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I sell children's books for a living, and read almost nothing but. The first does not necessarily cause the second, as books for children and teens are better than anything in the world.



Currently reading

Nadia Knows Best
Jill Mansell
Far Far Away
Tom McNeal

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin Trilogy Book 3) - Robin LaFevers

The best of the trilogy, hands down, and that is saying something. This series is freaking FANTASTIC. I listened to the first two on audio, and the audio is fantastic. When this one actually pubs in November, I will listen to it as well. If you haven't read these, you have missed out so so so so SO MUCH. One of my favorite series of the last decade.

Half Bad by Sally Green

Half Bad - Sally Green

it is hard for a book to live up to its hype if said hype is massive, and Half Bad falls into that category.


Green is a fantastic wordsmith, and has created some compelling characters, but the world building--so crucial to this sort of story--falls flat. I never felt like I learned enough about anyone or anything, except for Nathan (the main character)--and everything you learn about him is relentlessly awful. There are maybe five cheerful pages in the entire book, and even those have an awful sense of foreboding hanging over them. 


I kept waiting and waiting and waiting to find out about something and something never happened. Green seems to set you up for twists and betrayals that never happen. Maybe these things happen in book two, but I really needed SOMETHING to break in book one.


She really is a terrific writer. Very atmospheric. I guess that's why the film rights sold so quickly? But I'm missing something that lots of others are seeing. I didn't realize that until I had finished it, and it think that's because I listened to it and the audiobook narrator was flipping fantastic. I think if I'd tried to read this in physical form I might have put it down partway through.

Happy Birthday, Lloyd Alexander

The Book of Three - Lloyd Alexander The Black Cauldron - Lloyd Alexander The Castle of Llyr - Lloyd Alexander Taran Wanderer - Lloyd Alexander The High King - Lloyd Alexander

Today would have been Lloyd Alexander's 90th birthday.


After Oz and Narnia, the fictional world that dominated my tween years was Prydain. I have spent many, many hours there, reliving the adventures of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper; Dallben, his wizard master/mentor/father/friend; Prince Gwydion; scattered Gurgi; cranky Doli; Fflewddur Fflam and his crazy harp; and, best of all, Princess Eilonwy. She was the character who taught me about strong female characters. Sure, Lucy and Susan and Dorothy and Ozma had chops - but Eilonwy was special. 


She was smart, and brave, and kind, and loving...and cranky, and impulsive, and stubborn, and often wrong. She was flawed. She was known to throw a tantrum or go on a rant or fly off where she wasn't supposed to go. She was a teenager. She was real. She was GLORIOUS. 


Mr. Alexander let his characters screw up. He let them discover things for themselves, even if the discovery was heartbreaking. He took us to those hard or sad places and let us see that you could live through them. His older characters stand back and let his younger characters make mistakes. His world feels real because the emotional situations in it are real. Watching Taran and Eilonwy grow and change and screw up and fall down and get back up again was vital to my emotional growth, and I do not say that lightly.


I got to meet Mr. Alexander once, at the bookstore where I used to work in Pennsylvania. I had only ever met one author before, and was shy and uncertain. It was an informal event, and I hung back a long time, unsure of what to say. Finally, there was only one thing to say.


"Thank you for Eilonwy," I managed, and he smiled.


"It was my pleasure."


No, Mr. Alexander - it was mine.

so excited to read this book

Under the Egg - Laura Marx Fitzgerald

I grabbed this ARC as soon as it came in, and now that I've read Betsy's review (I am way behind on Fuse #8), I am dying to read it even more.

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

The Summer Prince - Alaya Dawn Johnson

Why did I wait so long to read this absolutely magnificent book? Why, why, why? Definitely upper YA (sex) and definitely crossover into adult. It's a futuristic fantasy set in a dystopian Brazil, and it's gorgeously written and features one of the most complex heroines of recent memory. Read this now!

My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook

My Mouth Is a Volcano! - Julia Cook

My 7 year old daughter really struggles with what to say and when to say it. We are currently seeking a diagnosis we are fairly certain will turn out to be a combo of ADHD and OCD, and in the meantime are reading books and using roleplaying and activity books at home to augment the doctors' treatment. This book is FANTASTIC. Being able to give words to what happens inside her brain is so helpful, and having the description of her mouth being a volcano that rumbles and then the words just jiggle and erupt from her mouth has made some of our discussions a LOT easier. Highly recommended!

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones - Holly Black

Well hello, my Newbery pick.


