains of Vystrana to study the variety of dragons called rock-wyrms. In a small village, their party of four, set up a base off operations despite the villagers antipathy toward them. They discover the local dragons have started killing people, they explore an ancient ruin, and encounter dangers, both natural and political. This is a delightful read with the appeal of good historical fiction (even though it isn’t our world), a protagonist with a strong distinctive voice, and interesting world building. The emphasis on science is quite appealing. Isabella reminded me of an older Kate deVries, Airborn. This satisfying read will have broad appeal. And the Preface offers hope for many more adventures.

Feb 7

Books of the Week - Surprising Lord Jack By Sally MacKenzie

Now that I’m no longer on the Best Fiction For Young Adults committee, I’m free to read whatever catches my fancy. Sally MacKenzie is a new to me author and I was delighted to find her and the blend of romance, regency era setting, and murder mystery she presents in Surprising Lord Jack. Frances, a twenty-four year old spinster is on the run from her aunt who wanted to marry her off to a man she had no interest in. Deciding to go to London where her twin brother lives, she plans on securing the money set aside for her dowery from the family’s man of business and buying a little cottage where she can remain unmarried. Disguised as a boy, she ends up sharing a bed with Lord Jack, then is taken under his wing to travel the rest of the way to London. Jack, a notorious rake, will not let a young boy wander around London by himself. They find an infant abandoned in an alley guarded by a talented little dog and Jack, who secretly has a home for foundlings as well as a home for women who want to get off the streets insists Frances stay with him as he takes the baby to safety and checks up on a few things. It seems a serial killer is on the loose and targeting some of the women Jack has tried to help. When he discovers his traveling companion is really a woman, Jack takes her to his town house and immediately send for his mother who is called the Duchess of Love and the fun begins.


Feb 4

Sure Bets from YALSA’s lists and awards

BFYA=Best Fiction for Young Adults
QP=Quick Picks
* means it was on the top ten list of either BFYA or QP
I’m really glad some of these appeared on my Top Ten for the Year.
To see the complete lists and awards put together through the diligent efforts of YALSA Members who read and discussed these books go to http://www.ala.org/yalsa/booklistsawards/booklistsbook
Andrews, Jesse. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.   BFYA* - QP
Damico, Gina. Croak BFYA - QP
Barnaby, Hannah. Wonder Show BFYA - Morris Finalist
Doller, Trish. Something Like Normal. BFYA - QP
Jordan, Dream. Bad Boy BFYA - QP
Lacey, Josh. Island of Thieves BFYA - QP
Lyga, Barry. I Hunt Killers.BFYA - QP*
Pratchett, Terry. Dodger. BFYA - Printz Honor
 
Saenz, Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseBFYA* - Printz Honor
 
Summers, Courtney. This is Not a Test. BFYA - QP*
Volponi, Paul. The Final Four BFYA - QP
Woodson, Jacqueline. Beneath a Meth Moon BFYA - QP*
Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity BFYA* - Printz Honor
 
Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina BFYA* - Morris Winner
Lake, Nick. In Darkness BFYA - Printz Winner
Danforth, Emily M. The Miseducation of Cameron Post BFYA - Morris Finalist
Meyer, Marissa CinderBFYA  - Teens’ Top Ten
Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars BFYA  - Teens’ Top Ten

Jan 3

My Top Ten for 2012 in No Particular Order

Meyer, Marissa
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)
Feiwel & Friends

Loved this futuristic take on Cinderella featuring a cyborg mechanic, a prince of a prince, a wicked step-mother, a plague, a ball, an interspace political conflict, and much, much more. Smart, witty, joyful reading. Loved the android/fairy godmother, the magic that is not magic, the “glass slipper,” and the escape vehicle. There are lots of things the reader figures out long before Cinder does but it adds to the fun as one hopes she will put it all together.

Wein, Elizabeth
Code Name Verity
Egmont Press

     Amazing! Powerful! Two young women behind enemy lines in WWII. Edge of the seat suspense. Unreliable narrator. Unforgettable characters; a pilot and a spy. Gestapo torture. French resistance. Resonating with truth. Tears in my ears from crying while reading it in bed (in the middle of the night).  

