Monday, January 26, 2009

YA Award Winners Announced

Today, the American Library Association announced the top books, videos, and audiobooks for young adults and teens.

The recipient of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award goes to Laurie Halse Anderson honoring her outstanding lifetime contribution to writing for teens for Chains, Catalyst, Fever 1793, and Speak, a 2000 Printz Honor Book.

The 2009 Printz Award winner is Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. She is an Australian writer who has written two other great books, Saving Francesca & Looking for Alibrandi. We don't have Jellicoe Road yet, but no worries--it's on order!

Four Printz Honor Books also were named:
- The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II, The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson
- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
- Nation by Terry Pratchett
- Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

The 2009 Newbery Medal winner is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean. Huzzah for Neil! He's having a great week between promoting his new movie, Coraline and winning :-)

Four Newbery Honor Books were named:
- The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
- The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle
- Savvy by Ingrid Law
- After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

For a complete of all winners and honorees, check them out here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Need by Carrie Jones

Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal.

Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.

With suspense, romance, and paranormal themes, this exciting breakout novel has all the elements to keep teens rapidly turning the pages.

You will have to put your skepticism aside for this one! Sure she's the new girl in a small town and clumsy just like another very familiar character, but Jones creates a unique voice in Zara. After witnessing her step-father's death, she is sent to live with her step-grandmother in the wintry setting of Maine. She keeps any anxiety and emotions about her past at bay by reciting phobias. Each chapter starts with a new phobia, but be careful--you might find some that apply to you.

Zara immediately finds a set of friends and a place in her new school, but she also gains some enemies. A mysterious man from her past begins to appear everywhere she goes--and he knows her name. Leaving behind nothing but a sprinkling of gold dust, Zara and her new friends must learn the truth before he comes after again. And next time, he isn't leaving without her.

Stephenie Meyer and Melissa Marr fans will see elements of both writers in this story but with a new twist. There is even a clever reference to "forks" that had me chuckling. To me, the story was a happy medium between both writers with a fast pace and supernatural elements without being too overbearing.

Reading Rating:
This was a quick and easy read. I will admit that someone mentioned it was a lot like Twilight before I started reading, so I had trouble getting that idea out of my head. But once you get past the basics, this is a story full of surprises and sure to satisfy those looking for more supernatural romance and suspense.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chalice by Robin McKinley

As the newly appointed Chalice, Mirasol is the most important member of the Master’s Circle. It is her duty to bind the Circle, the land and its people together with their new Master. But the new Master of Willowlands is a Priest of Fire, only drawn back into the human world by the sudden death of his brother. No one knows if it is even possible for him to live amongst his people. Mirasol wants the Master to have his chance, but her only training is as a beekeeper. How can she help settle their demesne during these troubled times and bind it to a Priest of Fire, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone?

Robin McKinley weaves a captivating tale that reveals the healing power of duty and honor, love and honey.

This book throws you right into the middle of things. My advice is to read the inside of the jacket cover first! I'm glad I did, or I would have been lost from the beginning. McKinley tells the story of Mirasol who has been thrust into the position as Chalice, the second highest ranking member of the Circle. Because of the sudden deaths of the previous Chalice and the Master, Mirasol has had no training, no apprenticeship. She relies on what she can find in books and mostly on her intuition.

Still the land is aching and in upheaval without a Master to guide it. When the new Master returns from the Priests of Fire, he is inhuman. His touch burns. He is frail and weak. And many doubt that he can bring them together. Only Mirasol is brave enough to speak to him, openly and honestly. Together they have to try and save their land and its people before the Overlord finds a way to take it back.

McKinley's storytelling is overly descriptive and repetitive at times. There are many places where Mirasol is referred to as Chalice rather than an individual. It can become confusing to the reader to follow the story, especially flashing from the present and the past. However, the end result of the book is a promising one. If you can stick it out, you find it amazing that McKinley can make a story about a beekeeper and her honey fascinating.

Reading Rating:
This one took quite a while for me to get into. It is very repetitive (you will get sick of reading the word Chalice!), but once you start to piece the story together it flows more smoothly. The ending made the hard work worth it, especially if you are a Robin McKinley fan.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

50 Book Challenge

Welcome to the New Year! In 2008, I participated in the 50 Book Challenge. Basically, the challenge was to read 50 books in one year OR to establish a goal for yourself. I went striving for the 50, but fell just a few short. However, I started mid-year in April, so I'm sure there's plenty of books that I read but forgot. Check out what I was reading this past year:

1. Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison
2. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
3. Rumors by Anna Godbersen
4. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
5. Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
6. The Day I Killed James by Catherine Ryan Hyde
7. Airhead by Meg Cabot
8. Unbelievable by Sara Shepard
9. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
10. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
11. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
12. Footfree and Fancyloose by Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain
13. Wake by Lisa McMann
14. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
15. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
16. Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner
17. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
18. The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti
19. Before I Die by Jenny Downham
20. Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
21. Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
22. Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
23. Hush: an Irish Princess' Tale by Donna Jo Napoli
24. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
25. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
26. Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer
27. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
28. Paper Towns by John Green (Advance Reading Copy)
29. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
30. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
31. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
32. How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls by Zoey Dean
33. Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel
34. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
35. Manic: a Memoir by Terri Cheney
36. I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin
37. How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier
38. Dear Julia by Amy Bronwen Zemser
39. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
40. Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee
41. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
42. Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
43. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
44. Chalice by Robin McKinley
45. Wicked by Sara Shepard
46. Love is Hell (anthology)
47. how to (un)cage a girl by Francesca Lia Block

How many books did you read in 2008? And how many are you challenging yourself to read for 2009? I hope to surpass 50 books this next year! I better get busy :-)