What a pitch-perfect coming-of-age, changing world, just-creepy-enough story. It has characters I adored, questions I wanted to answer, and just a touch of magical realism. I literally could not put it down, and read it in one sitting.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy - Karen Foxlee

This book. THIS BOOK. This marvelous book about marvelous Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. This book, that's like BREADCRUMBS meets MIXED-UP FILES. This book that I plowed through, sailed through, soared through; this book that made me almost forget I was reading an e-galley on an iPad. This book that made me almost forget I was reading in the middle seat of a coach row on an airplane. This book that you must obtain when it comes out in February.

Winger by Andrew Smith

Winger - Andrew  Smith

This is one I hope gets a phone call at Printz Time.


ive seen some complaints about the ending and some complaints about the book not knowing what sort of book it was, and it dismiss all of that with a wave of my hand because I am so in love with Ryan Dean West. (Inside joke of sorts if you've read it.) it's hard to discuss this thoroughly because there are a couple of things that happen that are big surprises and I don't want to spoil.


i listened to this on audio and it was magnificently done. I loved being immersed in this character's head. I loved the varied style of the book, and the richly painted characters. I think Andrew Smith is so talented, and he's impossible to pigeonhole, and I love it.


highly, highly recommend this.

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey - Emily Winfield Martin

Even though my daughter is seven, I'm taking this home tonight. Because you are never, ever, EVER too old for a beautiful picture book. Because she will love the idea of animals guiding you into your dreams at night:


"You only have to close your eyes

And when you snuggle in...

You'll be carried to your dream tonight

On wing or paw or fin."


The illustrations are lovely and alternate between color and black and white. There's an old fashioned quality to the faces of the children, a dreaminess to the painting that is the perfect companion for this sweet, drowsy tale.

Earthling - Mark Fearing, Tim Rummel Drama - Raina Telgemeier

Here's a video I made last year about two graphic novels I loved, DRAMA and Earthling.

Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner

Operation Bunny: The Fairy Detective Agency's First Case - David Roberts (Illustrator), Sally Gardner

This was a hoot. I read it aloud to my seven year old daughter at bedtime over four nights, and we loved it enough that I ordered the next two from the UK. (This comes out in February from Macmillan.)


In brief: infant Emily Vole is found in a hatbox in an airport, and adopted by two shallow people who are looking for a baby to be their latest toy/accessory. When her adoptive parents have triplets, she is turned into the nanny/housekeeper at the age of five. Fortunately she is befriended by her very odd next door neighbors, Miss String and Fidget (a human-size cat who walks on two legs and talks). Soon Emily is swept into an adventure involving pink rabbits, fairies, houses that walk, keys with feet, and even more crazy things. And she's never been happier.


This is very British, and they don't de-British the language which I love. The humor is quirky and smart and the mystery intriguing. The adventure is well-paced. It's illustrated and the illustrations are funny and a little off-kilter; the style matches the text very well. I enjoyed reading it and hearing my daughter laugh. I look forward to the next one very much.

The Night Before Christmas by Scarlet Bailey

The Night Before Christmas - Scarlett Bailey

This was the latest in my winter British contemporary romance binge. I made it about a hundred pages before skimming the rest and putting it in the donation box. I mean, I know I'm asking for a certain amount of predictability here, but this was too much.

Avoiding Spoilers During Award Season

When it gets close to the ALA Youth Media Awards, I start to panic that I haven't read enough of the books. And when that happens, I start to go looking for people to tell me what to focus on. Often those people are found at places like Heavy Medal.


The problem with reading blogs like Heavy Medal and Someday My Printz Will Come in January is that the discussions of the books are in-depth. Very in-depth. So if you inadvertently click on a lengthy post rather than a shortlist suggestion post, you might, for instance, find out more about WINGER than you wanted to know before you got to that particular part.




Not blaming the bloggers; totally my fault for not being careful. 


But still: sigh.

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

The Thing About Luck - Cynthia Kadohata

I'm trying to catch up on the various Newbery short list books before Midwinter at the end of the month, and this was the first read. It's a good one, too.


The thing with the books this year is that for me there's no Ivan. There's no one book that has leaped up and grabbed me around the neck and held on like last year's winner did. I'm not sure if I'm missing something, or if it's just that I'm not going to get as excited every year as I was last year. 




Cynthia Kadohata is a heavyweight. She's a writer's writer - one of those people whose every scene counts, whose every word counts. That's on full display in The Thing About Luck. It's beautifully written and exceptionally well characterized. It'll be brilliant for classroom use. I'm not sure it'll be my Newbery pick, but if it wins, I wouldn't be sorry.

Divergent Untitled 3 Tpb

Allegiant - Veronica Roth I'm going to pretend she stopped after book 2.

After waiting and waiting and waiting and becoming so emotionally invested in these characters, I will never be okay with the way she chose to end the series.