Knowles, Jo
See You at Harry’s
Candlewick Press

In Jo Knowles best book to date we meet a family that runs a restaurant called Harry’s. They are ordinary except for the fact that their lives revolve around the family business, originally started by Fern’s grandfather. The parents share some of the annoying and embarrassing traits many young teens see in their own parents. The children of the family are all named after book characters, Sarah who has already graduated from high school, Holden who is in high school and is bullied, Charlie, the three-year-old baby of the family who has become an emblem of Harry’s, and Fern, twelve-years-old (putting this at the youngest end of YA and also for middle grade readers) who is coming into her own when tragedy strikes. Months after reading it I can still feel its power in the way Charlie’s stickiness and smelliness still come immediately to mind. This is a heart wrenching, sad, beautiful, extraordinary tale of loss, guilt, and going on again. Not to be missed.

Marchetta, Melina
Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)
Candlewick

     Definitely one of the best books of the year. I can’t imagine it not being a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and other SFF awards. While it is the middle book of a trilogy I can promise you that it stands on its own as I did not read Finnikin of the Rock

Froi, fiercely loyal and fiercely independent accepts the task of going to the neighboring kingdom that had perpetrated horrific acts upon the people of his adopted country Lumatere during their recent war. In Charyn he is to take the place of one of the last “last-born” to gain access to the palace and assassinate the king before Quintana, the mad last-born princess, comes of age. Charyn was cursed nineteen years earlier with sterility and later a prophecy written in Quintana’s blood has decreed that “the last will make the first” understood as the last children born before the curse took effect will have to conceive in order to break the curse. This has led to Quintana being fruitlessly mated each year since her thirteenth birthday, the day called by the Charynites, the day of weeping. This sweeping epic combines politics, national, sexual, and interpersonal with amazing complex characters. Don’t miss it. 

Bray, Libba
The Diviners
Little, Brown Books

How does Libba Bray get better with every book she writes? This is the first in a series and with the huge canvas and the big cast of characters she has chosen, it will take a while to tell the story. The roaring twenties really come to life, even to the smells. As I read it my grandmother’s flapper high school portrait kept popping up in my mind. The palpable sense of evil keeps the reader on the edge of her seat as the suspense keeps growing. Not to be missed.

McCall, Guadalupe Garcia
Summer of the Mariposas
Tu Books

     This unusual mythic reality tale features five sisters living on the border with Mexico, whose father left almost a year ago. One day, when swimming in the river, they find a man’s body. Eventually, after seeing the pictures of his family in his wallet, they decide they must take him back to his home in Mexico. With the paranormal help of Llorona and some magical earrings, they take a hero’s journey through Mexico filled with strange encounters.

Stiefvater, Maggie
The Raven Boys
Scholastic Press

Lost my review on this one somewhere along the line. A girl from a family with paranormal powers doesn’t have any readily recognizable psionic talents but is able to enhance the powers of those around her. On the one night a year when those who will die within the next year are revealed, she actually hears something. It results in her getting to know some of the boys from a nearby boarding school, boys she never wanted to know. It brought to mind Lev Grossman’s The Magicians but taken to a higher  level by featuring multidimensional characters full of heart and soul.

Hartman, Rachel
Seraphina
Random House

Hartman’s world building is wonderful and the mixed race eponymous heroine is beautifully developed along with her relationships.  The world Seraphina  lives has been at peace for decades due to a treaty reached between Queen Lavonda of the Goreddi royal family and Ardmagar Comonot who is the leader of the dragons. In this world, the dragons can assume a human shape and interact with humans. They are devoid of emotions but great scholars and mathematicians. Their music is precise and perfect but without the emotion that would make it great.  Seraphina, is half dragon and half human, a combination that is supposed to be impossible. The only outward manifestations of her dragon side are scales on her left arm and on her back. Raised by her single then remarried father to be all human, she becomes the protege of her draconic uncle and ends up living in the royal palace and working as assistant the the court composer. She has a garden she tends her mind that is peopled by strange creatures. When the heir to the crown is murdered and found headless, near the 40th anniversary of the accord between dragons and humans, the immediate suspicion is that he was killed by a dragon who bit his head off. Seraphina teams up with the Captain of the Guard, the bastard prince called Kiggs to solve the murder and try to stop war from breaking out. This fresh fantasy stands out in popular crowed genre. In a year when many books seem bloated and in need of judicious cutting, this 465 page tome is just right.

Kokie, E.M.
Personal Effects
Candlewick Press

       This amazing debut novel makes the reader feel what seventeen-year-old Matt feels. His beloved older brother has died in Iraq. His abusive father bullies him and is forcing him to follow his militaristic dreams, not letting Matt be who he wants to be. Matt has major anger issues that drive him to attack another student. The small package of T.J.’s personal effects disappeared shortly after the funeral so when T.J.’s footlockers arrive at the house, Matt wants to go through them before his dad can spirit them away as he did with the photos everything else that confirm the one time existence of T.J. What he finds starts him on an unforgettable journey. I loved this because I never knew exactly where it was going, it surprised me at every turn. I loved that Kokie was able to make me empathize with a character I could of easily dismissed had I met him in real life.  

OK. That is only 9. I had too much trouble choosing from all the other books that were tied for my top 10 of the year. 


Sep 23

Book of the Week - Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Susan Fichtelberg booktalked this at Dragon*Con earlier this month which is why I moved it way up on the TBR stack. Harman’s world building is wonderful and the mixed race eponymous heroine is beautifully developed along with her relationships. The world Seraphina lives has been at peace for decades due to a treaty reached between Queen Lavonda of the Goreddi royal family and Ardmagar Comonot who is the leader of the dragons. In this world, the dragons can assume a human shape and interact with humans. They are devoid of emotions but great scholars and mathematicians. Their music is precise and perfect but without the emotion that would make it great. Seraphina, is half dragon and half human, a combination that is supposed to be impossible. The only outward manifestations of her dragon side are scales on her left arm and on her back. Raised by her single then remarried father to be all human, she becomes the protege of her draconic uncle and ends up living in the royal palace and working as assistant the the court composer. She has a garden she tends her mind that is peopled by strange creatures. When the heir to the crown is murdered and found headless, near the 40th anniversary of the accord between dragons and humans, the immediate suspicion is that he was killed by a dragon who bit his head off. Seraphina teams up with the Captain of the Guard, the bastard prince called Kiggs to solve the murder and try to stop war from breaking out. This fresh fantasy stands out in popular crowed genre. In a year when many books seem bloated and in need of judicious cutting, this 465 page tome is just right.


Sep 13

Exciting Announcement About the YALSA Symposium

Shining the Light on Dystopian Young Adult Literature, the Special Event I’m working on for the 2012 YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium is going to be way awesome. Authors Ilsa Bick, Pamela Sargent, and C. J. Redwine will be speaking. Editor Susan Chang is also on the panel and my partners in presenting are Dr. Linda Gann and Dr. Karen Gavigan.


Books of the Week: Transcendence by C.J. Omololu

A cello prodigy starts having deja vu moments when visiting London where she meet an attractive boy. Returning to California, she has the ability to remember previous lives and that she is not alone as someone else who has been reincarnated wants revenge. It has great pacing and engaging characters. I really liked the diversity in this novel. There seems to be a trend in YA towards featuring mixed race characters. Bistro Book Club teens have loved the cover and wanted to read it.


Books of the Week: Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall


This unusual mythic reality tale features five sisters living on the border with Mexico, whose father left almost a year ago. One day, when swimming in the river, they find a man’s body. Eventually, after seeing the pictures of his family in his wallet, they decide they must take him back to his home in Mexico. With the paranormal help of Llorona and some magical earrings, they take a hero’s journey through Mexico filled with strange encounters. In addition to being a darn good story, it has a lyrical quality and structure that will appeal to readers who read for literary value.

Aug 29
I’m off to Dragon*Con tomorrow. Looking forward to being on panels with some amazing folks. Friday at 1 Cinda Williams Chima, Susan K. Chang and I will be talking about the Whitewashing of YA. Saturday at 7pm Susan Fichtelberg, Bonnie Kunzel. and I will be booktalking the best YA SF and Fantasy Coming Soon. 

November is fast approaching and the YALSA Symposium in St. Louis. We will be Shining the Light on Dystopian Young Adult Literature with authors Ilsa Bick, Pamela Sargent, and more.

I’m off to Dragon*Con tomorrow. Looking forward to being on panels with some amazing folks. Friday at 1 Cinda Williams Chima, Susan K. Chang and I will be talking about the Whitewashing of YA. Saturday at 7pm Susan Fichtelberg, Bonnie Kunzel. and I will be booktalking the best YA SF and Fantasy Coming Soon

November is fast approaching and the YALSA Symposium in St. Louis. We will be Shining the Light on Dystopian Young Adult Literature with authors Ilsa Bick, Pamela Sargent, and more.


Aug 25